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Benefits of Soft Water

Making the switch to water softenersystems can bring many benefits. The effects of hard water can be seen around your house and on your body. By switching to soft water, these hard water effects are eliminated at the source.

Gaining a better understanding of the advantages of soft water can help your household to determine if the switch is worth it. For many, the benefits of soft water far outweigh the initial investment that it entails. Requiring minimal maintenance, installing a water softener provides a long-term, substantial benefit for many families. To learn why let’s explore the benefits of soft water.

What is Soft Water?

To gain a full understanding of the benefits of soft water it is helpful to first understand what soft water is. References to “soft” or “hard” water utilize the concept of water hardness, which is used to communicate the content of hard minerals contained in a sample of water.

With that in mind, water is considered “soft” if it contains a very low amount of hard minerals. Water is referred to as “hard” if it contains a relatively high amount of hard minerals. 

So, how low of a mineral content does water need to be considered soft? There is a water hardness scale that provides thresholds for how hard or soft water is. The water hardness scale relies on a measurement of the content of dissolved calcium carbonate in a sample of water, expressed in grains-per-gallon (GPG).

Here are these thresholds according to the most commonly used water hardness scale:

  • Soft water contains less than 1 GPG of dissolved calcium carbonate.
  • Moderately hard water contains between 1-7 GPG of calcium carbonate.
  • Hard water contains between 7-10 GPG of calcium carbonate.
  • Very Hard water contains over 10 GPG of calcium carbonate.

Hard water may contain many different types of minerals and metals, but calcium carbonate is chosen because it is the most common and abundant mineral found in hard water. 

Can Soft Water Occur Naturally?

In discussions around water hardness, it is important to keep in mind that both hard and soft water occur through natural processes. Water is soft when it falls to the ground as precipitation. It then becomes hard as it percolates through the ground and stone, picking up mineral ions along the way. 

Because water hardness is directly tied to the mineral content of the ground and soil that water flows through, different regions will have varying degrees of water hardness. Many areas in the United States have naturally occurring soft water, while many other places have naturally occurring hard water.

How is Water Made Soft?

You can transform hard water into soft water by reversing the processes that naturally lead to hard water. In a residential setting, individuals turn hard water into soft water by installing a water softener. These systems utilize a process known as “ion exchange”.

Ion exchange is the same process through which water becomes hard. As water percolates through ground and soil it picks up positively charged mineral ions that become bound to the water molecule. 

When water enters a water softening system it is placed in a tank containing a negatively charged resin. The negatively charged resin attracts the positively charged mineral ions in hard water and keeps them bound to the resin as the water passes through.

The end result is soft water piped throughout your house. The benefits of water softener systems are that they are highly effective at reducing the mineral content of water, while also doing so passively and without the use of chemicals.

Soft Water Benefits

With a better understanding of what soft water is, let’s explore some of the top advantages of soft water. Taken as a whole, transitioning to a water softener system reverses and eliminates the core problems that arise from hard water. These problems affect the surfaces, fixtures, and appliances within your home, as well as the surfaces of your body including your hair and skin. Understanding the benefits of soft water can help you determine whether a water softening system is right for your household.

Eliminate Soap Scum

Transitioning to soft water in your house will eliminate your problems with soap scum. Soap scum forms when the hard minerals in hard water come into contact with soap. The result is a white or grayish precipitate that stubbornly coats the surfaces it forms on. 

Soap scum is commonly found on the surfaces and fixtures in bathrooms, including tile, shower doors, faucets, sinks, and counters. Soap scum is notoriously difficult to remove, and will quickly form again once soap and hard water are used in the same area. By transitioning to soft water, you eliminate the hard minerals in water that are a necessary precursor for the formation of soap scum. This makes it much easier to keep your bathroom surfaces and fixtures looking clean and new.

No Mineral Deposits

Mineral deposits are the most common effect of hard water, and transitioning to a soft water system will eliminate them entirely. Hard water will leave calcium mineral deposits on any surface it comes into contact with and dries on. These deposits are an insoluble precipitate that usually appears white or yellow, but can also appear red or other colors depending on the mineral content of your hard water. Washing and scrubbing these surfaces free of stains can be a pain.

Mineral deposits are often referred to as “scaling” or “limescale”, and form most frequently on surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms, such as shower doors, faucets, sinks, and tile. Mineral deposits will also form in appliances, such as coffee makers, dishwashers, and water heaters. The pipes in your house will also have mineral deposit buildup, which can reduce the flow of water over time and may lead to plumbing issues later on. The spots that appear on your dishes as they dry are also mineral deposits. While not dangerous, these unsightly lime build-up spots can be frustrating to deal with.

Water softening systems eliminate mineral buildup at the source before they can cause problems throughout your house. Unlike hard water, soft water doesn’t have the hard mineral content necessary to leave behind deposits. While you may need to remove the existing mineral deposits when you transition to a water softening system, you won’t need to continue to do so as long as you keep using soft water in your household. This benefit can save you frustration and many hours of cleaning.

Benefits for Hair

Transitioning to a soft water filtration system carries a number of benefits for the health of your hair. Our hair is particularly susceptible to the impact of the minerals contained in hard water. These minerals are left behind as deposits on the hair follicle, blocking the ability of moisturizers to penetrate the hair and drying it out. Over time, mineral deposits weigh down the hair and reduce its volume, while also making the hair appear dull rather than shiny. The minerals in hard water also react with shampoo, resulting in a weak lather and a film of shampoo that is difficult to completely wash out.

In contrast, showering in soft water will help you have stronger hair, restore your scalp’s natural moisture levels, and increase your hair’s volume and shine. By eliminating the minerals in hard water, your moisturizers and conditioners can effectively penetrate your hair follicles. Your shampoo will produce a satisfying lather and be easier to wash out. This will also eliminate the film of soap left behind that can potentially dry out the sensitive skin of your scalp.

Benefits for Skin

Trace amounts of the hard minerals in hard water are left behind on your skin after you shower. These minerals can clog pores and upset the skin’s delicate moisture levels. Additionally, a thin film of soap can be left behind when showering in hard water. This layer of soap is difficult to completely wash off, and may also contribute to irritated or dry skin.

Soft water eliminates both of these problems of dry hair and skin associated with showering in hard water. Showering in soft water won’t leave behind mineral deposits that can clog your pores. Your soap will lather better, and be much easier to completely wash off, thus revealing softer skin. Some individuals note that showering in soft water can leave skin feeling slippery, which is an indication that all remaining traces of soap have been removed from the skin. For individuals with dry or sensitive skin, showering in soft water can be beneficial.

Closing Thoughts

Only you can tell if the benefits associated with switching to water softener systems throughout your house are worthwhile. Having a better understanding of some of the most important benefits associated with soft water can provide important context to that decision. Soft water is simply water with a very low content of hard minerals. By reducing the content of minerals in the water, many surprising benefits can occur around your house and on your body.

Foremost among the benefits of transitioning to soft water is the elimination of soap scum and mineral deposits. Mineral deposits are unsightly, stubborn to remove, and can reduce the efficiency of appliances like your coffee pot or dishwasher. Soap scum is an insoluble precipitate that forms from a reaction between soap and the minerals in hard water. Both of these frustrating substances are eliminated by transitioning to filtered water.

Utilizing a soft water system can also benefit the health of your hair and skin. Your hair will be less brittle and have more volume because it won’t have a layer of minerals coating it. Your shampoo and soaps will be more effective, and easier to wash off. Your skin will have more normal moisture levels without mineral deposits left behind on it, and without the stubborn film of soap left behind after showering in hard water. Isn’t the whole point of taking a nice warm shower or bath to feel cleaner? 

Water softening systems are an efficient method of transitioning to soft water throughout your household. To learn more about what types of water softening systems are available for your residence, please contact Rayne today.

Sources

  1. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/a28280250/water-softener/
  2. https://www.thespruce.com/soap-scum-information-1900291
  3. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/hardness-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  4. Ungvarsky, Janine. 2018. “Hard Water.” Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science.
  5. https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/hardness.pdf
  6. https://extension.psu.edu/water-softening