Difference Between Hard Water and Soft Water

Water is water, right? It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and transparent substance. We use water daily for various tasks such as Drinking, bathing, washing clothes, utensils, etc. But an intriguing thing we all have heard is that water is also different.

Water is categorized into two types: hard water and soft water. Both hard water and soft water are differentiated based on their composition. The hard water comprises several dissolved minerals, and the prime among them are magnesium and calcium. The soft water only contains sodium as it is treated before delivering to our taps.

However, we often do not spend time thinking about the fundamental differences in the water we use daily. Hence, it remains imperative to know what type of water you are using and what the difference is between hard water and soft water. Thus, in this article, we will have an in-depth discussion on the difference between hard water and soft water.

What is hard water?

Hard water is a type of water that is high in mineral content. It comprises a high concentration of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Apart from this, it also consists of carbonates, sulfates, magnesium bicarbonates, calcium, etc. It also comprises dissolved polyvalent metallic ions such as aluminum, iron, zinc, and strontium.

The hardness of the water is the measure of the water reacting with the soap and forming a lather. The hard water tends to form insoluble curd with soap instead of lather. Hard water is beneficial for Drinking but using it directly on the human body causes serious consequences. The perfect examples of hard water include groundwater, water in wells, etc.

What is soft water?

Soft water is a type of water that consists of a very low concentration of ions. It is naturally occurring water. It is treated water that contains only sodium as the cation. 

It gives enough lather with soap. We use soft water in our house daily for various tasks such as washing clothes, bathing, etc. An appropriate example of soft water is rainwater.

Difference between hard water and soft water

1. Mineral contains

One of the first and foremost differences between soft water and hard water is the composition of minerals contained. Hard water consists of a good amount of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and lime. In contrast, soft water does not contain any minerals and is devoid of minerals. 

2. Soap effectiveness

Another way to differentiate between hard water and soft water is through the effectiveness of the soap and how it reacts with both types of water. In the case of hard water, the soap is ineffective and does not form any lather but does form a scum-like curd. But the soft water tends to be effective with soap and forms lather when mixed with soap.

3. For Drinking

 In terms of drinking purposes, you may use hard water for Drinking. As hard water comprises numerous minerals, it is beneficial for the body. But, soft water is usually not used for Drinking.

4. Effect on hair and skin

Another way to distinguish between hard water and soft water is through their effect on hair and skin. Hard water is not preferable to be used on the skin and also on the hair. The skin can become dry and itchy, and the hair becomes sticky when using hard water on the body or hair. It can cause side effects on the skin. 

But the soft water is safe for the skin and the hair. Soft water is generally considered skin-friendly and does not cause any side effects when used on the body or hair. Instead, it makes the hair and skin soft and clear.

5. Effect on appliances

The hard water is not suitable to be used for any appliances or machines as it can cause damage to the machines. It significantly reduces the efficiency of the machines. Hard water damages the appliances by depositing magnesium and calcium salts on them. In comparison, soft water is safe to be used in appliances

6. Taste

In terms of taste, hard water and soft water can be easily distinguished. The taste of hard water is sweet and has a characteristic taste. In comparison, soft water comprises a salty taste.


Hence, hard and soft water have their respective benefits and characteristics. From the above discussion, you can learn in-depth about hard and soft water and how to differentiate between them. If you get hard water in a tap or shower, you can convert it to soft water using a water softener.

And if before drinking hard water, you need to boil it or purify it through the RO machines. The above discussion on the difference between hard water and soft water would also now caution you from using hard water in appliances and bathing; instead, you can use soft water, which is safe.

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