Hard Water vs Soft Water? What is the Difference?

Hard Water vs Soft Water? What is the Difference?

We all think -“Water is Water. Let it be any”. But, there are many categories of Water, and one such is Hard Water & Soft Water. But you give a view of differentiation parameters, and you will know the actual difference – Hard Water vs Soft Water.

What is Soft Water?

Soft Water has tiny minerals like calcium & magnesium in it. Another critical point, most of the surface water, like lake water, rainwater, and river water, is soft Water.

What is Hard Water?

Main Features of Hard Water:

  • It is Water rich in dissolved minerals, namely Calcium & Magnesium.
  • Being rich in minerals, it owes many health benefits.
  • Toxic metal like lead & copper is less soluble.

Above all, in many industrial applications, hard Water causes damage & inefficiency in work (damages to pipes and containers). This is when water softeners come into action. Also, in Water softening processes, sodium ions take the place of water cations.

Important Note: Hard Water is not harmful to health in general.

Hard Water vs Soft Water – Comparison Chart

Parameters Soft water Hard Water

Composition Rich in minerals – Calcium & Magnesium Sodium

Interaction with soap Forms a film or coating Forms froth/lather

Difficulties Faced Leaves deposits in pipes etc. leading to clogging. (known as Scaling or Film formation) None

Foam/Lather Formation, No lather formation with detergent. Lather/Foam is formed with detergent

Problem solved by Ion exchange process (Water Softeners) None

Differentiation: Hard Water vs Soft Water

There are many differentiation points between Hard Water vs Soft Water. Though hard water is rich in minerals, still it gives a lot of dilemmas.

Here are a few signs which will clear the concept of Hard Water vs Soft Water:

  • First of all, it does not produce lather with Soap. hence, proper foam production does not occur
  • Washing hair with Hard Water leads to sticky & dull hair
  • Hard Water can cause Eczema in children
  • Residues & spots on dishes
  • Clothes look dull after washing
  • Film formation on bathtubs
  • Coagulation due to Lime deposition or Scaling in pipes etc.
  • The cloudy & milky appearance of Water in a swimming pool.

On the contrary, in the case of Soft Water-

  • Lather formed is better with bubbles
  • No Residue on the dishes (white-coloured)
  • Hair becomes smooth & healthy
  • Skin becomes soft
  • The life of machines like heaters, washing machines, bathroom showers, etc., increases.
  • Clothes get better washed & look brighter.

Keeping these points in mind will help compare Hard Water vs Soft Water.

What are the causes of Water Hardness?

Necessary to realize that the presence of multivalent cations in higher concentrations leads to Hardness in the Water. Magnesium (Mg2+) and Calcium (Ca2+) are the sources of these cations in Water. Water flows underground, and it imbibes these minerals.

What is Permanent & Temporary Hardness of Water?

When discussing Hard Water vs Soft Water, it is essential to know about the permanent & temporary Hardness of the Water.

Permanent Water Hardness – In this case, simply boiling Water is not an adequate parameter. But that does not mean it is entirely permanent. In this regard, a water softener helps to solve the purpose. This type of Hardness is due to calcium and magnesium sulfate or chloride.

Temporary Water Hardness It is due to the presence of bicarbonate. Boiling causes carbonate formation from bicarbonate, which is then precipitated out. HeWaterWater becomes softer on cooling.

What is the process for Hard Water Treatment?

Here areWaterWater softening processes-

  • By decreasing the concentrations of minerals – Calcium and magnesium.
  • Boiling it or by addition of Lime- (for treatment of temporary water hardness)
  • Ion exchange resins – (for treatment of permanent water hardness)
  • Chemicals like chelators also help to soWaterWater.

What is the unit to measure Water Hardness?

The unit of water hardness is “grains per gallon” or “grains of hardness”.

One grain is equal to 64.799 (64.8) milligrams.

Also, here is the equation to convert grains per gallon (gpg) to mg/litre-

Mg/L = gpg times 17.1

One grain of Hardness = 17.1 milligrams per litre

Many instruments measure contaminants dissolveWaterwater in the unit “parts per million” ppm. It is the ratio of the weight of insoluble contaminants to the ratio of the Weight of Water.

  • Parts per million is the same as milligram per litreWaterWater weighs one gram per litre)

The parts per million (ppm) are also used as grain per gallon (gpg). Both ppm & gpg are different units, measuring the same thing.

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