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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What is hard and soft water?

Hard water is water that has high mineral content including calcium and magnesium. It is formed when water seeps through limestone and chalk deposits. If the water you use is "hard" then more soap, detergent or shampoo is necessary to rinse and lather.

Soft water is water that has a low concentration of calcium carbonate and other ions with few or no minerals (like calcium or magnesium). It is water that lathers with soap easily.

Rainwater is naturally soft, however as it makes it way through the ground & into waterways, it picks up minerals like chalk, lime, calcium and magnesium. Hard water contains essential minerals, sometimes making it the preferred drinking water not only for health benefits but flavor.

So why then do we soften our water?

A great example to explain the difference between soft water and hard water are household chores. Hard water makes clothes look dingy, your dishes will have spots and residue, bath tubs will have film and soap scum, and hair will feel sticky and look dull.

Hard water builds up calcium residue in your pipes taking a large toll on your hot water heater. In return, it will take more energy (cost) to heat up the same amount of water used.

Soap is less effective when water is hard due to the reaction from the magnesium and calcium - lather not as rich or bubbly.

Turning hard water soft can prolong the life span of your washing machine, dishwasher, and water heater. It will also save money by using less soap and detergents. Energy bills will be noticeably lower & at a time of rising energy costs, this is something to think about.

Do you have hard water? Click here to find out "How Water Softeners Work"

According to the Water Quality Association, water hardness is interpreted as:

  • Soft: 0-1 grains per gallon
  • Slightly Hard: 1.1 - 3.5 g.p.g
  • Moderately Hard: 3.6 - 7 g.p.g
  • Hard: 7.1 - 10.5 g.p.g
  • Very Hard: Over 10.5 g.p.g

The Canadian Water Quality Association has published a list to help Canadians identify their water type (not all cities are listed; contact your municipality if you can't find your city on the list).

City & Water Hardness
Chilliwack = 8.2
Clinton = 14
Cranbrook = 6.5
Dawson Creek = 19.5
Duncan = 4
Fernie = 7.3
Grand Falls = 7
Kamloops = 3
Kelowna = 9
Kimberley = 1.5
Ladysmith = 1
Merritt = 4.5
Nanaimo = 4
Nelson = 2.5
New Westminster = 1.3
North Vancouver = 1
Penticton = 2
Port Alberni = 5.5
Powell River = 1
Princeton = 5
Prince Rupert = 1.5
Prince George = 4.4
Revelstoke = 2
Rossland = 2.5
Trail = 3.9
Vancouver = 0.3
Victoria = 2