Hard water versus soft water; what's the difference?

Chris Lane


Hard water versus soft water; what's the difference?

If you believe that the water that comes out of your tap in its natural form is the same regardless of where you live in the Lowcountry, you're forgiven.

However, that is not the case. There are two types of water: hard and soft.

Which is right for you? Generally, soft water is much more desirable.

Despite what you have heard or might believe, every Lowcountry household's tap water is greater than 1 grain per gallon, so it is hard water.

Water hardness is expressed in one of two units of measure: parts per million (PPM) of calcium carbonate, which is the concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium; and grain per gallon (GPG) of calcium carbonate. Each GPG of hardness is equal to 17.1 PPM. If you have your water tested, the chart here can be used to see what classification, your family's water falls under.

Signs of hard water around your home are always visible: spotting on glass shower doors, dry itchy skin, bathtub ring in your tub, lack of lather or suds with your shampoo or your dish soap, spotted glassware and flatware coming out of the dishwasher, and plumbing fixture spotting.

More importantly, scale can also build up on your plumbing and the water heaters, decreasing useful life. Soft water not only eliminates these nuisances, but also protects appliances and saves cleaning chemicals and cleaning time.

How does soft water impact your life? It starts with your morning shower, leaving your skin and hair feeling softer, and goes until evening, when you put the last of your spotless dinner dishes away. Soft water makes laundry brighter, linens softer, and lowers your water heating costs.

All the soft water benefits add up to making your home feel more welcoming. Your home is an investment, and ensuring appliance lifespan is important to protect your home value. Soft water helps protect your appliances from harmful buildup.

Best of all, easier cleaning means your home stays in better shape, longer, with less effort.

Regardless of your tap water source, we recommend having it tested at the kitchen sink to ensure your family has high quality, safe water. A water treatment professional can help you sort through the options, because water is complex, has many potential contaminants, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to water problems.

For more information on the many benefits of soft water and how you can safeguard your home's water supply, visit the Water Quality Association at wqa.org.

Chris Lane is the owner of Culligan Water Conditioning of the Lowcountry, serving Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton counties. culliganhhi.com