Do you have a hard water issue?
- Your water smells and tastes foul.
- You get spots on dishes, flatware, and glasses.
- Your sink, bathtub, and toilet get brown stains.
- Your skin feels dry, itchy or irritated after showering, shaving or washing hands and face.
You may do a simple test with water and liquid dish soap to see if you have hard water. Fill a clear capped container with some tap water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap. Then shake the container vigorously for 10 seconds and set it down. What do you see? If your container does not have a good amount of suds at the top, and the water underneath is gloomy, then you likely have hard water. This test is not an exact science, however. What you may consider clear water may be unclear for others. If you said yes to several of the choices above, then you might want to have your water tested by professionals for a detailed report and recommendations for a proper course of action to resolve them.
What is hard water vs soft water?
When water percolates—flows and filters—through the soil beneath the surface and around rocks made with deposits of magnesium and calcium in them, water erosion cause these deposits to slowly dissolve in the water. Depending on your area, you may have a higher or lower concentration of these dissolved minerals. Hard water has a high concentration of deposits, hence has a high concentration of dissolved minerals as well. Conversely, soft water has far fewer minerals in concentrations.
Is hard water bad?
Home - This question is easy to answer when it comes to your home. Hard water is known to leave unattractive scale deposits on glassware and faucets, make your clothes dingy and, worst of all, clog up your pipes.
Skin - Everyone's skin reacts differently to different environmental factors. Water is one of the factors we often overlook when diagnosing skin conditions. The type of water you get at home can affect the health of your skin. You may be having bad showering and shaving experiences, or worse, skin side-effects because of the water type and not know about it. Hard water and its effects would likely aggravate eczema and psoriasis symptoms.
Soap - Water with high mineral content does not work well with soap. The presence of calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate prevent soaps from building a proper lather. This is especially problematic for shaving soap, as the lather needed will not produce to expectation. Instead, hard water cause soap solutions to form a white precipitate—soap scum—which can clog drain pipes.
Since we're already on the topic of soap scum, if you've been seeing soap scum and water draining slowly, try the following steps to melt away the buildup in the drain pipes:
- Boil a pot of water and wait just a bit to bring down the temperature to a level above warm.
- Then, pour the water down the drain.
- Immediately after, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda, follow that with 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar, and cover the drain hole with something flat so fizz doesn't escape.
- Wait for about 20 minutes to allow the solution to move through the drain.
- For extra measures, boil another pot of water (be sure to bring down the temperature again) and pour it down the drain. The water should drain quicker now.
- Repeat these steps if necessary.
What the Wet Shaving Community Think About Hard Water
We conducted a survey on two wet shaving forums, BadgerandBlade.com and ShaveMyFace.com. Posed were two questions: Do you have a hard water issue and what's your experience? A combined average of 78% said they have hard water issues. Among them, 65% said they simply keep working on the lather with extra effort, and 14% actually use distilled or filtered water to build their lather.
Discussions on their experiences were not as clear because some also questioned the performances of shaving soaps and shaving brushes. However, the common consensus was that brush will need to be loaded with an extra generous amount of soap to build adequate lather. Some stated natural brushes do poorly, but synthetic brushes are not affected by the hard water. This makes sense if you consider how hard water affects our own hair as well. Others countered they don't see any performance differences between natural and synthetic brushes at all, which could be due to a lower concentrated hard water, we imagine. Your mileage may vary though.
What can you do about hard water?
Using a home water filtration and the softening system is a simple, cost-effective way to solve all of these problems. However, many people choose not to solve their hard water problem because they've bought into unfounded myths and misconceptions about the health effects of water softening.
Here are three of the most common myths and the truth about soft water:
- Myth One: Hard Water is Healthier For You Than Soft Water
Truth: There is no health difference between hard water and soft water
Many people mistakenly believe that using a water softener will prevent you from absorbing important minerals. It is true that the process of softening water involves pulling excess minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron out of your home's water supply. However, these minerals exist in water in trace amounts, and pulling them out won't have an impact on your health one way or another. Softening your water or using a water filtration system may also make it taste better, encouraging you to drink more tap water without relying on plastic water bottles that clog up our landfills.
As always, the best way to get vitamins and minerals is through your diet and supplements, not through your water.
- Myth Two: Hard Water is Less Salty Than Soft Water
Truth: Soft water has no noticeable salty taste
Some people mistakenly believe that soft water is dangerously salty, but the truth is that soft water has no significant salt content. Although turning hard water into soft water requires running it through salt and other special components to strip minerals from the water, very little salt remains in the water when the process is complete. The salt is undetectable and doesn't impact the flavor of your food or your diet. Hard water, on the other hand, often has a strong, unpleasant flavor that can affect how coffee, tea, and soups taste.
- Myth Three: Hard Water is Better For Your Skin Than Soft Water
Truth: Soft water is gentler on your skin than hard water
A lot of people who are used to washing up with hard water notice that their skin feels different when they switch to soft water. They may assume that the dry, tight, just-washed feeling they're used to is how the skin is supposed to feel when it's really clean. However, the truth is that rough, squeaky-clean feeling is caused by the mineral residue from hard water drawing moisture out of your skin.
By contrast, soft water leaves your skin—soft, moist and smooth. While this may seem unusual at first, it's how your skin was meant to feel without soap or mineral residue.
Hard water damages your hair, skin, and nails not to mention your laundry, pipes, appliances, and dishes. Improve the life of your plumbing and experience what it's like to feel completely clean with no mineral residue on your skin. If you think hard water is affecting you, consider installing a water filtration and softening system. It's a small price to pay to regain your sanity.
Here are the top three water softeners for your consideration:
- Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Ships
- Fleck Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener Iron Filter
- Bullet Poly Triple Action Water Softener
Read more on these water softeners and additional options at Water Filter Mag.