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What's the Difference Between Soft and Hard Water?

hard vs soft water

Whether you’re a recent Orlando transplant or a longtime resident, you may have noticed that Orlando’s water is, well, different from the water in other areas. Maybe you see lots of spots on your glasses or notice a crusty buildup on your showerhead. That’s because Orlando is known for its hard water. Water picks up minerals like calcium and magnesium as it runs through the ground into the Florida aquifer, making it “hard.” It’s not unsafe, but it can be unsightly. It also makes your washing machine and dishwasher work harder. Fortunately, Michael’s Plumbing of Central Florida is your water-conditioning expert.

How does water become hard or soft?

When water drops from the clouds, it’s naturally soft. However, during its trip through our waterways and into the ground, it picks up minerals, including calcium, magnesium, chalk, and lime. You can’t see them, but they’ll show up as spots or scale on your cookware after the water evaporates. They also like to deposit on your water fixtures, which can clog your showerhead or make your tap sputter or spray in several directions.

Soft water is water that has been treated to remove these minerals. A typical water softener uses the nifty chemistry you learned in high school. (You were listening, right?) Water softeners rely on tiny resin beads that hold a negative charge and bind with sodium and potassium, which both have positive charges. Calcium and magnesium ions, however, have even more substantial positive charges. Hence, as your water moves over the beads, the calcium and magnesium switch with sodium and potassium ions. The water continues into your home without the calcium and magnesium that cause so much trouble.

What are the advantages of soft water?

Soft water’s most noticeable advantage is in cleaning. Soft water lets you work up a nice lather, whether you’re doing a load of laundry or soaping up in the shower. It doesn’t contain dissolved minerals, so there’s less scaling and spotting on your drinking glasses and water fixtures. Your home’s pipes and appliances may have a longer lifespan because they’re no longer being assaulted by the minerals found in hard water.

Are there any drawbacks to soft water?

Many people hear “sodium” and worry that softened water isn’t good for them. Some people complain that soft water makes them feel like they can never rinse off thoroughly. This feeling usually goes away after they get used to soft water. If your doctor advises you to limit salt, Michael’s Plumbing of Central Florida can advise you of different softening options. 

How can I find out more?

Michael’s Plumbing of Central Florida has brought plumbing services to central Florida and Orlando for more than 30 years. To find out more about water-softening options, reach out online here or call us at (407) 219-9772.

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