Water is indeed the basic necessity of life - but how well do we know it? Not many people out there are familiar with terms like hard water and soft water. These are basically two classifications of water based on its chemical content. The hardness of the water depends on its calcium content, which is measured in parts per million. If the calcium content of the water is 160 ppm or less,

it is referred to as soft water, and if the same is above 160 ppm, it is referred to as hard water. Before we move on to hard water vs soft water, let's have a look at each of these individually.

Hard Water

The simplest definition of hard water would be water with high mineral content. These contents of hard water, which include calcium, magnesium, chalk, lime, etc., get dissolved into the water as it makes its way through the ground. Among these minerals, calcium and magnesium are found in abundance. Other than this, hard water may also include other compounds such as bicarbonates and/or sulphates. Hard water is generally preferred as drinking water owing to its high mineral content. Even in terms of taste, hard water is superior to soft water.

Soft Water

Soft water is the water which contains very few or absolutely no traces of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Among the ground water sources, soft water is generally derived from igneous rocks, such as granite, or sedimentary rocks, such as sandstone, which are themselves low in mineral content. Soft water can also be derived by getting rid of all the minerals in the hard water using a water softener system. In terms of taste, soft water is relatively salty, and sometimes not at all suitable to drink. In such a scenario, this water has to be subjected to hardness correction or has to be blended with hard water to make it potable.

Hard Water vs Soft Water

That brings us to the ultimate question, which is better hard water or soft water? One of the most crucial difference between hard and soft water is that the former doesn't work well with soap, while the later does. In case of hard water, the ions dissolved in water tend to react with the chemicals present in the soap and produces a insoluble residue which is quite difficult to wash away. On the other hand soft water and soap work very well together, and make the skin smooth and glowing.

Extremely hard water can also be harmful for the plumbing system and hence this water is subjected to treatment to make it soft. Another important hard and soft water difference is its use for consumption. A report tabled by National Research Council in 1980s stated that the high mineral content of hard water makes it an important source of these minerals, and thus gives it an edge over soft water. Some researchers believe that soft water has an edge over hard water as it saves money by increasing the efficiency of cleaning by more than 200 percent, while some believe that hard water has an edge over soft water, as the former is an important source of minerals such as magnesium and calcium.

There is no definite winner in the hard water vs soft water comparison, as the end result by and large depends on what you are used to. People who have been using hard water all the while are bound to feel strange with that smooth and glowing skin attributed to soft water, and people who are used to soft water are bound to feel that hard water tastes a bit weird.