What is Hard Water and Soft Water

water faucet

If you are wondering what is hard water or what is soft water and how can you tell the difference keep reading.   Hard water contains high levels of calcium and/or magnesium which leave white stains on plumbing fixtures, cause dry skin and soap to not lather and work properly. Soft water, on the other hand, refers to water that is free of these minerals, either naturally or that’s passed through a water softening system to remove these minerals and “softens” the water.

At Kinetico, our water treatment solutions include various water softening options. If you’ve been around hard water stains before, they appear in the form of chalky buildup, white rings in toilets, white stains in the sinks and tubs. Let’s look at their common causes plus how you can remove them.

How Does Water Become Hard

Water is naturally soft and as it comes in contact with the soil, either by running through streams and rivers or as is percolates through the earth, it absorbs minerals, including calcium and magnesium.  These minerals actually dissolve into the water and will not settle out or evaporate.

Why do Hard Water Stains Develop

When hard water is allowed to evaporate or is heated to high temperatures, as in a water heater, the minerals will come out of their dissolved state and are left behind in the form of a white chalky residue.   Some types of metal in pipes also will attract the minerals and will get a lot of build up in them.

Removing Hard Water

There are a number of cleaning products that can help remove hard water stains, but you have to be careful with these products. They are generally extremely powerful, and may contain acids. Make sure to wear gloves and use these products only in a well-ventilated area.

Soft Water

The best long-term solution to hard water is installing a water softening system, which will remove these minerals before they make their way into your home.  Soft water will lengthen the lifespan of your appliances and plumbing fixtures, saving you hours of cleaning each week scrubbing unsightly stains from your kitchen and bathrooms. You will also have spot free, sparkling clean dishes and silverware, softer skin and hair and significantly reduce the cleaners and soaps used in your home.

To learn about our soft water systems or any of our other home water treatments? Speak to the pros at Kinetico today.

Key Signs Your Home Has Hard Water


You may have heard the term “hard water” and wondered what it is and whether your home has this type of water. Unless you have experienced hard water before, how would you know if you had it? It’s important for homeowners to understand some of the common signs of hard water to be able to identify it, understand the problems associated with it, and learn the best ways to remove it from your water supply.

Hard Water Causes

Hard water comes from minerals that are present in the soil and are absorbed into the water supply on its way to your home. That usually includes some or all of the following:

  • Calcium carbonate
  • Limestone
  • Calcium sulfate
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

These minerals, while not generally harmful to your health, can cause problems any time you use water in your home.

Noticeable Hard Water Problems

While you can always call a water softener company, or your local water municipal office for a testing kit to determine if you have hard water, most people notice some of the other effects before they take the step of getting it tested. Things you may have noticed at your own home might include:

  • Water spots or a white film on your dishes and glassware
  • Coarse hair and dry itchy skin
  • Mineral deposits that build up on your faucets and appliances (and in your pipes, although you likely only notice this if it gets bad enough to clog the pipe)
  • Mineral deposits, known as scaling, on your shower and bathtub doors
  • Clothing that looks dull or loses its color quickly
  • Poor lathering from your soap or shampoo

Fixing Hard Water

The easiest way to fix hard water in your home (short of moving somewhere that doesn’t have any naturally-occurring minerals in the water) is to purchase a water softener. These systems remove the minerals and exchange them for salt, leaving you with softer skin and hair, shiny spot free dishes, cleaner clothes that hold their color longer, and pipes that are protected from continual scale buildup.

Another advantage of a water softener is the prolonged life for your appliances. Hard water can quickly damage appliances such as your washing machine, dishwasher, and water heater, which means they don’t work as well as you hope and you’ll have to spend money replacing them sooner. When you purchase a water softener, the water that flows through these appliances is free of minerals that could otherwise clog up the system and cause problems.

To get a quote on a new water softener in Utah, or to find out more about what minerals are in your water, call Kinetico of Salt Lake City today.

The Costliest Water Damage Happening in Your Home


The idea of water damage is frightening for any homeowner, especially those who have experienced the destruction and long-term problems that can occur from things like flooding. However, there is another type of water damage that could be impacting your home and is much, much harder to detect because it’s happening inside your pipes: hard water damage.

The Basics of Hard Water

The two most common minerals found in water are calcium and magnesium, and while many people take these supplements to keep their bodies healthy, having them inside your water isn’t necessarily the best way to get them in your diet. For the most part, hard water that contains calcium, magnesium, and other minerals is not necessarily bad for your health, but it could be very bad for your plumbing.

Bathroom Fixtures

Perhaps the most noticeable damage from hard water is the stuff you see on your appliances and fixtures. Homes that have hard water will generally start to see a “buildup” of calcium and magnesium around the edges of faucets, on the shower, and perhaps around sinks and bathtubs as well. Unfortunately traditional cleaning supplies generally are not enough to get rid of this buildup, and if you wait too long, the only solution will be to replace your fixtures and shower heads.

Plumbing Pipes

Another type of hard water damage that you won’t see is inside your pipes. When hard water minerals and deposits harden inside the pipes they can cause blockages that are not easy to get out. Traditional drain cleaners won’t fix them, and in most cases you will need to hire a professional plumber to come and remove it. There are some plumbing fixtures that are less prone to damage than others, but the best way to avoid this type of damage is just to get soft water.

Appliance Damage

Finally, hard water minerals can cause serious and significant damage to your appliances. Water is essential for things like your dishwasher and washing machine, but when the pipes and inner parts of the appliance get clogged with hard water deposits, not only will your appliances be running far less efficiently and costing you more, but it might also be causing unseen damage that will wear out the appliance sooner. The end result is that you either have to pay for expensive repairs or just buy new appliances.

Rather than dealing with these costs, talk to Kinetico in Utah today to find out more about the benefits that soft water can provide. In addition to making your skin and hair feel softer, it can save you a lot of scrubbing and harsh chemical use when cleaning your bathroom fixtures, and can prevent some of the costly unseen damage to your pipes and appliances.