There is a plethora of information out there extolling the virtues of water. We’ve talked about here before in posts like this one about the benefits of hot water, this post about how water figures into personal hygiene and a multitude of posts about proper hydration (too many to link to).

It is important to understand, though, that not all water is the same. There are actually types of water and how you deal with them will figure heavily into every other aspect of your life.

The Different Types of Water

There are two basic types of water: hard and soft.

Hard Water

Hard water is water that is laden with minerals, often because the water passes through materials that are heavy in calcium and magnesium like limestone, chalk or dolomite. Hard water is not usually harmful to drink but it can do some serious damage to pipes and other apparatuses like water heaters, filters, boilers, etc.

Rural areas and homes that use well water are more likely to have to deal with hard water than people who live in urban areas (or who use municipal water instead of water wells).

The best way to figure out if your water is hard is to try to wash something with it. Unlike with other types of water, agitating soap in hard water does not typically produce suds or a lather.

Soft Water

Soft water is the most common form of water–rainwater, for example, is soft water. Soft water is free of most mineral deposits and is treated so that the only ion contained within it is sodium. Soft water is much easier on mechanics and plumbing and is healthier to drink and use for washing.

How to Deal with Different Types of Water

Before you decide what to do with your water, it is important that you know what type of water you have. Luckily, there are a lot of resources that you can use to help you learn the difference.

For the most part, you don’t have to do much about soft water. A lot of people still run water through filters (like the kind you can fix to your faucets, shower heads or the portable pitcher type) to help get rid of any sediments or chemicals that the water might have picked up while moving through a municipal water supply to their homes.

Hard water, though, that is another story. Most people assume that installing a water softener is the only way to deal with hard water. Sometimes, if the water has especially high mineral deposits, a water softener is really the best investment you can make. Other times, especially if your water isn’t very hard, there are other things you can do. Here are the steps to figuring out what to do about hard water:

  • Determine the hardness of the water coming into your house.
  • If the water is particularly high in minerals, install a water softener.

If the water hardness isn’t dire, here are a few things you can do:

  • Every once in awhile run strong white vinegar through any appliances that use water a lot, like coffee pots and washing machines.
  • Add vinegar to any water you’re using for cleaning to help reduce mineral deposits and film
  • Choose soaps, shampoos, conditioners, etc (for body, clothing and house cleaning) that are specifically built to work with hard water.
  • Check faucets and pipes regularly for calcium buildups, remove those buildups when they occur.

Knowing what kind of water you have is important because it will determine how you use that water and whether or not any extra steps need to be taken to help your body stay clean and healthy. If you haven’t taken the time to figure out what kind of water your house or apartment has, there is no time like the present to do so!