Water softeners reduce your water’s hardness, but customers often want to know what soft water is and how soft it needs to be.
To begin to answer those questions, let’s start with an experiment done by the Technical Director and CEO C.F. ‘Chubb’ Michaud. In his ‘How Soft is Soft Water?’ experiment, Michaud tests the effectiveness of soap in varying degrees of soft water from 0 grains of hardness per gallon to 10 grains of hardness per gallon.
View the results below including figures 3-6 demonstrating the buildup of soap scum over time. To scroll through the images simply click on the right arrow.
*Photos courtesy of C.F. ‘Chubb’ Michaud's experiment.
As you can see, the softest water lathers the soap the most and leaves the least amount of soap scum. Water with softness of 1gpg is best for creating the most and longest lasting soap bubbles.
Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions. They do not pose any harm to your health, but they do cause buildup on your pipes and keep your soap from properly lathering.
What is Soap Scum?
Adding soap to hard water creates soap scum—demonstrated in the above experiment. Soap scum creates undesirable rings in your tub and sticks to your clothes, dishes, skin and hair.
So, why does soap scum only happen with hard water? Adding soap to hard water actually softens it. The soap scum is the iron and magnesium removed from your water. That’s why you don’t get as many bubbles with hard water: all of the soap is going towards softening the water instead of cleaning your laundry or dishes.
Do I have hard water?
If your water leaves soap scum on your tub, sink or dishes and causes scale buildup in your pipes, you probably have hard water.