You’ve probably heard the term “hard water” several times throughout your life, but do you really know what hard water actually is, the difference between hard and soft water or who most likely has each type of water running through their water systems? Here’s some of the interesting hard facts on hard water:

The majority of people in the US have hard water running through their water systems. Unlike the surprisingly small 15% of US population that’s fortunate enough to have soft water, the rest of the US population is stuck with battling the many inconveniences and unfortunately, unpleasant health risks of hard water. The fortunate 15% of the U.S that has soft water is mainly made up of those who live in New England, Pacific Northwest, parts of Southeast and the Gulf states. The remaining 85% of the population has hard water, with the midwest section of the country battling some of the hardest. Tampa, San Antonio, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Las Vegas are some of the parts of the country that have some of the hardest water.

Soft water, which is generally surface water from a lake or river, is free from most minerals or the dissolved salts of metals that form insoluble deposits. Hard water is water that has a high mineral content. Soft water becomes hard water when the water collects numerous minerals, such as calcium and magnesium carbonates, by passing through and percolating in limestone and chalk deposits. This generally happens while the water is in an aquifer. A water aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing rock or minerals that contains groundwater. This groundwater can be taken from an aquifer through the use of a water well. The longer the water travels through these mineral-ridden elements, the more minerals the water will leach and the harder, or more mineral dense, the water will become. Unfortunately, by the time it reaches 85% of the US populations faucets and shower heads, it usually has a pretty high mineral content.

So what are the effects of hard water? This true culprit may go unknown to many, but nearly everyone actually see the effects of hard water daily. Hard water forms deposits that clogs plumbing and appliances such as coffee makers. Hard water leaves unsightly hard to remove soap scum stains on shower doors, faucets and dishes, reduces the heat efficiency of your boiler and causes pipe corrosion that’s not only unpleasant to look at on your faucets but also very unhealthy for you to drink or shower with daily. Corroded metals and other unhealthy impurities can create health risks and hard water has also been proven in studies to worsen eczema in children.

Now that you know the difference between soft and hard water, the large percentage of areas in the country that are more likely to have hard water and the undesirable effects hard water can cause, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of it. If you’re with the majority of the US dealing with the effects of hard water, you can neutralize your hard water and turn it into soft water by using a water softener or a high quality faucet and showerhead filter. By softening your water you can enjoy cleaner clothes, a much cleaner healthier shower, save water, conserve energy, save money and you can greatly extend the efficiency and life expectancy of many of your household and office appliances.