Water coming out of the shower head

What is the Difference Between Hard and Soft Water?

Water hardness and softness has nothing to do with its touch and feel. It is more about the chemical compounds dissolved in it. They are both safe for human consumption. Pure water (like rainwater) is soft water. It only becomes hard when it comes into contact with rock layers made up of compounds such as calcium or magnesium, and they dissolve in it.


Scientific findings supported by research at the World Health Organization have shown that drinking water rich with essential minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium, protects good health and leads to lower instances of heart disease and stroke. If you have ever drank ‘well-water’ you may have heard the expression “it’s an acquired taste,” but municipalities across Canada also have hard water.


Water hardness measures mineral content in grains and water with more than 1 grain per gallon is usually considered hard. The hardness of the water contaminated with mineral deposits is rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Understanding what kind of water is being used in your home in Aurora or Newmarket from your plumber has many benefits, including preventing water damage on your property.

According to the Canadian Water Quality Association, water hardness is interpreted as:

  • Soft - 0 – 1 grains per gallon (gpg)
  • Slightly Hard - 1.1 – 3.5 gpg
  • Moderately Hard - 3.6 – 7 gpg
  • Hard - 7.1 – 10.5 gpg
  • Very Hard - over 10.5 gpg


Canadian Water Quality Association published a list to help Canadians identify their water type including in Aurora (17), Newmarket (10.5), Richmond Hill (17.2), Toronto (7.5), and Woodbridge (16.2).

The two particularly problematic minerals are calcium and magnesium, which bind themselves together and become what is called scale or mineral deposits. Hot water makes these minerals leach out of water more quickly. Scale sticks to the interior of steel (galvanized) pipes, popular between mid-1940s and the late 1970s, household appliances, and surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom look dingy.

Mineral deposits also have a negative impact on the soaps and detergents people use to clean - they do not lather well in hard water, forcing people to use a lot more water, and drive up their overall water bill significantly.

Appliances can be vulnerable to hard water with the most damage to dish washers, water heaters, and washing machines. Once the loose minerals begin to cling to the internal parts of these machines they begin to falter and eventually fail as its effects go unnoticed until significant damage has been done.

The key is for the homeowner to have their plumbing system checked for hard water damage at least once a year. There are several types of home appliances that treat hard water. Water softeners that include reverse osmosis systems are effective at removing dissolved calcium from hard water.

If you have plumbing concerns related to the water quality in your home, contact the plumbing professionals at Aaron & Son Plumbing & Drain Services. We offer our services to clients in York Region, including Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Aurora. Our plumbers are well-trained, honest and skilled in all aspects of our services. Schedule your consultation today!