The description of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ for water depends entirely on the amount of minerals and substrate found in the water. The minerals that are generally looked at are chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulphate, and fluorine.
Waters that are considered ‘hard’ water tend to have far more minerals in them, like the ones described by vulcan32. Soft water is usually filtered, removing these minerals and giving the water a different feel. Hard water makes up 85 percent of the water in the US, with the 15 percent that is soft water covering the North-eastern region of the country.
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