7 Benefits to Cooking With Soft Water

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated December 20, 2021
woman making lunch on kitchen stove
Photo: Alessandro Biascioli / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Hard water contains many magnesium and calcium ions.

  • Water with 0–60 milligrams per liter is considered soft.

  • Soft water boils faster because there’s less mineral content.

  • Soft water can make for more tender food, including baked goods. 

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You might have noticed spots and streaks on your glassware and chalky residue on your tea kettle. These are sure signs you have hard water, and you realize you might need to invest in a water treatment system. But first, you want to make sure softening your water won’t ruin your cooking. Read on for a few reasons why transitioning from hard to soft water might actually improve the dishes and drinks you turn out. 

1. Everything Might Taste Better

older mother and daughter cooking together
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In general, hard water contains many magnesium and calcium ions. Water with 0 to 60 milligrams per liter (mg/L) is soft, 61 to 120 mg/L moderately hard, 121 to 180 mg/L hard, and more than 180 mg/L very hard.

Since traditional water softeners remove these minerals and replace them with (softer) sodium and potassium, soft water tends to be slightly saltier and, as a result, more flavorful.

For anyone on a low-sodium diet, though, they’ll probably want to choose a salt-free water treatment system, such as a water conditioner or reverse osmosis water filter.

3 water hardness levels compared, with hard ranging 121 to 180 mg/L

2. Dishes and Glasses Will Look Cleaner

Goodbye, spots and dull streaks (otherwise known as limescale) on your glassware and other dishes. With hard water, minerals build up on your serving pieces. Once you soften water, you’ll be free of that residue.

3. Water Will Boil Faster

pot of boiling water on stove
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Thanks to its high mineral content, hard water has a boiling point one or two degrees higher than soft water, so it takes a bit more time to come to a boil. Each time you cook water for pasta, rice, or tea, you’ll appreciate your decision to hire a water softener company near you

4. Appliances Will Last Longer

Mineral buildup can clog pipes and the parts of your water-using appliances, like coffee makers, tea kettles, and dishwashers. Converting from hard to soft water will likely boost the longevity of your large and small appliances. 

5. Food Will Keep Its True Colors

“Hard water is alkaline and can cause color changes in potatoes, rice, and onions,” says food science writer Shirley O. Corriher in “Cookwise.” Think cream for potatoes and yellow for rice and onions. Soft water may help keep your foods their intended color for a more aesthetically pleasing presentation.

6. Food Will Be More Tender

The calcium in hard water can make food firmer as well. “Green beans and some other vegetables can become so tough when cooked in hard water that they are inedible,” says Corriher. Soft water may make your produce easier to chew.

However, this con can also be a pro when it comes to fruits and vegetables that lose their shape, she explains. “Calcium compounds are sometimes added to tomatoes during processing to keep them firmer and prevent loss of shape. For the same reason, calcium is sometimes added to fragile fruits like raspberries when they are processed.” 

7. Your Baking Could Improve

father and daughters baking in the kitchen
Photo: Yakobchuk Olena / Adobe Stock

Hard water can make baked goods tougher since minerals tighten gluten, which is a wheat protein. Treat your water, and get ready for fluffier bread, muffins, and scones. Yum!

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