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Hard or Soft water

Kids Learning October 7, 2013

How can we find out whether the water at home is hard or soft? What do these terms mean, anyway? Find out, through some simple and interesting activities.

If you are a keen observer, you must have noticed that you require more or less shampoo than usual when you travel to some other part of the country. This is because different areas have different types of water. At some places the water is “hard” and some places it is “soft”.

Hard water is water that contains a lot of minerals. It gives less lather and is salty.
Soft water is the water that has low mineral content. It gives a lot of gives lots of lather with soap and is sweet to taste.

Here is a simple activity to find out what type of water you have in your home.

You will need:
2 jars with screw-top lids
Distilled water
Tap water
Washing Soap Powder

Let’s begin:

Half-fill one jar with distilled water. Add a little washing soap powder to it. Put the lid on the jar tightly and shake it hard. Distilled water is soft water, so there should be lots of bubbles in the jar.

Half-fill another jar with water from your tap. Add the same quantity of soap and shake it well.

Compare with the first jar. Are there lots of bubbles or only a few? If there are lots, you have soft water. If there are only a few, you have hard water.

There is however, another way of finding out if you have hard or soft water. If you have an electric kettle in your house which you have been using for sometime, look inside the kettle. If your water is hard, the element in the bottom of the kettle will look as if it has a coat of fur.

Another interesting thing to know is that the density of water in the sea and that of your tap water is not the same. This time when you go on a holiday, try swimming in the sea. You will find that it is easier to swim in the sea than in the pool. This is because sea water is salty, which adds to its density. Because of its greater density, sea water is able to give more support to a solid object while it floats.

To understand this better, perform this simple activity in the kitchen.

For this you will need
A jar
Water
An egg (uncooked)
6 Tablespoons of salt

Let’s start:

Place the uncooked egg in the jar filled with water. The egg will sink to the bottom. Take out the egg.

Now stir in about 6 tablespoons of salt until all the salt disappears. Then place the same egg in it.

What do you think happens to the egg this time? You will see that it floats on water. Adding salt increases the density of water and it gives greater support to the egg, making it float.

Did you know that a bad egg floats on water?

Yes, if an egg floats in fresh water, it is stale. The reason is that as an egg gets older, the water inside the egg evaporates through the shell. Having lost water, the egg becomes lighter and therefore it floats on water.

Also, have you ever wondered why you are advised to drink lots of water to stay healthy?

Our body is made up of lots of water. Out of every 4.5 kilograms of your weight, about 3 kilograms is water. This is true of other living things as well. You must have seen plants drying up and dying if they are not watered. The reason that every living thing needs a certain amount of water is because cells have water molecules in them. Without water, these cells will die.

So now you know why water is considered a wonder drink and why mummy keeps telling you to drink lots of water to stay healthy!

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