Whether a water supply is soft or “hard is dependent on the presence of two highly soluble minerals, calcium and magnesium.
From a health standpoint, these minerals have no adverse effects and are, in fact, essential daily nutrients. It is minerals that give water the refreshing flavor many people find desirable.
However, when calcium and magnesium permeate water, they buildup on contact surfaces, possibly plug pipes and damage water heaters, and decrease the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. At this point the water is said to be hard and you need a water softener.