Last Updated: September 4, 2020

Hard water is what causes the white limescale stains around your sink, faucet, kettle and bathtub. Do you know that around 90% of the US suffer from it according to The U.S. Geological Survey?

Pelican Standard SoftenerThe situation is almost as bad in other parts of the world like Europe. For instance, around 13 million homes in the UK suffer from heavy limescale because of hardness.

All of this is because of the type of water that is supplied to the home. And a lot of this is down to the water available in your geological location.

For instance, living near certain types of rock will determine the kind of water you get.

“Hardness” is not necessarily how water appears in its natural form. For instance, do you know that rainwater is soft in its natural form?

You only get hardness when the water comes into contact with other elements like the ground, chalk, limestone and rock – that its state can change.

This article will help you understand why all of this is a problem and what you can do about it.

What Is Hard Water?

It is water that has high levels of dissolved mineral deposits like magnesium and calcium. The most visible effect of this is white stains (also known as limescale) around your sink, faucet, bathtub and kitchen appliances like your kettle. 

How Is It Formed?

It’s formed when magnesium and calcium ions are dissolved in high quantities.

If the hardness is temporary then this will be due to dissolved calcium hydrogencarbonate and this can easily be removed by boiling it.

However, permanent hardness is due to dissolved calcium sulfate that you can’t simply remove by boiling.

Temporary Hard Water?

If your water only contains calcium hydrogencarbonate (instead of calcium sulfate) then it is considered to be “temporary hard”. “Temporary” because you can easily remove calcium hydrogencarbonate by boiling it unlike other forms of hardness.

Examples Of Hard Water

High levels of “hardness” means that it is high in both calcium and magnesium. Rain is naturally soft but becomes “hard” when it comes into contact with things like rock, chalk and limestone.

Types Of Hard Water

  • One that does not easily lather when you use soap.
  • It leaves limescale residue in your kettle and pipes (this can cause blockages over time).Inside A Water Softener
  • Another example is the type that contains ferrous irons. This can result in some reddish brown stains on your clothes after laundry.

What Is Soft Water?

This is literally the opposite of hard water in that it doesn’t contain high levels of calcium and magnesium. In some ways, soft water is actually more natural in the sense that things like rain is naturally soft.

Despite this, you shouldn’t drink it if it has been softened with sodium salt. Read why this is the case here.

Is It Safe To Drink Hard Water?

Is it safe to drink? Technically, yes.

Consuming small amounts of magnesium and calcium should not cause you any harm. Especially if the rest of the liquid is clean and free of any harmful contaminants.

The real issue of “hardness” is the effect and nuisance it causes for your home appliances and plumbing. This is through things like mineral buildup and the potential for clogging or blocking up pipes.

Advantages

  • It contains dissolved calcium, it may (at least in theory) be a source of calcium. However, the available calcium in “hard” water is probably not enough to compete with calcium rich foods like leafy vegetables.
  • Better taste. Yes this might sound weird but some people actually like the taste.
  • You can drink it without any health risks, unlike soft water (particularly that which has been softened with salt).Water Softener Valve
  • There are also unconfirmed reports of fewer heart attacks in locations with lots of hardness. It is not clear whether this is as a result of casualty or correlation.

Disadvantages

  • The biggest issue with hardness is by far the limescale buildup in your pipes and home appliances.
  • You may find that you use more soap because it takes longer to lather, which can be both time consuming and expensive in the long term.
  • The limescale it leaves can make your appliances and machines work less efficiently.

Hard Water Areas UK

Unfortunately, the UK is heavily affected with hardness due to its geographic location. About 13 million homes in the UK live in areas with hardness.
Hard Water Areas UKYou can check areas suffering from hardness on the UK map and see if your neighbourhood is one of the affected areas.

Another way to check hardness is to get a good quality water hardness testing kit.

It is possible to get a cheap kit but they might not work as well to get you an accurate reading.

Also, remember that you measure hardness by looking at the number of mineral deposits by ppm (parts per million).
Hardness in water is anything more than 180ppm, while anything less than 60ppm can be considered to be soft water.

How To Get Rid of Hard Water?

Mr Water Geek ThinkingWhile the water from your tap in a western country is usually safe to drink, the hardness can wreck havoc on your pipes, plumbing and appliances.

So here is how to get rid of it: soften your water. The easiest way to do this is to mrwatergeek winner badgeuse a water softener machine.

One of the best softener machines is the Aquasana Whole House Rhino. I like this machine because it not only softens but it filters too.Aquasana Whole House Features List

It softens without using salt or sodium.

This is ideal for people who want to consume less sodium in their diet.Dashed Line

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I'm a health author, science enthusiast and 100% certified geek. My passion is to help you take control of your health and well-being by understanding the true importance of good quality water and healthy hydration.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Really informative article.. I’ve learned some new info from it. I would say that using electronic water conditioner is one of the best method to soften the hard water and the reason is that it consumes no salt and requires no maintenance as well. The power of removing scales from water is also Excellent.
    That’s why people are going for water conditioners these days. The cost is comparatively low as well if compared with any water softener.

    • Hi Mrs Sarah

      Many thanks for offering your opinion on this topic. I agree that some people prefer electronic descalers over regular water softeners because there so many advantages.

      Best wishes,
      Luke

    • Hi Judy

      My best advice is to get a water hardness test kit to understand exactly how hard your water is and then once you have this number you can look for the water softener model that is capable of dealing with that level of hardness.

      Aquasansa is a good water filter and Fleck is a great water softener brand because it will work with almost all water types and you can always get one of the higher spec models e.g. 9100SXT that deals with very hard water.

      Once you know how hard your water is, you can even call up the cheaper manufactures available in your area and ask them which model is the right one for you.

      However, getting it direct from Amazon allows you to read reviews before you buy, Amazon will even install it for you and you benefit from their trusted customer services if anything goes wrong.
      Hope this helps,
      Luke

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