What is Hard Water?

As rain water passes through soil and rock it dissolves traces of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. “Hard Water” is simply water with a high content of these minerals.

Overall the UK’s drinking water is classified as “very hard”, with many areas of England exhibiting over 200mg of calcium carbonate per litre. Around 60% of UK households are in a hard water area.


Hard Water Problems

Hard water causes problems by leaving behind a build up of minerals over time,
mainly calcium. Around the home this can be seen as scale forming on the edge
of basins and toilets, in showers and on taps. As well as making kitchen and
bathroom fittings look and feel grubby, and become a real nuisance to clean,
this build up inside the plumbing can lead to a very real problem with
maintenance and energy costs.
Just 1mm of limescale in your hot water system can increase your energy use
by 7%*, costing the average household an additional £150-£200 per year.
Find out more about the costs of hard water here.

You’ll also see the effects of hard water in domestic appliances, including
dishwashers, washing machines and kettles. Limescale deposits increase when
water is heated, making appliances perform less efficiently and reducing their
lifespan. Hard water also has an effect on soap, reducing the formation of

Although the calcium in hard water is in itself good for your health, some studies
have shown hard water can also aggravate dry skin conditions and Eczema.


Hard Water Treatment

There are two main ways of treating hard water: softeners and conditioners. 

Water softeners work through a chemical ion exchange process that removes
the calcium and replaces it with sodium. Although this solves the issues related
to limescale build up, it is not recommended that softened water be drunk,
due to the additional salt levels, meaning many people require the installation
of separate taps for drinking water.

Water conditioners by contrast do not add anything to the water, or change it
chemically, leaving it completely safe to drink. They also don’t require the
ongoing purchase of any chemicals or salt.
Electronic water conditioners work by using an electric field to alter
the shape and charge of the calcium particles within the water, so they are less
able to stick to pipes and surfaces. The treatment lasts for around 7 days so one unit is normally sufficient for the whole house. Simple and effective – they really do work and over time will also break down the existing limescale that has been deposited within your plumbing.
Magnetic water conditioners work in a similar way, using magnetic fields. However, as these only alter the shape and charge of the water particles temporarily, they can typically only protect one household appliance, and are not suitable for any system that involves water storage. As such they are usually ineffective as a solution for the whole house. 

*source: carbon trust



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