We all know the type of water that runs through our pipes, hard, soft, or somewhere in between. The real question is: what does it mean, and more importantly, does it matter? Drinking water in the UK is generally classified as ‘very hard’ (with a few exceptions in places such as Cornwall, Devon, and Wales), so in this blog, we’ll be focusing on hard water.
Surprisingly, hard water is water with high mineral content. Hard water is produced when the natural path of water is through limestone and chalk deposits. This gives us water than contains dissolved compounds, these tend to be calcium or magnesium compounds. That, in a nutshell, is what makes our water ‘hard’.
What does hard water do?
So, now we know what hard water is, but what does it do? The easiest way to spot hard water, is to try and lather soap in it. The dissolved calcium and magnesium ions in hard water make it more difficult to create a lather, instead forming soap scum. This means you’ll need more soap when doing the washing up or washing your hair, and it may leave that slimy soap layer around your plug holes. You know the one.
Another sure-fire sign of hard water is the limescale it creates. For those amongst us lucky enough to have never dealt with limescale, limescale is a chalky white substance that forms in your kettle, boiler, and pipes. It is left there when hard water evaporates, leaving behind calcium carbonate (a.k.a. limescale) deposits. This can clog up your plumbing and restrict the flow of water. Limescale costs millions by clogging up industrial machines every year.