What is hard water?
Hard water is described as ‘hard’ not because there’s any difference in rigidity, but because of its mineral content. During the water cycle (the journey water takes to get to our homes) rainwater travels through rock such as chalk and limestone and picks up minerals on the way. If those picked up minerals are calcium and magnesium, they make the water hard.
About 60% of homes in the UK suffer from hard water. These are mainly concentrated in central, eastern and southern England. Though hard water isn’t unhealthy to drink, which you might have heard but is a myth, it causes limescale deposits, which is why we speak of “suffering” from hard water. It can also taste different, which is improved by using water filters.
Below is a map showing the rate of hardness in parts of the UK.
Check the water hardness in your area
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What is soft water?
Soft water is water with low mineral content. For example, rainwater is naturally soft. When it seeps through hard, impervious rock layers, it remains soft as there are no minerals for it to pick up. That’s why some areas of the UK are lucky and have naturally soft water.
Softened water is created by removing the calcium and magnesium ions via a process known as ‘ion exchange’. This means replacing the abrasive calcium and magnesium with harmless sodium. The total mineral content of softened water doesn’t change, but the abrasiveness does.
Limescale is the main problem caused by hard water. Limescale is a deposit that builds up on the insides of your pipes and appliances and can cause many problems. There are only two ways to stop having hard water throughout the home – move to a soft water area, or get a water softener. Water softeners remove the hard water minerals from the water.
What problems does limescale cause?
Scale is hard on your pocket
- Every year 1.5mm of scale can build up – you can see it on taps and surfaces, but it also builds up where you can’t see it inside pipes and appliances.
- Scale can damage appliances and central heating systems without you knowing.
- Hard water can reduce the efficiency and working life of your appliances and service maintenance costs can increase.
- You could be losing up to 70% in heating efficiency due to scale.
Unsightly scum and scale means hard work for you
- Baths, basins, taps, tiles, glassware and crockery carry stains that are difficult to clean no matter how much time and money you spend.
- Scale blocks showerheads and reduces water flow.
- Scale forms on taps and is difficult to clean.
- Soap scum is formed by the combination of hard water and soap. You also have to use more water to rinse your hands after washing them, and you have to use more soap to work up a lather.
Hard times for your skin and clothes
- Deposits left behind by hard water causes problems for skin and hair. This is especially so for sufferers of dry skin conditions such as eczema.
- Hard water leaves deposits on your hair. This makes it harder to wash and meaning you have to use more products.
- Scum collects in your washing, making fabrics harsh and rough.
Experience the benefits of soft water
- Appreciate the gentle touch of the rich lather!
- Your skin will feel smoother.
- Dry and flaky skin conditions can improve.
- Shaving is gentler.
- Your hair is shinier and cleaner.
- Towels, clothes and all fabrics take on a new fresh softness.
Soft water is gentle on your pocket!
- You’ll need fewer cleaning products and it will be easier, creating time for you to do other things.
- No need for expensive scale removing products – which is kinder on the environment too!
- Longer working life for your washing machine, dishwasher and central heating system – saving you money on service and maintenance costs.
- Plumbing and appliances are better protected from scale.
- Use up to 50% less detergent, soaps and shampoos.
Keep your home beautiful for longer!
- Your bathroom suite and kitchenware stay sparkling and scale-free.
- No unsightly stains or scum marks on dishes, baths, basins, taps and tiles.
- Cleaning will be easier.
- Gradually, softened water removes scale from water pipes, hot water cylinders and shower heads – you’ll enjoy your shower at its full power once again.
Hard water affects over half of all homes in the UK, and can cost you a lot of money because you have to use more water, replace your appliances more frequently and exacerbate skin conditions like eczema. If you use a water softener, you’ll save money, have cleaner appliances and use less water.
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