When the rain from the clouds reaches the land, the water is soft. Then, the water trickles through the ground and depending upon what the land is made from, the water remains soft – or, more commonly, picks up minerals from the ground, which make it hard.
Some ground like granite and sandstone contain little calcium and magnesium so give up little, but others like the local chalky or limestone ground are more generous and donate their products in abundance.
The most usual minerals in hard water are calcium and magnesium. The rain water dissolves them as it passes through the ground. The calcium forms calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is the main cause of hard water, together with traces of other substances.
Hard water has several effects, both on your person and on your house, hold appliances and your plumbing system.
High levels of calcium effects your skin and your hair. It’s also more difficult for you to get up a nice lather when washing.
Hard water ages your skin. The minerals have the effect of drying your skin by blocking the pores which prevents your natural oils from lubricating the skin. They may also cause some breakdown of collagen and this may result in more and earlier wrinkles. In fact, many people spend around £220 a year on creams and lotions to counteract these effects.
Hard water also dries the hair and if you dye your hair then the dye can fade faster than in a soft water area.
Hard water causes lime scale. You may find it in your kettle, or it may be hidden in the pipes.
Kettles – probably the most obvious place for you to see the lime scale building up, heat makes the deposits happen more quickly and you may need to replace your kettle at regular intervals. And on average a Brit will put the kettle on over 80,000 times during their lifetime!
Cooking pans – lime scale can be hard to remove and damage those non-stick pans a well
Washing machines and dishwashers –the lime scale builds up and the machines get clogged and less efficient
Coffee machines – who wants those white flakes settling in their coffee?
Taps and shower heads become blocked up and the hard grey deposit is hard to clean
Tiles have less sparkle and sinks can look grubby. You need a strong acid based cleaner to remove a build-up of lime scale
Toilets are not immune to the effects of lime scale.
An average spend on replacing appliances in a hard water area is just over £311 – that’s quite an expense just to keep things working and in place.
We are fortunate to have some of the safest and best water supplies in the world. Even so, around 30 million households in Britain suffer the effects of lime scale build up because they get their water supply. Incidentally, if your water looks cloudy this is most likely to be caused by many tiny air bubbles which have been trapped in the pipe -and they will not harm you the water clears after few minute standing.
There is water softening systems your plumber can tell you about. Discuss it with your local plumber and find out whether it is worth even thinking about for you. Otherwise, just be glad your water supply is reliable and safe to drink – even with little white flakes in it!
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