Hardness is a typical property of water, with benefits for your body. It will increase your intake of calcium and magnesium which in turn may help protect against high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues.
However, when heated, the calcium component of hard water can result in limescale. This can be detrimental to household appliances such as kettles, dishwashers, washing machines, and some heating systems.
Depending on the interaction of other factors, such as pH and alkalinity, water with hardness above approximately 200 mg/l CaCO3 may cause scale deposition.
So what can you do?
Try to boil only what you need and don’t leave the surplus boiled water lying in the kettle. Kettles can be descaled by half-filling with half water/half vinegar, leaving overnight, rinsing, refill and boil water, then discard water and the kettle is ready for use. Descaling kits are widely available in supermarkets.
A wide range of products are commercially available (e.g. Calgon) to prevent the deposition of limescale during the heating of water in washing machines. Varying the dosage of washing powder may also work.
Indirect heating systems where water is re-circulated are generally not affected by limescale. Direct heating systems, where freshwater replaces heated boiler water, may experience some blockage of pipes and reduced boiler efficiency. Symptoms of this would be rattling in the pipes when the water is heated, and gradually longer heating times. Consult a plumber if such problems are suspected.
Dishwashers generally have built-in water softeners. Householders should ensure these are set according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If limescale has built up – soak the showerhead in half vinegar/half water solution for three hours or overnight to remove the limescale. Descaling kits are widely available in supermarkets.
Soften the entire Water Supply?
Chemically softened water is not suitable for everyone to drink – particularly for infants and other risk categories.
Hard water can be “softened” by chemically removing calcium (by ion exchange) from the water and replacing it with sodium chloride or potassium chloride.
, you can eliminate the use of salt altogether.
It will save you money on water heating bills, and reduce energy use in your home as it uses the same amount of energy as a 40 W energy saving light bulb.