5 Ways Hard Water Impacts your Life!

5 Ways Hard Water Impacts your Life!

What is hard water .vs. soft water?

Hard water and soft water are terms used to describe the mineral content in water, specifically the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. The primary difference between them lies in their mineral content and how they can affect various household and industrial applications.

Hard Water:

    • Contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) ions. These minerals are typically present due to the water’s interaction with underground rock formations rich in calcium and magnesium salts.
    • When hard water is heated or evaporated, these minerals can precipitate and form scale deposits on surfaces such as pipes, faucets, appliances, and the insides of water heaters. This can reduce the efficiency of appliances and plumbing systems and require more frequent maintenance.
    • Hard water can also interfere with the lathering of soap and detergents, making it less effective for cleaning purposes. This can result in soap scum and reduced cleaning efficiency.


Soft Water:

    • Soft water contains lower concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions and is considered “soft” because it lacks the minerals that cause scaling and soap scum formation.
    • Soft water is often achieved through water softening processes, such as ion exchange or chemical treatment, which remove or reduce calcium and magnesium ions from the water.
    • It is generally more compatible with household appliances and plumbing systems, as it doesn’t contribute to the buildup of scale deposits. It also enhances the effectiveness of soaps and detergents, leading to better lathering and cleaning.

The choice between hard and soft water depends on various factors, including personal preference, local water quality, and the intended use of the water.

How to check if you have hard water in your area!

Enter in your Eircode or general area to the Uisce Eireann website to find out the water hardness rating (milligrams per litre).

hard water


Why we don’t soften hard water?

Softening hard water is a common practice in areas where hard water is prevalent, and there are water softening systems available to address this issue. However, not everyone chooses to soften their hard water for several reasons:

  1. Cost: Water softening systems can be expensive to purchase and install. They often require ongoing maintenance and the purchase of salt or other chemicals for the softening process. Some people may not be willing or able to invest in such systems.
  2. Environmental concerns: The process of water softening often involves the use of salt or other chemicals to remove calcium and magnesium ions from the water. This can lead to an increase in sodium or chemical discharge into wastewater, which can have environmental implications. Some individuals are concerned about the environmental impact of water softening.
  3. Taste preference: Some people actually prefer the taste of hard water, which can have a slightly mineral or earthy flavour due to the dissolved minerals. Softening the water can change its taste, and some individuals may not like the altered flavour.
  4. Health considerations: In some cases, people may be advised by healthcare professionals to avoid softened water because of dietary restrictions related to sodium intake. Water softeners replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions, which can lead to an increase in sodium levels in the water.
  5. Specific uses: While softening water is beneficial for many household purposes, there are situations where hard water is preferred or necessary. For example, some industrial processes require hard water, and certain types of detergents and soaps work better with hard water.

What impact does hard water have?

  1. Kettles or other drinking water boilers: Limescale build up from the minerals in hard water tend to precipitate and form scale deposits on the heating element of kettles and water boilers. This scale buildup can reduce the efficiency of the heating element and make it less effective at heating water. Over time, it can also lead to a reduced lifespan of these appliances.
  2. Hot water heating systems: Similar to kettles, hard water can cause scaling in hot water heating systems, including boilers and water heaters. This scale buildup can insulate heating elements, reducing their efficiency and increasing energy consumption. It can also lead to clogs and decreased water flow.
  3. Washing machines and dishwashers: react with soap or detergent, forming a curd-like substance called soap scum. This can reduce the cleaning effectiveness of detergents and lead to the formation of deposits on clothes, making them feel stiff and less comfortable to wear. It can also cause discolouration over time.

What about the affect hard water has on your hair?

Several noticeable effects on your hair:

  1. Buildup: The minerals, especially calcium and magnesium ions, can build up on your hair over time. This buildup can make your hair feel heavy, stiff, and less manageable. It may also affect the natural shine and softness of your hair.
  2. Dryness and Frizz: Strip away some of the natural oils from your hair and scalp, leaving your hair feeling dry and prone to frizz. This can result in hair that looks dull and lacks moisture.
  3. Colour Fading: If you have coloured or treated hair, this can lead to the fading of hair colour more quickly than with soft water. The minerals can interact with hair dyes and cause them to wash out faster.
  4. Difficulty Rinsing Shampoo and Soap: Make it more challenging to rinse out shampoo, conditioner, and soap completely from your hair. This can leave residues on your hair and scalp, which can lead to issues like dandruff or an itchy scalp.
  5. Reduced Lathering: Inhibit the formation of a rich lather when you use shampoo or soap. As a result, you may end up using more products to get a similar cleansing effect.

How to prevent hard water?

While you can’t entirely eliminate this type of water, there are several ways to soften it or mitigate its effects in your home. Here are some methods to address these issues:

  1. Water Softener System: Install a water softener system in your home. Water softeners use ion exchange technology to replace calcium and magnesium ions (hard minerals) with sodium or potassium ions, effectively softening the water. Consult a professional to choose the right size and type of water softener for your needs.
  2. Salt-Free Water Conditioners: Consider salt-free water conditioners as an alternative to traditional water softeners. These systems don’t remove minerals from the water but alter their structure, reducing their ability to form scale.
  3. Magnetic or Electronic Water Conditioners: Magnetic or electronic water conditioners claim to alter the behaviour of minerals in hard water without removing them. However, the effectiveness of these devices is often debated, and results may vary.
  4. Boiling Water: Boiling hard water temporarily removes some of the hardness, as the minerals can settle at the bottom of the pot. However, this is not a practical solution for whole-house water treatment.
  5. Shower-head Filters: Install shower-head filters that contain resins or cartridges designed to reduce the hardness of the water for showers and baths. These are relatively inexpensive and can improve the feel of water on your skin and hair.
  6. Using Soaps and Detergents Designed for Hard Water: Use soaps and detergents formulated for hard water conditions. These products contain ingredients that can help mitigate some of the negative effects of hard water.
  7. Regular Cleaning and Maintenance: Clean and maintain your appliances (e.g., kettles, dishwashers, washing machines) to remove scale buildup. Use descaling agents or vinegar for cleaning.
  8. Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure about the best solution for your specific situation, consult a water quality professional. They can perform water tests and recommend appropriate treatment options.
  9. Rainwater Harvesting: Consider collecting rainwater for certain household uses, such as watering plants or outdoor cleaning. Rainwater is naturally soft and doesn’t contain the minerals found in hard water.
  10. Re-Piping or Whole-House Filtration: In extreme cases or if you’re planning a home renovation, you might consider re-piping your home with plastic or PEX pipes designed to resist scale buildup. Alternatively, you can install a whole-house water filtration system that specifically targets hard water.


Remember that water softeners require regular maintenance, such as adding salt or potassium pellets and occasional cleaning. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and maintain your chosen water treatment system to ensure its continued effectiveness in reducing the hardness of your water.


For more information on drinking water parameters visit our blog.

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