Water hardness is the sum of the calcium and magnesium salts present in water. Hard water may cause scale deposition and scum formation.
Did you know that water hardness affects the reaction of soaps, detergents and powders? You may have noticed it when lathering shampoo to wash your hair in different towns. With soft water, you only need to use a very small amount of product.
Some new dishwashers require that you modify water hardness settings to alleviate problems with scale build-up and to ensure that the detergents work effectively.
Water heating elements and sensor probes as well as farm equipment can be damaged from a build-up of calcium and lime.
Hard water can precipitate calcium and magnesium ions when the pH, temperature & alkalinity conditions are just right.
Have a look at these two photos of a water level probe at a local reservoir. The first is a clean probe while the second is the same probe, but with scale build-up from hard water!
Water hardness levels
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines indicate that 200mg/L of hardness (as CaCO3) is the aesthetic limit of water hardness. Anything over that level becomes increasingly unappealing to the senses.
Here is a breakdown of degrees of water hardness:
- <60mg/L CaCO3 – soft but possibly corrosive
- 60-200mg/L CaCO3 – good quality
- 200-500mg/L CaCO3 – increasing scaling problems
- >500mg/L CaCO3 – severe scaling
Testing of water hardness
If you have noticed limescale build-up and are concerned about your water hardness, a test will reveal the extent of the problem and will help you decide if you need to do something about it.
After conducting your water hardness test, consult a suitably qualified technician to learn more about water softeners and conditioners.
For more information about water testing, please refer to our page Water Testing – How it works