In the UK, about 60% of the country is affected by hard water. According to Eco Water, ‘Hard water is caused by rain water picking up hard minerals as it percolates through rocks such as chalk and limestone.’ The UK maintains strict quality regulations to ensure safe water for human consumption, however the quality will depend on the region you live in. The hard water postcode check helps identify the type of water in a particular area.
There is a debate as to whether limescale is harmful to our health. The World Health Organization reports that, ‘There does not appear to be any convincing evidence that water hardness causes adverse health effects in humans.’ The National Research Council says that, ‘Hard water can partly satisfy ones calcium and magnesium dietary needs. In instances where calcium and magnesium concentrate are very high, this can be the primary magnesium and calcium contributor to the human diet.’ On the other hand, some argue that certain studies have shown a weak inverse relationship between hard water and cardiovascular diseases particularly in men, based on a level of 170 mg calcium carbonate per litre of water. However, The World Health Organisation has reviewed the evidence and came to a conclusion that the evidence was inadequate to prove the theory.
The origin of limescale is from the water we drink in the first place. It mainly consists of calcium salt crystals which is good for us and contributes to our overall health. However, even though there seems to be some beneficiary elements to our health, the water proves to be harmful to those with sensitive skin and hair problems. It also affects those who prefer washing in soft water or are concerned with possibly long term effects that it has on general appliances and heating systems in their homes.
When hard water is heated, the calcium salt crystals begins to separate and spread out into the nearby surfaces and forms a layer of scale. This formation slows down water flow and operation of the pipes. The same process happens in appliances such as kettles, coffee machines, washing machines, dishwasher and heating systems which reduces the efficiency and life span of the equipment’s. When this appliances are effected it also affects us. Limescale formation around taps and shower heads has proven to be unhygienic and harmful for certain people. According to Dr. Michael Le Maître, Vichy Laboratories, ‘Lime scale and chlorine, which are commonly found in tap water, can act as irritants and make your skin feel even tighter or appear irritated.’ Dr. Dennis Gross, Dermatologist and founder of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare product line also says that, ‘The problem with hard water is that its high mineral content prevents it from properly reacting with soap and, instead of triggering a lather, it creates a soapy layer on the skin. This not only clogs pores, but also irritates the skin, making it itchy, flaky and dry. These impurities in water make it difficult for soap and shampoo to wash off, leading to dryness of the skin and scalp, which directly irritate skin and cause redness and rosacea.’
Limescale also leads to hair problems. According to APEC Water, ‘Washing hair in hard water causes it to become straw-like, dry and brittle. It is likely that your hair will break or start thinning because the hair follicles become blocked thereby preventing the flow of nutrients to the scalp. Your scalp may also become dry and flaky.’