Where is the hardest water in the UK?
People often talk about the water in the UK being either hard or soft, but what does this really mean? And what are the places in the country with the hardest water? Let’s break this down and have a look at the facts and how this impacts the water that we get from our taps to drink and use every day in our household appliances.
What is the difference between hard and soft water?
Water suppliers take water from two main sources to supply it to our homes and businesses: surface water and ground water. Surface water, which comes from lakes, streams and rivers, tends to be relatively soft and acidic.
Ground water, in contrast, is usually much harder as it has passed through limestone and chalk, which are mostly composed of calcium and magnesium carbonates. This kind of filtration causes the water to infuse with sediment from these rocks, making it hard.
At water processing plants, water suppliers usually use a mix of these two sources, meaning that what we get out of our taps will not be fully hard or soft all the time and can vary from day to day in exactly how hard it is.
Geography makes all the difference
Generally speaking, water found and supplied in the South East of England is the hardest in the UK, with London water being among the very hardest. This is because the ground is largely made of limestone and chalk in that region.
More specifically, London, the Home Counties, East Anglia, Lincolnshire and the West Country (with the exception of Devon and Cornwall) all have very hard water. Wales, the North of England and Scotland, on the other hand, all have relatively soft water as the ground there is composed of much less limestone and chalk.
Should you invest in a water softener?
If you live in one of the areas mentioned with the hardest water, investing in a water softener tied in to your main water supply will keep your household appliances free from limescale and help maintain them working at their best capacity for a longer period without needing to be cleaned for calcium build up. It will also mean that you’ll be able to lather up using less soap and shampoo to wash, meaning you can save money on personal cleaning products in the long run.
Although many people prefer the taste of soft water, it can be noticeably different if you’re used to drinking hard water – so you may wish to find out about the possibility of having one tap in your kitchen to give you water that is not softened, while keeping the rest of your supply softened. In that case, consider also investing in a carbon filter to pass your hard drinking water through to make it kinder to your kettle!
[Photo by Hans]