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Water Softening Guide

A large part of the UK and various areas of Europe have a major problem with "hard water". This causes "limescale" (aka scale) build up which leads to a range of problems. This quick guide gives you a background to the problem and the best solutions.

About Lime Scale

Problems caused by Scale

The Difference Between Water Softeners and Conditioners / Scale Inhibitors

The Problem with Water Softeners

How to reduce scale in my drinking water

How to reduce scale in my whole house / building

More about Scale

Map of UK Hard Water / Scale Areas

Compare anti scale solutions / Chart

Problems Caused by Scale.

Damage to equipment like heaters/boilers, washing machines, dishwashers.

Makes boilers / kettles etc much less efficient (adding to costs and unnecessary carbon build up)

Build up of scale in plumbing pipes

Causes skin irritation (Affects eczema sufferers and other skin complaints) HOW - links...

Tastes and feels "hard" which some people don't like.

Makes soaps and detergents less efficient

Leaves unsightly, hard to remove water "spotting" on surfaces eg Glass and Kitchen and Bathroom surfaces.

Solutions to Hard Water / Scale

The following are common methods / treatments for softening water / scale prevention.

Salt Water Softeners

This is the traditional method of softening water.

For whole of house:

Read more

*NEW Saltless Water Softeners

These are a good new solution to the various problems of traditional salt water softeners.

For whole of house:

Read more about Salt Less Water Softeners

Electronic and Magnetic de Scalers

These do not remove calcium but prevent it sticking to surfaces - particularly inside pipes.

For whole of house and drinking only:

Read more about electrical descalers and magnetic water descaling

Drinking Water Only Scale Solutions

If you're only concerned about scale in your drinking water - for example reducing "fur" in your kettle, and preventing "scum" / film on your tea and coffee - please checkout these scale solutions for drinking water only.

Check out this Comparison table of performance / hassle factor of the different types of anti scale solutions

More about Scale

What is Scale

How is Scale Formed

Is Scale Unhealthy

What is Water Softening / Conditioning

The Difference Between Water Softeners and Conditioners / Scale Inhibitors

Map of UK Hard Water / Scale Areas

Compare anti scale solutions


What is Scale

Scale - aka limescale - is the hard white deposit that you see on your taps and sinks.

It is also responsible for that "scum" or film effect you see on tea and coffee.

How is Scale Formed

Scale is the result of minerals in "hard water". When the water evaporates the minerals remain - and form a hard scale when exposed to air.

Is Scale Unhealthy?

No it's not unhealthy for the body - it's not good for plumbing and pipes etc - but hard water is full of minerals. Plus it reduces the solubility of certain toxic metal like lead and copper.

In fact it is traditionally salt softened water which is unhealthy.

The added salt increases sodium levels ie salt which is potentially harmful to babies and the elderly or unwell.

This is why UK Water Authority ByLaws say a separate / unsoftened tap should be fitted - which usually means the main kitchen tap is left unsoftened.

Be careful of any additional filters the salt softener salespeople might offer you. to remove excess sodium.

In our experience these filters are often simple "taste and odour" carbon filters. But these don't remove sodium.

Your only option for making salt-softened water totally safe to drink is a reverse osmosis unit which is expensive.

What is Water Softening / Conditioning?

This is the reduction of minerals and metal "cations" in hard water that prevents scale forming. There are various methods of doing this - see above methods for softening water.

Read more about

Salt Water Softeners

Salt Less Water Softeners

Magnetic water De-scaling

Electrical De-scalers

Map of UK Hard Water / Scale Areas

Compare anti scale solutions

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