Hard water

Hard water

Hard water is water that has a high mineral content. The quickest way to work out whether your water is hard is to try to lather soap. If it doesn't lather up, your water is hard. If it lathers extremely easily, then it is soft. See the grey highlighted rows at the bottom of the water quality data table.

Hard water in your area

Use our water system search tool to find out the hardness of your water.

What does this mean for me?

When hard water is heated, the minerals that cause hardness come out of the water and are deposited as scale. This can affect kettles, hot water services, pipes and fittings. Scale is harmless, but over time it builds up. While hard water does create scaling problems at higher temperatures, hard water is less corrosive than softer water.The scale forming properties of hard water tend to form a protective film on the surface of metals which protects against corrosion

There are ways to reduce the build-up of scale. Some of these include:

  • keeping hot water systems below 60 degrees Celsius
  • using a water softener to reduce scaling in hot water services and associated pipework
  • purchasing a proprietary descaling solution to help remove small deposits
  • To avoid spots caused by hard water, use liquid soaps and dry wet surfaces immediately after water use

We recommend you do not drink softened water. Softeners can significantly increase the level of salt in your water.

Some dishwashers have settings that control the addition of salt, which acts like a water softener and decreases the build-up of scale. Before you install a new dishwasher, check what is in your area's water to find out how hard your water is.

How is hardness measured?

Water hardness levels tell you how much calcium carbonate is in your water, measured in milligrams per litre. Levels will depend on the rocks and soils in the catchment that supply your water.

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) have a scale (see below) of water hardness as it impacts on water quality.

Level

Description

< 60 mg/L

Soft water, but possibly corrosive

60-200 mg/L

Good quality

200-500 mg/L

Increasing scaling problems

> 500 mg/L

Severe scaling


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