Calcium hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium ions present in the water. A description of water as “hard” means that it has a high mineral content.
These minerals are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates, chlorides or sulfates. The minerals mostly get into the water by washing over or through limestone and chalk rocks.
Total hardness of water consists of magnesium hardness and calcium hardness. Water hardness is an integral part of the water balance calculation, along with pH, alkalinity, and sometimes TDS and temperature.
Calcium hardness is present in a variety of applications. Read below to find out why it is necessary to test for calcium hardness and to find out some of the latest guidelines and regulations surrounding calcium hardness in water.
Although there are strict standards in place for drinking water quality, the calcium hardness levels of water varies massively between areas. Drinking water with high calcium hardness is not known to have any adverse health effects. In fact, there are health benefits associated with hard water, as both calcium and magnesium are important dietary requirements. Calcium also improves the taste of the water.
When hard water is heated, dried or evaporated, the dissolved minerals are deposited, and limescale will form on taps and appliances, such as kettles. Hard water can also cause mineral build-up in your pipes and eventually clog them. Water companies do not soften water artificially at their treatment plants, but they will be aware of local water hardness.
The WHO state that public acceptability of the hardness of water may vary considerably between areas. They specify a taste threshold of calcium ions in the range of 100–300 mg/L. They also specify that water with a hardness above approximately 200 mg/L may cause scale deposition, but these are just guidelines rather than regulations or set limits.
The US EPA set out aesthetic guidelines; in the USA if water hardness exceeds 150 mg/L treatment is generally considered to prevent scaling.
Calcium hardness is important for swimming pools and spas to maintain healthy and pleasant bathing conditions. The baseline level of calcium hardness in pools and spas, will depend on the mains water supply used to fill the pool. This can then be affected by other parameters including temperature, pH and disinfectant levels.
If calcium levels are too low the inside walls of your pool or spa walls can be eroded by the water. Likewise, if there is too much calcium, deposits will start dropping (as in a kettle) and can leave ‘hard water’ marks. To reduce the hardness of water in pools and spas, water can be diluted with mains water.
Calcium hardness should be measured once a week. In the UK, PWTAG state a level between 80–200 mg/L should be maintained. PWTAG is a UK-based, independent, non-commercia organisation, dedicated to raising standards in pool water treatment. Find out more about them here.
For more information on key test parameters for expert pool and spa management, download our helpful pool chemistry guide.
Hardness is an important water quality parameter that must be controlled to create the best environment for fish to grow. Calcium is important in the formation of bones and teeth, and in other biological processes.
High levels of calcium in the surrounding water will prevent the fish from losing sodium and potassium from their bodies. These two ions are essential to normal heart, nerve, and muscle function. Regular monitoring of calcium hardness will create a more conducive environment for fish to grow.
For more information about the key test parameters in aquaculture take a look at our case study on Water Testing at London Zoo.
Palintest offers both visual and digital test methods for measuring calcium hardness.
For testing calcium hardness in pools, we have a range of pool photometers. Palintest’s Pooltest 25 Photometer covers the complete range of water testing parameters making it the ideal choice for pool and spa management. It enables full disinfection and water balance control. For a quick and simple calculation of water balance our balanced water kit for pool and spa can be used.
Total hardness of water consists of magnesium hardness and calcium hardness.
Calcium hardness is a measure of dissolved calcium in the water and total hardness is a measurement of the mineral content (calcium and magnesium) of the water.
Palintest offer photometers which can test calcium hardness and total hardness on a single instrument; these include the Photometer 7500 and Pooltest 25.