Industry insights

How Can I tell How Hard Or Soft My Tap Water Is?

2 min read

By Matt Stimpson |  Published

We’re often told about water hardness and how it can differ depending on where we live. But how can you tell whether you live in a hard water area or a soft water area? And once you know, how does it taste and how good or bad is it for you?

Surface water or groundwater?

Water’s ‘hardness’ is graded by the number of mineral deposits found in it on a grade of ‘parts per million’ (ppm). And thanks to the UK’s geological foundations, this can change from region to region. But tap water originates from either surface water or groundwater and is divided into three categories: hard, medium, or soft. So how can you tell the difference?

Surface water

Surface water is any large, open body of fresh water like a lake or reservoir, that comes from rainwater collecting over time. Or it can flow through rivers from higher ground over non-porous rock. Low in natural acids, surface water contains fewer minerals giving it a ‘softer’ taste.


In contrast, groundwater comes from deep, underground pockets that can sit within several different types of rock. As the water rises up towards the surface, it collects a high level of dissolved minerals from the rock along the way, giving it a ‘harder’ taste.

This is why your tap water tastes different depending on where you are. But hard water is largely found in the east and south of the UK, including London and the south-east, while medium water is in the western and central areas, with soft water confined to the south-west, west Wales, northern England, and Scotland.

Your water hardness

Average tap water could have a grade of around 100 ppm, sitting nicely between hard and soft. Other measurements will be on a sliding scale with very soft to medium water ranging from 0 to 100 ppm, and medium to hard water in London and the south-east ranging from 100 to 200 ppm.

The water’s mineral content is how you can easily tell how hard or soft it is. In hard water areas like London, you’ll see a build-up of limescale in your kettle and around taps and showerheads that can be difficult to shift. If you don’t experience this, you’re probably in a softer water area.

But whether you live in a hard or soft water region, water hardness really comes down to how it tastes. But when drinking it directly from your tap, there’s no real benefit to having soft water over hard water or vice versa – neither is bad for you and is 100% treated and safe.

Is bottled water hard or soft?

If you prefer the taste of soft water, but you live in a London or south-east hard water area, the temptation might be to buy more single-use plastic bottled water to compensate. Bottled water like this comes from underground groundwater springs and is naturally softer and better tasting. But there’s a much more environmentally-friendly way to get it.

With a Thirsty Work bottled water cooler for your home or business, each of our 13 or 18.9-litre recyclable water bottles are filled with naturally-sourced, pure filtered spring water, direct from our groundwater source in Shropshire. So with every same or next day delivery from us, you’re guaranteed the thirst-quenching, refreshing, and healthy taste of chilled or ambient natural water.

Taste the difference with Thirsty Work

If you’re not feeling the taste of your hard water, especially if you’re living in London and the south east, start your free, 10-day water cooler trial with us today so you can taste the difference for yourself. Call our team today on 02080 498 501 or email to get started.