One of the most fascinating aspects of water is that depending on where you live it can have completely different properties, tastes and even health considerations.

The differences between hard and soft water are most commonly seen when washing, as hard water forms soap scum instead of lather, and may require a block salt softener to fix if you do not want to clean limescale coatings.

However, that leads naturally to a very interesting question; where in the UK will you find the hardest or softest waters?

Because hard water is caused by rainwater passing over chalk and limestone, which causes calcium to dissolve in the water, certain places with higher concentrations of the stone will be harder than those that pass through granite or are collected in pipes.

Here are the places with the hardest and softest water in the UK.


Softest – Manchester

At 2 parts per million, Manchester’s water is among the softest in the North West, an area known for having soft water in itself.

The reason for this can be attributed to the industrial revolution. As Manchester’s industry grew exponentially, several reservoirs were built at Thirlmere, Haweswater and Longdendale Chain. This meant no exposure to chalk or limestone and very soft water.

Birmingham was an honourable mention at 42.8ppm, although this is because the water is sourced from the Elan Valley, rather than the hard groundwaters nearby.


Hardest – Swindon

At a huge 347 ppm, the town of Swindon in Wiltshire has the hardest water in the country due to the amount of chalk and limestone in the ground nearby, particularly near the Wiltshire downs to the south and east of the town.

This hard water can cause considerable problems to the pipes and taps, although there are mild health benefits to having calcium and magnesium in drinking water.

The best of both worlds, however, is to use a salt softener to have the mineral benefits without the extra cleaning hassle.