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Lisa Scholl

Lisa Scholl


What does it mean when water contains lime?

Cloudy water and white residue in household appliances: In Germany, drinking water from the tap often contains lime. For this reason, the mineral settles in the kettle, dishwasher, kitchen and bathroom faucets, and washing machine. When preparing the morning tea, many users are then annoyed by large, white chunks of lime floating in the water and looking unappetizing. In addition, many are reluctant to consume the hard tap water straight and forego lugging heavy crates of beverages. But what is calciferous water, what can you do about it and is hard water actually unhealthy? This article provides answers!

Drinking water is obtained from groundwater rich in minerals. Depending on the region, groundwater has a different composition. One contained mineral is lime – a composition of calcium and magnesium. The following applies: The more lime is contained, the “harder” the water turns out to be. 

If a lot of lime deposits on household appliances such as the kettle or in the shower, the regional drinking water has a high lime concentration. This is because carbonates are formed when water is heated. They make themselves felt as white deposits. On the other hand, in the areas where the lime content is low, no deposits are formed. Here, however, soap residues are difficult to remove from the fittings. 

According to the German classification, the hardness grades “soft”, “medium” and “hard” are distinguished. At 0 to 7 degrees of German hardness (dH), this is hardness grade I (soft water). In this case, the water contains 0 to 1.3 millimoles of calcium oxide per liter. In comparison, hard water (hardness range III) has 2.5 to 3.8 millimoles of calcium oxide per liter. This value corresponds to the German hardness level 14-21. 

Why is there lime in the water?

Berliners know it: The high lime content of tap water shortens the life of household appliances and causes additional costs. In Essen, on the other hand, residents benefit from comparatively soft water. The drinking water would actually have an even higher lime content, because throughout Germany the original hardness of the water from the tap is already reduced during filtration.

The basis for water quality is the German Drinking Water Ordinance. It regulates how high the concentration of the individual components of the water may be. If the measured values exceed the permissible limits, a warning is issued. 

But how does lime get into the water? When we turn on the tap at home and are immediately rewarded with bubbling, fresh water, we sometimes forget how far the liquid has already traveled. 

Everything starts with a rain shower. Rainwater seeps into the surface and travels through the soil layers into the groundwater. Meanwhile, the water passes through layers of rock that – depending on the region – have different mineral concentrations. Calcium and magnesium hydrogen carbonate are the most common. 

In the process, the minerals dissolve and enter the groundwater via the water. This in turn is used by humans to obtain drinking water. Exclusively distilled water does not contain minerals. 

The path through the rock

  • Rainwater seeps into the soils. 
  • The soils contain calcareous rocks, which the rainwater passes through. 
  • The rocks release – depending on their composition – different minerals to the water. 
  • The water seeps into the groundwater. 
  • Groundwater is used for drinking water production. 


How to measure lime in water?

Those who want to know the hardness of the water can visit the website of the local water supplier. Information on the composition of drinking water is usually published here.

Alternatively, residents can email or call to find out their individual lime content,
what the optimum water hardness is
and what the current value is. In addition, the annual water bill contains all the details about water hardness. 

Another way of checking is a water hardness test. In this way, consumers can even find out whether the tap water is contaminated with bacteria, viruses or heavy metals.  

Water hardnesses in Germany

Water hardness varies from region to region in Germany, with the average water hardness in Germany being 16 degrees German hardness. Bremen, for example, has soft water (8 degrees dH), while Saxony-Anhalt has hard water (22 degrees dH). 

What can be done about calciferous water?

Calcified household appliances can be cleaned with inexpensive home remedies. Here it is important to note that coffee machines in any case should not be cleaned with acetic acid. This can attack the material and cause damage to the device. Organic descalers with citric acid offer an alternative. However, consumers should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Kettles , on the other hand, can be perfectly treated with a mixture of vinegar and citric acid. In this way, the white lime dissolves from the heating rods. Faucets, on the other hand, should be rinsed with cold water after each use. Thus, less lime is formed. In turn, a white layer of lime can be removed with the help of half a lemon. 

Houseplants can also be affected by lime deposits. After all, if you fill your watering can with fresh tap water, you’re usually adding plenty of minerals to your roommates.

The lime contained not only settles unsightly, but can also lead to the fact that the plants are no longer supplied with sufficient nutrients. Therefore, for watering is suitable mineral water or rainwater. This should always be left overnight and only used the next day. 

But how can users reduce the magnesium and calcium content in water before it builds up in the form of limescale on fixtures and appliances? Water containing lime can be filtered before it reaches the faucets or damages household appliances. 

Under-sink water filters, for example, can be a worthwhile way to avoid the white residue. The decalcifiers usually work with an ion exchange process. Order now!

Many devices were awarded high scores in a test by Stiftung Warentest. In this case, the magnesium and potassium ions are exchanged for sodium ions. In addition, the under-sink water filters offer good value for money. 

Alternatively, a water softening system can be installed. However, this is associated with higher costs. 

Should you filter calciferous water?

In terms of health, calciferous water from the tap does not necessarily need to be filtered. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile to use a filter if the water is hardness grade II or III. The reason: the stubborn limescale deposits not only look unsightly, but also damage household appliances and fittings. 

A water filter reliably removes the minerals calcium and magnesium so that the white deposits do not occur in the first place. 

Another advantage is that various filter models can not only remove limescale, but also filter out pesticides and other pollutants in tap water.

The combination protection consists of an under-sink water filter and has a cartridge with activated carbon and limescale protection. Buy now!

Is calciferous water unhealthy?

A high degree of hardness of the drinking water does not reduce the water quality. Nevertheless, the rumor persists that calciferous water can lead to hardening of the arteries(arteriosclerosis) and be detrimental to health. This is because in this case, deposits of blood clots, blood fats, connective tissue and calcium clog the arteries. 

However, the fact that the calcium deposits on the vessel walls are triggered by drinking water containing lime has been disproved. As a result, atherosclerosis develops over years and can be triggered by the following factors: 

  • A one-sided diet
  • Too little movement 
  • Smoking 
  • Overweight 
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood glucose levels
  • High blood pressure 


Lime water is not unhealthy. In the meantime, it has been disproved that the body can “calcify” due to calciferous water.

The following applies: Lime-containing water contains important trace elements that can contribute to the maintenance of health. Thus, medium to hard water can help meet daily calcium needs. In this way, the function of the nervous system is maintained.

Magnesium, in turn, helps maintain bone and muscle health. Other minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and sodium may also be present. An excess of minerals is excreted. 

Can calciferous water be harmful to the heart?

Drink calciferous water and put the heart at risk? Many people are afraid of coronary artery calcification. And this fear is not unjustified. Because in 2020 alone, a total of 338,001 people died from cardiovascular disease. Of these, 157,556 were men and 180,445 were women of all ages. 

However, the consumption of calciferous water does not lead to coronary artery calcification . The reason: cardiovascular disease is the consequence of numerous illnesses that are usually triggered by a faulty diet, a lack of exercise or the consumption of drugs such as alcohol or cigarettes. These vices can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and high blood lipid levels, for example. 

These in turn can trigger inflammation in the body. As a result, plaques may form. These are, among other things, calcium deposits in the vessels. They can cause the arteries to become brittle and narrow. Blood circulation can be disturbed in this way. 

The danger: If circulatory disorders occur, the heart may no longer be supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrients. In this case, it is called CHD (coronary artery disease). In Germany, approximately 6 million people are affected. 

Calcification of blood vessels such as arteries and drinking calciferous drinking water are not related.”

What does calciferous water do to the body?

Calcareous water contains calcium and magnesium. Consumers usually absorb the trace elements in sufficient quantities through food. Thus, regular consumption of dairy products, vegetables and bananas covers the need. Therefore, only a small amount of minerals is metabolized from the calcareous water. 

If there is a surplus, it is directly excreted again. The situation is different with salt, for example. When we
drink salt water
and do not compensate for the amount of salt ingested with sufficient fresh water, the kidneys can no longer provide excretion. 

For calciferous water to be detrimental to health, the liquid would have to have high levels of calcium and magnesium. However, absorbing such high concentrations via drinking water is considered nearly impossible. 

Is it possible to drink water with a high lime content?

Water with a high lime content can be drunk without hesitation. The minerals can even have a positive effect on health. Only a small part of the minerals in the water is metabolized. The excess calcium and magnesium is excreted by the body. 

A high degree of hardness can affect the taste of water and transfer to food during cooking. If you want to influence the taste of water, reach for a water filter. 

Lime-containing water can trigger the following problems

Drinking water that contains lime does not pose a danger. Nevertheless, many consumers in regions with high levels of tap water hardness are repeatedly annoyed by the lime content. Because this affects both skin and hair care.

Skin and hair

Lime-containing water from the tap can make hair feel dry and look stringy . Those who dye their hair are usually also annoyed by the fact that the hair color washes out in a short time. Experts advise to care for the hair with a conditioner to maintain moisture levels.

In addition, the skin can dry out, which in turn can cause itching. In this way, even skin diseases such as neurodermatitis or eczema are said to be favored. 


If coffee specialties and teas are prepared with soft water, the aroma should be able to develop optimally. With hard water, on the other hand, the minerals contained may impair the taste experience. For example, the coffee tastes bitter. 


Limescale deposits in household appliances and lime stains in the kitchen and bathroom: The white deposits can require a lot of cleaning in everyday life. At the same time, calcified appliances can lead to increased energy demand and higher electricity bills. 

If you want to remove limescale from your household appliances in an environmentally friendly way, you can use vinegar essence and citric acid. Washing soda can be used instead for washing machines and dishwashers.

Pay attention to the tap water

While the lime content of tap water has no negative impact on health, drinking water may contain other harmful ingredients. A major problem is the pollution of groundwater by pesticides. These are used in agriculture to increase yields. 

The fertilizers and pesticides seep into the soils and in this way enter the groundwater. The high nitrate levels are filtered out in water treatment plants. This process is not only time-consuming, but also cost-intensive. 

Furthermore, the water may contain drug residues, because many people dispose of medicines through the toilet. In this way, the pollutants enter the rivers and groundwater. But residues are also excreted via urine and transported into the sewage system via the toilet. 

The consumer center also points out that the medicines used in factory farming also end up in wastewater and river water. For drinking water protection, it may therefore be worthwhile to reduce meat consumption. 

On its website, the Federal Environment Agency reports a total of 2,500 approved active ingredients on the market. About 1,250 of these substances are environmentally relevant. In contrast, 400 active ingredients are approved in veterinary medicine. Antibiotics and antiparasitics in particular are criticized here for polluting the environment. 

Since 2011, pharmaceutical companies have therefore been required to report the quantity of antibiotics sold to veterinarians to the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) in Cologne. The evaluation is carried out by the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL).

According to the Federal Environment Agency, this revealed that 70 tons of antibiotics from the group of tetracyclines, sulfonamides and penicillins were dispensed to veterinarians in 2020. 414 substances were detected in measurements in rivers, streams or lakes.  

As the population grows older, the Federal Environment Agency warns that far-reaching measures will be needed in the future to maintain water quality. This is because more elderly people mean an increased need for drug treatments. 

Furthermore, particles of plastic materials may be included. These have been detected in both drinking water and mineral water worldwide. However, it is not yet known whether the ingestion of microplastics is associated with health effects.  

The reason: WHO already collected 50 relevant studies, 9 of which deal with the microplastic content in drinking water. However, since the study situation is thin, it is not yet possible to give a meaningful assessment. At the same time, the term microplastic is currently not uniformly defined. 

Tap water can also be harmful to health

Drinking water in Germany is of high quality. Nevertheless, pollutants may be present, although the official measured values do not detect them. The reason: copper pipes used to be installed in residential properties. Lead was also a component. If a house still has old pipes, they can contaminate what should be perfectly clean water. 

In addition, rust can form on the pipes and be absorbed by the water. Consumers then absorb these substances via drinking water. So tap water can be harmful to health if it is leaking through old pipes is managed. Tenants can find out about the condition of the pipes from their landlords. In some cases, replacing the pipes or using a filter may be appropriate. 

In summary, the following can be stated:

  • Tap water may contain small amounts of contaminants and pesticides. 
  • Tap water may contain small amounts of drug residues from human medicine and veterinary medicine. 
  • Tap water may contain microplastics. 

The bottom line – tap water in Germany is of very high quality

Drinking water in Germany has a good reputation. This is due to the German Drinking Water Ordinance, which specifies exactly which substances may be contained in which concentrations. If the maximum limits are exceeded, a warning is issued. 

Therefore, the following applies: The water from the tap can be consumed in this country without hesitation. Even the high lime content characteristic of many regions has no negative impact on health. Thus, it was disproved that this can lead to calcification of the blood vessels.

However, it may be useful to filter the water from the tap. Because this water can have pollutants as well as bacteria, caused by the own house pipes. There are usually no controls here. 



Cardiovascular diseases – Deaths by age and gender 2020 | Statista

Pharmaceutical residues in the environment | Federal Environment Agency

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