Don't ignore hard water: it reduces efficiency and can cause serious damage to expensive equipment
Hard water is a major problem for many parts of the UK. The limescale deposits it creates severely impact on energy efficiency and can have a catastrophic effect on equipment. The minerals it contains can also combine with detergents or soaps and cause spotting on glassware and dishes. Hard water will also increase the amount of detergent needed for proper cleaning and degreasing.
So treating hard water is essential in any food service operation. The only way for operators to determine the hardness and composition of their water supply is to have it tested - local directories will normally list companies that offer this service.
The five main types of water treatment are: salt softening, carbon filtering, de-alkalising, de-mineralising and reverse osmosis. Salt softening is the simplest way to soften water for dishwashers and laundry machines but it's not suitable for drinking or ice machines and can cause streaking of glasses in glasswashers. At the other end of the scale is reverse osmosis, where water is drawn under pressure through a very thin, fine-filtering "membrane", stopping practically everything else - not only limescale but other trace elements as well.
Water chemistry is a complex issue and water problems vary not only from region to region but also with the seasons. The best way to ensure the right treatment for any site is to ask the experts.