GERMAN TAP WATER IS STELLAR! FIND OUT WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT!
Every once in a while, I see some articles floating around – mainly on Buzzfeed and the like – claiming that Germans don’t drink tap water because it’s viewed as “toilet water”. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!
We love our tap water, we boast about its excellent quality, and a boatload of people, including me, don’t even drink anything else! Except for beer – obviously. I mean, we’re still in Germany, after all.
But there’s more to German toilet wa… uhm – tap water, than just its good quality. Read on to learn about water hardness, and what that means for your washer as well as your hair and skincare routine.
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DOWN THE HATCH
In every part of the country, Germany’s tap water is stellar, since it’s being monitored 24/7 by the health department, to guarantee it doesn’t contain any harmful substances or pathogens.
However, you still shouldn’t drink it if your home has lead service lines. That is only the case in some older buildings from before 1973 – so ordinarily, German tap water is safe to consume straight from the faucet.
Note: If the aqua has been sitting in your pipes all day, it might still be contaminated – so always run it for a moment, before filling your flask. You’ll know you’re dealing with fresh water, once it flows out feeling cool. Soldier on – this may take up to 30 seconds (or as long as adding another round to your go-to Covid-handwashing-song).
Tip: If you feel wasteful that way, fill a watering can and feed that first gush to your plants. Not the orchids though – they’re too delicate and will die on you if you even just so much as think about using that water for them. Stop reading – they’re probably already dead!
Actually, in that case, it doesn’t matter – so sally forth.
WATER HARDNESS – WHAT IS THAT?
It describes the amount of dissolved minerals, mainly magnesium and calcium, in your tap water. The more of them, the harder it is.
If it looks cloudy or leaves stains, that’s usually a sign of very hard water. It’s also your clue to use a coaster when visiting your German in-laws! You’re welcome.
Between zero and seven degrees dH (deutsche Härte / German hardness), the water is considered soft, while 14-21 degrees dH means you’re dealing with hard aqua.
Note: The minerals found in there are key nutrients your body craves, so don’t worry about ingesting them. They’re not the slightest bit harmful – they’ll simply stain your stuff.
If you’re a tea-nut like me, you’ve probably noticed that your electric kettle is something that will stain a lot over time. By the way, if you heat your tea water in the microwave, I am banning you from reading my blog until you buy a kettle and send proof!
Now that you have one, read on. Below, I have compiled three different ways of cleaning it to prevent limestone flakes in your drink. A purely cosmetic problem, as we’ve learned earlier – but as the German saying goes: the eye eats along with you. So, by cleaning it regularly, in addition to pleasing your peepers, you’ll also avoid having to chuck it out (the kettle, not your eyeball) sooner than expected.
- Dilute two tablespoons of vinegar essence with about 200-300 ml/ 6.8-10.1 oz of water and glug the solution into your electric kettle. Open your windows, as what you’re about to do might cause fumes that could irritate your lungs! Turn the kettle on and bring the liquid to a boil for just a second. Switch it off and let everything sit for another 30 minutes. Then dump out the solution and thoroughly rinse your kettle.
- If you don’t get a bang out of peppermint tea with a vinegary finish, you can use citric acid (Zitronensäure Pulver* instead. Follow the instructions on the back of the package to dilute it with water. Note: The water mustn’t be warmer than 40 degrees C / 104 degrees F – otherwise the citric acid will turn into calcium citrate, which is even more torturous to sponge off than limestone.
- Alternatively, you can use half a lemon to scrub down the inside of your kettle, fill the pitcher with water and let it sit for a while. Don’t leave any lemon pieces behind.
While the above-mentioned ways of cleaning your electric kettle are the most effective, there are other methods to remove limestone from it, including using baking soda, Aspirin, Coke, or denture cleanser.
Of course, there are also limestone removers, like Maxxi Clean Power Universal Entkalker* (which is for your coffee maker) if you prefer purchasing premade cleaning supplies.
By the way, since we’re talking about water and moisture, have you read my article about how to avoid accidentally cultivating mold in your German home? Make sure to read it, if you haven’t yet, since mold can be a big problem here, due to how our houses are structured.
HOW TO FIND OUT MY WATER HARDNESS?
Your local provider should have information on their website. If they don’t, you can always contact them and ask.
SO, NOW WHAT?
Knowing the water hardness in your neck of the woods will help you work out the right amount of detergent.
Buy German products for this, as they come with a table on the back that tells you the right dosing for your washer and load size, based on the water hardness. I like to use Ariel Waschmittel Flüssig*.
They also contain water softeners, so your washing machine won’t clog up over time from limestone buildup – even without you having to add anything in addition.
GET THOSE MINERALS OUT OF YOUR HAIR
The same goes for shampoo and body wash: Buy German products.
Many Americans wonder why their hair gets greasy here more quickly. A lot of times it’s because they continue using their regular shampoo. And I get it! I mean, never change a winning team, right? Unfortunately, American shampoo is not made for German water and doesn’t do a satisfactory job cleansing your hair due to all those minerals in our H2O.
Hard water can also dry out your skin more and cause itching or tenderness. I’ve been there, believe me! It may even worsen any preexisting eczema or neurodermatitis. In that case, pop into your favorite German Apotheke and have them recommend the right products for your skin.
IT’S NOT AS HARD AS IT SOUNDS
So, in conclusion: German tap water is of excellent drinking quality. In fact, the more it stains your coffee table, the healthier it may be! And with a little TLC and the right products, it might even cleanse your hair!