Magnesium in Drinking Water

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal with a high reactivity. That is why it is only found in nature in chemically bound form. As a component of numerous minerals, it is found in carbonates, silicates, chlorides and sulphates. Dolomite gives its name to the Dolomites mountain range in the southern Alps. Together with calcium, it forms the water hardness in water. Elemental magnesium is highly flammable; as a powder mixed with air, it is explosive. Magnesium fires can only be extinguished with special extinguishing agents. Magnesium is obtained metallurgically. Since magnesium is one-third lighter than aluminium, it is of great economic importance as a lightweight construction material.

The vital element magnesium

Magnesium is essential for all organisms. Even the green leaves of plants, the chlorophyll, contain magnesium. Humans need a certain amount of magnesium, which they take in daily through food (e.g. wholemeal and dairy products, chocolate) and drinking water. 

The mineral is indispensable for muscle and nerve cells. Metabolic functions disturbed by magnesium deficiency trigger nervousness, irritability, lack of concentration, fatigue, feelings of weakness, headaches, cardiac arrhythmias and muscle cramps. Since a slight lack of magnesium is possible due to deficiencies in the diet, illness and pregnancy, appropriate dietary supplements are recommended as an additional source of magnesium. Athletes have an increased mineral requirement. Magnesium supplements compensate for losses after sweaty, intensive sports and protect against muscular problems. Serious illnesses such as kidney dysfunction can lead to severe magnesium deficiency.

How does magnesium get into the groundwater?

Magnesium mainly reaches the deeper groundwater layer through the natural weathering of mineral-bearing rock and subsequent leaching. In agriculture, magnesium is a component of fertiliser and animal feed. It seeps from the soil into the groundwater.

Natural: Magnesium in drinking water

There is no limit value for magnesium in the UK Drinking Water Ordinance. The drinking water supplier treats groundwater and surface water with its original magnesium content. According to the food’s nutritional value, 100g of tap water contains 1mg of magnesium. One litre of water thus contains about 10 mg of the mineral. For mineral waters, the mineral concentration information on each bottle is obligatory. This is because mineral water sometimes differs considerably in terms of its mineral composition.

What are the consequences of magnesium in drinking water?

Together with calcium, magnesium is responsible for the hardness of water. This can vary significantly from region to region, as it is ultimately determined by the geology of the water-bearing strata in the catchment area. However, magnesium only accounts for 15-30% of the hardness. Calcium carbonate is the primary hardness-forming substance.

The lime deposits, formed from calcium and magnesium salts, cause serious problems. The sediment gradually clogs pipes, resulting in calcification. Heavily used household appliances such as kettles, coffee makers, dishwashers and washing machines are particularly affected. Neglected decalcification causes high repair costs. The lime-forming salts also adversely affect the taste of tap water. Softer water is better suited for cooking because of its neutral nuance. Tea or coffee only develop their full aroma with water that is low in lime.

Who is responsible for Magnesium in Drinking Water?

Drinking water suppliers always supply drinking water that meets the high requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance. From the property boundary onwards, the homeowners are responsible for the operational readiness of the systems. Due to calcification, hard water can lead to passage problems and failures, especially in domestic installations. Owners of well installations have to take care of their water installations’ operability. Since they are outside the area of responsibility of the municipal drinking water suppliers, knowledge of hardness levels, heavy metals, and microbiological contamination of the local groundwater are very important.

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Water Testing for Magnesium in drinking water? 

A drinking water analysis provides information. Suppose you want to know whether your water comes out of the tap in perfect food quality, its hardness level, and how high the magnesium content is. Take a water test. The water sampling is easy to handle and is then sent to a recognised laboratory. You will receive a detailed breakdown of the quality of your water.

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