How To Test Water Hardness: 6 Easy Hard Water Tests

How To Test Water Hardness 6 Easy Hard Water Tests

Anthony Barnes

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

How often should I test my water? What does it mean when it says “hard water”? Is it bad for me or my family? These questions and more are common when it comes to testing your water.

Water is essential to life. Most of us take it for granted, but it’s important to know exactly where our water comes from.

The quality of our drinking water has become a major concern over the last decade.

Hard water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium that build up in pipes and fixtures. This buildup causes problems like scale deposits, rust stains, and soap scum.

If you want to know whether your water is safe to drink, then you need to test it regularly.

Hard water can be caused by many different factors. Some of these include:

  • The type of water source (groundwater, well water, etc.)
  • The amount of time between tests
  • The hardness level of the water

Hard water can also cause issues with plumbing systems. For example, hard water can corrode metal pipes and fixtures.

It can also make washing dishes difficult because it leaves limescale on surfaces.

How To Test For Water Hardness

If you have a home water system, there are several ways to test your water.

You may already have one of these methods at home. If not, here are six easy ways to check your water:

Taste Test

This method involves tasting your tap water. To do this, fill a glass half full of tap water and add some drops of food coloring.

Then taste the mixture. If it tastes good, then it’s probably fine.

However, if it doesn’t taste right, then you might want to consider testing your water again.

pH Test

A pH test measures how acidic or alkaline your water is. Many people use a pH meter to perform this test.

If your water is too acidic, it will leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

On the other hand, if your water is too alkaline, it could damage plants and animals.

How To Test Water Hardness

Chlorine Test

Chlorine is used to disinfect water. When chlorine levels are high enough, they kill bacteria and viruses.

In order to determine the correct dosage of chlorine (see also our article on dichlor chlorine ), you would need to measure the concentration of free available chlorine.

Free available chlorine refers to the amount of chlorine that isn’t bound to another chemical.

Iron Test

Iron is found naturally in most water sources. However, iron concentrations increase during times of heavy rainfall.

If you notice any discoloration in your water, it could indicate iron contamination.

Total Dissolved Solids Test

Total dissolved solids refer to the total amount of all substances dissolved in water. They include both ions and non-ions. Non-ions are chemicals that don’t dissolve into the solution.

Send A Sample Of Your Water To A Lab For Analysis

Water hardness is measured by measuring the amount of calcium and magnesium ions in the water.

As you can see from the previous examples, there are many different ways to test for this, but the most commonly used method is called the Ca/Mg ratio.

You would contact a lab and they would send you out a sample bottle which you would then fill with water from your tap.

When your sample is sent back to the lab they would then carry out the test.

This is done by adding a chemical reagent to the water sample. The result of the test is then compared to a table of values.

For example, if you were looking for hard water, you would add a solution containing EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) to the water sample.

This causes the calcium and magnesium ions in the water to bond together, making them easier to detect.

You could also use a standard solution of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid to make sure that the water tested was free of any other impurities that might interfere with the analysis.

The lab forwards you your results as soon as they have them and you can then look into how to deal with whatever the answer may be regarding the water type in your home.

What To Do About Hard Water

If you have hard water, you need to take some action. First, you must find out whether your water is naturally soft or hard.

How To Test Water Hardness? 6 Easy Hard Water Tests

Then, depending on which category your water falls into, you need to decide what kind of treatment you want to apply.

Natural Soft Water Treatment

If you live in an area where the water is naturally soft, you don’t need to worry too much about treating it. In fact, you may not even need to treat it at all.

However, if you’re concerned about having hard water in your house, you can try using a water filter system.

Natural Hard Water Treatment

If you happen to live in an area where your water is naturally hard, you may want to consider treating it yourself.

There are several ways to go about doing this.

  • You can simply purchase a water filter system. This is probably the easiest way to get rid of hard water. It’s inexpensive and easy to install.
  • You can also use a reverse osmosis (see also ‘Why Is My Reverse Osmosis Tank Not Filling Up?‘) system. This is a more expensive option, but it does work very effectively.
  • You can also try using a water conditioner. These products are designed to soften the water without removing the minerals. However, they won’t always work as well as a water filter system.
  • Buying bottled water is another possibility. Although this isn’t as convenient as drinking from a tap, it’s certainly better than nothing.
  • You can also hire someone else to come to your home and do the treatment for you. This is a good idea if you don’t feel like doing it yourself. The professionals can do an accurate hardness test for you. They’ll send you a copy of the results so you know exactly how much calcium and magnesium there is in your water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does it Mean When It Says ‘Hard Water’?

When we say that something is “hard”, what does that mean?

Well, it depends on the context. For instance, when we talk about water hardness, we’re referring to the mineral content of the water.

The more minerals present in the water, the harder it is.

However, when talking about the hardness of our teeth, we’re actually talking about the acidity of the water.

The higher the acidity, the harder our teeth become.

So, when we say that water is “hard’, what we really mean is that it has a lot of calcium and magnesium. These minerals help keep our teeth strong.

However, even though water is considered hard, it still contains plenty of beneficial nutrients like potassium, sodium, and chloride.

Can You Tell Water Is Hard By Conducting A Visual Check?

While hard water doesn’t have a specific look if you were to look at it in a glass, there are certain visual indicators that can show your water may be hard.

You can test water hardness by looking at things you use every day.

You should check your sink, tub, and dishes.

If there is discoloration then your water may be hard. A well-maintained water softener will remove the crusty scale and other problems caused by hard water.

Is Hard Water Specific To Certain Areas?

If you have hard water in your home it is likely that other homes in your neighborhood also have this issue. In the United States, local municipalities often release a yearly report about their own local water hardness tests.

This information will help you understand what to expect when testing for the water hardness in your own home.

The Bottom Line

If you’re living in an area where the tap water is naturally soft, you should probably just leave it alone.

If you’re living in an area where the tap water is hard (see also ‘Hard Water Vs. Soft Water And Their Impact On Your Health‘), you can easily test and treat it yourself before needing to call for professional assistance.

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.

Recent posts

Need help with a repair or install?

Free Online Quote

By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age