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How To Test for Water Hardness and Treat Hard Water

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Coarse hair, filmy dishes, stained sinks/tubs, and corroded plumbing—if you’re experiencing one (or more) of these, chances are you’re getting a hard water supply.

For the uninitiated, hard water is water having abnormal levels of mineral content like calcium, magnesium, lime, etc.

Although there are no health hazards with this, it can lead you to various plumbing, maintenance, and cleaning complications.

So, before it gets worse, you need to find a way to deal with it. And for that, we have you covered.

This write-up will explain how to measure water hardness at home and, if it’s high, apply the best treatment method.  

Testing For Water Hardness

1. Soap Water Test

Soap water test is the quickest way to evaluate how hard your home water is. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get a clear, empty bottle with a tight-fitting cap.
  • Fill it one-third with tap water.
  • Add a few drops of pure liquid soap.
  • Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.

If the water doesn’t foam up sufficiently or it appears cloudy/milky, your water is considerably hard.

Pro tip: use pure soap for accurate results since most commercial soaps have detergents that lather regardless of water quality.

2. Check with Your City or Water Provider

If you get city water, you can cut the drag and request the latest water quality report from your local water provider.

Most reports indicate hardness in milligrams per liter (mg/L) as calcium carbonate.

You must be wondering how to interpret the numbers, right? Let me break it down for you.

The US Geological Survey uses the scale below to classify the hardness level. Compare the figure in your report with this table to get your answer:

ClassificationMg/L or ppmGrains per Gallon (gpg)
Soft0 – 17.10 – 1
Slightly hard17.1 – 601 – 3.5
Moderately hard61 – 1203.5 – 7.0
Hard121 – 1807.0 – 10.5
Very hard180+10.5+

3. Use A Hard Water Test Kit

Now, here’s the ‘hard’ part— the soap water test merely gives you a rough idea, not quantitative results.

On the other hand, the municipality report indicates the water quality before leaving the facility; the actual quality can be contrasting as it meets impurities on its way to your home.

Fortunately, there’s a much better method for precise results—a good-quality hard water test kit.

Easily available at home improvement or online retailers, the basic variant of these kits has test strips and color charts. Follow the instructions, which mainly involve dipping the strip in cold water and comparing the color change with the chart provided.

Treating Hard Water Effectively

If your water hardness count is not in the safe bracket, take action before it does the damage!  

Back in the day, salt-based water softeners were employed for this purpose, which would replace hard minerals with sodium ions.

Although effective, this method incurred the release of salty wastewater into the environment. To top it all, it was detrimental to people who required a low-sodium diet.

What’s better is a salt-free softener.

Requiring no electricity, this variant simply crystalizes hard water minerals and keeps them from sticking onto the surface. The best part? You don’t need to refill salt, which comes out as a big relief in the maintenance cost!

The bottom line—salt or no salt, pick your softener before you start to see horrific scenes in the household!

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