How To Test For Hard Water At Home

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With Google queries for “Is my water hard or soft?” up by 180% over the past 30 days, we’re here to help you learn more about your water quality at home.

We’ll look at what is meant by “hard water” and the effects it can have, as well as how to test and how to improve water quality for showers and taps alike.

What is hard water?

Close up of a man pouring water in the jug from a tap while standing at the kitchen sink

Rain water is soft and then becomes hard as it makes contact with the ground.

Hard water, usually having landed on porous rock such as limestone, penetrates the ground and collects particles and minerals such as calcium and magnesium that can effect both body and bathroom – from dry skin to increased lime scale build up.

A new and an old faucet or water tap with deposited minerals on the crane aerator

How do you test for hard water?

There are a few easy ways to test and check water quality at home.

Hard water is measured in parts per million (PPM) with anything above 151PPM classed at moderately hard and 350PPM+ classed at aggressively hard.

See below three testing methods to learn more about the water in your area.

1 – Run a postcode check

With hard water developing as a result of the ground it comes into contact with, a postcode area check is the first place to start when understanding your water quality.

There are plenty of online postcode checkers that provide a breakdown of your water quality explaining how hard or soft it is, substances that have been traced in it and show a comparison to the UK standards.

Some larger areas of the UK are commonly known to have harder or softer water, so using your local water supplier postcode checker will pull more accurate insights.

2 – Do a visual test

a water bottle being filled with hard water

Another simple way to check for some tell tale signs of hard water is by assessing how it looks.

Take a clear water bottle and fill with about one-thirds of water. Add just a few drops of pure liquid soap and shake the bottle for around five seconds.

If you are struggling to see fluffy bubbles and the water appears cloudy or opaque, it’s likely that your water is hard.

Once this has been established, you may want to run a final testing method to know exactly what measurement bracket your water sits within.

3 – Use water hardness strips

The final way to test is by using some water hardness strips.

Extremely accessible and available to order in bulk for a low cost online, hardness strips offer a quick an accurate solution to understanding your water quality.

Strips should only be used on unfiltered water for a true representation.

Dip a test strip under a cold tap for just a few seconds then lay it on a flat surface and wait for the colour to change.

A colour chart will be included within the testing kit to compare your sip stick against.

How can you soften water?

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to soften water.

Firstly, if the bathroom is your main focus, opt for showerheads that have hard water filters built into them.

These will soften the water as it runs through before it leaves the mechanism and will reduce the hard water effects like dry skin and limescale build up around the shower head and handle.

Alternatively, for a longer term and whole-house solution, invest in a water softener system.  

The mineral tank acts as a chamber, where water seeps through a bed of resin beads that deposits the water-hardening calcium and magnesium ions before exiting though pipes to household appliances in every room.

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