How to Measure Water Hardness

We all hear it in the media all the time – oh – “this water hardness is bad”, and “oh, this water hardness is good”, and so on and so on.

Many of us sort of go along with it, pretending we know anything about it. If there’s an issue with our water, we might just say – “oh, it’s just stupid levels of water hardness”. Millions of families face this same issue – so many people talk of water hardness, but a very small percentage of those millions actually know what water hardness is.

Is water hardness bad? No, not necessarily, and certainly not always. It depends on your use of the water – do you drink it? Is it for animals? Is it for simply cleaning things? Is it for showering? The answer to “is it bad” is buried beneath a myriad of factors that we will never get to the bottom of.

Dasani water never made it in the UK because of high ‘water hardness’ levels, well beyond the legal limit – though still not enough to cause any damage to the human body unless, of course, you decided to choke or drown in or on it.

If your water is hard, you might find that when you shoot and go to wash your hands, you typically use soap – and this leaves behind some sort of scummy residue that won’t go away – almost like you’ve just coated your hands with some mysterious fluid that has solidified. You could even call it a ‘film’ if you like – almost like wrapping your hands in cling film.

This whole effect – the entire concept of water hardness – occurs as a result of two elements that could be constituent to the water from your tap. Firstly, there’s magnesium. This is usually a highly flammable metal that is used in many campsite fires starting tools and survival kits. Though, when in water, it’s not actually flammable, of course. And secondly, there’s calcium; you know, that thing that is claimed to make your bones stronger in yoghurt and dairy adverts?

But this whole concept doesn’t only affect your hands and the way they feel after you wash them. If you’ve ever noticed that after washing dishes you have some spots or almost like a film of substance on them that is unknown to you and nobody has played a prank, this may be a symptom of having hard water.

This magnesium and calcium can easily clog up your water systems and internal plumbing, and when left to collect for many years, can leave behind kilograms of sediment and the like. This really isn’t pleasant, and not only do you end up with oddly feeling hands and seemingly unclean plates (though rest assured that neither of these are harmful, and magnesium and calcium can’t actually do any damage to the human body unless taken in ridiculous doses) but you can also rack up your water systems repair bill quite quickly. This is not pleasant for anybody.

I mean – it’s all good knowing what water hardness is. You might only remember this information to share at the public house next time you go down. But I suppose we could put this info to better use. How exactly would you measure your water hardness, and why would you want to? That’s what this article covers in great detail. To begin, why would you want to?

Why would anybody want to measure water hardness?

This is a brilliant question, and it can be answered quite simply. Different people have different motives. Some people may actually end up testing for water hardness so that they can complain to their water provider over irritatingly high levels, some research the matter only because they’re interested, and others research the matter to install the correct filters that enable us to eliminate the majority of the calcium and the magnesium in water.

If you’re looking to complain to your local authority or water provider, it’s always good to get two examples of concrete evidence and get them run by a professional as well, just to prove you’re serious about your case. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily affect your health in most cases, it is always an aspect of your life that can be improved.

How exactly does water hardness come about – why does it occur?

Water hardness occurs for many reasons. Sometimes, the pipes used to transfer water from your main water outlet into your heater and into your taps can be the cause.

However, much more often, the reason lays with natural causes. Since humanity can’t just teleport water, we have to use much more – “normal” methods, such as installing big pipes underground to carry it to every house in the nation.

And there in itself is a problem – underground. Yes, the underground itself can cause water hardness in your taps. Well – how? You might ask. The answer is simple. Underground, there are rocks. And these rocks contain minerals, which, when exposed to water, can fade away with the water. These minerals are usually calcium and magnesium – and there you have the problem. Rocks cause hard water, and there really is no way around it.

However much you may oppose this, there is nothing that can be done unless you invent a teleportation mechanism.

But now, how do you measure the hardness of your water?

A water hardness testing kit is your solution.

Many thousands of individual researchers came together once to invent a cheap yet effective solution to measuring the water hardness of the water pouring out of the taps you, your family and your neighbors drink from, bathe and shower in, wash your dishes and cars in, and clean your hands with. They’ve come up with incredibly cheap options that almost every family in every country can afford.

You can officially purchase a water hardness test from any good online retailer specializing in plumbing and water solutions, or your local store that specializes in this industry. However, if you can’t seem to find anything of the sort, you can always turn to your good old friend, Amazon.

Tests cost no more than $4 if you search well enough, and many turn results within just seconds. It’s not very difficult to see why so many people are now testing their water, if it is so incredibly easy (and cheap!) to do so. This will not only give you an insight into the hardness of your water, but will also inform you whether the information provided to you by local authorities about your water supply is truthful. In case it isn’t you could be owed hundreds of thousands – although remember to carry out two different tests and get it checked out by a professional before filing and official complaints or lawsuits.

Hopefully, your water will not turn out to be too hard. But in the case that it does, you can always purchase water softeners that can be placed within your plumbing systems to soften the water as it goes through to reach all your taps and other water outlets, even your garden hose!

We’ve answered the question – now go order your test! There’s plenty of information telling you what the “safe” level is.

About the author

Steve Bates

Hi, I'm Steve and I currently reside in Chicago, Illinois. Although for most of the last 20 years I was a partner in a HVAC company down in Austin, Texas.

I understand the frustration involved with dealing with water heater repairs and replacing or upgrading to a new, more efficient model.

My aim is offer some basic advice on fixing home hot water systems. And if a repair isn't possible, then to make the process of selecting a new water heater – be it gas or electric - as simple as possible.

So that you can save money and have a safe and reliable hot water system in your home for many years to come.