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Is Well Water Hard or Soft? Let’s Find Out

About 35% of America’s population, approximately 115 million people, use the water from a well. Is well water hard or soft? This is an area you should have proper knowledge about when your house receives water from a public well. 

The nature of the water we use for drinking and cooking has a clear effect on our health. If the water has higher percentages of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, it is called hard water. There are also other metals like iron, aluminium, zinc etc. It is impossible to observe with the naked eye and tell the hardness of the water. But there are certain signs that prove the hardness of water when used for household activities. There are effective methods using currently to remove the hardness of well water. We will be discussing those later in this article. 

Is Well Water Hard or Soft?

The composition of water is measured in TDS value. (Total Dissolved Solids) The recommended TDS value for safe drinking water is 50-150 ppm. (Parts Per Million) If the TDS value is between 150 – 250 ppm, it is considered slightly hard water. If the value is between 250-320 ppm, it is categorized as moderately hard water. The TDS range of hard water is 320-420 ppm. A TDS meter is a device used to measure the number of solvents in a water sample. 

Is well water hard or soft? When you have to shift to a different location with an underground water supply from an area using water from a reservoir, you should probably meet this question. It is stealing peace of mind because the wrong water will end in terrible health conditions like kidney-related diseases, cardiovascular issues, effects on the central nervous system and diabetes. 

Well water can be hard and sometimes not. It depends on two factors. 

  1. Depth of the well
  2. Nature of the soil. 

Do Deeper Wells Mean Better Water?

When the well extends deeper, the amount of calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese dissolved in water increases as it needs to surface limestones, dolomites and various rocks when coming to the surface opening. It also has an impact from the decreasing levels of oxygen when it moves deeper into the ground. Low oxygen levels increase the solubility of metals like iron and magnesium. 

How does Geology Affect Water? 

When your underground layers are made up of limestone, gypsum, rock-salt, or any kind of carbonate rocks, there are high chances of receiving hard water through the wells. On the contrary, when there is more quartz, granite, basalt, pumice etc., on the soil, then it has been proved that the well water in such an area has lesser percentages of dissolved minerals.  

How Do I Know If My Water is Hard or Soft?

There are certain observations, DIY tests and developed test kits we can use to determine the hardness of the water. We have listed some common physical observations below. 

  • Soap does not dissolve well, forming more bubbles. You will need more soap for washing.
  • Soap scum appears in bathroom equipment, flooring of the showers and toilets. 
  • Deposit around taps and inside pipelines that carry and distribute water to the building. 
  • The noticeable pressure decrement of water from the faucets due to the thinning of the hollow of the pipes. 
  • The mineral content will make marks on your dishes and even clothes. 
  • Your clothes will not smell fresh or fragranced just after a wash. 
  • If you drink it, it will taste metallic. 
  • The excess mineral will make your skin extra dry, and your hair will become frizzier.

Inquiring the Local Authorities 

Annually every household receives a report on the quality of the water supplied to your premises. It sometimes would include information on the hardness of the distributed water. If it is not mentioned, you can call the municipality you belong to and ask for the information you need. 

Simple DIY Tests

Take a bottle and fill it with the water coming from the tap. Then add a small amount of handwash liquid and close the lid. Shake it well and observe. If it has formed a bubble-like nature, then the water is not hard. If there is only a small layer of bubbles and water could see separately with a milky colour, the sample can be assumed as hard water.

Test Kits in the Market

There are testing strips in the market. It will not cost you more than $10. If you have a doubt regarding the quality of your water source, this is the easiest and more accurate method you can follow. You need to insert the strip into a water sample from your pipeline and check the result with the colour codes. 

If the value is in the range of 7, it shows a visible impact and based on this value; you can choose the appropriate water softener.

Getting the Help of a Testing Lab

The most accurate method is to send a sample to a lab that provides the service of testing hardness. This will usually cost you around $160. But depending on the advance of the procedure, sometimes it will give a sum of $400. 

Do I Need a Water Softener with a Well?

If the test finalized that the water has a hardness of 7 grains per gallon or more, then you will need the support of a water softener to remove the excess minerals. In this filtration process, the resin layers (polystyrene beads) deposit calcium and magnesium ions, which are then replaced by sodium ions or potassium ions. 

The sum of material cost and labour fees of installing a water softener for your home is around $1500. But some softeners cost you like $6000. The average life span of a water softener is calculated as 10 -20 years. 

When in emergencies, you can boil water as a treatment for hard water. Boiling makes the minerals deposit on the bottom of the container. 


This article describes the nature of well water with the factors affecting the composition. If you are struggling with the hardness of well water, then you can invest in a water softener, and we have also included the functioning of such here. 

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