How Can I Tell How Hard My Water Is?

Written by andrew mayfair
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How Can I Tell How Hard My Water Is?
Hard water can make soap turn into a hard and sticky substance. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Hard water is a term that refers to water that has a high concentration of dissolved minerals, usually magnesium and calcium. Although it is not harmful to drink hard water, hard water can damage your home's water pipes and cause laundered clothing to be stiff and scratchy. Test your water supply to determine the level of hardness and decide whether to have your water supply treated.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Purchase a hard water home test kit from a water filtering or testing company. The kit often comes with a small vial and a liquid soap solution.

  2. 2

    Pour water into the vial to the indicated point. Place one drop of the liquid soap solution into the vial. Cap the vial and shake it gently for three seconds.

  3. 3

    Add the soap solution, one drop at a time, and shake the vial until you measure 1/2 inch of suds. Take note of the amount of drops necessary to create the 1/2 inch of suds.

  4. 4

    Calculate the hardness of your water following the directions in your kit. The hardness of your water will be reported in grains per gallon. Compare your grains per gallon figure to the table that comes with your water hardness test kit. Generally, 1-to-3.5 grains per gallon is slightly hard, whereas 10.5 grains per gallon and high is very hard water.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also contract with a water purification company to test the hardness of your water.

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