Most households get their water supply from the city they live in. But in some areas, well water is also a common option. But is well water hard or soft?
Well water needs to be tested to be sure whether it’s hard or soft. But generally, well water tends to be harder than soft. This is because water comes from an underground supply called aquifers. When water moves underground, it passes through soil and rocks and collects minerals like calcium and magnesium, which increases the hardness of water.
Well water isn’t always hard though. It can be soft too depending on different factors. This is why water testing is essential.
What Is Well Water?
Well water is two of the common sources of water in many households across the United States. The other source of water is city water or water provided by your city or municipality.
Well water is especially common for households in rural areas.
Well water is water that comes from an underground source called aquifers.
Aquifers are natural underground storage of water, usually collecting water from rain. Water from aquifers seeps through and rests on bedrock, also known as a water table.
As rainwater moves through layers of soil and rocks, it picks up various natural minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
If these minerals come in contact with water, they easily dissolve and mix with the water supply.
The amount of minerals present in the water will determine whether your family’s well water is hard or soft. This starts discussions on hard and soft water.
Is Well Water Hard or Soft?
While well water isn’t always hard, we can assume that well water is more likely to be hard than soft.
As we’ve mentioned above, well water comes from underground aquifers. This source of water travels through several layers of soil and rocks, all of which contain natural minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron.
The amount of minerals present in the water will determine how hard or soft it will be.
The more minerals present, the harder the water will be. And the less minerals present, the softer the water will be.
Get your water tested
If you want to know whether your well water is hard or soft, you should know that you wouldn’t be able to determine this just by looking at it.
If you decide to use well water for your family’s daily water supply, it’s important to get your water tested. This will help determine whether water is soft or hard. This can also help you determine what minerals and other contaminants are present in the water.
Knowing what is present in your water will help you take preemptive measures to ensure your family has a clean and healthy supply of water for years to come, especially if you’re also using it as your family’s drinking water.
There are home DIY water testing kits widely available in the market. But you can also get your water professionally tested in labs. Choose whichever works best for you and put your mind at ease.
And if you do end up with hard well water, water softeners come in handy as a solution. A water softener in your water filtration system will work to remove dissolved minerals and other sediments that make water hard.
Factors That Determine If Your Well Has Hard or Soft Water
There are varying factors that can affect whether your well water will be hard or soft but generally, two important factors greatly affect the result:
Depth of the well
Generally speaking, a deeper wall is more likely to provide hard water. At the same time, a shallower well could likely provide your family with softer water.
When a well is deep, the water would have to go and travel through several layers of soil and rocks. The water will pick up and absorb lots of natural minerals along the way. This will increase the hardness level of water.
When a well is shallow, the water doesn’t have to go through that many layers of soil and rocks. This means your water supply is less likely to pick up a considerable amount of natural minerals, making the water supply softer.
Given all these, it wouldn’t be wise to assume that just because your well is shallow, your water is soft or because your well is deep, the water is automatically hard.
Remember, deep wells can have softer water and shallow wells can have harder water as well.
Another contributing factor to the hardness or softness of well water is your local geology.
The geology, rocks, and soil in your local area can directly affect the water quality. Areas with a lot of sedimentary rocks like sandstone and limestone have a lot of sediments and water-soluble minerals. This means when water passes through them, it picks them up and ends up in your water supply. This will increase the hardness of the water.
On the other hand, if you live in an area with more igneous rocks like granite, your local geology will have less mineral content. This means the water is likely to be softer as well.
What Causes Hard Water or Soft Water?
The hardness or softness of water can be determined by the amount of magnesium and calcium content present in the water. Other natural minerals that can also affect the water include iron and zinc.
These minerals can naturally be found in rocks and soil underground.
The higher the water’s mineral content, the harder it is. The lower the mineral content, the softer the water is.
Signs That Your Well Water Is Hard
Here are some telltale signs that your well water may be hard::
- White scale buildup on sink, faucets, showerheads, and other bathroom fixtures
- Soap scum on sinks, skin, and hair after washing
- Rust stains on bathroom fixtures
- Stains and discoloration on clothes
- Lower water pressure because the mineral deposits and buildup clog water pipes
Signs That Your Well Water Is Soft
If you still haven’t had your water tested, look for these signs of soft well water:
- Stronger water pressure
- Soaps and shampoos lather easily
- No stains on clothes and bathroom fixtures
- Water may taste salty
Water is essential for all households, no matter where you are. For those living in rural areas, wells are a common source of water supply. Many well owners may be wondering if well water is hard or soft.
It’s hard to say whether well water is hard or soft. But generally speaking, well water is more likely hard. This is because it moves underground, where natural minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron are present. These dissolve and mix with water. The more minerals present, the harder the water is.
Well water isn’t inherently hard. Some well water may be soft, depending on factors like the depth of the well and local geology.