Is Well Water Hard or Soft?


This concise manual will guide you in determining whether the water from your well is soft or hard. Most wells typically produce hard water, but some residences may possess well water that is naturally soft due to various factors such as the water supply source and geological factors.

In case your water is hard, you may notice stains on dishes and glasses, a sticky residue on your hands after washing, and a buildup of white limescale on your water-using fixtures and appliances. To confirm the hardness of your water, you can perform a water hardness test.

The most effective way to treat hard water is by using a water softener.

While well water is typically hard, the degree of hardness can be influenced by your location. You can refer to this water hardness map to determine the level of water hardness in different regions of the United States.

Is Well Water Hard?

Both municipal (city) water supplies and most well water supplies are typically hard.

Yet, there is no assurance that the water in your well is hard. The same water sources that supply municipal water also supply well water in most cases. Depending on the location, the water sources from wells and cities may be soft or hard.

What Does Hard Water Look Like?

Hard water is difficult to identify by appearance alone. The easiest technique to identify hard water is to look for its telltale symptoms. Minerals and discolouration are left behind by hard water in toilet bowls, shower heads, and sinks.

Hard water may be the source of rust stains on your water fixtures since the minerals may be corroding the internal pipework in your house. In the shower, you can tell the difference between hard and soft water.

Hard water can leave behind soap scum residue and make washing your hair with soap more challenging. Because the water molecules are free to adhere to soap and filth particles, soft water makes it simple to wash stuff off of your hands.

Factors Affecting the Hardness of Well Water

Your water supply and the surrounding geology both have an impact on how hard your well water is.

The Source of Your Drinking Water

Starting with the origin of your water supply, if your well is shallow and it uses surface water, it’s likely that your water is softer than the water in deep wells.

This is because deep well water travels through layers of soil and rock to reach the aquifer, picking up dissolved minerals along the way.

Subsurface liquid is known as groundwater, and well water from an underground aquifer typically has a hardness of a thousand mg/L.

However, the variance in water hardness between surface water from a deep well and a shallow well is not set in stone. It is dependent on the local geology and the types of rocks present in the earth.

Geological composition in your area

Sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and limestone are composed of minerals that are soluble in water, also known as water soluble minerals.

Consequently, if your area has a lot of sedimentary rocks, your well water will absorb more minerals like calcium and magnesium as it filters through the ground, resulting in harder water.

On the other hand, if the region you live in has a higher concentration of igneous rocks, such as granite, or has been affected by glaciers, which typically contain fewer minerals, the probability of your water being naturally soft is higher.

Difference between hard water and soft water

The difference between hard water and soft water lies in the mineral content. Soft water contains minimal to 0 minerals, whereas hard water contains an excess of minerals.

While hard water can cause aesthetic issues, soft water does not harm your household.

Symptoms of Hard Water in Your Well

To determine whether the water in your well is hard, there are several indications you can look out for.

One of these is the presence of soap scum and mineral residue that can leave you with dry skin and hair feeling dehydrated, cause dandruff, and damage your hair.

Another sign is the buildup of limescale on your plumbing and water fixtures due to the high mineral content in the water.

Other indicators of hard water include an alkaline mineral taste in the water and low water pressure resulting from excessive scale buildup in your pipes.

Additionally, stains or mineral residue on your dishes and glasses can serve as an indication, as well as the need to use more soap to wash and clean due to a poor lather.

Ways to Determine if Your Well Water is Hard or Soft

The most accurate way to determine if your well water is hard or soft is by conducting a water test. You can purchase a do-it-yourself hard water test online for about $20.

The test will assess the minerals present in the sample and classify your water as 4 levels of hardness.

To conduct the water hardness test, collect a water sample from your kitchen faucet and immerse the testing strip into it to identify the existence of hard minerals.

The color of the testing strip will alter to indicate the degree of water hardness, which can be determined by comparing the strip’s color to the color wheel provided.

Treating Hard Water from a Well

In the long term, hard well water can obviously be costly and harmful, lowering water flow and making equipment less effective. Your water fixtures’ lifespan may even be shortened by hard water, which may require more upkeep and repairs.

A water softener is the best solution for treating hard water flow.

Ion exchange, or the exchange of sodium ions with a positive charge for negatively charged calcium and magnesium ions, occurs in water softeners.

By doing this, water hardness is removed, avoiding potential limescale problems.

Can water hardness be treated by filtering systems? No.

The only devices that can get rid of calcium and magnesium are water softeners. While a water filtration system can raise the water quality, it cannot change the hardness of your water.

Can water from a well be soft?

Although well water isn’t always hard, it is more likely to be since it comes from the earth rather than a reservoir.

Well water may have an excessive amount of minerals because water in the ground will absorb the minerals from the soil it passes through.

Yet, this does not imply that well water will always be hard. It’s possible that deeper wells won’t experience the same problems with water-soluble minerals that make water hard.

Since changes in the soil may also affect the chemical makeup of well water, it’s crucial to analyze it frequently to determine how hard it is.

Is Well Water Harder Than City Water?

Prior to entering your home’s plumbing, city water, also known as municipal water supply, is often pumped from deep wells or surface water supplies and treated there. Although municipal treatments may differ, almost all treatments involve the filtering of particles and iron or manganese.

Also, city water is examined for impurities that might pose a health concern and may undergo a chlorine treatment to get rid of any germs or pathogens. Despite all of this treatment, no additional steps are taken to deal with hard water in the city’s water supply.

A well drilled on private land provides well water, which is a source of private water.

Despite the fact that the initial driller must submit a water sample for analysis to check for pollutants and heavy metals, this water is piped straight into the residence from its source.

However, it is then the responsibility of the homeowner to treat the water for any problems with quality, such as hard water.

Hard water is equally probable in both sources, despite the fact that there might be significant variances between well water and city water.

Well Water Filtration Systems

In addition to getting rid of the minerals that make water hard in your home, using a well water filtration system also gives you peace of mind that additional toxins have been securely removed from drinking water.

You may get rid of unpleasant tastes, smells, or cloudiness to get safe, clean water that the whole family can drink. With the knowledge that filtered water is a safer alternative to hard water, you may confidently cook, bathe, garden, and drink.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the water in my well soft by nature?

If you reside in an area where the local geology lacks a significant concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium, your well water may be naturally soft.

Regular testing of well water is advisable as naturally soft water has a higher tendency to absorb metals, and it’s important to ensure that the levels of these metals in your drinking water do not pose any health risks.

Does well water have a higher level of water hardness than city water?

No, well water is not normally softer than the source of city water. The hardness levels of well water and municipal water in similar area are often comparable.

The two factors that affect water hardness the most are the geological composition of the area and the kind of water (groundwater vs. surface water).

Does well water require a water softener?

Although hard water containing hardness minerals is not considered harmful, having a water softener can still be beneficial for those looking to increase appliance efficiency and save time spent cleaning. Installing a water softener at the main water line can improve water quality.

It is recommended to perform a water hardness test if unsure about the level of hardness minerals present in your water.

How can I tell whether the water in my well is soft or hard?

To identify whether your water is hard or soft, a quick and easy method is to check for the presence of limescale.

Limescale is a powdery, white deposit that often accumulates on faucets, showerheads, coffee makers, kettles, hot water heaters, and dishwashers. Soap scum residue is another indicator of hard water.

What is the Hardness Level of Well Water?

The level of hardness in well water is not fixed and can differ significantly. However, if your well water comes from an underground source, it is usually harder than surface water, with a typical hardness level of more than 1000 mg/L.

To obtain an accurate measurement of the hardness level of your well water in mg/L, it is recommended that you arrange for a water test at a laboratory.

Test for Well Water

You should get a well water test done to make sure the water you are consuming is secure and hygienic. Changes in geological activity or the weather can quickly cause problems with wells.

Modern fracking activities have the potential to poison water and disturb well water quality. You should examine the quality of your water to make sure that you and your house are safe.


The water table, also known as the accumulation of water below the surface that accumulates due to precipitation and from adjacent bodies of water, is what wells are made to access deep below the earth.

Depending on the region you reside in, the water table often rests on top of bedrock, which may or may not include minerals that are soluble in water.

Although wells nowadays are often smaller than they were in the past, there are still concerns about the possibility of having water that has dissolved and absorbed minerals. You may need to use a filter or water softener as a result of hard water troubles caused by this.

Your area’s soil quality and the position of your water table both have a role in this. Your geological characteristics determine exactly where the water table is close to you and how deep it is.

Although survey stations may not be close enough to your property to provide an exact depth or even a close approximation, a tool on the U.S. Geological Survey website allows you to examine the depth of the water table in your neighborhood.

The water table will often be closer to the surface if you’re adjacent to a body of water, such as a lake, river, or pond, than if you were in a location without any local water bodies.

Finding the water table in your location gets substantially more challenging if you’re on top of a hill or mountain since water is less likely to accumulate there. To get to it, you would have to go far deeper into the ground.

In contrast, because there is nowhere for the water to go but down into the soil, flatlands have a higher water table. Because of the high water table and excellent soil, the Great Plains are one of the best regions in the world for farming.

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