• Water Hardness Testing Options

    Knowing the hardness value for the water in your home is useful for many reasons. Some dishwasher and washing machine appliance manufacturers have limits on incoming water hardness. For some people their hobbies, whether it's aquarium-keeping or home-brewing, will dictate the hardness of the water they need to provide in their home. Whatever the reason may be, knowing the hardness of your water to begin with is a very important step in making an necessary corrections.

    If you live in a place where water treatment is centralized - like a city, town, or even a small village - you can often look up the water hardness due to the requirement of these entities to publish water test results at least annually. Aquatell keeps a record of water hardness for the cities and towns Canada and for the water hardness of the cities and towns of the United States. And if your city or town isn't listed, you can often go to the municipal website and find the water report or email them and request it.

    If you have a private water supply, however, it can be much more difficult to figure out what your water hardness value is. The only way to do it is to test it and there are several testing options available with related pros and cons:

    Expense Accuracy Speed
    Lab Test High Excellent Slow
    Dip-Strip Low Poor Fast
    Home Test Medium Good Medium
    Pool/Spa Store Low Good Medium


    Lab Test

    Lab tests will give you the most accurate results by far but the tests are expensive especially because accredited laboratories usually offer a package of typical residential tests that are bundled together. Expect to pay over $100 and for the results to take a few days to be delivered


    These are test strips that typically come in a bottle and can be purchased from local hardware or home renovation stores. They're cheap and quick to use, but the least accurate of all the techniques we describe here. They often give a range of values for your result and the number you choose from the colour chart is open to interpretation. We usually only recommend dip strips when a customer is looking for presence/absence rather than trying to come up with an actual value.

    Home Test

    There are a number of other home tests that can be purchased and these often hit the sweet spot of not being too expensive while usually being accurate enough for most residential applications like sizing a water softener or determining if your city water meets the specs of the new appliance you just purchased. Aquatell makes and sells a home water hardness test kit that also allows you to test pH and iron concentration. Overall, home test kits are a great overall solution.

    Pool & Spa Store

    Pools and spas are quite sensitive to water hardness. As such, these retail locations often have the ability to do accurate and quick on-site testing for water hardness and will often do it for a very small fee if you bring them a sample. But be careful - in pool and spa chemistry calcium is also tested and sometimes "calcium" and "hardness" will get mixed up. Make sure if they test the water they are testing for "total hardness"

    Using Handheld Meters

    There are lots of electronic hand held meters that can be immersed in a sample of water and will instantly and very accurately report the parameter being tested for, however, no such device exists for water hardness. You may see them advertised for this application but these devices measure the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) of the water or they measure Conductivity. Neither of these is the same as water hardness and neither test can be used to directly measure or even approximate the water hardness level.