Most of our daily activities need water. This is why it is important for us to have access to clean and safe water

But, what do we exactly mean by clean and safe water?

You can say that your water supply is clean and safe if it does not have any harmful substances that can hurt us or damage our properties. 

Our government and service providers are always aiming to provide this. 

Unfortunately, with how water is transported to our households, some chemicals get mixed in. This is how hard water is sometimes produced.


  • Hard Water.

Hard water is the term used to refer to water with “hard” minerals such as calcium and magnesium

Sometimes, iron gets mixed in too as our water travels from the source to our faucets. The opposite of hard water is, of course, soft water.

  • Soft Water. 

Soft water is the other term for clean and safe water. It does not have any of those “hard” minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. 

It is usually the result of our water softener systems

Also of Interest: How to drain tank on brine water softener. This is especially true since the water that usually comes out of our faucets is hard water. 

Most of the time, we are unaware of it because the amount of minerals that have been mixed in is minor. 

It could also be that we do not know how to identify it.


  1. Is a water softener system really necessary? 

Yes. This is especially true if the hardness level of your water is severe. 

Hard water can be dangerous to our bodies. It may not be able to kill us but it can cause damage to our hair and skin. 

In the long run, it can even destroy our water pipes. It can also leave stains and residues on our laundry and other items if we constantly use it to clean them. 

This is why it is important for us to have a water softener system in our own homes. 

We will be able to reduce the amount of “hard” minerals to an acceptable level using this system.

  1. How to know the hardness level of your water softener system? 

Before you buy a water softener system, you need to know the hardness of your water first. 

To know this, you need to have your water tested first, and you need to be able to understand the result.

For you to be able to do this, you need to first know the meaning of the hardness number on your water softener.

  1. What does the water softener hardness number mean? 

The hardness number is the amount of hardness of the calcium carbonate present in the sample

It can also mean the level of concentration of the dissolved “hard” minerals. 

These hard minerals can either be calcium, magnesium, or iron. Though, calcium is the most common of the three.

This hardness level has two different units of measurement. 


Experts express the hardness of the water in either grain per gallon (gpg) or part per million (ppm)

Some testing laboratories prefer the use of one over the other.

  1. Grain per gallon (gpg): 

If your laboratory uses gpg, it means that the sample has one grain of Calcium carbonate per one gallon of water.

  1. Part per million (ppm): 

On the other hand, if your laboratory uses ppm, the reading would mean that there is one unit part of calcium carbonate in every one million units of the water sample.

While it is definitely better to have your water tested in a lab, sometimes there is no available one nearby. 

You should not worry if that situation happens. This is because there are available do-it-yourself testing kits on the market.

These testing kits include test strips and water hardness titration test kits. 

They are easy to use and you will be able to see the results immediately. The result will give you a number. 


  • Ideal: Keep in mind that the ideal water hardness is anything less than 1 grain per gallon

If your test gave that result, then you have soft water.

  • Acceptable: If your result falls under the 0-3.5 category, then it is acceptable and you do not need to buy a water softener system yet

The 0-3.5 category means the sample has 0-3.5 grains of hard minerals per gallon of water. 

It is safe for daily water usage and human consumption.

  • Moderately Hard: If, however, your result falls under the 3.5-7 category, then your water is Moderately Hard

You will now need to have a water softener system if you do not want to suffer from any possible effects. 

Moderately hard water can leave residue on your laundry and dishes. It can also have some mild negative effects on your skin. 

You may even develop dry skin if you use it on a regular basis.

  • Hard Water: 7-10 category means Hard water

If your test results fall under this category, it means that your sample has a huge amount of hard minerals. 

It must be addressed. If you do not treat it, your faucets, pipes, and other items that your wash with the amount of water can be damaged in the long run.

  • Very Hard: If your result, however, falls under the 10-15 category, then it is considered to be Very Hard

It means the concentration of the “hard” minerals is too high and there is already a mineral buildup.

  • Extremely Hard: The last category on the water hardness scale buildup is 15+. 

If your test results fall under this category, then you should never use much water for drinking. 

Under this category, your water is classified as Extremely Hard Water, which means you definitely need a water softener system.

If your test kit uses parts per million (ppm), then you can convert your result to grain per gallon and then refer to the above-mentioned categories for your references. 

Keep in mind that 17.14 ppm (parts per million) is equal to 1.00 gpg (grains per gallons of water)

This also means that the ideal result for you is 17.14 ppm.

While it is true that the ideal water hardness for human consumption and daily usage is 0-3 grains per gallon, some of the other categories have purposes, too. 

For example, hard water under the category of 7-10 is best for gardening. 

The amount of “hard” minerals and nutrients in this type of water is necessary for the plants to grow. 

Keep in mind that it is important to always test the amount of hardness in your water before you use it. 

You need your water hardness test kit number in order to be able to set the right water softener hardness setting. 


A.How do I set my water softener hardness level? 

For you to be able to set your water softener hardness level properly, you need to consider certain factors first: 

  • the grains of hardness in your water
  • the age of your water softener
  • whether there is iron in your water supply 
  1. The first thing that you should know is the hardness level of your water

The harder your water level is the more grains of hard minerals it contains. 

The more grains it contains, the higher the setting on your water softener’s hardness level. 

This means that your water softener will be working hard to produce softened water.

Keep in mind that you need to make sure that your water softener has the right setting

Otherwise, the resin beads in your system will not be able to do their job of removing the hard water minerals properly.

  1. The next thing that you need to consider is the possibility of iron content in your water supply

This is why we suggest that you test your water for iron content right after you test its hardness level. 

You don’t have to worry about it though, because there are many available testing kits on the market. 

Most of them are easy to use, and you will be able to see the result almost immediately.

Most basic water softeners can remove iron if the amount of iron is not too high. 

You just have to make sure that you are able to set the setting properly and correctly. 

Once you have tested your water supply, we hope that it does not have much iron in it. 

But if it does, you will need to make sure that your water softener is set to a higher water hardness level for it to be able to remove iron.

In certain instances where there is too much ppm of iron, you will need an iron removal system. This specialized system can treat the problem effectively. 

  1. The last factor that you need to consider is the age of your water softener. 

An older water softener has a reduced grain capacity to treat water due to its age

Its resins are no longer as efficient as they once were and this will affect their ability to soften your water.

This means it is now important to set the number and level higher for it to be able to do its job properly.

B. Is higher or lower number softer water? Based on the water hardness scale, the lower the number the softer the water. 

If you check the categories, the 0-3.5 category is the acceptable, range. While 3.5 to 7 is moderately hard. 

As your number increases, the harder your water is.

C. What does a water hardness of 7 mean? 

A water hardness of 7 means your water is moderately hard. You will already need a water softening system to treat this water.

D. Which is better, water conditioner or water softener? 

Both the water conditioner and the water softener can remove unwanted minerals from your water supply. 

However, when it comes to treating hard water, specialists prefer water softeners. 

This is because water softeners serve many other purposes. This is apart from removing hard minerals from your water supply.

For instance, a good water softener can prevent the buildup of minerals in your pipes and sinks. 

It can also prevent the development of soap scum in your kitchen sink. 

It can also prolong the lifespan of your appliances, hot water heaters, and water filters.

You just need to make sure that you have a premium quality salt and a well-maintained system. 

If you have a salt-free water softening system, make sure to have enough potassium chloride.

Final thoughts

Always check your water softener at least twice a year to make sure that your system is working effectively. 

Make sure that your system and its parts like its control valve, resin, and brine tank are all still working. They must be free from any buildups. 

There are factors like power outages or surges that can mess up your system.  

It also does not help that an introduction or removal of certain community activities can increase the hard minerals in your water supply. 

This is why it is important to routinely check your water supply and water softener system if they are accurately set. 

Lastly, remember that your system will end up using too much salt if you set it at a higher hardness level than what is necessary. 

Only a number of people know this so spread the word!

D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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