How can I test if my water softener is working?

Water softener remove ‘hardening’ minerals like magnesium and calcium from water, which are often replaced with sodium ions (usually by increasing the salt content of water).

The definition of water hardness is most commonly expressed as milligrams of calcium carbonate equivalent per litre*:

  • Soft: calcium carbonate at concentrations below 60mg/l (<60ppm)
  • Moderately hard: water contains calcium carbonate at concentrations between 60 and 120mg (60 to 120ppm)
  • Hard: above 120 and 180mg (120 to 180ppm)
  • Very hard water contains more than 180mg (>180ppm)

(*Source WHO. The definition of soft to hard water varies slightly between publications of various industry bodies.)

Water Testing is quick and gives instant results: Use a hardness test kits to test the hardness of water. As a result of the softening process, levels of salt (as sodium chloride) can increase, which can be harmful in drinking water. Often people are concerned about the elevated sodium levels of softended water – carry out a chloride test to be safe.

It is important to regularly test the water to ensure the water softener is working well:

  • Test the level of hardness of your water to see if a water softener is required
  • Regularly test the water before and after the softening process for hardness and sodium chloride levels to:
    • Check after installation to ensure it is producing softened water and has been installed correctly
    • Check that the right kind of salt has been chosen by checking the efficiency of the softening process (different salts are recommeneded for different levels of water hardness)
    • During use: regularly test the water before and after the softening process to check if salt levels need topping up and the softener is running efficiently

Can I drink softened water? It is generally safe to drink softened water, however the amount of sodium in the treated water will depend on the hardness of the original water. The higher the hardness the more sodium is added to the water. Higher levels of sodium can be harmful to pets & plants (irrigation), they are not ideal for people with high blood pressure and people concerned about sodium in their diet. Click here to test water for levels of salt (sodium chloride).

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