Once you discover that you have a hard water problem, it’s often the beginning of a confusing time. There is an entire lexicon of terms related to the water treatment industry, and water softening is no exception. When you begin to research water softeners, the learning curve can be quite steep, and there may be a lot of concepts that are unfamiliar to you. In this article, we will explain some of this terminology to help you make an informed choice.

What is Hard Water?

As our water makes its way to our homes, it passes through sediment, soil, and rock that contains a wide variety of mineral content. Water is an effective solvent so it can dissolve these minerals and add them to itself as it passes through. Many of these naturally occurring minerals are actually good for us in smaller quantities, but others can create a problem. Hard water contains three minerals in elevated amounts; they are calcium, magnesium, and to a lesser extent, iron. These minerals cause the water to become hard; they cannot be seen, and they create a number of problems in your home. The best way to get rid of hard water is to install a water softener system.

What are Grains per Gallon or GPG?

This is a unit of measurement; it’s used to show how hard a certain volume of water is to make an accurate comparison. To illustrate this, imagine that 10 grains of a mineral is dissolved into a gallon of water, the measurement would be 10gpg. To put this into perspective, water is considered to be soft at under 1gpg and hard at more than 7gpg.

What Does Parts per Million or ppm Mean?

The majority of modern water softeners measure the water hardness in gpg, as shown above. But, there are some manufacturers that use ppm instead. If you want to compare two water softeners and they use gpg and ppm it can be a problem. This is easy to solve if you know the conversion, which is that each 1gpg is equal to 17.1ppm. If you have iron in your water, it will be measured using ppm and even a level of 0.3ppm can cause rusty red stains in your home. This is hard to clean, and you have to repeat the process unless you address the root cause, which is hard water. If you install the appropriate water softener, you can remove iron and other water hardening minerals from your water supply.

What Water Softener Capacity Do I Need?

Every water softener will include information on the grain capacity, the cubic feet needed or the gallons of water used. Before you purchase a water softener, you need to consider how much water you will need to treat. The main determining factor will be the number of people living in your home, and people use more water in hotter months. Examining your water bills should give you some idea of how much water your home typically uses. Don’t choose a water softener that has just enough capacity. Go a little higher, or you may not get enough soft water when there is an increase in demand.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.