Water ‘Hardness’ In Hydroponics Explained

If you’ve spent any time researching water-based hydroponics gardening techniques, you’ve probably come across the term ’water hardness.’ Whether you’re growing fruits, vegetables, flowers or any other plant, you need to be aware of the potential problems caused by water hardness. It’s a serious condition that – when left untreated – can lead to slow growth, illness or even death in your plants.

What Is Water Hardness?

So, what exactly is water hardness? Basically, it’s a condition in which the water contains an excessive amount of chlorine, calcium and magnesium. Small amounts of these compounds are perfectly fine and even beneficial to some plants; however, high concentrations can restrict proper nutrition intake, slowing the plants’ growth or even killing them in severe cases.

To determine whether or not the water in your hydroponics system is suffering from hardness, you must measure the concentration of salts. 50-100 PPM (salts) is a suitable level that shouldn’t cause any issues for plants. Once you start getting into the 101-200 PPM range, though, plants may begin to show signs of nutritional deficiency and other relates problems.

Note: pH levels can also be used to identify the presence of water hardness. When the pH levels fluctuate beyond the “normal” range, there’s a good chance that compounds like chlorine, magnesium and/or calcium are to blame.

How To Treat Water Hydroponics Water Hardness

If your hydroponics system is suffering from a case of water hardness, you should consider changing the water. After all, this problem is directly caused by a an unusually high concentration of compounds; therefore, changing the water should treat it. Rather than filling your hydroponics system back up with the same tap water that causes the problem, however, you should use distilled water. Distillation eliminates the possibility of water hardness due to the fact that it’s filtered.

In addition to using distilled water, you can also install a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to help remove some of the salts and unwanted compounds from the water. No matter how hard you try to prevent it, salts will inevitably make their way into your hydroponics system – even with distilled water. RO filters work around the clock to filter out unwanted chemicals and impurities so your plants are given a safe environment to grow.