Growing with Hard Water

Do you have hard water? Do you not even know what soft water versus hard water actually means? We're here to help! 

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“Hard Water” is water that contains a high mineral content. Hard water is classified by the high levels of calcium and magnesium present, but there can be other minerals in the water as well. Any water with a PPM over 200 can be considered hard water. Soft water is the opposite and will have low levels of calcium and magnesium. Soft water is generally considered to be more desirable, especially for growing; however, soft water can sometimes have a high sodium content. 

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Geographic location can impact if your water is hard or soft. 

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While hard water poses no health concerns, it can be a hurdle for most gardeners and growers. 

Growing cannabis with hard water can be a challenge because the excess calcium can lockout your roots, preventing them from properly absorbing essential nutrients.

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Where is hard water most commonly found?

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Hard water is very common in Europe, especially in the UK. 

Water testing in the United States revealed over half of America has hard water. Mountain states will generally have harder water. States like Utah and Idaho have very hard water.

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In Canada, Ontario has over 85 cities with water over 15 GPG. If you live in Ontario, you may want to check your city's water and consider using our Hard Water Micro. Additionally, it is very common in the Prairies to have hard water. If you live in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, we recommend testing your water. 

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Some cities may soften the water before it is available in your tap. We recommend religiously testing your PPMs as calcium and salts can still build up. 

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The top US cities with hard water are:

  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Tampa, FL

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The top US states with hard water are:

  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Wisconsin
  • Utah
  • New Mexico 
  • Arizona

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The top Canadian cities with hard water are: 

  • Dawson Creek, BC
  • Drumheller, AB
  • Trochu, AB
  • Assiniboia, SK
  • Komsach, SK
  • Moosomin, SK
  • Melville, MB
  • Cayuga, ON
  • Harrow, ON
  • Essex, ON
  • Beaurepre, QC

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You can check the GPG index of your city's water HERE

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How does pH play into hard versus soft water?

pH can be a good indication of if you have hard or soft water. Generally, hard water will be high in pH while soft water is low in pH.

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How do I know if I have hard water?

In the US hard water is often measured in GPG (grains per gallon) or in Canada as SI (milligrams per liter). Cannabis growers will be more familiar with PPM (parts per million). A GPG is equal to 17.1 PPM. 

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Anything over 120 SI (3.5 GPG) is considered hard water and anything over 180 SI (10.5 GPG) is considered very hard.

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Some growers consider any water with a PPM of 100 or higher to be hard water. At Future Harvest we recommend using our Micro Hard Water when your PPM is over 200. (We measure on a 500 scale). 

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Can I turn hard water into soft water?

You can soften hard water through a reverse osmosis system, certain filters, ion exchange, or chelation systems.

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Softened water will maintain a high pH and will have a high salt index. It is generally not recommended to water your plants with softened water because of the high levels of sodium present. Too much salts can cause tip burn, stunted growth, and can inhibit seeds and seedlings. Reverse osmosis is generally considered to be a safe soft water to use in growing.

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Okay I have hard water, now what?

There are a few options out there. If your PPMs are around the 200-350 range, we recommend continuing to use your tap water but combine it with Holland Secret Micro Hard Water. Micro Hard Water contains less calcium to balance out the high levels of calcium present in your hard water.

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Micro Hard Water is recommended for use with water over 200 PPM.

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Water quality is a big concern when growing hydroponically. To obtain optimum results, it is recommended to use water that contains as little salts as possible. Unfortunately, this is not an option for everyone and some are forced to grow using water with a high mineral content. In most cases, problems in water quality arise from higher rates of Calcium (although it’s advisable to do a water test to be certain), and using regular Holland Secret Micro will push Calcium levels too high which increase the chances of having a lockout with the Phosphorus contained in Holland Secret Grow and Bloom.

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For those who do not want to spend money on a lab test, it is advisable to monitor water quality using a nutrient meter.  At levels between 200 and 300 PPM it is advisable to use Hard Water Micro, together with Calnesium, to balance out Calcium levels.  Any tap water over 350 PPM should only use Hard Water Micro without Calnesium.

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Phosphorus Calcium Excess:

By far the most common problem we see is when growers have too much Phosphorus or Calcium and a reaction happens which locks out their availability. This reaction often occurs when a grower is unknowingly using hard water. 

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It will usually present itself as a calcium deficiency, but the low levels of phosphorus will have an impact on your plant’s yield.

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This is characterized by an all around unhealthy, stunted plant, with yellow brown spots on the leaves. 

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This can be easy to check: simply leave a sample of nutrient solution sitting out for a day or two. If there's white sediment in the bottom then it will likely be from this type of lockout. 

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For the next step you'll want to check your water source. Check the TDS using a meter or buy an at home testing kit for hard water - ideally it should be as low as possible. Most of the time this reading is due to calcium dissolved in the water which can potentially mess up the nutrient solution. Starting at around 200 PPM there is potential for this to happen. If you are using hard water, this reaction will most likely occur in your plant. 

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Holland Secret Micro Hard Water

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If this reaction is occurring, then our Holland Secret Hard Water Micro should be used. It contains 1% calcium rather than the 5% in the regular Micro. You are safe to use a Cal-Mag supplement, but once the PPM starts to approach about 350 we recommend you leave that out as well. 

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Another option is to lower the phosphate levels by decreasing PK supplements by 20%, but we recommend you consider lowering calcium levels first. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

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If you have tried Micro Hard Water and are still experiencing a nutrient lockout, or your PPMs are considerably higher, you may consider having to use reverse osmosis water. 

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What exactly is reverse osmosis water?

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Reverse osmosis is a filtering process that will remove contaminants and minerals from your water. It uses pressure to push the water through special membranes. Reverse osmosis water is completely safe to drink and water your plants with. 

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Reverse osmosis water will NOT remove certain pesticides, solvents, or metals like Chlorine and Radon.

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Reverse osmosis can remove up to 95-99% of salts in your water. Because reverse osmosis filters out minerals, you will need to provide your plant with all the essential micro and macro nutrients it needs as it will not be getting any from its water source. Calcium and magnesium deficiencies are very common with growers using reverse osmosis water if they are not supplementing with a cal-mag product like Calnesium or Organical Magic

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Watering plants with reverse osmosis water is popular in countries or cities where the tap water is unsafe to drink.

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Do you have hard water? What do you do to combat it? Comment below!

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Any questions? Email us at marketing@futureharvest.com or send us a message on Instagram @futureharvestdevelopment and we will help you as best we can!

    Published by Future Harvest

    Bio:
    Future Harvest | Grow Better |

    E-Mail: marketing@futureharvest.com

  • Mar 29, 2021
  • Category: Articles
  • Comments: 2
2 Comments
Craig April 12, 2021

I live in Dawson Creek and yes we have hard water I’m using the hard water micro in your product line is there any other things I should be tweeking in using the full product line

Future Harvest April 12, 2021

Hi Craig,
You should be good to use our entire line with just the Hard Water Micro. If your PPMs are over 350 then we recommend you stop using Calnesium.

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