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Tampa Water Hardness Levels Explained - Softening and Removing Calcium and Magnesium

Updated: Nov 6

Tampa's very hard water from the Floridan Aquifer causes scale buildup and dry skin.
Tampa's very hard water from the Floridan Aquifer causes scale buildup and dry skin.

Tampa Water Hardness Levels Explained - Softening and Removing Calcium and Magnesium

Water hardness refers to the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water. Hard water is a common issue in Tampa due to the composition of the underlying Floridan Aquifer. While small amounts of these minerals are not harmful, high concentrations can cause problems in homes and businesses. Understanding Tampa water hardness levels and solutions for softening and removing calcium and magnesium is key.

What Causes Hard Water in Tampa?

The high hardness of Tampa water is primarily caused by the geology of the Floridan Aquifer, which supplies most of the groundwater for the region. This expansive aquifer system consists of porous limestone, which naturally contains calcium and magnesium minerals. As groundwater flows through the aquifer, it dissolves these minerals and becomes "hardened."

Other factors like soil composition, saltwater intrusion, and water treatment processes can also impact hardness levels. Tampa's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes saltwater intrusion a particular concern.

How is Water Hardness Measured?

Water hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) or milligrams per liter (mg/L). The general classifications are:

  • Soft water: 0-3 gpg (0-50 mg/L)

  • Moderately hard water: 3-6 gpg (51-120 mg/L)

  • Hard water: 6-9 gpg (121-180 mg/L)

  • Very hard water: over 9 gpg (over 180 mg/L)

According to the City of Tampa annual water quality report, Tampa water has an average hardness of 148 mg/L or 8.6 gpg. This puts it firmly in the "very hard" category. Hardness levels can vary in different parts of the city based on the exact aquifer source and treatment methods. Private wells drawing from the Floridan Aquifer often have even higher hardness.

Problems Caused by Hard Water in Tampa

While dissolved calcium and magnesium are not directly harmful, the high mineral content creates various problems:

Scaly Buildup on Fixtures and Appliances

Hard water leaves behind white scale or crusty deposits on faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures. The minerals bind to surfaces and accumulate over time. This can clog plumbing, reduce water pressure, and make appliances like dishwashers and washing machines less effective. Removing heavy limescale requires strong cleaning solutions.

Dry Skin and Hair

Hard water prevents soap from lathering properly. This leaves behind a sticky scum on skin and hair rather than cleansing properly. Over time, this causes excessive dryness, itching, and irritation. Hair also becomes stiff, brittle, and difficult to manage.

Spots and Films on Dishes and Clothes

The reaction between hard water and soap/detergent leads to spots and residue on washed items. Dishes and glassware come out of the dishwasher with a cloudy film. Laundry appears dingy and gets covered in mineral deposits. Hard water prevents proper cleaning.

Damage to Plumbing and Appliances

The scale buildup from hard water eventually causes damage. Pipe walls get encrusted, leading to clogs and burst pipes. Appliances like water heaters and washing machines have shortened lifespans as mineral deposits coat heating elements and other internal parts. This leads to breakdowns and costly repairs.

Less Efficient Cleaning/Personal Care Products

Soaps, detergents, shampoos and other products are less effective in hard water conditions. Much of the active ingredient binds with the excess minerals rather than working to clean or condition. This means more product is required to try and compensate.

Solutions for Removing Hardness and Softening Tampa Water

To avoid the problems caused by hard water, Tampa homeowners and businesses need effective water softening and scale prevention solutions. The most common options include:

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

Ion exchange softeners are the most widely used systems for homes and businesses in the Tampa area. This technology replaces the calcium and magnesium ions in hard water with sodium ions. The water passes through a resin tank where the exchange occurs.

Popular ion exchange softener options like the AquaLux Water Softener reduce hardness while also inhibiting scale. Maintenance involves occasionally replacing the resin beads and refilling salt.

Reverse Osmosis Filtration

Reverse osmosis (RO) uses a multi-stage filtration process to remove dissolved solids. Water is forced through a semipermeable membrane that filters out calcium, magnesium and other hardness minerals.

AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis Systems provide high-quality RO filtration tailored for Tampa's hard water. The modular design allows customization for different needs.

Catalytic Carbon Filtration

Catalytic carbon filters use a mix of granular activated carbon and a proprietary catalytic compound. As water passes through, the catalyst enhances precipitation and crystal formation. The minerals bind together, become heavier, and are filtered out

The AquaCarbonGuard combines catalytic carbon with other media for optimal hardness reduction. It effectively softens water while also removing chlorine, chemicals, odors, and sediment.

Magnetic Water Conditioners

Magnetic conditioners pass water through a powerful magnet to alter the structure of the calcium and magnesium ions. This prevents them from binding and crystallizing on surfaces. The minerals remain suspended in the water instead of coming out of solution.

While not true softening, magnetic treatment prevents scale buildup. The minerals retain beneficial properties for drinking and cooking rather than being removed. There is no backwashing or regeneration required.


Distillers heat water until it converts to steam and then cool the steam to condense it back to pure water. This effectively leaves behind the dissolved minerals. However, distillation is slow, energy intensive, and removes beneficial minerals. The purity makes water taste flat and acidic.

Ideal Water Softening Solutions for Tampa Homes and Businesses

The most effective approach for Tampa's hard water is to combine multiple technologies like ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and catalytic carbon filtration. This reduces hardness while also handling iron, chlorine, chemicals, and other water contaminants.

For example, a whole house system like the AquaBlue combines a sediment pre-filter, catalytic carbon tank, and scale prevention tank to soften all the water entering a home. Then an AquaRevive reverse osmosis system can be added at the kitchen sink for filtered drinking and cooking water.

Commercial sites and large facilities often require extensive treatment like high-capacity AquaPurity reverse osmosis paired with HydroTech Pro ion exchange softening and HydroClear ozone sanitation systems.

Well water applications also need specialized treatment to handle the very hard water as well as iron bacteria, hydrogen sulfide, manganese and other issues common in well water. Package plants like WellFusion integrate high-flow softeners, multi-media filtration, UV disinfection and carbon filtration specifically for well water properties.

Benefits of Professionally Installed Water Softening Systems

To ensure the systems perform optimally and provide long-term benefits, it is advisable to have water softeners and filters professionally installed and maintained by qualified technicians.

Trying to install systems yourself often leads to improper placement and configuration. This results in higher operating costs and inconsistent performance. Professional installation also includes custom programming and adjustments based on your actual water quality and usage.

Ongoing professional maintenance like resin bed cleaning, sediment filter changes and system sanitization maximize the lifespan of water treatment equipment. Attempting to maintain systems without experience and the right tools can potentially do more harm than good.

Free Tampa Water Testing to Evaluate Your Options

The first step in addressing Tampa water hardness is having your water professionally tested. This provides important data like:

  • Hardness level in gpg or ppm

  • pH

  • Contaminants like iron, sulfur, manganese

  • Chlorine/chloramine levels

  • Total dissolved solids (TDS)

Understanding your unique water chemistry allows our experts to design the optimal treatment solution. We offer free Tampa water testing and analysis at your site. Our water specialists will explain your options without any obligations.

Schedule Your FREE Water Test Today: 727-236-7161

With the right water softening and filtration systems, you can enjoy better tasting water, prevent scale buildup, and extend the life of plumbing and appliances. Contact Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions to learn more about effective solutions for Tampa water hardness problems.

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