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What To Do About Acidic Well Water

What To Do About Acidic Well Water


Is your well water alkaline or acidic? Testing your well water can answer that for you, as well as a variety of other potential water quality issues. If you source your drinking water from a private well, the EPA recommends that you get your well water tested once a year by a certified laboratory to ensure that it is safe for drinking. 

But what does it mean to have acidic well water? And how do you fix it?

Table of Contents:

What Is Acidic Well Water?

Acidic well water has a pH of < 6.5. The pH of water is a description of how acidic or basic the water is. pH is a unitless measurement that ranges from 0 (the most acidic) to 14 (the most basic). 

The EPA recommends that the pH of drinking water stay between 6.5 and 8.5 in order to prevent the negative impacts that excessively high or low pH can cause.[1] Acidic water can cause corrosion and a bitter, metallic taste. 

Basic water has a pH of > 8.5, and can result in water having a slippery feel and a baking soda-like taste. Basic water can also leave white deposits on your fixtures and appliances (because basic water often has high hardness).

guide to pH in well water

How Do I Know My Water Is Acidic?

If you have acidic drinking water, you may notice some of these issues:

  • Bitter, metallic taste of water
  • Reddish-brown color of water
  • Reddish stains on iron fixtures
  • Blue-green stains on copper fixtures
  • Plumbing leaks

These issues can all result from corrosion of your pipes and plumbing system—a common byproduct of acidic water.

You can use simple, on-site pH test strips for an indication of your water’s pH level. Using test strips for more complicated contaminants (like heavy metals or bacteria), however, is not recommended.

Scale, Corrosion, and Plumbing—What You Should Know

What Does Acidic Water Mean For My Health?

Acidic water by itself doesn’t cause any health problems. However, the corrosion of your plumbing may release toxic heavy metals, like lead and copper, that have harmful effects.

Why Is My Well Water Acidic?

If your well water is acidic, it is likely due to the natural erosion of the soil and minerals that the groundwater passes through before it arrives at your well.

What Can I Do About Acidic Well Water?

There are two common treatment methods for correcting acidic well water– neutralizing filters and neutralizing solutions:

Neutralizing filter

A neutralizing filter decreases the acidity of water, or neutralizes it, by passing it through calcium or magnesium minerals that raise the pH of the water. Some common minerals contained in neutralizing filters include calcite (marble chips), limestone (calcium carbonate), and magnesia (magnesium oxide). There are a few things you need to pay attention to if you install a neutralizing filter:

    • They require backwashing periodically in order to remove solid particles that get stuck in the filter. Some pretreatment is recommended to remove bigger particles before the water reaches the filter.
    • The filter media (the calcium or magnesium mineral) needs to be replaced regularly because the water dissolves it as it flows through the filter.

The filter will increase the hardness of your water because it is adding calcium and/or magnesium. Make sure to get your water tested to make sure that the filter isn’t causing your water to be “hard,” which means that the hardness is over 120 PPM, causing white deposits on fixtures and appliances and increased difficulty lathering soaps and shampoos. 

Neutralizing solution

An alternative to a neutralizing filter is to feed a solution of soda ash (sodium carbonate) into your water. This method is appropriate for higher volumes of water and can be a good option for water that also requires disinfection because the soda ash can be mixed in the same container with the disinfectant (likely sodium hypochlorite aka bleach).

Testing Your Well Water

As a well owner, It’s always a good idea to have your water tested to learn about a wide range of contaminants like heavy metals and nitrates.

We’ve designed easy-to-use mail-in test kits to address all these concerns and more.

What’s the Takeaway?

  • A pH test can tell you if your water is alkaline or acidic (acidic water has a pH of less than 6.5)
    • Acidic well water can corrode pipes leading to damaged equipment and water quality issues
    • Tap Score can help you test your water and figure out the best way to deal with your acidic water problem and any other water quality concerns

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        About The Author


        Johnny Pujol, CEO of SimpleLab, is devoted to advancing environmental laboratory logistics, ensuring each stage—from sample collection to results—is clear, easy, and insightful. Holding a Master's in Engineering from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Economics from Boston University, Johnny brings a unique blend of technical expertise and business insight to his role. Outside of SimpleLab, you can find him training for Pentathlons or writing spy fiction.
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