The Impact of Water Quality in Hydroponics
Water is the most vital part of your hydroponics system; after all, it’s right there in the name. But inferior water can lead to inferior plants. A good clean water source for drinking, cooking, and washing—namely, your faucet—can contain numerous additives and materials that make plants sick. Not to worry—there are ways you can ensure your plants are getting cool, clear water without the stuff that inhibits growth. To help you out, here are a few observations on the impact of water quality in hydroponics.
Tap Water Is Treated With Humans in Mind
The water that comes out of your home’s faucets goes through filtering and chemical processes that remove harmful bacteria and impurities. Chlorine is used to kill germs, and aluminum sulfate is added to make various impure elements coagulate and form a material called floc, which settles to the bottom. The cleaner water on top is filtered through sand, charcoal, and gravel, which removes chemicals, parasites, viruses, and other debris. The final water is disinfected with chlorine, and fluoride is added to stave off tooth decay in the local population. When done correctly, it makes your water healthful and pure—for you.
Okay for Outdoor Gardens, Not for Indoor Ones
As some sites report, tap water isn’t perfect for outside gardens, but the soil serves to filter out the bad stuff like chlorine before plants drink it up. In a hydroponics system, you don’t have that filter, and your plants may receive more chlorine than soil-based ones, killing them in the process. Moreover, while chlorine is good for killing bad bacteria, it can also destroy the good bacteria plants need to live. Good news: chlorine can be removed from tap water, though it takes some time and effort. Leave your tank out in the sun for a few hours. The sun will break down the chlorine, leaving you with purer water.
Hard and Soft Water
When considering the impact of water quality in hydroponics, find out if you have hard or soft water. Hard water is water that’s gone through underground deposits of limestones, chalk, or gypsum, which adds minerals to the water such as calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates, and sulfates. Well water can be hard water (but not always), and any untreated water can potentially be hard water. Plants need calcium and magnesium, but too much is never good. Check how many parts per million (PPM) your tap water has of these and other chemicals—a reading of 200 to 300 isn’t bad; however, adjust as necessary and consider installing a hydroponic water filtration system as a precaution.
Side note: rainwater is your purest source of hydration for your plants, but whatever you use, consider filtering your water to ensure they get their daily H2O in unadulterated form.