When you’re growing plants with hydroponics, it’s important to remember that any chemicals or nutrients that go into your water supply end up in your plants and, ultimately, your body, after you consume them. However, the chemicals in tap water, which prevent disease and bacteria in humans, may damage the health of a hydroponic plant. Before you use your home’s tap water supply for your hydroponic garden, know the reasons why you shouldn’t use tap water in hydroponics, and stop before you harm your plants.
The Unknown Variable: Chemicals in Tap Water
The biggest concern with tap water is your lack of control of what goes into your water supply. Most people are aware of how healthy their water is to drink but unaware of the exact chemicals that make it safe to drink. One such chemical that’s often added to tap water is chlorine. In minute amounts, it won’t poison humans—but your plants will notice. Over enough time, chlorine or chloramine will stunt the growth of your plants. When you’re growing in an outdoor soil garden, the soil provides protection from chlorine and chemicals. However, since you use a sterile growing medium for hydroponics, every chemical and nutrient added to the water finds its way into your plants.
If you must use chlorine- or chloramine-treated water, put it under direct sunlight for at least a day. Chloramine may need longer in the UV light to break down; alternatively, you can filter it through an activated carbon filter. You can also boil all the water you plan on using, but this becomes tedious with large hydroponic reservoirs.
Besides the chlorine content of tap water, hard water from wells on rural properties often provides plants with too much of a mineral, such as calcium. This throws off the pH and the balance of nutrients that you must carefully measure out while growing with a hydroponic garden. When you’re using a premixed hydroponic fertilizer, the reasons why you shouldn’t use tap water in hydroponics are amplified, because you may end up with too much of a nutrient and overdose your plants. Hard water treatments and softeners often add salts to the water, and minerals such as phosphorus and potassium may wind up in the water, too.
In addition, just as hard water affects your faucets, the same will happen to your hydroponic equipment. Calcium and other mineral buildup in your system from the hard water will result in more part replacements than necessary.
Every grower must balance nutrients and pH levels before using their nutrient solutions, and tap water only adds more work to the process. By using purified or filtered water along with FloraFlex nutrients, equipment, and wholesale hydroponics supplies, finding the perfect balance will be far easier.