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Old 06-03-2006, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 6,872
Good bath soap for hard water?

I just got back from a business trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Kalamazoo is a nice enough town, but the water there is harder than a rock; when I soaped up in the shower I got a slimy film that just would not rinse off. I didn't dare try to shampoo my hair.

I was finally desperate enough to stop at a drugstore and ask for help; but the gal I talked to was a recent arrival from Grand Rapids, and not very helpful.

This isn't the first time I've run into this; the coastal towns here in Washington tend to have hard water, too.

So I appeal to Dopers who live in areas with hard water: What kind of soap do you use? i'll buy a bar and throw it in my suitcase so i'm prepared next time.
Old 06-03-2006, 04:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Close to home
Posts: 9,777
In my experience, slime that won't rinse off is caused by over-softened water, not by hard water. I've never had a problem rinsing off in a house that I knew had hard water, but pretty frequently do in homes with water softeners, and almost always in hotels.
Old 06-03-2006, 04:42 PM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Flavortown
Posts: 34,324
I agree with Sattua, that slimy feel is from soft water, not hard. And it is not soap slime you are feeling, it is the natural slipperiness of your skin which you have never felt before because of soap residue in hard water. So it is the other way around.
Old 06-03-2006, 04:49 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: The great PNW.
Posts: 3,636
Yep, I agree. Stay away from bath soaps that have "moisturizers". I'd suggest trying Ivory, as I recall it lessens that "slimy" feel on your skin.
Old 06-03-2006, 07:07 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 6,872
I'm a little dubious about what you're saying, Sattua and Fear Itself. I certainly can't claim to be any expert, but in looking around, I see that Wikipedia says that the slime is a result of soap interacting with hard water:

"Hard water and soap combine to form "soap scum" that can't be rinsed off, forming a “bathtub ring” on all surfaces, and it dries leaving unsightly spots on dishes.
Using soap on the body in hard water can cause the formation of a scum often referred to as “curd.” The formation of scum and curd is caused when calcium and magnesium form insoluble salts with anions. This curd remains on the skin even after rinsing, clogging pores and coating body hair."

Kirk's Original Coco Hardwater Castile Soap advertises it self as being good in hard water. Anybody have any experience with it?
Old 06-03-2006, 07:48 PM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Flavortown
Posts: 34,324
Originally Posted by Rocketeer
I'm a little dubious about what you're saying, Sattua and Fear Itself. I certainly can't claim to be any expert, but in looking around, I see that Wikipedia says that the slime is a result of soap interacting with hard water:
Soap scum that forms in hard water has little to do with the slimy feel many experience when washing in soft water. No less than our own esteemed SDSABer Una Persson has even taken on this subject in an official column:
Skin washed in hard water is typically reported as feeling scratchy and dry as a result of the soap scum, and hair is often reported as being dull-looking and sticky.

Then again, it all depends on what you're used to. People who have been born and raised using hard water are accustomed to the feeling of their clothes, bedding, skin and hair after washing. That seems clean to them, while the end result of washing with soft water often doesn't.

Why would soft water make you feel "not quite clean"? One reason is that when soap and mineral scum are absent, your natural body oils make your skin feel, well, oilier, which some people interpret as being slimy. For myself, washing with soft water makes my skin and hair feel dirtier, and no matter how much I tell myself that it's really cleaner, I can't help feeling I need to wash again. I've noticed that showering in soft water can make the floor of the shower stall so slippery that it increases the risk of falling if you're not careful. Washing your hair in rainwater (which is very soft) seems to produce the same "slimy" effect.
If Una's research is good enough for Cecil to put in his column space on the Straight Dope website, it's good enough for me.
Old 06-03-2006, 08:50 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,644
I agree with everyone who says the slimy feeling is from soft water. I know our water softener is out of salt when my hands drag roughly across my skin. The slimy feeling returns when our softener is working correctly.

I agree that hard water forms a soap scum residue but have never found it to be a slippery feeling residue. It's more of a wet, grainy texture.

Also, when the water is hard my hair feels waxy after I rinse the shampoo out.

ZEST soap is made to work especially well in hard water. Or try a liquid soap which is actually a detergent and reacts in a different way than a soap with the hard water

I have tried castile soap and I find it harsh and drying.
Old 06-04-2006, 12:33 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 8,086
If the problem is actually soap scum from hard water, the best solution (heh) is a synthetic detergent -- either liquid body wash or a syndet bar like Lever 2000, which is highly regarded. If it's a problem with softened water, then plain soap like Ivory will do ya fine.
Old 06-04-2006, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Contra Costa County, CA
Posts: 1,067
I agree on the Lever 2000/Zest recommendations.

You know, if you phone your water Municipality they will tell you in plain english whether your water is considered "hard" or "soft". Every year we get a document from them providing chemical/mineral analysis. The first one that I looked at years ago made me think that the water was soft based on something in that doc. It intrigued me. I called them, and they confirmed that the water was indeed, soft.

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