Have you ever been taking a shower and felt like you couldn’t rinse the soap off? Maybe your skin felt much more slick than “normal”? It’s possible that you were taking a shower that had soft water. And in reality, that soap was coming off far better than when using hard water.
Most municipalities in the Knoxville and Nashville area run between 7-14 grains hard, so unless you have a water softener, the soap you use is actually not coming off when you take a shower.
Let me explain.
What is Hard Water?
Let’s start with this. Hard water is water that contains calcium and/or magnesium molecules, the amount of hardness is determined by what degree of those molecules are present.
From an aesthetic point of view, you can’t normally “see” hardness in water, but you can certainly see the effects of hard water. An easy way to spot hard water is from scale buildup on water fixtures and appliances. The white scale is hard to miss.
One can also “feel” hard water. When you are rinsing off your arm in the shower, is it easy to slide across your skin, or does it feel almost sticky and hard to slide across? That is the effect of hard water on your skin. Most americans have grown used to this feeling, and they believe this is what it should feel like for soap to be off your body – this is not true.
What is Soft Water?
Soft water, on the other hand, is water that is absent of calcium and magnesium molecules.
How Hardness Affects Soap and Shampoo
When soap and water meet, a chemical collision takes place. Depending on if the water is hard or soft makes a huge difference.
Soap and shampoos are negatively charged, while hardness molecules are positively charged. When hard water and soaps meet, it causes soap curd to form. These soap curds are insoluble, making them very hard to remove and rinse off. The reaction causes soaps and shampoos to not work properly.
This soap curd is what also can build up on your shower floor, along with hardness scale.
How Hardness Affects Your Skin
The soap curds that are formed from hard water and soap reacting are not only causing the soap to poorly function, the soap curds are actually layering on top of your skin! And due to the soap being insoluble, it is very hard to rinse off. Remember that feeling of not being able to easily slide across your skin? That is the feeling of the soap reacting with the water on your body and then building layers on your skin of insoluble soap curd.
And then we are surprised that we have to use so much lotion and moisturizers on our skin? Of course!
Why Does My Skin Feel Slick with Soft Water?
Soft water works harmoniously with soap and shampoo! When the soap is applied to your skin, rinsing the soap off with soft water truly CLEANS your skin! And that allows for your natural skin oils to finally come through. It’s how your skin is supposed to feel! Silky smooth skin instead of sticky soap curd-layered skin.
If the slick feeling is “hard” for you to get used to, give it some time. Most people, after using soft water for 1 month, can’t go back to the hard water feeling.
And if all else fails, it is possible to allow for a very small amount of hardness to come through the water to remove that feeling, but we do not recommend it.
Want to learn even more about whole-home water purification in Knoxville and Nashville? Check out our Knoxville and Nashville Residents Guide to Water Purification.
You can also contact our team!