The terms "soft water" and "hard water" are important here. Water is considered "hard" when it has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions. In soft water, these are replaced with concentrations of sodium or potassium ions.
A good number of people understand the benefits of soft water but are turned off by the slippery sensation caused by bathing in soft water. If you’ve been using hard water in your home for your entire life, the immediate benefits of switching over to softened water are pretty obvious; fewer cleaning agents, reduce wear and tear on your appliances, and keeping your home’s plumbing flowing efficiently. However, another component of soft water that’s often overlooked appears during the first time that you take a bath or a shower in your newly softened water: It feels different than hard water.
Compared to hard water, soft water creates a different sensation on your skin when showering or bathing, one that’s often described as “slippery” or “silky.” This will often lead to those not used to soft water to suspect that something may be wrong with their water softener.
Should softened water feel slimy?
The explanation behind that slimy sensation begins with what types of minerals, or lack of minerals, are found in the water that you’re using to bathe.
Hard water contains dissolved calcium and magnesium that naturally collects as water flows over and erodes the rock beneath it. These hardness minerals then make their way through your plumbing and shower-head, leaving behind a scaly white residue as the water dries. Those same minerals make it very difficult to clean your skin properly. Those ions react with the cleaning agents found in soap and shampoos causing it to form the white spots around your tub. This hardness-soap reaction is also difficult to properly rinse off of your skin.
Soap scum clings to your skin and can actually make it more difficult to get clean. The excess residue left on your skin can clog pores and make your skin excessively dry. Ever heard of the expression “squeaky clean”? That’s not a good thing when it comes to your body cause what you're feeling is actually a layer of residue on your skin.
When bathing or showering in soft water, your skin won’t dry out because it allows your soaps and shampoos to rinse thoroughly off of your skin and hair. You’ll also use far fewer cleaning products to clean properly. If you are used to bathing in hard water and just recently had a softener installed, you may be using more soap than necessary.
Not only will too much soap make soft water feel slippery, but the water itself is also smoother as well. Since hardness minerals are essentially pieces of rock, rubbing your fingers together under a stream of water without these abrasive materials in it will have less friction.
Why does soft water not rinse off soap?
Actually, soft water rinses off better with soap, it's not soap residue that you're feeling but your owns skin natural hydration. To understand why soft water has a slippery feeling, it’s important to understand how soft water is created with a water softener.
As discussed before, hard water contains a certain amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals in the water. Now, in order to remove that hardness, water softeners use a process called ion exchange, in which a softener tank is filled with special water-softening resin beads. The surface of these resin beads start out coated with sodium or potassium ions that are waiting to exchange places with hardness ions. When the hard water passes through the tank, the sodium/potassium changes places with the calcium/magnesium, and causing the water to come out of the tank to be soft.
With soft water, the sodium and potassium allow soap to mix with water, so it instantly lathers better. When rinsed away, the skin is not covered in soap scum. What people are feeling is their skin's own natural hydration instead of a scummy residue.
How to reduce or eliminate the slippery feeling in soft water?
It can take some time to get used to the feeling of bathing or showering in soft water. The tips below can make that transition period a little easier, especially when equipped with the knowledge that the silky feeling on your skin means that you're feeling clean and healthy.
1) Try using less soap
Since soft water means the same amount of soap is more effective than in hard water, so the simplest thing to do would be to adjust the amount of soap you use. Pay attention when you’re loading your washing machines or lathering up your bath sponge, and only using the amount needed to scrub the dirt away With less soap, your rinses will be more effective, and less slippery.
2) Try using only pure soaps
Most soaps contain additives like heavy perfumes or dyes. Some even contain water softening agents in them with the assumption that the user is washing in hard water. Since soft water dramatically increases the effectiveness of your soaps, you don’t need any of these additives to get clean and healthy skin. Search for clear liquid soaps with simple ingredients and the absence of heavy perfumes or dyes.
3) Get used to the soft water
After showering and bathing in soft water, you’ll notice the differences in your skin and hair over time. Your skin will feel moisturized and healthy and the lack of hardness minerals means your hair will clean more easily, without that brittle feeling afterward.
At Aquatell, we believe that the silky feeling of soft water is one of the most pleasurable you can experience since it’s the feeling of the money you’ll save due to your pipes, your appliances, and your soap budget being protected from the quiet damage that hard water can do. Learn more about what a water softener can do for you!