It is better to bathe in soft water. Unfortunately, most water sources in the USA are hard water. Hard water means there are natural calcium and magnesium mineral particles dissolved in the water. Hard water does not seem to have any effects on overall health if consumed by mouth. On the other hand, hard water may cause dull hair, skin irritation and worsening of eczema from soap scum. Soap scum is formed when fats contained in soaps come in contact with the calcium and magnesium dissolved in the hard water. This chemical reaction forms tiny solid particles called precipitates which then come out of solution or are no longer dissolved in the water. Soap scum is very irritating to the skin.
To see if you have hard water where you live, check with your city or town for your water quality report. This will give you a number ranging from 0 to 60 mg/L (particles per liter of water where 60mgL is very high). Unfortunately, this number is not specific for your home. You can call in a professional to test the hardness of your water if you suffer from year round dry, irritated skin and suspect it is from your water. These tests are often free, but as 85% of households have hard water issues you can be sure a “hard sell” for a water softener system will follow the “free” hard water test. Morton salt will send you a free hard water test kit as does homewater101.com
There are also home testing tests available online or they can be found at hardware stores. Premium Water Hardness Test Kit is easy and accurate. Testing is done with a test strip. After dipping the strip in a glass of your tap water, the strip gives you a specific color. The color that becomes visible approximately indicates the harness of your water. This number will aid you in choosing the best softener unit for your home.
Do it yourself home testing for hard water is the least expensive option. Fill a glass jar such as a Ball 32oz 12pk Glass Smooth-Sided Wide Mouth Mason Jar with Lid and Band. Fill it 1/3 with your tap water. Add a few drops of 100% Pure Castile Soap Unscented Liquid Mild Soap. The later does not contain additives that may cause suds in hard water. Then put on the jar top and shake the jar. If there are no fluffy bubbles and water looks cloudy then you have hard water. Soft water has luxurious bubbles on the top and clear water under the bubble layer. If you find hard water and your skin continues to be irritated and dry, then you might consider a permanent water softener for your home. Another alternative is to add a water softener to your bath water in an attempt to soften the water. Baking soda is effective and inexpensive. Between a teaspoon to a quarter cup can be added depending on your water hardness. Other home remedies include adding vinegar to the water which works but has an odor that may remain on your skin. Some companies also sell special bath salts designed to soften the bath water. Homemade bath salts are an option as well. Simply mix 1 cup of sea salt.in a small plastic bucket. Add ½ teaspoon of glycerin and 1 teaspoon of almond oil and 10 drops of lavender oil. Gently agitate the mixture. Pour about a ¼ cup to the tub while it is filling.
Soaps that perform better in hard water are those less likely to form curd precipitates or soap scum. Try Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Bar Soap Soothing Aloe Vera 4 Ounces.