Why Does Hard Water Not Lather with Soap?

Why Does Hard Water Not Lather With Soap?

If you use hard water, you may have noticed that it takes forever for the soap to lather and rinse off your hands. This is a very common problem for people who use hard water, but why does hard water not lather with soap properly?

The minerals in hard water react with most soaps and decrease their ability to lather properly. You can create a lather with hard soap, but it requires more soap than soft water. The reaction of minerals in hard water also creates ‘soap scum’, which makes it difficult to clean your body or utensils.

The problem soap has with hard water is due to the excess minerals in hard water. If you wish to know more about why soap and hard water don’t get along, keep reading!

Why Do Soap and Hard Water Not Produce Lather

Soaps are made with fats and oils. The fats break up into sodium salts and glycerol. Both of these molecules are attracted to water due to their ionic charge. When soap comes in contact with grease, the soap molecules surround the oil droplets and “dissolve” them.

Once the soap reacts with fat, it is attracted to clumps and is flown away within the water and soap.

So, water wets the fiber or skin, altering surface tension, and the soap separates dirt and suspends it within the water so it can wash away. Pretty simple! So why is it that when you use hard water, the same reaction does not take place?

Hard water has an excess of other minerals. Water is hard if it has calcium or magnesium ions dissolved in it. These ions disturb the reaction of soap and water.

Due to the fat in soap, it has sodium; this sodium reacts with the calcium in hard water. The reaction creates calcium stearate, which is an insoluble gray scum.

The scum does not lather easily and leaves spots on clothes and dishes. Because soft water has fewer calcium ions, it does not face any issues when lathering with soap.

More soap is required when using hard water as only when all the calcium and magnesium have reacted with the sodium and more soap is added is lather created.

Does Water Hardness Affect Cleanliness?

Hard water does make it harder to clean! This is because the magnesium and calcium in hard water tend to leave behind limescale residue and decrease soap efficiency.

Soap scum created from hard water clings to surfaces and makes skin feel less clean. Soap scum also causes germs to stick to surfaces more than normal.

After COVID-19, cleanliness increased once people realized the importance of cleaning their hands and the surfaces around them to avoid getting sick.

Proper cleanliness can avoid several diseases, such as viruses and influenza. A large drawback of hard water is that it could be more efficient in cleaning or keeping germs and bacteria away.

A 2001 study even found that hard water can reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants when cleaning your home.

The minerals in hard water negatively impact your house’s hygiene and the disinfection from germs. You require soft water for the most efficient way to fight germs!

Choosing the Right Cleaner

Some soaps react better with hard water. When cleaning dishes, soaps such as Castile have a mild formula, and other oils, such as coconut, react better with the ions in hard water.

Body washes are a better choice when cleaning your skin than bar soap. They are made with detergents that don’t bind with the mineral ions as much.

Body washes also include a moisturizer that does not dry skin as much as bar soap.

Hard water tends to dry out hair; if you invest in a clarifying shampoo that is made to remove buildup, these shampoos are best paired with hard water.

These shampoos usually contain substances that can deep clean buildup from your scalp. A main ingredient in these clarifying shampoos binds with minerals and removes them before they can be deposited in your hair.

Hard to Lather, Easy to Fix!

To create lather in hard water, you need to put in extra effort and more soap, increasing expenditure and time spent. You always have the solution of putting in a water softener!

A water softener converts hard water into soft water using ion exchange. It’s also beneficial for your taps and appliances and prevents hair loss and dry skin!

The water softeners basically swap out the calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ions to replicate the chemical formula of soft water.

If you’re not in the budget for a water softener, there’s no need to worry. You can do several small things at your home to lessen the effect of hard water!

You can always boil water to soften it. When boiling water, the hard water minerals sink to the bottom. Once boiled and cooled, you can store your boiled water anywhere and use it to clean your appliances and surfaces.

If you require soft water in your bathroom to clean your hair and skin without dryness or soap scum, you can invest in an ion exchange shower head. You can also add apple cider vinegar to your shampoo before you use it.

Only a small amount of vinegar will drastically decrease the calcium and magnesium ions drying out your hair.

If you have a dishwasher and washing machine, using these devices at a lower water temperature helps reduce the damage they do to your clothes and dishes.

You can also use apple cider vinegar here on your dishes or clothes to remove any hard water marks on clothes, appliances, or surfaces!


Are There Any Benefits to Using Hard Water?

The mineral composition of hard water is not suited for skin, hair, and appliances but is better for your health.

The calcium in hard water you drink is good for your bones, and the lack of sodium in hard water is also better for your heart!

If health matters more to you than cleanliness, or you don’t mind the extra effort on cleaning, hard water is great for your health!

Why Does Soap Lather Better in Soft Water?

Soft water creates lather and is soapy, making it easier to clean surfaces efficiently with less soap and no buildup. Extra soap is also a high added cost if you have hard water, requiring more soap to clean the same amount of dirt.

Final Thoughts

Hard water does not lather with soap as easily due to the chemical composition of the water; they react with the fat in soap, causing soap scum spots on dishes and decreasing the life of appliances and clothes.

Hard water is quite inconvenient for domestic use, but if you have hard water, there are several methods to soften it or limit its disadvantages!

The Filter Guy

Scott Birch is a water filtration installer and designer. He has worked in the industry for many years and is very familiar with and knowledgeable about residential water treatment equipment. Scott enjoys helping people get the most out of their water filtration systems and ensuring that their homes are getting the best possible quality of water.

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