Water has been tagged the universal solvent because it can dissolve and absorb many of the minerals and chemicals it comes in contact with. Water by itself however does not do as well in removing stains and dirt from laundry, floors, skin and other areas because a lot of the dirt and stains contain oil and grease. To put it simply, water and oil don’t mix. This is why we have a host of cleaning products commonly known as soap, to help keep us clean. The unfortunate fact is that soap does not work very well in hard water.
To better understand how soap is manufactured and why it reacts the way it does to hard water we must first look at the way it’s made. The first reference we have to soap is in 2800 BC in ancient Babylon where they were using cassia oil and alkia mixed with the water to make it a better cleaner. Today we make basic soap by mixing fats and oils to make water wetter or more effective. Soap has two basic components, a surfactant to breakdown and dissolves dirt and stains and a suspension agent to hold the oils and grease until they are rinsed away. It’s an old recipe and it still works well today.
Without being over technical let’s look at what happens when you introduce soap into hard water. Hard water has calcium and magnesium dissolved in it which binds with the soap causing a soap scum visible around you bathtub, washing machine and also leaves a thin layer of soap scum on your skin during washing causing dry itchy skin/scalp. Basically what happens is the soap can still bind itself to oils and grease but because of the calcium/magnesium it’s no longer dissolvable in water. Soft water does not have this problem and this is the reason over 100 years ago the first water softeners were invented. It’s important to note that rain water is naturally soft and most of the problems associated with hard water are ground water or well water issues.
What Are Some of The Negative Effects of Soap Scum
Leaves a film of scum on your clothing during washing that’s prevents proper cleaning leaving them scratchy and dingy looking.
Leaves a ring in bathtubs, toilets and sinks which is hard to remove and unsightly.
Builds up in your washing machine, dish washer and other appliances reducing their life expectancy.
Sticks in your hair leaving it stiff and hard to manage.
Leaves a thin film on your skin that causes irritation and prevents proper bacteria removal
Takes up to five times the amount of soap to wash/clean your home, laundry.
Leaves white spots on sinks, countertops, facets and make cups and glasses have a white film on them.