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Current IssueJuly 25, 2014
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Ask The Expert: Well water is too soft
01/01/2005 
 
Question:

Q I have been told that I have an unsolvable problem. I can’t accept that. I have well water in a home we just purchased. When we shower, we cannot rinse the soap from our hair and skin. After showering, we still feel slimy and soapy. My wife has sensitive skin and cannot tolerate this problem.

As a physician, I cannot believe we can cure cancer, blocked heart arteries, etc., but cannot fix well water that has been tested as too soft (both by Culligan and one other their competitors). I have been told repeatedly that “less than 4” is very soft water on a standard scale. Despite not having a softener, our water tests consistently at three. Please help! If you can suggest ANY solution, I would be grateful.

Dr. Larry “Slippery in Michigan” Alton

 

Answer: 

A You threw us a curve ball with this one Larry, because by all of our accounts, soft water is a good thing in the eyes of most water treatment experts and their customers. It will not leave rings around the tub or toilet and you won’t get soap scum in the shower. Many people pay a lot of money to install a water softener to get the water that you have directly from the ground. Your wife’s sensitive skin notwithstanding, it is also widely believed that soft water is good for the skin, helping with problems like eczema and dandruff…but fear not, we do have a solution for you.

For the answer, we quizzed our resident soft water guru Larry Gottlieb, vice president of ARIES FilterWorks, a division of ResinTech Inc., who had a suggestion for you.

“The reason you do not feel slimy in hard water is because the hardness causes the soap to precipitate on your skin, leaving a gritty residue behind,” he said, noting that one man’s “slimy” feeling is another man’s “clean.” In any event, he reassures you that “it is easy to make soft water ‘hard,’ all you have to do is add calcium. Water treatment dealers routinely install a system called a ‘neutralizer’. The neutralizer is filled with a sacrificial media of calcium carbonate, and as the calcium slowly dissolves over time, it adds hardness to the water.”

But be forewarned, Slippery Larry, there are a host of reasons why people avoid hard water: appliance life, concrete staining and dingy laundry, to name a few. You will save yourself additional headaches by consulting with a water treatment professional on the positives and negatives of either system before committing.

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