Why Does Soft Water Feel Slippery?

Why does soft water feel slippery?

Most people understand the benefits of soft water, including reduced mineral buildup on appliances, inside pipes, hair, and skin, as well as reduced soap costs. However, understanding the chemistry makes getting used to the unique sensation caused by showering and bathing in soft water much more straightforward. You may have heard “soft water feeling” described as silky, smooth, slick, slippery, slimy, velvety, etc. Dismissing soft water because of how it feels at first can be an oversight—missing significant homeowner savings and health benefits for a homeowner. That feeling of not being able to “rinse the soap off” is familiar for new soft water customers, but in reality, you now have healthy water in your home and clean skin.

Why does soft water feel slippery
Why does soft water feel slippery? Calcium and magnesium in your hard water strip your skin of healthy oils. Soft water is healthy water.

Why does my water softener make my skin feel slippery?

First, let’s start the chemistry that makes hard water “hard.”Groundwater erodes everything it touches, whether it’s a private well or a larger body of water accessed by your municipality.

When water is hard, the very fine grains of calcium and magnesium gathered from flowing past bedrock mixes with the water and end up in your home. As a result, you may notice mineral deposits and limescale start to build on your sinks, showers and feel a dryness to your hair and skin.

These minerals stick to every surfaces that water passes over, including water heaters, washing machines, coffee pots, faucets, showerheads, bathroom tubs and tiles, and hair and skin. Remember that this buildup is essentially little bits of rock-forming, which makes the cleaning process difficult. In addition, those same dissolved minerals and are building up on your skin and hair, making them dry and brittle.

A water softener makes your water feel different because it is different

Ion exchange is the process water softeners use to remove that hardness caused by calcium and magnesium. A water softener tank contains specific water-softening resin beads. The surface of these resin beads are coated with sodium or potassium ions that are waiting to exchange places with hardness (calcium/magnesium) ions. When the hard water flows through the tank, the calcium/magnesium is replaced by sodium/potassium. The “hardness” is trapped in the tank, replaced by sodium/potassium. Soft water replaces those magnesium and calcium ions with sodium ions. The water that comes out of the tank is now “soft.”

Hard water wastes money

Simple, wholesome soap results from a saponification process in which lye (or sodium hydroxide), water, and triglycerides (most commonly known as a vegetable or animal fat) are combined over a heat source. Sodium stearate is the chemical name for soap. When you soap up with hard water, the sodium in the soap molecule is replaced by calcium & magnesium. What we know as soap scum is calcium stearate and magnesium stearate. Soap scum is money you’re flushing down the drain.

Squeaky clean? Or “squeaky dirty”?

That squeaky feel you get with hard water is because there is an invisible hard water soap scum film on our bodies. Soap scum film builds-up on our hair, weighing it down and making it brittle and lifeless, and soap scum film on skin makes our skin dry and itchy.

When calcium and magnesium interact with soap, they form soap curds. These are often insoluble and can get leftover on your skin. The soap curds cause your hair and skin to “squeak,” which we grew to expect from our bathing and shampooing. Some soap manufacturers even perpetuated this misinformation with their commercials about “squeaky clean.” Believing we were our cleanest when our skin and hair squeaked is simply a marketing ploy.

The feeling of healthy skin

Now that you have a water softener, your plumbing, appliances, skin, and hair will be much healthier. So if the velvety feeling really bothers you, consider adjusting your household with these suggestions.

How to reduce the slippery feel

1)  Use less soap.Smaller amounts of soap do more of the heavy lifting of cleaning, and soap scum is eliminated because there is more sodium or potassium than calcium/magnesium.

With soft water, you will need to get in the habit of using less soap to break down the oils and dirt to get clean. Using the same amount may leave an excess film on your skin, leaving you feeling slimy. It’s not the soft water that feels unnatural, but the amount of soap is now too much. The goal is only to use what you need to scrub the dirt away instead of soaping it away. Your rinses will be more effective and less slippery with less soap.

2)  Soften ONLY the hot water. Softening only the hot water in your house is the best of both worlds and allows you to protect the essential parts of your household water infrastructure (the water heater, appliances, and hot water plumbing) while skipping the cold-water side. When you take a shower, and only the hot water is soft. This way, we’re able to use half hot soft water with the hard cold water, delivering a less soft shower with less or none of the slippery feeling you’d typically get with both hot and cold soft water.

Soft skin is healthy and clean skin!

By creating healthy water with a water softener, your skin will feel soft, smooth, and clean – velvety. Notice how soft your skin feels? Almost as if you’ve already applied skin lotion. In addition, healthy hair will be easier to style, keep its curl longer, be more bouncy, and feel weightless. The velvety feeling of soft water will only become more enjoyable when your hair and skin bounce back to a healthy state, and you enjoy knowing you saved money because your home is protected from the quiet damage that hard water can do.


The FONTUS experts will provide a free immediate-response water test onsite for minerals. We can also correctly collect any state-certified samples needed for health-related contaminants. Then we send them to a state-certified Maine Lab for a TSFHA water test. The TSFHA Water Test will test for Coliform Bacteria & E. coli (pos/neg), Nitrate, Nitrite, Fluoride, Chloride, Hardness, Copper, Iron, pH, Manganese, Sodium, Uranium, Lead, Arsenic, and Magnesium in your water. This test is an additional charge determined by the lab and paid to the lab.

In short, taking control of your water supply is easy. Schedule your free immediate-response water test today. Call (207) 856-0066 or email to speak with the water treatment specialists at FONTUS Water Treatment.


An immediate-response water test is a test done onsite, getting your results immediately. This test allows us to determine if and what iron levels, manganese, hardness, total dissolved solids (TDS), pH, and salinity are present in your water. By the end of our appointment, you’ll have all your questions answered. And, most importantly, you’ll have a plan in hand to make sure your water is clean and pure.

In short, taking control of your water supply is easy. Schedule your free immediate-response water test today. Call (207) 856-0066 or email to speak with the water treatment specialists at FONTUS Water Treatment.


At FONTUS, we’re passionate about water purity. We pride ourselves on being reliable, hassle-free, and always available. For example, as the environment and your water change, we’re here to help evaluate your water. Through testing, installation, and maintenance, you can trust FONTUS to ensure clean, pure water for your home or office.

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