Slimy soft water


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Old 06-15-07, 11:58 AM
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Angry Slimy soft water

I installed a water softener a week ago and got into slimy soft water showers since then. I searched around for an answer to it and most "answers" said the slimy feeling is actually the sensation of cleanliness because there is no more soap scum deposited on your skin. I have a lot of trouble with that answer so I started an extensive search to find out the chemistry behind it. There was indeed a reason. The explanation - contrary to what water treatment companies are telling us, states that "....[the softener] removed the calcium and magnesium ions from the water and have replaced them with sodium. There is no tendency to remove the sodium from the sodium stearate (soap) and therefore, no tendency to form an inosluble compound [that can be easily washed away]. The surface of your skin has enough electrical charges in the form of amino acids, to cause the stearate ion to lightly cling to it. The soft water has a much reduced ability to combine with the soap film on your body and therefore, it is much more difficult to rinse off."

That makes more sense than saying that "[the] slick, slimy feeling you feel is your natural body oils" which is the standard answer from companies selling the equipment.

The full article is available at: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/jul2001/996090332.Ch.r.html

The solution.....use less soap so less stearate (the fatty part of the soap) will ling onto you.

If the cited article's explanation is incorrect, I would be happy to learn the truth. But it does agree with my understanding of how sodium stearate (soap) works.
 
  #2  
Old 06-27-07, 06:34 PM
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Slimy Water

You're right on, but there are also some additional factors to consider:-

1. Soap pH
2. Total alkalinity of the water
3. Carbonate alkalinity of the water

Higher alkalinity soaps will feel "slimier" than others.

If you regenerate a softener with potassium chloride, it's just as slimy as one that is regenerated with sodium chloride, so we can't hang all the blame on the sodium byproducts of the ion exchange softening/conditioning process.

Water purified with distillation, RO or DI will not be slimy at all - until the pH increases significantly, so it's not just the absence of insoluble precipitate (soap curd/scum) that is to blame.

Carbonate alk. has a marked effect on feel. Some high carbonate allk. waters feel "slimy" before you even add the soap... There are water systems out there that can modulate the carbonate levels to affect feel, it's quite interesting technology.

FYI, here's a compilation of some common household soaps and their pH levels:-

Camay 9.5
Dial 9.5
Dove 7.0
Irish Spring 9.5
Ivory 9.5
Lever 2000 9.0
Palmolive 10.0
Zest 10.0










Originally Posted by fcwong View Post
I installed a water softener a week ago and got into slimy soft water showers since then. I searched around for an answer to it and most "answers" said the slimy feeling is actually the sensation of cleanliness because there is no more soap scum deposited on your skin. I have a lot of trouble with that answer so I started an extensive search to find out the chemistry behind it. There was indeed a reason. The explanation - contrary to what water treatment companies are telling us, states that "....[the softener] removed the calcium and magnesium ions from the water and have replaced them with sodium. There is no tendency to remove the sodium from the sodium stearate (soap) and therefore, no tendency to form an inosluble compound [that can be easily washed away]. The surface of your skin has enough electrical charges in the form of amino acids, to cause the stearate ion to lightly cling to it. The soft water has a much reduced ability to combine with the soap film on your body and therefore, it is much more difficult to rinse off."

That makes more sense than saying that "[the] slick, slimy feeling you feel is your natural body oils" which is the standard answer from companies selling the equipment.

The full article is available at: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/jul2001/996090332.Ch.r.html

The solution.....use less soap so less stearate (the fatty part of the soap) will ling onto you.

If the cited article's explanation is incorrect, I would be happy to learn the truth. But it does agree with my understanding of how sodium stearate (soap) works.
 
 

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