dealing with hard water

we all know know by now how hard water is our hair and skin’s “worst enemy” in the crunchy world. it can upset our delicate facial skin and leave our hair feeling gunky, gummy, and dull. what you’re experiencing is the hard water’s mineral deposits (calcium and magnesium, mostly) staying on your hair.

you’d think i’d have a real post on this by now! apologies, crunchies!

combating hard water can be simple, but it’s hit and miss, and costs vary greatly. let’s get into it!

combat hard water

how do i know if i have hard water?

does your hair feel gunky and sticky near the roots just from being under the water? does castile soap leave a sticky film on your hair and skin? do you notice a lot of white spots leftover in the shower and/or on your dishes? if you answered yes to one or more, chances are you have hard water.

to definitely check, reference your area’s Drinking Water Quality Report (click to search – new reports coming out July 1st 2015).

if you can’t find it, you can also do a simple bottle & soap check –

  1. get a clean, empty bottle (can be glass or plastic)
  2. fill halfway up with water, cover opening, and shake. dump water out.
  3. fill the bottle up halfway again, but this time add a few drops of liquid soap (whichever kind you have). shake.
  4. if you see a lot of bubbles, you do Not have hard water. the less suds/the more you shake, the harder your water. no suds at all? you water is extremely hard (arizona, i’m lookin at you!)

there are a few ways to combat hard water:

  • install a water softener (very expensive yet permanent)
  • install a shower head filter (helps a bit but must be replaced often and combined with a rinse)
  • rinse your hair in filtered/distilled water (must be brought into shower with you; laborious)
  • do an acid rinse after ‘washing’ (whatever ‘washing’ your hair entails)


by far the easiest method is to do an acv rinse in the shower after you ‘wash’ your hair. in order to do so, you’ll need an old plastic water bottle (usually about 16 ounces), water (can be bottled or from the tap), and an acid. your acid can be acv, lemon juice, or lime juice.

  • in your water bottle (can be full of bottled water or tap), put 2 tablespoons of your acid into the bottle. this will give you a ratio of 1 part acid to roughly 16 parts water (the harder the water, the more acid you should use). shake.
  • after you wash, pour this mix onto your scalp, massaging gently. you can either rinse immediately or let it sit for up to 5 minutes. if you have hair that is on the dry side, rinse immediately.

once your hair dries, you – 1. won’t smell the vinegar/lime/lemond, and 2 – won’t have gunky hair. if your water is very hard, you may need to increase the acv/citrus juice.

depending on your hair type, you may notice the lemon lightening your hair over time and/or the acv bringing out red hues in your hair. please keep this in mind! you also may need to supplement with a leave-in conditioner or tiny amounts of your favorite oil on the length/ends of your hair to combat the drying effect the rinses may have on your hair (depends on hair type and history).

if hard water is still a constant issue, consider going low-poo with an all-natural “shampoo” alternative!


leave your tips below!

also, please leave feedback about the new AE blog look; either improvements or approvals! this blog is for YOU, so it needs to be what YOU want! 🙂

oh, and if you didn’t hear on instagram, i’m finally on my way down the holistic esthetics path, thanks to YOU guys!!

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Published by

alexraye //

16 thoughts on “dealing with hard water”

  1. Hi Alex! I just read somewhere that vodka can be used to combat hard water, and to clarify hair as well. I was just wondering what you thought of this, and if it would be something worth trying? Or if it isn’t such a good idea.

  2. Does anyone have any advice for me? :/ I’ve recently started no poo with baking soda/acv and after about a week I’m getting discouraged. Even after experimenting a little with increasing the baking soda, my hair still feels VERY oily after washing :/ my hair is sort of longish and I live in a VERY hot/humid region (about 98-101 degrees with 80-100% humidity daily) so I’m getting very aggravated my how oily my face and back are getting even when my hair is up in a bun. Any tips? Is this the normal transition period or should I be getting a clean head after washes if I’m doing it right?

  3. I’m trying to go no poo – water only – for over a year.
    Before this ‘experiment’ I washed my hair once a week and it was really thick and healthy. I really want to go no poo. I hate to depend on shampoo and shampoo makes my scalp feel dry and tight. I don’t believe the baking soda vinegar is in anyway a good idea for your hair. I think it’s way to harsh with the ph value going all over the place.
    So the water only method is in my opinion fantastic!

    I just can’t go past the transition period… After 3/4 months of no hair products brushing, a lot of water the grease just doesn’t wash away anymore. It turns into a glue like sticky mess. I just have to wash it after 3/4 months because it’s not doing anything good. The sticky glue stuff makes me really self conscious, I’m terrified to smell bad and i don’t want people touching my hair! I’ve tried a lot more times. And i don’t need my hair to be oil free. Got really used to having greasy hair. But I don’t want the all natural head glue.
    The only thing I didn’t have and used was the shower filter. Does anyone think that will make a difference?

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