Explain the Slimy Feeling With Soft Water


Dear Mr. Timmons,

You may have received questions similar to the one that I will pose to you from others, but I am quite confused as to what I have read on the internet.  Please allow me to provide you with details.

When I take a shower, I want to feel as if all of the soap, body oils, and grime will come off my body immediately. I do not mind if my skin comes out extremely dry after showering. I want to feel clean and I can always put on lotion if my skin is too dry.

I have lived in southeastern Kentucky for many years and I have never had any issues while showering. I contacted my municipal water manager here in Hazard, Kentucky and he informed me that the water hardness of our town is usually around 180 parts per million and runs a range of 160-240 ppm at the extremes. The pH is usually around 7.4.

During my college and medical training, I have lived inLexington, KY; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Silver Spring, MD; and Burbank, CA. I have never had any problems while showering in those communities.

One time, we visited family friends in rural Iowa and taking a shower was an unpleasant experience. It felt as if the soap would not come off my body no matter how much water I used.

When I visit my brother in Las Vegas, NV, it is the same problem with taking a shower – the soap does not feel as if it is coming off at all. I do not know if he has a water softener.

When I visit my parents in New Tampa, FL the same situation as with my brother – I can’t stand taking a shower as it feels that the soap will not come off no matter how much water that I use.

I have read conflicting information on the internet. Some sources state that hard water causes the problems that I experience with showering in IA, NV, and my parents home in FL.

Other sources say that it is probably a water softener used to lessen spots on dishes, etc., that cause that slimy feeling of not being able to get soap off of me during showering.

I read your article that states that it is actually a “silky” feeling.  I respectfully disagree with your characterization of “silky” as it is a markedly uncomfortable feeling and I have noted that acne seems to be worse when I am visiting my parents as the oils are not effectively removed from my skin.

My parents told me that they have a filter for their home, but I am not certain that it is “softening” the water and that is why showering is such an unpleasant experience.

The reason that I am sending this e-mail is that I will be moving to the Tampa area to work. I will be renting an apartment in Brandon, FL and I am not certain as to whether I should get some sort of water treatment system or if I should just try the city water first.

Most of the literature seems to point to “soft” water as the culprit for the markedly uncomfortable feeling while showering. Some say it is “hard” water.

Please explain and advise. Thank you very much.


The Water Doctor’s Response:

Dear G,

First of all, I will just deal with the facts. Whether the water is silky or slimy is a perception, not a fact. I know many people who feel it is silky and I know many who think it is slimy.

Do you like Coke or Pepsi? That’s personal taste – you can’t say one is better than another to everyone – just you.

I love baseball and another person may hate it, so when we go to a game together, he is bored and I am engaged. We are in the same place, so it is our own perception that changes everything. I just wanted to make that point.

Here are the FACTS:

1. Calcium and magnesium are “hard” minerals which combine with soap and form “curd” and suds.
2. This calcium and magnesium and soap curd does lodge in the pores of your skin in hard water.
3. Since there is no calcium or magnesium in soft water, the sodium which is a “soft” mineral, combines with the soap to form suds, without curd.
4. There is no calcium and magnesium in the water and no curd, and sodium does not stick in your skins’ pores.
5. Use a pure soap like Ivory – wash one hand with soft water and rinse – it will fell slick – then wash the other with hard water – it will feel “squeaky clean.” Then taste both hands. You will taste soap only on the hard water side. Therefore the soap is gone.
6. Many people with sensitive skin break out when they bathe in hard water. I have seen people with eczema-like skin problems have clear skin after a few days with soft water.
7. There is no soap residue left when you shower in soft water.
8. There is soap residue left on the skin when you shower in hard water.
9. I cannot say why acne would occur in soft water unless the skin is stimulated by the lack of calcium and magnesium in the pores to produce oil.
10. Some people love the slick feeling – others hate the slimy feeling – it’s all about perception!
11. With soft water, you get the following benefits over hard water:
a. 50% less soap, detergents and cleaning chemicals (for example, you use half the laundry soap, half the shampoo and half the dishwasher detergent).
b. 30% saving on water heating energy.
c. Dramatically increases the life of all water using appliances and plumbing appliances.
d. Delivers spot-free dishes in the dishwasher.
e. Cuts cleaning time in showers and sinks.

Those are the facts, and there is one other fact: Not everyone will like soft water, in which case we also have salt-free water conditioners, like the LIMEBLASTER.


This article has 72 Comments

  1. EVERYONE: Mark Timmons is FULL OF IT! He sells water softeners and will type any bullchit to sell his USELESS, DISGUSTING, TOXIC, HARMFUL CHEMICALS. The end result is the same: YOU CANNOT RINSE THE SOAP OFF YOUR SKIN WITH WATER SOFTENERS! You cannot become clean. It feels DISGUSTING! Why pay money for something not only annoying and completely useless but also AGGRAVATING AND HARMFUL? water softeners are peeling my skin off! People who buy water softeners and force it onto unsuspecting tenants deserve only one fate!

  2. I am 64 years-old and have been bathing in soft water all my life (my father was in the water business). Why isn’t my skin or my kids skin or millions of other peopel who have soft water losing their skin?

    I am full of it? Everything you say has ZERO basis in fact. Is the last sentence a threat to someone?

  3. When I moved into my apartment the water was soft, then two wks or so later, this changed. It is now hard. I’m still buying my drinking water but could the reason for the change be that the water was; but isn’t treated regularly; or visa vera?

  4. Water softener makes the water horrible! It feels very slimy and sticky. Absolutely horrible. I can’t get the soap off. I hate softened water.

  5. I cannot make you like Pepsi or Brussel Sprouts and I would never try to force you to like soft water, because that is 100% subjective. However, saying that soft water does not get the sop off is 100% demonstrably untrue. That can easily be disproved.

    Hard water feels horrible to me as it is very sticky and you cannot wash off the soap. The fact that it feels horrible to me is subjective but I can prove beyond shadow of a doubt that it does not rinse the sop off.

    If you want to believe that you cannot wash the soap off with soft water, maybe that makes you happy and frequently, ignorance is bliss!

  6. What do people do when dishes are getting slippery using a water softener? I’ve almost dropped a couple. All other benefits I like.

    I have had a water softener in another house in the same area and that water was not slippery on anything. Is there an explanation for that? I was not expecting the slippery part when we put in a water softener a few week ago. I’ll get used to it in the bath I guess.

  7. We are buying a new water softener. We’ve lived without one for the last 6 months and my skin is dry. flaky and itchy. When washing my hair, it feels sticky and unclean. After rinsing off in the shower, my hand sticks to my skin. Hours later I can smell soap still. Some may like that but to me it simply means I still have soap on my body.

    To the jihadist saying soft water is the end of humanity – it’s simply not your preference. And I’m a LITTLE confused about the chemicals of mass destruction you feel are being introduced into our environment? Your preference is not my preference and it’s a little sad you think you know what’s best for me especially after your clear demonstration of not knowing the simplest of facts.

    Be well my opinionated “friend”.

  8. Just wonder! It’s safe to drink of this kind of slimy oily water? It sound like every body was talking about shower not drinking.

  9. Love your website and all the comments and replies…
    As you said, slick or slimy may just be a perception and preference.
    For the record, I do not like having to rinse forever to partially remove
    the slimy feeling of soap (?) when showering with soft water.

    On June 26th, 2017 you replied:
    “Without calcium and magnesium in the water, soap curd will not stick in
    the pores of your skin and you will get a slick feeling. You will not get that
    slick feeling with hard water because the calcium, magnesium and soap curd
    will not stick in the pores of your skin.” How is it that both sentences say
    the same thing? How then is soft and hard water different from those
    two sentences? Thank you!

  10. I have had a water softener in the past. With that home we did get the silky feeling out of the soften water. I have moved into a new home (new town) and have had a system installed and we’re not getting the Slilky/slimie soft feeling that we had in the previous home. I had the technician come out that installed the system and check the water. He is telling me that the water is soft. He changed the settings on the Regeneration cycle from a more efficient setting to a setting using more water but regenerating less often. This change has made no difference. Is there something wrong with the unit or is it possible that some water just does not obtain the silky/slimy feeling. Thanks

  11. Our plumber told us to “just add the salt and let it go”. So we didn’t understand how it worked.
    We didn’t realize that even though we had the water softener, we weren’t using it correctly so we had hard water. I was thinking I hated the soft water but I was the one who had it backward. I can’t stand the feeling of hard water. My hair never feels clean. Maybe the idiot from December should 1- check to see that their system is working and 2- find something more important to feel enraged by than hard/soft water.

  12. Hi, We too in lockport, Il have this slimy greasy water. We were wondering if it is due to the water department chemically softening our water with orthophosphates and polyphosphates to sequester the iron contents. Could there be a build up of phosphates that coat everything and are slimey> I always had a water softener and so did our friends and now we have oily water, greasy hair that isn’t really soft and shiny but oily and crunchy.

  13. I, like your site Mark, I, dont know how you deal with the one or two who have such ignorance to absolute science facts, water without minerals is soft water that’s a fact like it or not! if people don’t like water softeners don’t get one, simple, I, know better and proved it with my own experimentations for my kids to find the analysis, perception is individual, I, think habaneros are hot, others don’t, who cares!, don’t eat them! anyway glad you are hear to help others who are looking for answers , sometimes my water gets bubbly and salty at the faucet, could be aliens messing with my water softener, or maybe even a long shot like the rinse cycle did not completely rinse the salt brine out, either way hard water sucks!

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