How to Soften Hard Water for Bathing (2 Methods Explained)

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There’s a lot of misleading information online about the different methods of softening water for bathing.

In this article, we’ve cleared things up and shared the only 2 effective methods of softening your bath water that we know of.

We’ve also shared which methods don’t work – despite claims on other websites – and explained why we think they’re ineffective.

📋 2 Best Methods Of Softening Hard Water For Bathing

Here, you’ll find our top 2 recommendations for producing softer water for bathing and showering.

1) Salt-Based Water Softener

We’ve been researching, comparing, and writing about water softeners for years, so we can say for certain that these water treatment systems offer the best solution to hard water in your bath and shower.

A salt-based water softener uses a process called ion exchange, which swaps calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ions on a charged resin bed.

The result is that all hard water minerals are removed, in exchange for equal amounts of sodium (salt), which can’t form mineral buildup or soap scum.

Softening systems are designed to be installed at your main water line, so they protect your entire home from the effects of water hardness, including your washing machine, dishwasher, sinks, showers, baths, and toilets.

Springwell salt based ion exchange water softening system

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2) Salt-Free Water Conditioner

A salt-free water conditioner is a water treatment system that prevents limescale formation by conditioning calcium and magnesium minerals.

Water conditioners use a process such as template-assisted crystallization to crystallize hard water minerals and prevent them from sticking to surfaces as scale.

So, installing a water conditioner in your home will prevent mineral buildup on your bathtub and will reduce your cleaning duties as a result.

Water conditioners are a good option for people who want to enjoy the benefits of soft water without actually softening their water with salt, but they’re not quite as effective as salt-based softeners, so they take second place in our eyes.

Springwell salt-free water conditioner

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🛁 Why Soften Your Bath Water?

There are a few reasons why you’ll probably want to convert your hard bath water to soft water.

These include:

Softer Skin And Hair

Hard water leaves a layer of soap scum on the surface of your skin and hair, which clogs your pores and hair follicles, causing dry skin and brittle hair.

Installing a water softening system removes these water hardness minerals, so any associated dry skin and hair issues will be solved completely.

The outcome should be that your skin and hair feel softer because they’re no longer clogged with scum. Your hair should look shinier and your skin should feel slicker due to the soft water’s sodium content.

More Bubbles And Better Lather With Soaps

If you love soaking in a warm tub filled to the brim with bubbles, you’ll be happy to hear that soft water produces more bubbles than hard water.

Calcium and magnesium react negatively with soaps, bubble baths, bath gels, shampoos, and other bath products, reducing their lather and leaving fewer bubbles on the surface of the water.

Soft water is free from these minerals, so you can use less soap to wash your hair and body, and enjoy a bubble-filled tub with only a small amount of bubble bath.

Soft water allows form more bubbles

Reduced Cleaning Duties

Hard water forms limescale deposits and soap scum on your bathtub. You might be put off the temptation of a long soak in your bath since you know you’ll have to clean out the tub as a result of your bathing.

Limescale is particularly difficult to clean because it’s so tough and thick, especially if it’s left to accumulate over time. You’ll have to spend more money on special cleaners to remove mineral deposits, and even then, you’ll probably still struggle to achieve a spotless tub.

Installing a water softening system is the best way to reduce your cleaning duties because soft water is unable to form limescale So, you can focus instead on cleaning your bath for hygiene purposes and not spend hours scrubbing stubborn mineral stains.

📥 Can Bath Salts Soften Bath Water?

We’ve read claims from multiple sources that you can add bath salts to your tub to soften hard water naturally. We can’t make sense of the science behind these claims, so we think they’re not true. Here’s why.

In order to soften water, there are three things needed: a hard water source, a sodium source, and a resin for the softening process to take place.

Simply adding bath salts to your bath water won’t soften the water because there’s no resin for the ion exchange to occur. The sodium ions would simply be present in your water alongside the hardness minerals.

Some websites say that the sodium in the bath salts swaps with the hardness minerals to remove them from water, but our question is this: where are they proposing that the hardness minerals go? They can’t simply vanish into thin air or even dissolve in the water.

The only way that these minerals can be removed is when they’re exchanged with sodium on an ion exchange resin bed, which you’re extremely unlikely to find in your bathtub.

Putting bath salts in bath tub

🚿 Can A Shower Filter Soften Water For Bathing?

Another common belief on the internet is that shower filters can be used for softening water in your bath. This would be great if it were true – you could simply fill your bath with the water from your shower head rather than from the faucet.

However, shower head filters are unable to soften bath water because, unlike whole-home water softeners, they don’t have the ability to flush themselves and regenerate to allow for constant water softening.

So, even if a shower filter had a resin bed that was pre-loaded with sodium, the softening process would stop being effective as soon as the resin ran out of sodium – which could happen in a matter of days.

The main purpose of a shower filter is to remove chlorine, which should contribute to softer skin and hair. However, it won’t tackle the skin and hair issues caused specifically by soap scum and other hard water problems.

🔎 Can Baking Soda Soften Bath Water?

We’ve also read that baking soda (washing soda) can soften bath water, although the sources making this claim can’t offer a good reason why.

One website claims that baking soda can “eliminate calcium and magnesium minerals” (impossible without a resin bed – see our note on bath salts), and another says that the alkalinity of baking soda has soft water effects, which makes no sense since hard water minerals also contribute to alkalinity.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that baking soda may help to soften skin, and it can also help with a range of medical conditions when added to your bath. But there is no scientific reason why washing soda would be able to chemically soften hard water, so this is another rumor that you shouldn’t believe.

Adding baking soda to boiling water and bathtub

♨️ Can Boiling Bath Water Make It Soft?

Boiling water removes temporary hardness. So, if you don’t have permanent hardness and you’re happy to spend a whole lot of time boiling water, waiting for it to cool slightly, and adding it in batches to your bathtub, this is – in theory – a suitable method of softening your bath water.

Do we recommend it? No. From a practical sense, boiling your bath water is by far the least efficient method.

Plus, there’s a good chance that your water contains permanent hardness, which you can’t remove by boiling alone.

❔ Final Word

In an ideal world, simply sprinkling some Epsom salts in your bath would enable you to enjoy soft, perfumed water with minimal hassle and effort.

Unfortunately, the only way to effectively and permanently soften your bath and shower water is to install a household water softener.

While this method comes at a higher upfront cost and requires a lengthy installation process, most people agree that its benefits – including soft water supplied to your entire home’s plumbing system and water-using appliances – are worth it.

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