Shaving, Lather and the Hard Water Problem

Updated December 17, 2016

If you have ever purchased shaving soap in puck form like Col Conks Bay Rum shaving soap or Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Hard Shaving Soap and struggled with making a decent lather while other rave about their experience, you may be the victim of hard water.

Hard water makes lathering difficult because the minerals in the water (calcium and magnesium ions) react with the soap making it more runny and slimy – more or less impossible to shave with – rather than foamy and rich – a joy to shave with. Hard water also has lasting effects beyond the lack of lather. Eventually the water scale will destroy the hairs on your brush; the evaporating water leaving residue on your razor, which if not cleaned properly could lead to problems itself.

What to do?

The most drastic and perhaps most logical solution is to install a water softener, which beyond assisting in your shaving routine, will also help you with build up on your faucets and shower heads, your pipes, dishes that come out clean not slimy, clothing that feels better. washing machine lasting longer, soft water is better for you skin,  etc.  But if you don’t want to or can’t install a water softener for whatever reason you still have some options.  At least for the shaving part of your day.

hard water shaving

Use Creams

The easiest solution may be to simply purchase shaving creams rather than shaving soap, for example Taylor of Old Bond Streets Avocado Shave Cream  or Geo F. Trumper Sandalwood Soft Shaving Cream.  Creams tend to have a bit of water content to them and as a result are generally much easier to lather than hard soaps – with hard or soft water.

Use Different Water

If you are determined to use hard soap you still have some options.  You could pick up distilled water fairly cheap and use that for your shaving routine.  Of course you will have to pour some in a cup, toss it in the microwave, and soak you brush that way.  You could attempt to use bottled water, or home filtration systems like a Brita, but for the most part these systems will not remove the amount of minerals that would be needed to make too much of a difference.  Whatever you decide you should also probably use a boar hair brush – the extra firmness could assist you in your endeavor.

If you are unsure as to whether or not you have hard water in your area a quick Google search should provide you with a report for you municipality


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