If you have hard water, you probably have a hard time finding a shaving soap – or shampoo or body wash – that lathers well. Hard water causes soap to be less efficient and that can be a major problem when you need a good lather to shave with. What should you look for in a soap if you have hard water?
The best shaving soaps will include EDTA, NTA, EDDS, or IDS as these ingredients are used to help combat lathering issues caused by calcium and magnesium in hard water. Taking the time to soak your soap, pre-wetting your brush, and working a lather brush side up will all help you use your current soap. You may also want to consider trying a cream.
Read on to learn more about these ingredients and how they will help you lather up for your wet shave. There’s also a couple of extra steps you can take to help your soap do its job. We’ll be giving you a few suggestions if you’ll be in need of a new soap as well.
Why is hard water bad for shaving?
To understand why hard water is bad for shaving, you’ll need to understand how soap works and what hard water is. Moment of Science breaks down the detailed science of it pretty well if you’re interested in the details.
Soap traditionally is made with fat that mixes well with oil and grease and soap molecules that bind to the water in order to suspend the oil and allow it to rinse off. Hard water has a lot of calcium and magnesium, giving the soap a lot more to bind to and causing soap to not lather very well and create a large amount of soap scum.
Most of America has hard water coming into their homes. This can cause an issue with any type of cleansing soaps.
Without being able to create a good creamy lather, your soap is not going to give you the glide necessary to smoothly shave your face. Soap scum is a very common occurrence when you have hard water and that is hardly good for your face.
Can you soften your shaving water?
If you’re dealing with a hard water issue, you may be wondering what you can do to improve the quality of your water rather than trying to purchase products that work around the issue.
You can purchase a small water descaler that is easy to install in an apartment or a softener system that is installed to a house water supply. These are both costly options if your only motivation for the purchase is a nice shaving lather, but can improve your overall quality of life and maybe even add value to your home is hard water is a major problem in your area.
The cheapest option for treating hard water would be a water descaler that could be purchased for around $200 and can be easily installed in an apartment.
You could also purchase a water softening system. These are usually very expensive and made to be installed for an entire home’s water supply. These dynamically change the house and are a permanent installation to a home. These greatly vary in quality and price. Some systems are as little as $300 to as much as $2000 and require professional installation.
There are a lot more benefits to having a water softener installed, including:
- All soaps lather much easier while using less (ie. body wash, dish detergent, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.).
- It takes less energy to warm softened water.
- Fewer mineral stains from hard water (ie. clothing stains, dish stains, showers/tubs, and appliances).
- Healthier skin and hair as hard water is drying and leaves a film on the body after washing.
- Softer fabrics after washing.
- Less water will be needed when cleaning things as soap is more efficient.
You can also shave with bottled water; however, this can add up after a while and it is less than ideal if you want an easy shaving routine.
What kind of shaving soaps are best to use with hard water?
EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is the most common ingredient added to soaps to help with lathering. Page 6 of this World Health Organization document has a general description and the major uses of EDTA. Among the common uses listed are personal care products and household disinfectants. EDTA is sensitive to the calcium and magnesium in hard water and it helps prevent the formation of “hard-water soap curds”.
EDTA, NTA, EDDS, and IDS are all ingredients used to make soap lather better in hard water. If your shaving soap has one of these ingredients it will greatly improve your soap’s ability to lather for the glide needed to shave while also reducing soap scum.
There is some controversy about EDTA as it’s not biodegradable. This may not sound like a huge issue, however, there is a concern when these compounds build up in natural aquatic environments. There has been research into the effects of EDTA on the environment that suggests NTA (Nitrilotriacetic acid), EDDS (ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid), and IDS (iminodisuccinic acid) are effective alternatives that are biodegradable.
There are also science-based forums that discuss EDTA and its best biodegradable alternatives.
The best shaving soaps to use with hard water
In addition to having the right soap, you want to make sure you have the right technique. Pre-soak your brush but don’t let it be sopping when you start your lather. Create a lather with your brush facing upwards into the soap for extra lathering ease.
Here are the best shaving soaps for hard water, most of which do include EDTA as an ingredient:
- Arko Shaving Stick
- Proraso Shaving Soaps
- Art of Shaving Shave Cream
- Barrister & Mann Shaving Soap
- Captain’s Choice Shaving Soap
Arko Shaving Stick
Arko is an industry-standard for shaving soap that works well with hard water.
This shave stick contains EDTA to help encourage the lather. Many users report that it smells a bit like Ivory bar soap.
If you get this or any other shaving stick, a holder may be useful for a less messy experience.
Proraso Shaving Soaps
Proraso has a lot of great products, and their shave soaps are no exception.
These soaps are a big hit among those who live in an area with hard water.
Art of Shaving Creams
Creams like this one are notorious for getting a better lather as you don’t need as much water or work to get a cream soft.
Art of Shaving has EDTA ingredients in it and is highly revered in the shaving community.
Barrister & Mann Shaving Soaps
Barrister & Mann not only has a reputable line for shaving soaps, they also have a luxurious ‘Reserve’ line.
This company is well-liked because they have a large selection of different scents for each of their soap lines.
Captain’s Choice Shaving Soaps
Although this brand does not have EDTA in it, it comes highly recommended by many who deal with hard water in their home.