The joys of Arizona water

During a spring break road trip, I wound up staying overnight at a motel in a town in Arizona. The place seemed like any other motel I’ve seen. Upon showering, however, I found that the the water made soap turn to some odd slime instead of washing it off normally, taking considerable time and effort to remove. Ditto with the faucet and toothpaste. Same with the bathroom at a restaurant halfway across the town.

What is the deal with that water? Thanks in advance for the info.

As a WAG (not having been to AZ) it sounds like they had a crappy water softening system and it wasn’t removing all the minerals from the water. Did you notice any usual odors with the water when you turned it on?

That seems backwards. I’ve always heard that the softer water is, the less minerals it has, and the harder it is to wash off soap, etc. Harder water, with more minerals, rinses soap of more easily but some people don’t like the effects of the hard water on their skin (drying, scaling, etc.)

Arizona just might have soft water. Some places do.

Where did you stay? Phoenix and Tucson get water from the Colorado River through the CAP canal. Other towns use ground water for the most part.

Well, as a kid, I grew up with hard water (when the water softening system would conk out) and soap always seemed to be particularly ineffective when the water was hard.

This happens in most hotels I stay in. I put it down to soft water, as I’ve never had that slippery feeling where you’re not sure you’ve rinsed off all of the soap when I’ve used hard water.

This was in Kingman, two or three hours west of Flagstaff. I guess groundwater is the issue then.

The slippery, slimy feeling you get after washing in soft water is actually just your skin, clean for once. Hard water leaves some residue behind on your skin, which provides some friction. Clean skin, without that residue, feels slimy in comparison.

My in-laws live in Pittsburgh and use normal municipal water. They have a softener system that is so overworked that when I go to visit, I leave there feeling completely slimy. My hair is flat and seems greasy ( although it is not, having been rinsed within an inch of its life ).

Sounds to me like over-softened water, regardless of where in the country or world it was experienced.


You remind me of when I visited a place on top of a mesa in rural northern New Mexico. The groundwater was undrinkable: strong brackish taste and strong smell of sulfur. They had to truck their drinking water up there in big drums.

Anecdotal, but I remember the water in Flagstaff to be particularly gross. Possibly due to volcanism in the area.

Slight hijack.

I was told that Birch Bay, WA has some of the best water in the state. My friends in Bellingham have remarked that my tap water tastes better than the water in Bellingham, 22 miles away. Where can I go to find support or denial for the claim?

Hard water reacts with soap to produce soap scum - a mostly insoluble crud. This is one of the things that led to the development of detergents - they’re mostly more tolerant of hard water. If it turned the soap into slime, it was definitely because the water was hard.

Most water in (at least northern, don’t know about further south) NM is nasty, to some degree. Here is Santa Fe, it tastes chemically. This is because there’s so little water, they have to recycle every drop, so they need to do more chemical treatment of it than most places.

I just stayed in Arizona this weekend! Flagstaff water seemed normal enough. Washed fine, tasted fine. Grand Canyon National Park bathroom water was okay. Phoenix bathroom water seemed okay. Some place called Casa Grande the water washed fine, but tasted kind of funky. And finally Nogales bathroom water was fine – and yes, I actually use soap in the bathroom rather than just rising the hands as if that does anything. :slight_smile:

One really good way to judge water hardness seems to be just rinsing, though. Sometimes water seems “wetter” in certain places – like at work, we have really wet water. I know there’s a private treatment system aside from the municipal system that makes it wetter. And don’t forget that soaps/detergents are just wetteners.