No shampoo method with hard water

by Sheryl
(Pueblo, CO)

Hi. I am just beginning the journey into "no poo" land. I have extremely hard water. I read your instructions on boiling the water before adding the baking soda. What about the apple cider vinegar? I assume you boil that water too? Do you not use apple cider vinegar when you have hard water? Any information will be helpful. Right now my hair is in the detox stage and is pretty gross. Thanks.


Hi Sheryl,

It is a journey, isn't it? But it is worth it if you can stick it out (both for the health of your hair and the thickness of your wallet :).

I have very hard water too – no need to struggle through the detox phase. Let me see if I can help you.

Boiling the water first for the baking soda shampoo is necessary in hard water for two reasons.

  1. it softens the water by precipitating out some of the minerals (you need a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes)

  2. it helps the baking soda thoroughly dissolve in the water

You could boil the water for the vinegar hair rinse as well, but I don't. That's because I wet and rinse my hair with the water coming right out of the tap (hard water). In an ideal world, I would wash and rinse my hair in all soft water. But that would mean boiling a lot of water and storing a lot of softened water in the bathroom. To me, that seems like a big pain. Especially since I've had good success without all the extra hassle.

If your hair is greasy, I would double check that you are adding enough baking soda and boiling for long enough. Add the baking soda after boiling but before the water cools. The water should feel slippery to the touch – if it isn't, something is wrong. Do you see lots of white residue (minerals) in the bottom of the pot after boiling? You should, otherwise you probably aren't boiling for long enough. Also make sure you avoid dumping those minerals in the container you are using to hold the mixture.

If you are still having trouble with the transition, perhaps you could try switching to non-conventional shampoos (i.e. true soaps) first. That's what I did after much experimenting.

I'm talking about castile soaps. Dr. Bronner's magic soaps are perfect for this.

Those of us with hard water generally do better with Dr. Bronner's Organic Hand and Body Pump Soaps (as opposed to the pure castile soaps). Yes, it says hand and body, but it works great as a non-toxic shampoo. I like the peppermint because it makes your scalp tingle.

These pump soaps combine organic shikakai with the classic pure-castile soap which results in a rich, moisturizing, luxurious lather.

You'll still have to boil water and make the baking soda shampoo though. This is again because of the curse that is hard water... Pure soaps like these will stay in your hair unless you use softened water to remove them.

This used to be my shower routine before switching completely to "no 'poo":

  1. Wet hair with regular hard water

  2. Apply just enough baking soda shampoo to coat scalp (it should feel slippery)

  3. Apply pump soap and work into scalp and hair

  4. Rinse with more baking soda shampoo (enough to get the suds out)

  5. Rinse out baking soda with regular hard water

  6. Apply vinegar hair rinse (double the amount of vinegar might be needed in the beginning)

  7. Rinse out vinegar with regular hard water

I would also occasionally use Dr Bronner's Magic Organic Hair Creme if I needed some extra conditioning.

Try out these suggestions and see if you can get back to shiny, beautiful hair.

Wishing you the best of health,

Approach Wellness

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Greasy Hair
by: Tanja

Hey there,

How often would you do this routine before transferring to no poo?

I have tried it once and it works amazingly! I would like to do the routine just once a week but after around three days my hair starts getting greasy again, especially when I just rinse it with water. We have quite hard water in my area, could it be the reason?
What would you suggest me to do?

Kind regards from Tanja
and thank you for an amazing advise in the first place!


Hi Tanja,

I takes a little time for the oils in your hair to calm down. You'll start to notice that you can go four days between washings, then five, then six, etc.

I generally wash my hair once a week, buy I'll gone as long as two weeks with it looking good in an up do.

Approach Wellness

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