No-Poo Hiccup

I’ve been washing my hair with just baking soda (not even a vinegar rinse, as I found that it didn’t seem to make any difference) for well over a year now, and the idea of ever going back to using shampoo and conditioner – let alone the indignity of paying through the nose for it – was just ludicrous to me.

Easy to say when you’re using Vancouver water.

LA water is, shall we say, not so kind to either hair or bathroom chrome. In fact, it’s not even that kind to the tastebuds. Growing up, I learned to like that faintly mineral funk of our tap water, but after living in NYC for 5 years, with their surprisingly great municipal water, and then being in Vancouver for almost a year (yes, yes, immigration is wreaking havoc on our lives still), I’ve come back home and found the tap water practically undrinkable. And for bathing, practically unusable.

My first clue was my normally immaculate no-poo regimen just didn’t work here. The baking soda would never really incorporate, the water would never get that slick feeling it does when it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, and it definitely didn’t lather. (Yep, baking soda water, properly used, will lather like any other shampoo!) Afterwards, my hair felt both bone-dry and almost sticky with what I assumed to be leftover oil residue. I got knots for the first time in years – I have a quiff, where it’s only about 8″ on the top and 1″ everywhere else, so I never get knots and don’t even own a comb or hairbrush – and I could barely comb my fingers through it without it just catching on the suddenly sickly-textured hairs themselves – almost like running your fingers along a blade of grass the wrong way.

In short, baking soda no-poo doesn’t seem to work AT ALL when you’ve got hard water.

Thankfully, I’m not the first person to discover this, and the internet has beaten me to a solution. (Whew.)

This blogger recommends adding the baking soda to boiling water, and storing a good quantity’s worth in the shower.

Well, I gave it a go, and it worked! Seeing as how we are overrun with those big drums of delivered water for drinking (we get one a week and can’t keep up), I think I’ll try using that water for mixing with the baking soda and see if it works too. If I can avoid boiling a pot of baking soda water every other week or what have you, I will.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that it requires a lot more ‘poo mix to get even a small lather going than when you use soft water. This is probably because you can’t rely on the water that’s already present in your hair to build the lather, and have to use the filtered/boiled water to do that trick. So just a heads up.

4 thoughts on “No-Poo Hiccup

  1. I had the same problem when visiting Germany (very hard water) after using no poo in Scotland (soft water), however boiling water or even washing my hair with distilled water didn’t work at all and my hair was just thick and coated and ergh. For this summer’s home visit, I plan to just wash it with soap (ordinary glycerine soap from the Health Food Store) and keep hair washing to a minimum (4 days if I can manage). Hard water is really, really tricky, so just a heads up that even with the boiling/drinking water trick, you might get a build up of baking soda on your scalp over time! Other things you could try if it doesn’t work are egg shampoo or rye flour.


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