Our water here in Montana is extremely hard. I heard a commercial on the radio the other day and don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure the guy said water in Montana is 50,000% harder than the national average. Give or take. If we forget to replenish the salt in the softener, all our dishes will have a layer of film, resulting in a beautiful sea glass effect. It also covers the sinks, tub/showers, and anything it splashes onto with that same gorgeous frosted muck. The softener helps with the calcium deposits, but it leaves its own mess behind. Stalagmites of salt build up around faucets, hand towels begin to turn crusty… It’s good fun. I wipe and wash and scrub everything daily, but it’s a battle I just cannot win.
I don’t like using extremely harsh chemicals. I have very sensitive skin, and powerful smells bother me. I’ve tried soaking rags in vinegar, putting them on the hard water deposits, and scrubbing after an hour. I’ve tried magic erasers. I’ve tried scouring pads and soap. I’ve contemplated replacing the sink, but with it likely to happen again, what would be the point in that? Finally, I came across a product that promised to do exactly what I needed it to do — cling to the film in a thick layer, giving the vinegar in the solution a chance to dissolve the problem. Of course, our store doesn’t carry it. So I decided to make something similar myself.
If you also struggle with hard water deposits, you’re going to want to take notes here.
The magic formula that finally removed the stubborn white film from the basin of our kitchen sink is vinegar and xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is just a thickener, no need to be nervous. Our store keeps it by the bulk spices. I used about one cup of vinegar and one teaspoon of xanthan gum for a fairly gooey but not completely congealed viscosity. I probably could have used less xanthan gum, but I couldn’t get it to stop clumping up, and I’ve mentioned before that I have very little patience, so rather than try to get the lumps out, I just stirred in more xanthan gum. I let it sit on the top of the sink and applied some to the side just as a test. I went back with a walnut scrubbing pad about an hour later and wiped 93% of the crud right off. Because it wasn’t held in place by a rag that can’t get into the crannies, the vinegar was able to rest completely on the deposits without anything keeping it from the area or allowing it to dry too quickly.
Next time I’ll likely use our micro manager brush (a toothbrush would also work) to get into tight areas, like where the faucet meets the sink, but for a quick trial without much effort, the result was impressive.
A proper blogger would likely follow the aforementioned statement with a before and after photo, but here we are…
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (said by Martha)