Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Well Water and Hair
Name: Sandi C.
Status: N/A
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 3/22/2004

How do I remove well water ( mineral deposits, iron,etc.) from my hair. Is there a simple solution? My blond hair is now, yellow and red streaked. So much static, that it lies flat to my head. Exceptionally dull and limp. I am a cosmetologist and should know the solution, but I cannot resolve the problem.

Darn. I like getting rid of hard-water deposits with CLR and "Lime-Away", but I am reluctant to put such strong acids in your hair. Phosphoric acid and vinegar have the best mineral action for the least acid attack, but they would probably still damage your hair more. There may be some chemical which steals iron by chelation (wrapping around) instead of acidity, but they tend to be toxic and there is only a small amount in most shampoos and conditioners (on the ingredients label, the "methyl-iso-thiazolinone" or some such.)

Strictly using only non-hard water for a week to a month, and often using oils and conditioners, followed by a slight haircut, seems about the best you can do. I think I could wash my hair with a 25-cent gallon of machine-purified water. Maybe adding a slight amount of lemon juice to a thin conditioner with isothiazolinone and pure water, and rinsing it out pretty quick. Find a hair-oil, because the surface is stripped ragged.

All this presumes you will use no hair colorings meanwhile, and have not used them while it got bad. Minerals can mess up colorings weirdly - maybe that is what happened to you. Acids even more so.

I do not think any of this speculation about acids is any help at all for sea-salt or sun. Maybe it is no help for minerals, either. Then pure water, frequent oil, soft conditioners, and haircuts are the best you can do.

Sometimes oil makes rust just loosen up and fall away, when I am cleaning up old metal machines. Maybe a similar effect on a microscopic scale can slowly help your hair.

Jim Swenson


If the "mineral deposits" are calcium and magnesium, they may be removed by a mild rinse with white vinegar. If iron oxides have penetrated the hair shaft, they cannot be removed by any chemical treatment that is safe to use. Your "red streaked" comment leads me to think that iron may be the culprit. If so, you will simply have to find a more mineral- free source of water with which to wash your hair. Over time, as the hair is trimmed, the iron-stained part will be removed. It will take patience.

Static problems stem from dry air (low humidity) circumstances and the action of brushing/combing. You might try holding onto an electrically grounded metal water faucet pipe during the brush/comb operation so as to drain off the static charge.

ProfHoff 829

Click here to return to the General Topics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory