If you lived through the 90s you might remember the brand of soap Zest. Like any soap, they claimed to be the best, or at least that they had some advantage over other brands. The biggest claim they made was that Zest didn’t leave behind soap scum. You might recall the slogan, “You’re not fully clean unless you’re Zestfully clean!”
In one of their ad campaigns they claimed that if you weren’t feeling clean after a shower it might be because soap scum was still on your body, and that happens when you have hard water. So their commercials were like, “If your soap won’t lather well and your skin feels dry after you’ve showered, you might have hard water.” And so on. In fact, they offered a free test for hard water. You just had to call 1-800-HARD-WATER and they’d mail you the test. They showed you how to use it in the commercial. Basically it was a cardboard strip and you put it in the water, and if it turned brown, you had hard water.
My family never called the number, but Zest ended up sending the tests out all over the place in junk mail bundles. I’m not going to lie, my family was pretty excited about taking the test. We all gathered together in the bathroom for the occasion. The problem with our particular test was that it was already brown. We hadn’t even taken the test and we had hard water! Well, my mom figured maybe it would turn back to the original color, white, if we didn’t have hard water. I wasn’t so sure about that myself, but we put the test in the water anyway.
Sure enough, the strip didn’t change back to white. It stayed brown. My mom was convinced we had hard water, and she was all upset that our water softener wasn’t working. She was like, “Why are we wasting all this energy and salt on a water softener that doesn’t work?” And I was like, “No, mom I think it works fine, I think it’s the test that isn’t working.” She was all upset for days.
Quite frankly I knew that the water softener was working, because it only softened the water in the bathroom and not in the kitchen, and I could tell the difference. And quite frankly, I liked the hard water better. It seemed to me that hard water was more manly. I didn’t want no gentle, sissy, soft water. I wanted it strong, solid, firm, and hard. In the end, we decided to get Zest. It was fine. A pretty good soap actually.