Well water is so darn hard it grays my skin and hair. Recent rains also made the water stinky. I thought, get a softener, a purifier. After spending the evening with Culligan et al., turns out that water gets softened by pumping it through salt, or, the "salt-free" alternative, potassium.
Laundry and dishwater here drain off the limestone cliff twenty foot down into The Secret Pond, right now chock-full of Spring Peepers, and I'll be dad-blamed if I'll salt and shrivel them and everything around them. Besides, there's no room for two tanks and 40-lb. bags of salt, and needless to say there ain't several thousand dollars.
I could get a counter-top water distiller if I had a countertop and lots of wattage to keep the thing steaming -- and if I wanted an all-year, 24-hour Turkish bathhouse in place of a kitchen.
Bottled water is a choice, but not for showers or laundry. Reverse osmosis is slow, and 4 or 5 gallons of water are wasted for every osmosis gallon you get.
Then I remembered my granddad in Park Falls, WI, in the early 1960s, had a rain barrel. I lined two 5-gallon paint buckets with trash bags and now after it's rained I have soft water, the old-fashioned way, to sponge off with or to stick my head into post-shampoo. Yeah, it's cold. But it's natural, cheap, and I aint no sissy.