Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600600
Hard water may interfere with formation of acid and prevent curing in pickle making. If soft water is unavailable, boil hard water for 15 minutes. Cover and set aside for 24 hours, removing any scum. Carefully pour water from container so sediment is not disturbed. Discard sediment. Water is now ready to use. Distilled water can be used also but this would be more expensive.
If water in the home is softened by means of a water softener, it may be too soft for successful pickling. Unless there are some minerals (especially calcium and magnesium) in the water, pickles will be mushy. (Calcium combines with pectic substances in the cucumbers to form calcium pectate which makes pickles firm). It might be best to use a blend of hard water and softened water for pickling.