In the 1950's, popcorn ceiling texture was all the rage. Builders liked it because it could hide imperfections, it was easier than painting the ceiling as it was simply sprayed on, and it often reduced noise due to the increased surface area. In the 1980's when The Clean Air Act banned Asbestos, many builders stopped using popcorn texture for ceilings, but it remains a thorn in the side for most owners of homes built between 1950-1980, who find it unappealing and difficult to clean, paint and repair. Luckily, it's fairly simple to remove. The first, and most important step, is to have the texture tested for Asbestos. If the texture was applied after 1977, it's likely Asbestos free, but if it was applied before then it's quite possible that it contains the deadly mineral. If you find that it does, hire a professional to remove it immediately.
After you've determined that it's safe to remove the texture yourself, start by spraying the ceiling with regular tap water using a spray bottle. Allow it to soak for several minutes, then use a paint scraper to remove the popcorn texture. Make sure you have something beneath the area you're working on to catch the falling texture - a plastic paint tray works well. Don't forget to wear safety goggles and a breathing mask, as particles can fall into your eyes and mouth. It can be tiresome due to the angle you're working at and the frequent need to move your ladder to a new section, but if you lay awake at night staring at the ceiling, wishing it was smooth and texture free, it's definitely worth it!