Salt Based vs. Salt Free Water Softeners

Salt Based Softeners

The salt based water softener has been around for 70+ years and has proven itself to be the most reliable and economical method to removing hardness minerals from water. When using a salt based system, you can actually test levels of calcium, magnesium and some iron and see the difference in a before and after test. A salt based softener will remove virtually all the hardness minerals from your water.  You can also feel a noticeable difference in the water. Salt based water softeners are still the most proven and dependable way to truly soften your water.   Salt based water system designs are based on proven science and field use.  The systems are typically very consistent in providing great water if they are built well and built using quality components.  In addition to being tremendously low maintenance, the salt consumption of an on demand system is typically very low.  You will need to replenish salt used by the system occasionally, so it will take minimal effort on your part to maintain the system.  Salt based softener technology has become increasingly more efficient and user friendly over the past few decades.  Most good systems use much less salt and water than water softeners of past years.

Salt Free “Water Softener Alternatives”

Salt Free “Softeners” or “Conditioners” have become increasingly more popular over the past decade or so.  Typically these systems don’t actually remove the hardness minerals from your water.  There are several different methods used to “treat” hardness without salt.  Some of the more popular ways attempted include: using magnets or electronic devices to change the polarity or the structure of the calcium molecules so they won’t stick to pipes and fixtures, using some type of media tank with stuff inside that causes minerals to stick or clump together or change them so they won’t stick to stuff, adding chemicals or elements to the water to coat the hardness minerals so they won’t stick to stuff.  Get the picture?  These units are not removing hardness from your water!  They attempt to neutralize the effects of the hardness minerals without actually removing them.  Look out!  There is a lot of slick marketing behind many of these systems, and we have seen thousands of consumers who have been unhappy with the results of their “Salt Free Water Softeners”   That being said however… There are times when a good, well researched salt free system is appropriate to treat your water.  Certain parts of the country have banned salt based softeners, so they may need to use some salt free device, which may give some benefit and be better than using nothing to treat the water.  Some people are just outright opposed to using salt in a softener for a variety of reasons.  A salt free alternative may help them to obtain some benefit.

Overall we do recommend a high quality salt based water softener to the vast majority of consumers looking to take care of hard water issues.  If you do need salt free water softening though, we stock a good variety of the more proven salt free types.








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