Hardness in water is a big issue. Most people might not even notice it, but if you keep a closer look at your kitchen appliances, cutlery, showerhead, and pipes, you might see them during powder or deposits on them. These deposits are incredibly stubborn. They are also the main culprit behind ruining your kitchen appliances, dryness of your skin, and frizziness of your hair. However, getting rid of them is not impossible. It is effortless also. All you have to do is buy the best water softener available on the market. But now the question is whether either you have to buy salt-based vs salt-free water softeners. For those who don’t know, what is a water softener system, and how many main types of water softeners are available in the market?
Table of Contents
- What is a water softener system?
- Salt-Based Water Softener
- Salt-Free Water Softener
- Salt-Based vs Salt-Free Water Softeners
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a water softener system?
Now, let’s move toward the main types of water softeners. Following are the types:
- Salt-Based Water Softeners
- Salt-Free Water Conditioners
Salt-Based Water Softener
Salt-based water softeners are undoubtedly the most commonly used water softener systems. They are very efficient in removing hardness-causing metal ions from water. These water softeners use a technology called ion exchange technology. This technology uses sodium or potassium ions from salt to replace the calcium or magnesium ions from the hard water. As a result, you get rid of the ions that cause limescale deposits, and the water gets softened.
Some top-rated salt-based water softeners are Fleck 5600SXT, Whirlpool WHES40E, Water2Buy W2B800, Fleck Iron Pro 2, Culligan WH-HD200-C, etc. However, salt-based water softeners are perfect for the removal of hard water. Also, they are more efficient than salt-free water conditioners.
Related Post: Best Salt-Based Water Softener in 2022
Salt-Free Water Softener
Unlike salt-based water softeners, salt-free water softeners do not use salt at all to soften the water. However, Salt-Free Water Conditioners create hardness crystals but leave minerals in the water. These crystals won’t adhere to surfaces so you will see a reduction in the scale build-up. The main benefit you receive from a salt-free system is the maintenance-free aspect. No electricity, no wastage of water, and no salt/resin.
Moreover, saltless water softener works on a different principle, where it treats the hard water molecules to reduce the limescale from building up. Because they do not use salt, the treatment can either be through magnetic waves, electromagnetic waves, or filtration processes. Therefore, you get rid of the limescale deposits but not from hard water. Some best salt-free water conditioners are Aquasana Filter & Salt-Free Conditioner, Aquios FS-220, Eddy Electronic Water Descaler, Clearwave CW-125 Electronic Conditioner, and Nuvo H2O Dphb-a Home Water Softener System, etc.
Water is processed through catalytic media using a physical process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). What happens is the hardness minerals are converted to a hardness crystal that is not able to bind to surfaces. This is actually water conditioning, not softening. A water test would show this result: before treatment 10 grains/gallon, result post/treatment 10 grains/gallon. It just changed its property so it won’t adhere to surfaces.
Related Post: Best Salt-Free Water Softener
Salt-Based vs Salt-Free Water Softeners
Here is what we have concluded after reviewing consumer reports for both a salt-free water softener and a salt-based water softener.
|Features||Salt-Based Water Softener||Salt-Free Water Softener|
|Technology||Ion-Exchange||Magnetic, Electromagnetic, Chemical, Filter|
|Space||Need quite large space||Doesn’t need any extra space, fits easily on water supply pipe|
|Electricity||Yes||A few products require electricity|
|Installation||A bit complicated and require services by plumber||Super easy, anyone can install it|
|Maintenance||Requires continuous maintenance i.e. salt addition and resin replacement||Doesn’t require any maintenance|
|Price||A bit expensive||Comparatively inexpensive|
|Life Expectancy||10 – 15 years||Most of these work for a lifetime|
Since the very definition of water softening requires that hard water minerals be removed, and the salt-free process only changes the minerals, allowing them to remain in the water, salt-free water softeners are not actually softening water rather, they are for water conditioning. However, salt-based water softeners only remove the hardness of water and minerals too.
If you are looking for a water softener for your home, you need to get a basic understanding. The truth is that salt-free water softeners aren’t water softeners, don’t provide many of the same benefits that salt-based systems do, and aren’t certified to meet industry standards. The choice is clear—only a salt-based water softener is proven to provide softer water, healthier skin, and no scale buildup or soap scum. A salt-based system is a better investment. If you are confused, you can always check our recommendation below for both.
Check Here: Best Rated Upflow Water Softeners
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Which is better salt or salt-free water softener?
A salt-based softener would be your better choice. Salt-Free Water Conditioners create hardness crystals but leave minerals present in the water. The crystals won’t adhere to surfaces so you will see a reduction in the scale build-up. You may see less soap usage and possibly brighter laundry.
2. Do salt-free water softeners really work?
During the ion exchange process, a resin bed attracts hard water minerals and replaces them with sodium ions; it is this removal of magnesium and calcium that defines “water softening”. In reality, salt-free water softeners do not actually soften water at all as they condition it.
3. Are salt-based water softeners bad for your health?
For most healthy people, the amount of added sodium in the softened water poses no health problems. However, for people who have high blood pressure and must live on a low-sodium diet or a sodium-restricted diet, sodium in the softened water can be hazardous to people’s health.
Steve Smith is a United State Licensed Plumber with over 18 years of plumbing experience. Steve has conducted residential and commercial plumbing jobs throughout the state and currently works for one of California’s largest plumbing companies. When he’s not working, Steve enjoys spending time with his daughter and son.