The 10 Best Salt-free Water Softeners (Overview)
- SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free Water Softener
- Pelican NaturSoft Salt-free Water Softener
- Yarna Capacitive CWD24 Electronic Water Descaler
- AO Smith Whole House Salt-Free Water Descaler
- Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt-free Descaler
- APEC FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt-Free Water Softener
- 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition Water System
- Aquasana Rhino Whole House System with Salt-Free Conditioner
- Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
- HydroFLOW HS38 Water Conditioner
If you are looking for the best salt-free water softener made in the US, then this guide is for you.
I have been working in the water treatment industry for more than 10 years and I know very well about water treatment products.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the best salt-free water softeners that are effective in limescale prevention, easy to maintain, durable, and priced reasonably.
Any of these best water softener alternatives will give you a great value from your investment as they are worth every dollar.
What is a Salt-free Water Softener?
A salt-free water softener is a water softening system that does not require salts, also known as a water conditioner or water softener alternative. Its sole purpose is to condition the hardness minerals inside the water to prevent them from sticking on the surface to form limescale.
Why Do You Need the Best Salt-free Water Softener for Your Home
Hard water has been affecting millions of households including more than 85% of homes in the United States.
Salt-based water softeners are highly effective in removing hardness minerals, however, the use of salts and the high maintenance cost had turned many households away.
If you are one of them, then the salt-free water softener is a great alternative to resolve the hard water issues.
Top 10 Best Salt-free Water Softeners Review
Here are the 10 best salt-free water softener systems for hard water.
1. SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free Water Softener Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Up to 99.6% effectiveness on limescale prevention
- Can handle water with hardness up to 81 GPG
- Fast water flow rate
- Comes with a sediment pre-filter
- Does not require electricity
- Low maintenance
- Size by number of bathrooms
- The softening media can last for a lifetime
Why Choose SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free Water Softener?
SpringWell Futuresoft System is a no-salt water softener that can effectively treat hard water at a reasonable price.
The saltless softener system can handle hard water with a hardness level of up to 81 grains per gallon (GPG), the highest in the saltless softening industry.
It requires no salts and electricity to operate, and is virtually maintenance-free, giving you a hassle-free experience.
The components are made of high-quality materials to ensure the safest environment in treating your water.
All these advantages make it one of the best salt-free water softeners for homes to solve hard water issues.
The Futuresoft softener media can last for a lifetime with no replacement is needed, which brings a lot of convenience and money-saving to homeowners.
All you need to do is to replace the pre-sediment filter every 6 to 9 months, and the replacement process is fast and easy.
High Water Flow Rate
The system offers a high water flow rate of 12 to 20 GPM (depending on the model) to ensure no pressure drop during simultaneous use of water, which is higher than the industry average.
Simple Size Option
Unlike salt-based water softeners which are sized by grains (eg: 80,000 grains), the Futuresoft salt-free water softener is sized by the number of bathrooms (eg: 4 to 6 bathrooms), which makes the selection easier and simpler for homeowners.
You can choose from:
- Model FS1: 1 to 3 bathrooms
- Model FS4: 4 to 6 bathrooms
- Model FS+: 7+ bathrooms
SpringWell Futuresoft comes with a sediment pre-filter to block large particles to protect the softener media and your home.
Limited Lifetime Warranty & Money-Back Guarantee
SpringWell Futuresoft is covered by a limited lifetime warranty and a 6-month money-back guarantee to give you peace of mind in using the product.
The Pros & Cons of SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free System
How Does SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free System Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free System?
- No more stubborn limescale.
- No salt to add, zero maintenance, and no slimy residue that salt-based water softeners leave.
- Much better water pressure compared to other water softeners.
- It doesn’t leave a slimy feeling on your skin as a salt-based water softener does.
- The hardness is gone and my glassware shines again.
- Top-notch customer support team.
- Instructions are easy to follow and very easy to install.
2. Pelican NaturSoft Salt-free Water Softener Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Highly effective on limescale prevention at 99.6%
- Can treat hard water with hardness up to 75 GPG
- Fast water flow rate
- Comes with a sediment pre-filter
- Low maintenance
- No electricity is required
- Size by the number of bathrooms
- Non-sacrificial softening media for lifetime usage
Why Choose Pelican NaturSoft Salt-free System?
The Pelican NaturSoft NS is one of the few systems that is performance-certified to prevent limescale over 99%.
Unlike traditional salt-based water softeners, it is environmentally friendly with no wastewater produced in the softening process and does not require electricity to operate. It will save your utility bills too!
It is also virtually maintenance-free with no salts refill is required. All you need to do is to replace the pre-sediment filter every 6 to 9 months which will take only a few minutes to complete.
Besides, the long-term ownership cost is low as you do not need to purchase salt bags or replace the catalytic media.
The Pelican NaturSoft NS System is among the best water softeners without salt and is proven to be effective and long-lasting in protecting your home appliances and pipes.
Effective Softening Technology
The Pelican NaturSoft NS System uses a technology called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to prevent limescale.
The catalytic media inside the NaturSoft system attract and bind the hardness minerals into crystal form so that they will not stick on the surfaces and form limescale.
High Water Flow Rate
Pelican NaturSoft System has two models, which are NS3 and NS6.
NS3 has a flow rate of 10 GPM and is suitable for homes with 1 to 3 bathrooms, whereas NS6 has a flow rate of 15 GPM and is suitable for homes with 4 to 6 bathrooms.
This salt-free water softener can treat water with a hardness level of up to 75 GPG (grains per gallon) which is impressive compared to most other salt-free softener systems that could only handle up to 25 GPG.
The Pelican NaturSoft NS System does not remove any contaminant but binding the hard minerals into crystallized form to prevent them from forming limescale.
The 5-micron pre-sediment filter removes particles such as rust, dust, dirt, and sand to protect the softener’s catalytic media and your plumbing system.
The Pelican NaturSoft NS System has an infinite capacity as the catalytic granules media is non-sacrificial, so no replacement is ever needed throughout its lifetime.
Unlike salt-based water softeners which consist of two tanks – resin tank and brine tank, the Pelican NaturSoft is a single-tank system with a small footprint, making it an excellent choice for homes with a small space.
Does Not Require Electricity
The system does not require electricity to operate, which saves the energy bill and allows you to install it at a location that is out of a power socket.
Does Not Produce Wastewater
Pelican NaturSoft is a saltless system that does not produce wastewater, which is good for our environment and can save your water bill too.
Does Not Add Sodium into Water
Since it is a no-salt softener system, so it will not add sodium into the water which is great for people under a low-sodium diet.
The system requires no maintenance as it doesn’t operate on salt and the softening media can last for a lifetime without replacement.
Limited Lifetime Warranty
The system is backed by a limited lifetime warranty to give you peace of mind throughout the product’s lifespan.
The Pros and Cons of Pelican NaturSoft Salt-free System
How Pelican NaturSoft Salt-free System Looks Like Physically
What Customers Say About the Pelican NaturSoft Salt-free Water Softener Alternative
- Easy to install with some plumbing experience, small footprint, and totally solved well hard water issues.
- Great system that requires little to no maintenance.
- Started showing results faster than I expected. Simple to Install.
- Budget-friendly and backed by a reputable company.
- Installed last week and has improved the water quality tremendously.
- Purchased it a few weeks ago and it has changed our water! Towels are softer, skin and hair aren’t as dry. We’re very happy we installed this system.
- We wanted something that was salt-free and would take out the extra calcium and magnesium in our water as it was ruining our bronze faucets. Since installing this within the last week it seems to have made a difference.
3. Yarna Capacitive CWD24 Electronic Water Descaler Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- High efficiency of limescale prevention
- Easy and quick installation
- Made from high-quality CNC Aluminum material
Why Choose Yarna Capacitive CWD24 Electronic Water Descaler?
The Yarna capacitive electronic water descaler is a budget and maintenance-free solution to hard water.
The electronic descaling system generates electrical impulses (controlled by a computerized micro-chip) to treat flowing water via the flat impulse bands that are wrapped around the water pipe.
The impulse bands produce a strong electric field that alters the chemical structure of hardness minerals in the water so that they will not attach to appliances and floors.
As it doesn’t remove hardness minerals but only change their chemical structures, you will still find some deposits on your bathroom floor, but rest assured that they can be wiped off easily.
Also, the electronic descaler will not affect the water flow rate as it does not have physical contact with water.
It is one of the best electronic descaling systems to treat hard water.
The Yarna electronic water descaler uses a thin insulated copper impulse band that’s wide and flat to increase the contact area with the pipe to deliver electrical energy efficiently and create a strong electric field.
This allows the electronic descaling system to treat water flowing at a rate of up to 15.4 GPM with 99% efficiency.
The Yarna descaler is a great choice for homes with limited space as you only need to attach it to the main pipe.
The Pros & Cons of Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler
How Does Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler?
- We are on a well and have always just lived with the hard water. When I got in a shower a few hours later I was amazed at the softness of the water. The unit worked flawlessly.
- No lime buildup around faucets, sinks, toilets. No thick crusty buildup on the bottom of the coffee maker.
- The minerals aren’t removed from the water just like it says in the product description. They are neutralized because the sharp edges on the limescale particles are smoothed out therefore the calcium and magnesium can’t stick to anything. I compared glasses that went through the dishwasher to glasses that were washed the week before. The result was amazing.
- After using this for the last 6 months, I found a big difference. The shower booth and toilet get noticeably much cleaner like magic. Much clear and clean tap water.
4. AO Smith Whole House Salt-Free Water Descaler Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Salt-free water descaler
- Last up to 6 years or 600,000 gallons of water
- No salt, backwashing, or electricity required
- Reduce 97% of chlorine taste and odor
- Suitable for both well and city water
Why Choose AO Smith Salt-free System?
The AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR Salt-free Water Descaler is a budget no-salt water conditioner that is suitable for households that don’t have a high budget for a water softening device.
Aside from limescale prevention, the saltless system can also reduce 97% of chlorine taste and odor.
Budget Solution to Prevent Scale
This salt-free descaling system is a great budget choice to treat hard water due to its lower price tag.
The Pros & Cons of AO Smith Salt-free System
How does AO Smith Salt-free System Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About AO Smith Salt-free System?
- It works well, I smell no chlorine on any tap in the house. I will absolutely buy this filter again in 6 years when it comes time to replace it. Great filter, great price.
- Install was easy, it didn’t completely eliminate the spots but what is left wipes off easier even when dried. We would buy again.
- It was easy to install and seems to serve its intended purpose of preventing mineral buildup on pipes, fixtures, and appliances.
- Not a 100% cure for hardwater and build up but helps about 90%.
- The unit installed easily and deposits on dishes etc. seem to have improved.
5. Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt-free Descaler Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Reduce limescale build-up
- Media cartridge lasts up to 3 years or 250,000 gallons
- Includes a 20-micron radial flow carbon block filter to reduce sediments & chlorine
- The carbon filter lasts up to 50,000 gallons or 1 year
- Compact and easy to install
- Certified by WQA to NSF/ANSI Standard 372 for lead-free and NSF/ANSI Standard 61
Why Choose Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt-free Descaler?
The Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt-free Descaler is a 2-in-1 salt-free water softener plus a high capacity 20-micron carbon block filter.
It helps in reducing limescale as well as common contaminants like sediments and chlorine, giving you a more complete water treatment solution at a budget price.
Innovative Salt-Free Technology to Remove Hardness
This hybrid salt-free system uses a physical softening process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to convert hardness minerals into an inactive and harmless microscopic crystal form that will not create any scale.
The system will not remove any hardness minerals (eg: calcium and magnesium) from water but convert them into soft particles that suspend in water so that they will not stick to pipes, appliances, and floors.
Remove Water Contaminants
The hybrid system comes with a carbon filter to remove or reduce sediments, chlorine taste and odor, VOCs, and more contaminants in water.
By using this salt-free and chemical-free softener system, you don’t need to replace salts periodically.
Besides, both the softening media and carbon filter have a long lifespan to reduce the frequency of replacements, the media cartridge can last for 3 years and the carbon filter cartridge can last for 1 year.
The Watts OneFlow+ Hybrid Water Softener can be installed in tight space due to its compact size.
This saltless water softener system does not run on electricity and will not produce any wastewater to the drain, that’s great for nature!
Budget Scale Prevention Solution
If you don’t have a large budget, then you should give the Watts OneFlow+ Hybrid Saltless Water System a try, it is cheaper than the other salt-free water softeners.
The Pros & Cons of Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Saltless System
How Does Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt-free Descaler Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt-free Descaler?
- It was easy to install, came with all the filters and conditioners that were needed.
- While standing water that evaporates will leaves spots, those spots are more a dusty residue that easily wipes up. The carbon filter does exactly what it’s supposed to. Tap water is now plenty satisfying to drink and the old chlorine odor is hardly present, if at all.
- Don’t let the cost and size fool you- this water conditioner is quite a powerhouse! I have no more limescale/mineral buildup anywhere in my home, my dishes are much cleaner and brighter, water at every point in my home tastes better.
- Works just like advertised. No surprise to me. But shocked some people when they came over and could tell the difference just from washing their hands.
- If your expectation is that you were going to use this product to replace the salt water softener, you will be disappointed. It does not match the spot reduction of a genuine salt system. Although it is way better than no system.
6. APEC FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt-Free Water Softener Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Good performance against hardness minerals
- A high flow rate of 15 GPM
- Maintenance-free & no electricity is required
- Does not produce wastewater
- Easy to install
Why Choose APEC FUTURA-15 Salt-free Water Softener?
The APEC FUTURA-15 is a more affordable whole house salt-free water softener for households with a lower budget.
It uses advanced ceramic media to break and neutralize the hardness minerals into a scale-resistant crystalline form, which is a natural and safe water conditioning process.
The system is good for water with a hardness level of up to 25 grains per gallon (GPG).
Prevent Limescale with No Salts or Chemicals
The salt-free system can prevent hardness minerals from sticking to your expensive appliances, pipes, and bathroom floor to form limescale, thus prolong the lifespan of your without the use of salt or harsh chemicals.
The converted hardness crystals are neutral, stable, harmless, and heat resistant.
The salt-free water softening system is 100% safe for the environment as it does not discharge any salt waste or chemicals into the water.
Another benefit of this system is it doesn’t require salt refills, media replacement, electricity, and drainage for wastewater.
The system is cost-efficient as you can use it for decades without maintenance after the one-time initial investment.
Easy to Install
The APEC FUTURA-15 is easy to install and the system comes with all the parts and accessories for a smooth installation.
It is also covered by a 10-year limited warranty and lifetime support in case anything gone wrong.
The Pros & Cons of APEC FUTURA-15 Salt-free Water Softener
How Does APEC FUTURA-15 Salt-free Water Softener Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About APEC FUTURA-15 Salt-free Water Softener?
- The install was far easier than I expected, and the water no longer stains out sinks and showers.
- I bought this system after my extensive research based on pricing and ease of installation and maintenance. So far after more than 2 months, I’m extremely happy with it! I no longer need to buy those dam salts anymore.
- Worth every penny! No rusty, smelly, water! Drinking the water is like drinking bottled water!
- I switched from salt softener to no salt and expected a lot more buildup because this unit is designed to crystallize the minerals and not actually remove them. However, even though there is visible buildup, it’s much less than prior to us owning a softener. My family is ecstatic for not ever have to buy salt again Yea!
7. 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition Water System Review
Product Feature Highlights
- Includes Polyphosphates to prevent scale build-up inside home appliances
- Easy cartridge replacement
- High water flow rate up to 10 GPM
- 304 stainless steel filter head
- Filter cartridge last about 6 months
- Certified to NSF Standard 42
Why Choose 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition System?
The 3M AP430SS Aqua-Pure is a scale inhibition water treatment system that protects your water appliances like the water heater, boiler, dishwashing machine, clothes washer, showerhead, and faucet from scale build-up and corrosion.
Scale Inhibition with Polyphosphates
Polyphosphates are the chemicals used in the system to effectively bind calcium and magnesium minerals to reduce and prevent scale build-up as well as forming a thin protective layer on the metal surface to prevent corrosion.
Budget Alternative to Water Softener
Due to its low price, you may use it as a cheaper alternative to the water softener for low to medium hardness water.
It is the cheapest model in the best saltless water softeners list, making it an affordable choice for families with a low budget and those who are just looking for a temporary solution against hard water.
The Pros & Cons of 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition System
How Does 3M Aqua-Pure AP430SS Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About 3M Aqua-Pure AP430SS?
- It appears that our dishes are cleaner, soaps work better, and clothes feel better (all the things the water softener salesmen try to sell you on) and all for a fraction of the cost of a water softener.
- After two months of use, I can say that this in fact does seem to prevent about 75% of hard scale build-up. Instead of hard-to-remove scale and large sediment chunks in my faucet aerators, I’m seeing more of a white dust.
- My kitchen faucet valves now open smoothly with no gritty resistance. The water tastes awesome. It always tasted good, we have well water, but now it tastes even better.
- It has been installed for about two weeks now and I can already see a difference in scale build-up on the shower head and also the tea pot.
8. Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Conditioner Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Salt-free descaler to prevent limescale
- 3-stage filtration system to remove or reduce harmful contaminants like chlorine, VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, lead, mercury, and more
- Ultra-long filter life up to 1 million gallons of filtration or 10 years
- Up to 7 GPM water filtration rate
- Unique Upflow, Dual-tank design
- Easy maintenance
Why Choose Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST System?
The Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST is not just a salt-free water conditioner, but a complete whole house filtration system with a descaling feature.
It’s a 2-in-1 whole house water treatment system that can purify and condition the water.
If you are more toward a complete water filtration and softening solution, the Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST is worth considering.
It’s one of the best whole house water filtration systems plus a soft-free water conditioner combo.
Salt-Free Water Conditioner
The system uses a salt-free & chemical-free Scale Control Media (SCM) to effectively prevent limescale forming on your appliances, pipes, water fixtures, and bathroom floors.
Whole-Home Water Filtration
The system includes 3 stages of water filtration (sediment filter, activated carbon/KDF media, and 0.35-micron post-filter) to protect your family from harmful water contaminants such as sediments, chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, herbicides, lead, mercury, and more.
The main filter can last for 10 years which reduces your efforts in maintaining the system.
The Pros & Cons of Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST System
How Does Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST System Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST System?
- Removed the house-wide lousy tasting water while softening it slightly without salt. Is performing as promised and I’ll likely wait to change filters when I notice water pressure declining.
- Although the performance is great, I don’t recommend installing this if you don’t have basic plumbing and carpentry skills. If you do have these skills, it isn’t terribly difficult to install but you will spend several hours to complete.
- The water tastes great now and she thinks her cooking is even better than before.
9. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Budget water softener alternative
- Prevent limescale build-up and dissolve existing deposits
- Suitable for water hardness up to 20 GPG
- Eco friendly
- Retain the healthy minerals in the water
Why Choose Eddy Electronic Water Descaler?
The Eddy Water Descaler is a budget and simple electronic water descaling device in the market.
As an alternative to salt-based water softeners, it prevents the limescale build-up by producing electromagnetic waves via the coils to treat the hardness minerals in the water without any physical interaction.
The electromagnetic waves change the hard minerals property to a form that will not bond and stick inside the pipes and electrical appliances.
It will not add or remove anything from the water but simply prevent limescale and lighten your work in cleaning up the water spots.
The system comes with a device, 4 wires, and an AC adapter, simply install it on your pipe, wrap the wires around, and turn on the power. No plumber is ever needed.
It’s suitable for all types of water pipe except iron and lead pipe.
Economical Solution to Hard Water
Eddy electronic water descaler costs a fraction of the price of a salt-based water softener, while it’s not an actual water softener, it still does the job of preventing limescale forming.
It also comes with a lifetime repair or replacement guarantee, plus a 12-month risk-free money-back guarantee!
The Pros & Cons of Eddy Electronic Descaler
How Does Eddy Electronic Descaler Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About Eddy Electronic Descaler?
- Cleaning is easier than it was before, the scale that is there now is not as firmly attached.
- A much better financial alternative than expensive filter systems or monthly softening services.
- There’s a big difference in the wash especially the jeans. They used to come out stiff and wrinkled and now they are so soft and wrinkle-free. Our utensils are so much shinier. No scum. My hair feels a lot better too.
- The 3 places I really see the difference are the disappearance of the hard water ring in the toilet, the smooth surfaces of the dishes when I take them out of the dishwasher, and the fact that I no longer have to vinegar the showerhead semi-monthly.
10. HydroFLOW HS38 Water Conditioner Review
Product Feature Highlights:
- Ideal salt-free water conditioner for small houses
- Easily attach to many different types of water pipe
- Eco-friendly solution for hard water
- Inhibit corrosion
Why Choose HydroFLOW Water Conditioner?
The HydroFlow water conditioner uses the patented Hydropath Technology to treat hard water electronically to prevent hardness minerals from attaching to water heaters, pipes, faucets, showerheads, and dishwashers.
The water conditioner produces electric waves at 150khz to the plumbing system and transforms the hard mineral ions into stable crystals.
You may still see the white scale deposits, but it’s loosely attached and can be wiped off easily.
Quick and Easy Installation
The saltless water conditioner system is designed to be attached easily to different types of water pipes to make the installation process a breeze.
The magnetic field created by the HydroFLOW descaling system can also restrain internal pipe corrosion by up to 65%.
If there are biofilms (algae, bacteria) attached inside the pipes, the Hydropath signal can release them eventually by agitating the plumbing system.
The Pros & Cons of HydroFLOW Water Conditioner
How Does HydroFLOW Water Conditioner Look Like Physically?
What Did Customers Say About HydroFLOW Water Conditioner?
- I’ve been in need of an effective descaler for a while and nothing I got worked as good as HydroFlow does.
- Soon after having it put in, I have been able to get rid of all the build-up in my taps and showerhead.
- It reduced some residue from evaporated water in sinks. Granted, this takes up almost no space and is movable.
Best Salt-free Water Softeners Comparison Table
Template Assisted Crystallization
12 to 20 GPM
Template Assisted Crystallization
10 to 15 GPM
Scale Control Media
Watts Premier OFPSYS
Template Assisted Crystallization
Advanced Ceramic Media
3 to 5 Years
3M Aqua-Pure AP430SS
Scale Control Media
6 to 10 Years
Here’s What I Look For In The Best Salt-free Water Softener
The Best Salt-free Water Softener Is Giving High Value for Money
A more expensive salt-free water softener doesn’t mean it is better than the cheaper ones.
What is more important is the value – the performance, convenience, lifespan, quality, and features a no-salt system gives per dollar.
Therefore I only list out the salt-free softener systems that are worth your money.
The Best Salt-free Water Softener Is Highly Effective on Limescale Prevention
Since the main purpose of a saltless water softener is to protect your home from limescale, it makes sense that the best salt-free water softener should be highly effective on limescale prevention.
The Best Salt-free Water Softener Is Built to Last
Product quality is another important factor when comes to a device like a water softener.
The best saltless water softeners must be made of high-quality material to withstand time and can be used for decades.
How Salt-free Water Softeners (Water Conditioners/Water Descalers) Work?
Salt-free water softeners use a softening technology called Template Assisted Crystallization to alter the chemical structure of hardness minerals so that they cannot stick on the surfaces and cause limescale buildup.
In other words, a salt-free water softener does not remove the hardness minerals but condition them to prevent them from forming limescale – the main problem of hard water.
Therefore, a salt-free water softener is also known as a salt-free water conditioner as it is used to condition the hard water.
Besides, some manufacturers name their softening devices as water descaler because it is used to descale hard water.
Salt-free Water Softener VS Salt-based Water Softener: Comparison
Salt-based water softeners use ion-exchange technology and salts to remove hardness minerals in hard water, whereas salt-free water softeners use technologies like Template Assisted Crystallization or Electromagnetic to alter the form of hardness minerals, render them unable to stick on surfaces and form limescale.
In other words, salt-free water softeners do not remove the hardness minerals, they only change their chemical structure to prevent them from forming limescale.
For a salt-based water softener, you are required to refill salts regularly depending on the water usage and water hardness level, whereas a salt-free water softener is virtually maintenance-free.
Salt-based water softeners need to be connected to a power socket to operate, whereas salt-free water softeners do not require electricity to operate.
Type of Salt-free Water Softener
There are three popular types of salt-free water softener in the market that are commonly used as a water softener alternative to prevent limescale, they are:
- Physical (Template Assisted Crystallization)
- Chemical (Polyphosphates)
- Electronic (Electromagnetic Waves)
Physical Softening (Template Assisted Crystallization)
Physical water softeners are the most popular salt-free water softener due to their advantages such as high effectiveness in limescale prevention, do not require electricity, and are virtually maintenance-free.
The most used physical softening technology is called Template Assisted Crystallization, an effective method that alters the structure of hardness minerals to prevent them from sticking on surfaces to form limescale.
Chemical Softening (Polyphosphates)
Chemical water softeners use Polyphosphates, chemicals that bind hardness minerals to inhibit limescale and corrosion.
Electronic Softening (Electromagnetic Waves)
Electronic water softeners produce electromagnetic waves to condition the hard water, magnetizing the hardness minerals to prevent them from attaching to the surfaces to form limescale.
They are easy to install and inexpensive, but the effectiveness is lower and requires electricity to operate.
How to Choose the Best Salt-free Water Softener (Read Before Buy)
There are a few important factors to consider when deciding on the best salt-free water softener for your home.
Know Your Water’s Hardness Level
To check the water’s hardness level, you may conduct a simple test with a water hardness test kit.
For a more accurate result, you can send your water sample to the lab for a hardness test. Then, you can know your water quality based on the value of GPG (Grains Per Gallon):
- 1 to 3.5 GPG – Slightly Hard Water
- 3.5 to 7 GPG – Moderately Hard Water
- 7 to 10.5 GPG – Hard Water
- Above 10.5 GPG – Very Hard Water
Descaling Performance Is Important
The effectiveness of limescale prevention is one of the primary factors to consider when choosing a salt-free water softener.
Some of the high-performance water softeners without salt can achieve above 99% of limescale prevention which makes them an ideal choice for homes with hard water.
Electromagnetic water conditioners tend to be less effective on limescale prevention, but they are cheaper, smaller, and easier to install.
Also, each salt-free water softener has its limit in treating the hard water, indicated in grain per gallon (GPG). The GPG value reflects the maximum hardness level the system can handle effectively.
For instance, some saltless water softeners can treat hard water with a hardness level of up to 75 GPG, some can handle up to 25 GPG, and some are only suitable for a hardness level up to 20 GPG.
Therefore, make sure you choose the one that can handle your water condition.
Choose the Right Softener Capacity or Size
Some no-salt water softeners are sized by the number of bathrooms in your home to make selection easier as you don’t have to calculate the grains required.
For instance, if your home has 2 full bathrooms, then pick the water softener model suitable for 1 to 3 bathrooms, if your home is large, then pick the option for 4 to 6 bathrooms or above.
The larger models also provide a higher flow rate to support more simultaneous water-using activities without experiencing pressure drops.
High Water Flow Rate
The water flow rate is another important factor to consider when comes to deciding the right salt-free water softener system.
When the hard water flows through a salt-free water softener through physical contact, the water flow rate will be restricted by the softener system.
Most salt-free water softeners come with a flow rate rating which indicates the maximum flow rate they can provide except for electromagnetic water conditioners as they are attached on the exterior of the main pipe, hence they will not affect the water flow rate at all.
A good salt-free water softener should be able to provide a flow rate of at least 7 gallons per minute (GPM).
For large households, a higher flow rate between 12 to 20 GPM is recommended to ensure no pressure drop during simultaneous use of water.
Dropped water pressure will affect the experience of water-using activities such as shower, washing dishes, and cleaning a car.
The higher the water flow rate, the more water-using activities can be carried out at the same time without experiencing water pressure drop.
Available Space in Your Home
Before purchase, make sure your home has enough space to fit the salt-free water softener that you are going to get.
You can check the dimension detail on the product page.
The available space should be enough to fit in the system and allow you to comfortably maintain it.
Calculate the Ownership Cost
The best saltless water softener for your home shouldn’t be bringing you financial stress. Hence, make sure to do the calculation first and buy the one that fits within your affordability.
Aside from the product cost, you should also take into account the ongoing maintenance cost (if there is any).
While a certified system doesn’t mean it is better than an uncertified system, however, a certified salt-free water softener gives you peace of mind knowing that the system is tested by a third party and certified its quality or performance claims.
The Benefits of Using a Salt-free Water Softener System
The no-salt water softener alternative offers many benefits as compared to the traditional salt-based water softener system.
In this section, I’ll discuss some of the main benefits of using a salt-free water softener.
Salt-free water softeners are virtually maintenance-free as you don’t have to refill salts, which saves you the time to hassle to buy salt bags and refill the brine tank regularly.
They also do not require cleaning or washing.
The most you need to do is replace the pre-sediment filter (if there is one) every 6 to 9 months and the process is easy and quick.
Low Long-term Ownership Cost
Unlike the traditional salt-based water softener, a salt-free water softener does not require you to purchase salts regularly and can operate without electricity, hence save you a lot of money in the long run.
Besides, all the salt-free water softener models listed in this post are priced reasonably.
Do Not Require Electricity
Most salt-free water softeners do not require electricity to operate except the electromagnetic water conditioners.
Therefore, they are not required to be installed near a power outlet and can save you on energy bills too.
Produce Healthier Water
As a salt-based water softener will release sodium into the water in exchange for hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium, therefore it is not suitable for people on a low-sodium diet.
In contrast, a salt-free water softener will not add salts into the water and retain the essential minerals (calcium and magnesium), thus producing healthier water for your family.
Do Not Produce Wastewater
Unlike traditional salt-based water softeners which often raise environmental concerns due to wastewater, salt-free water softeners are environmental-friendly and do not produce any wastewater in the softening process.
Protect Electrical Appliances & Plumbing System
A salt-free water softener can effectively prevent limescale form on the surfaces of water-using appliances and plumbing systems, which prolong their lifespan and save your repair cost.
Unlike salt-based water softeners which require two large tanks – resin tank and brine tank, salt-free water softeners are a single-tank system or a compact device (electromagnetic water conditioners).
The smaller physical size makes them easier to locate and saves space in your home.
Retain Essential Minerals
Hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium are beneficial to our health and can improve the water taste.
One benefit of salt-free water softeners is they can retain these essential minerals while preventing them from forming limescale.
The Drawbacks of Using A Salt-free Water Softener
Could Not Remove Hardness Minerals
Salt-free water softeners could not remove hardness minerals, so they will not produce softened water.
Could Not Prevent Water Spot Completely
As the hardness minerals are still inside the water, it will leave water spots on the floors, sink, and water fixtures, but rest assured, the water spots can be washed off easily.
Less Effective Compared to Salt-based Water Softeners
While some of the high-performance salt-free water softeners are highly effective on limescale prevention, but overall they are not as effective as salt-based water softeners.
Water Treatment System Combo
Since a salt-free water softener can only treat hardness minerals and not the other contaminants, therefore you still need to use it along with other water filtration systems to achieve complete water purification for your home.
The most common combination is using a salt-free water softener with a whole-house water filtration system to remove a majority of contaminants and prevent limescale.
Installation of Saltless Water Softeners
Saltless water softeners are point-of-entry systems and should be installed at the front end of your plumbing system, usually after the entrance valve or the whole house water filter to ensure your whole house is getting the conditioned water and protect your plumbing system from limescale buildup.
Most saltless water softeners are simple to install and are suitable to be installed both indoor and outdoor. Some may take hours and some may only take less than 30 minutes depending on the size and parts.
If you are a handy person or with some basic plumbing skills, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for you to set it up.
Electromagnetic water conditioners are much easier and quicker to set up and should be installed in a covered area.
The physical type salt-free water softeners are not required to be installed near the power outlet as they do not need electricity to operate, whereas electromagnetic water conditioners are required.
Make sure to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer as the installation steps may vary for different products.
Maintenance of Saltless Water Softeners
Water softeners without salt are easy to maintain, some are virtually maintenance-free.
All you need to do is to replace the pre-sediment filter periodically (if there is any) as they do not require routine cleaning or media replacement.
The best salt-free water softeners mentioned in this review article only require low maintenance and the softening media can last throughout their lifetime without replacement needed.
FAQ for No-Salt Water Softeners
1. What is the best water softener alternative?
The best water softener alternative is the salt-free water softener. It can effectively prevent limescale and offer numerous benefits such as maintenance-free, low operating cost, environment-friendly, and does not add sodium into water.
2. What is the best salt-free water softener?
The best salt-free water softener should be effective on limescale prevention, long-lasting, low-maintenance, and affordable. You can find it from the list above.
3. How does a salt-free water softener prevent limescale?
The salt-free water softener alters the chemical form of the hardness mineral, rendering it unable to stick on the surface to form limescale.
4. How effective can a salt-free water softener prevent limescale?
A high-performance salt-free system can prevent limescale at more than 99% effectiveness.
5. Can a salt-free water softener remove contaminants?
No. The sole purpose of a salt-free water softener is to prevent limescale by treating the hardness minerals. However, some salt-free water softeners do come with a pre-sediment filter to remove large particles like rust, sand, and dust.
6. Can a salt-free water softener removes Chlorine?
No. It is not designed to remove chemicals like Chlorine.
7. Can a salt-free water softener prevents water spot?
A salt-free water softener cannot prevent water spots completely, however, they will make the water spot can be washed off easily.
8. How to check if the salt-free water softener working?
Once you installed a salt-free water softener, you should notice reduced or no more limescale deposits on your bathroom floors, fixtures, and pipes.
Conclusion: The Best Salt-free Water Softener is Water Softener That Fit Your Needs and Budget The Most
As the water quality, requirements, and financial situation vary across households, so the best salt-free water softener is the one that suits your situation the most.
If your water is hard and you are financially capable, then I’ll recommend the physical type salt-free water softeners as they provide the highest effectiveness on limescale prevention.
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