The 16 Best Water Softeners for Well Water & Home 2020

16 Best Water Softeners Review 2020: Ultimate Buyer Guide by BrizFeel image

Hard water is the unwelcome guest to your home, they destroy your appliances, clog your pipe, raise your electricity bills, stain your dishes and clothes, make your skin dry, make your hair dull, and make your bathrooms ugly.

Fortunately, there is a device that can single-handle the water hardness problem, and it is the water softener.

After knowing how important it is to your home, I spent more than 60 hours in research, review, test, consulting water softener manufacturers, and writing this in-depth best water softeners for well water review for you. 

I’ve included the alternatives to water softeners like water conditioners and water descalers for you to choose from.

I’ve also written an ultimate guide to let you understand how water softening system works, how to choose the right water softener for your home, the pros and cons of each water softener, how to install them, and more.

Table of Content show

Disclosure: BrizFeel is a participant of Amazon Associate program.

 

Top 16 Best Water Softeners for Home: Quick Overview

Here’s the quick overview of the 16 best water softening system to save you from hard water problems.

Products

Images

Features

Price

APEC FUTURA-15

  • Salt-free

  • No Maintenance

  • For 3-5 bathrooms

AFWFilters Dual Tank

  • 96,000 grains

  • Dual tank

  • Treat high hardness

DuraWater 80k

  • 80,000 grains

  • 10% crosslinks

  • Fleck 5600 SXT

AFWFilters IRON Pro 2

  • 64,000 grains

  • Iron filter

  • Bypass valve

Fleck 5600SXT 64k

  • 64,000 grains

  • Pre-loaded tank

  • High efficiency

Whirlpool WHESFC

  • 2-in-1 hybrid system

  • 31,000 grains

  • Up to 120 gpg

Pentair WS48-56SXT10

  • 10% crosslinks

  • 48,000 grains

  • Bypass valve

Watts OneFlow+

  • Hybrid salt-free

  • 20 micron filter

  • Compact size

Whirlpool WHES40E

  • 40,000 grains

  • Up to 10ppm Iron

  • Up to 125 gpg

On The Go Portable

  • Portable

  • 16,000 grains

  • Compact

Aquasana Rhino

  • Salt-free descaler

  • 1 million gallons

  • With filter + UV

AO Smith Descaler

  • 600,000 gallons

  • Reduce chlorine

  • No need electricity

Yarna Capacitive

  • Electronic Descaler

  • Easy to install

  • Prevent scale

HydroFLOW HS38

  • Easy to install

  • Reduce pathogens

  • Maintenance-free

Eddy Electronic

  • Quick installation

  • Maintenance-free

  • Prevent scale

3M Aqua-Pure

  • Protect appliances

  • Easy refills

  • Lasts 6 months

 

Why Do You Need a Water Softener or Water Descaler?

A water softener is a type of water treatment system that is needed for many households across the world.

Because of one simple reason – the water quality is bad.

The bad quality of water mostly refers to hardness in this article, and water softeners are the most effective way to reduce the hardness and soften the hard water.

People need good-quality water to improve their lives and live happily, and this is where water softeners came into the picture – to improve your life through softened water.

The scale build-up caused by hard water can negatively impact your home’s water pressure, showerheads, faucets, bathtubs, electrical appliances, your skin and hair, and more.

Note: A water softener is not a whole house water filter, you still need to get a proper water filtration system to remove the harmful contaminants from the water.

 

Cost-Effective Method

Huh? 

I thought a water softener is expensive?

If you compared the water softener cost to the replacement cost of appliances (damaged by scales) and limescale removal cleaning services, it’s not expensive at all.

Getting a water softener is a more cost-effective solution, and you can save even more with Amazon.

 

Protect Household Electrical Appliances

A water softener can increase the lifespan of water-using appliances like water boilers, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and coffee machines.

The scale form inside the electrical appliances will reduce their performance and eventually stop functioning.

Preventing scale build-up is the only way to optimize your home’s performance.

 

The 16 Best Water Softener Systems Reviews in 2020

Here are the reviews of the 16 best water softening systems in the market, featuring 10 salt-based and salt-free water softeners and 6 water descalers.

 

Top 10 Best Water Softeners for Well Water (Salt & Salt-Free)

Here are the 10 carefully picked best water softener systems that can solve your hard water problems and worth every single penny.

 

1. APEC FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt-Free Water Softener [Review] – Best Salt-Free Water Softener

1. APEC FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt-Free Water Softener [Review] - Best Salt-Free Water Softener image
  • Suitable for houses with 3-6 bathrooms 
  • 15 GPM flow rate
  • Salt-free & chemical-free
  • Easy to install
  • Maintenance-free system
  • Not require electricity
  • Does not require backwash and drainage for wastewater
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

This APEC FUTURA-15 Water System is one of the best water softener systems with its unique advantages over the rest water softening system.

Unlike traditional salt-based water softener which removes hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) from water, the APEC FUTURA uses advanced ceramic media to break and neutralize these minerals into a scale resistant crystalline form. It’s a completely natural and safe water conditioning process.

APEC FUTURA uses advanced ceramic media to break and neutralize these minerals into a scale resistant crystalline form image

Prevent Scale Buildup Without the Use of Salts or Chemicals 

The converted crystals are neutral, harmless, stable, and heat resistant. And most importantly, they will not stick to your expensive appliances, pipes, and bathroom floor to form lime scales, therefore extending the lifespan of your appliances like water heaters, washing machines, and dishwashers without the use of salt or harsh chemicals.

Additionally, you’ll get softened water which will benefit your skin, hair, appliances, and clothes.

The water softening system is 100% safe for humans, pets, and plants as it does not discharge any salt waste or chemicals into the water. 

It’s salt-free and chemical-free, which makes it one of the best water softeners for home use.

Salt-based water softener vs salt-free water softener image

Maintenance Free

Another thing I like about this system is the fact that it doesn’t require maintenance, electricity, and drainage for wastewater, which is sweet! 

Get this and say goodbye to troublesome salt replacement forever.

Cost-Efficient

It’s cost-efficient as you can use the system for decades without maintenance after the one-time investment.

The system comes with all the parts and accessories for install and is covered by 10 years of limited warranty and lifetime support.

When combined with the best whole house water filtration system, you’ll have the best filtration solution in the industry.

Please note that the system is only suitable for water hardness levels below 25 grains/gallon, so if your water hardness level is beyond that, I’m afraid you’ll have to go for salt-based water softeners. But 25 grains/gallon is considered very hard water, so rarely your water hardness level will pass beyond that.

Easy to Install

The APEC FUTURA water softener is easy to install too, just connecting it to the main water supply line with basic plumbing tools will do, no need to hire a plumber.

Pros:

  • Salt-free and chemical-free water conditioning
  • Maintenance-free
  • Easy to install
  • Long-lasting
  • Fast water flow rate
  • No slimy feel

Cons:

  • Not suitable for water hardness above 25 GPG

Check out the latest price of APEC FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt-Free Water Softener.

 

2. AFWFilters Dual Tank Water Softener 96,000 grain with Fleck 9100SXT [Review] – Best Dual Tank Water Softener

2. AFWFilters Dual Tank Water Softener 96,000 grain with Fleck 9100SXT [Review] - Best Dual Tank Water Softener imae
  • Dual alternating tanks avoid running out of soft water
  • Large capacity water softener resin
  • Treat high hardness level of well water
  • High water flow rate
  • Bypass valve
  • Efficient digital system for saving salt and water usage
  • Easy to install
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

AFWFilters WS-96k-91SXT Dual Tank Water Softener with Fleck 9100SXT Digital Metered Control is a complete whole house water softener system with Immense capacity and remarkable effectiveness on water softening to remove hardness ion in water and prevent scale forming.

It uses a method called Ion exchange to effectively remove all the hardness minerals in the water.

With no doubts, salt-based softening systems are still the best water softeners for well water with high levels of hardness.

Gigantic Capacity

The system comes with 2 tanks, and each tank is 96,000 grains capacity, making it a whopping 192,000 grains, that’s a lot!

Both heavy-duty tanks come with a 10 years warranty.

The water softener resin comes pre-loaded to save your time. It’s huge and heavy though, which brings a little bit of challenge in moving and installing the system.

High Efficiency

The high-efficiency Fleck 9100SXT digital metered head makes the whole water softening process and salts usage more efficient.

The digital metered design measures water usage and regenerates as needed to save salts and water.

In other words, instead of regenerating based on a timer, the system will regenerate based on actual water consumption, which greatly boosts the system efficiency.

You can control the system easily with its high-quality LCD control.

Non-Stop Soft Water Supply with Dual Alternate Tanks

Want to enjoy soft water all the time?

No problem, this can happen with this dual tank huge capacity water softener.

The dual alternate tanks allow 24/7 soft water supplies without stop.

If your house water is hard and the usage is high, I’ll recommend you to get this dual tank water softener as it can last longer and treat a high level of hardness.

Much Cheaper to Buy on Amazon

Best part?

It’s very cheap to buy on Amazon compared to the market price!

High Water Flow Rate

Besides, the system is rated at 20 GPM water flow rate, which is fast enough to supply your house for simultaneous usage without notice any significant drop in water pressure.

Pros:

  • Huge capacity dual tank water softener
  • High-efficiency Fleck 9100SXT alternating digital metered control head
  • Alternate tank operation ensure soft water 24/7
  • Remove the high level of hardness from water
  • A high water flow rate of 20 GPM
  • Inexpensive for its size
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Big physical size
  • Heavy

Check the latest price of AFWFilters Dual Tank Water Softener with Fleck 9100SXT. 

 

3. DuraWater 80k Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Commercial Grade 10% [Review] – Best Water Softener System (Salt)

3. DuraWater 80k Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener Commercial Grade 10% [Review] - Best Water Softener (Salt)
  • Upgraded 10% cross-linked cation resin
  • 80,000 grains capacity
  • 5600 SXT metered
  • Brine tank with safety float
  • Made in the USA
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The DuraWater Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener comes with upgraded 10% cross-linked resin and full Installation kit to ease your installation work.

Upgraded 10% Crosslink Resin

Compared to 8% crosslink resins, the upgraded 10% crosslink resins have better strength and durability in a chlorinated water environment, which makes them some of the best water softener systems for city water.

Massive 80,000 Grain Capacity

The DuraWater softening system has a massive resin capacity of 80k grains in 2.5 cubic feet.

That’s pretty high in the market. 

LCD Display Touchpad Control

Fleck 5600 SXT metered control head offers simple digital controls and setup with a high-quality informative LCD display.

Pros:

  • Huge capacity
  • High effectiveness in removing water hardness
  • Fast water flow rate
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • It may take a little bit of time to learn how to program the meter
  • Heavy and bulky

Check the latest price of DuraWater 80k Fleck 5600 SXT 10% Water Softener.

 

4. AFWFilters IRON Pro 2 Water Softener [Review] – Best Water Softener for Iron 

4. AFWFilters IRON Pro 2 Water Softener [Review] - Best Water Softener for Iron  image
  • 64,000 grains
  • With Iron filter
  • Removes hardness up to 70 grains per gallon
  • Remove iron (4 – 7ppm), Manganese (up to 6ppm), and sediments
  • Fleck 5600 SXT digital metered valve
  • A high flow rate of 16 GPM
  • A bypass valve is included
  • Ships pre-loaded
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

Sicking tired of hard water with high iron content?

The AFWFilters IRON Pro 2 is a game-changer for you.

Remove High Iron Content and Hardness

While most water softener and filtration systems only treat water with iron concentration up to 3ppm (part per million), this whole house water softener can effectively remove up to 3 to 7ppm.

It’s time to say goodbye to red staining on your appliances, bathroom floors, and pipes.

On top of ferrous (clear water) iron removal, it can also remove Manganese up to 6ppm, sediments, magnesium, calcium, rust, sulfur, and more contaminants in both city and well water.

All these removal capacities make it one of the best water softeners for well water with high iron concentration.

Many customers found no more perceptible signs of red stains and white scales caused by iron and hardness after using this water softener, so you should definitely give it a try!

Huge 64,000 Grains Resin Capacity

The system is equipped with huge 64k grains of resin capacity, enough for big families to use for a long duration before any replacement is needed.

Pros:

  • Eliminates iron and hardness in water
  • Metered-based regeneration for high efficiency
  • Durable
  • Last for 5 to 7 years
  • Installation is easy with properly instruction

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Big size

Check out the latest price of the AFWFilters IRON Pro 2 Water Softener.

 

5. Fleck 5600SXT 64k Whole House Water Softener System [Review] – Best Water Softener for Well Water

5. Fleck 5600SXT 64k Whole House Water Softener System [Review] - Best Water Softener for Well Water image
  • 64,000 grains high capacity resin pre-loaded in the tank
  • Fleck 5600 SXT Digital Metered Water Softener
  • Pentair mineral and brine tanks (made in the USA)
  • Ultra-efficient digital-on-demand water softener valve for salt and water savings
  • Built-in capacitor keeps memory up to 48 hours
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener is another powerful water softening system that I’d recommend for families with 4 to 6 members.

It’s highly effective in removing hardness along with a moderate amount of iron from both city and well water to extend the life of the main water filters, pipes, and home appliances, and prevent scale buildup in your toilets and appliances.

Still struggling with heavy calcium or magnesium buildup on your bathrooms, fixtures, and appliances?

This water softener will change everything!

Straightforward Programming

The high-efficiency Fleck 5600 SXT metered digital valve system is easy to program and regenerates only when it needs to, based on the measured water usage, which saves you a lot of salt and water!

On average, the system uses about 50 gallons of water during each on-demand regeneration, and you only need to replace the salt bags every 5 to 6 months.

After each regeneration, the system will automatically drain out the discharge line to flush out any residual.

Made in the USA

For quality assurance, the water softener system is made in the USA and ships with the pre-loaded tank for quicker installation.

Best for well water with a high water hardness

I have been using this for years and it was working flawlessly until today, highly recommended, it’s easily the best water softener for well water, and you can see the result almost immediately right after installed.

Say goodbye to the time that you spend each month washing away the hard scale using harsh chemicals and soap.

Besides, this size of water softeners can easily cost more than $3000 from market quotes, so this water softener is relatively cheap!

Pros:

  • 64,000 grains resin
  • Treat high hardness level
  • Pre-loaded tank
  • High-efficiency SXT Metered Control valve
  • Made in the USA
  • Simple to install
  • Inexpensive for its size

Cons:

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Not effective against the water with high iron concentration

Check out the latest price of Fleck 5600SXT 64k Whole House Water Softener System.

 

6. Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series [Review] – Best Hybrid Water Softener

6. Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series [Review] - Best Hybrid Softener image
  • 2-in-1 water softener + filter hybrid system
  • Remove both hardness minerals and harmful contaminants
  • 31,000-grain capacity
  • Suitable for families of 5 or below
  • The water filter is NSF certified to reduce sediment, lead, chlorine taste, and odor
  • High efficiency in using salts for regeneration
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series is a hybrid system of a water softener and a whole house water filter.

It has a superior hardness removal rating of 120 grains per gallon, that’s 4-5 times higher than salt-free water softeners. It can also remove iron up to 3ppm to reduce reddish-brown stains on the floor, pipes, and appliances.

Maintenance-Free Water Filter

The system comes with a whole house carbon water filter to reduce sediments, chlorine taste and odor, and sediments

Best part?

You don’t have to replace the filter as the system will clean the filter every 2 weeks!

This is simply the best water softener and filter combo.

On-Demand Regeneration

The system regenerates soft water only when needed, which greatly boosts the salts and water efficiency throughout the regeneration process.

Low Salt Light Alarm Feature

The system has a low salt alarm feature that will notify you when the salt level is low, so you’ll don’t have to keep monitoring the water softener resin tank.

DIY Installation Kit

The hybrid system comes with a detailed step by step installation kits to aid you in setting up the system yourself.

You just need to prepare some connectors and fittings for your piping system.

Pros:

  • With a carbon water filter
  • Remove high hardness along with water contaminants
  • Self-cleaning water filter
  • Efficient system
  • Improved water wate
  • Simple to install

Cons:

  • Heavy system
  • Moderate capacity

Check out the latest price of Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series.

 

7. Pentair WS48-56SXT10 Fleck Water Softener [Review] – Best Budget Water Softener

7. Pentair WS48-56SXT10 Fleck Water Softener [Review] - Best Budget Water Softener image
  • Upgraded 10% crosslink resin
  • Fleck 5600SXT digital metered control head
  • Easy to install
  • With a bypass valve
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The Pentair WS48-56SXT10 is a 48,000-grain water softener with a 10% crosslink resin.

It can eliminate scale build-up and prevent reduced soap efficiency due to hard water.

Long-lasting Control Valve

The high-efficient Fleck 5600SXT control valve has a 5-year warranty and is tested to run continuously for up to 27 years!

The SXT controller also includes a back-lit LCD display with touchpad controls and up to 48 hours of internal power backup feature.

Double Safety Measure

The system has a safety float to prevent overfilling, and also an overflow drain to act as an additional safety measure.

Lower Cost

Need to get a water softener but don’t wish to fork out a big initial investment?

The Pentair WS48-56SXT10 Water Softener is the best budget water softener in the list, give it a try and you’ll never regret it, it gets the job done at a lower initial investment.

Pros:

  • Easy to install and program
  • Inexpensive
  • Fleck 5600SXT Control Valve
  • Ship preloaded

Cons:

  • Moderate resin capacity

Check out the latest price of Pentair WS48-56SXT10 Fleck Water Softener.

 

8. Watts OneFlow+ Hybrid Salt-Free Water Softener System [Review] – Best Hybrid Salt-Free Water Softener

8. Watts OneFlow+ Hybrid Salt-Free Water Softener System image
  • Salt-free and chemical-free water softener
  • Reduce scale build-up in pipes, fixtures, and electric appliances
  • Media cartridge lasts up to 250,000 gallons or 3 years
  • Includes a 20-Micron radial flow carbon block filter to reduce sediments and chlorine taste and odor
  • The 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
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

Don’t want salt-based water softener?

Then you may like the Watts OneFlow+ Hybrid Salt-Free Water Softener System.

It’s a 2-in-1 salt-free water softener plus a high capacity 20-micron carbon block filter.

Innovative Salt-Free Technology to Remove Hardness

Unlike typical water softeners that use ion-exchange technology to remove hardness, this salt-free system uses a physical process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to convert hardness minerals into inactive and harmless microscopic crystal form that will not create any scale.

The Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) is the most effective scale prevention technology alternating to ion exchange, according to the WateReuse Research Foundation.

The system will not add or remove any hardness minerals from water, but it converts those hard minerals (eg: calcium and magnesium) into soft particles that flow freely in water and will not stick to pipes, appliances, and floors.

Template Assisted Crystallization Technology Explained

Maintenance-Free

With this salt-free and chemical-free system, you don’t need to monitor and replace salt bags, and the system does not require electricity to run and no wastewater either.

Remove Water Contaminants

The carbon filter will reduce sediments, chlorine taste and odor, VOCs, and more contaminants in water.

Space-saving

This hybrid water softener is compact and light-weight to install on tight space.

Environmental Friendly

This salt-free and chemical-free water softener system will not produce any wastewater to the drain, that’s great for nature!

How to Install the Watts OneFlow+ Water System Guide

Budget Scale Prevention Solution

If you don’t have a large budget for water softening, then you should give the Watts OneFlow+ Water System a try, it costs less compared to the water softener.

Pros:

  • The salt-free alternative to ion-exchange water softening
  • Effective Template Assisted Crystallization technology
  • Prevent scale forming
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Remove both hardness and water contaminants
  • Minimal maintenance is needed
  • Easy to install
  • Produce great taste water
  • Environmental friendly

Cons:

  • Less effective for water with an extremely high level of hardness
  • Last shorter compared to salt-based water softener

Check out the latest price of Watts OneFlow+ Salt-Free Water Softener on Amazon now.

 

9. Whirlpool WHES40E Water Softener [Review] – Best Water Softener for Iron (Budget)

9. Whirlpool WHES40E Water Softener [Review] - Best Water Softener for Iron (Budget) image
  • Remove up to 10ppm of ferrous iron (clear water)
  • 40,000-grain capacity
  • Salt saving technology
  • NSF certified
  • Made in the USA
  • Ideal for a household with 1 to 6 people
  • On-demand regeneration
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

Tired of reddish-brown stains on your appliances, bathroom floor, and fixtures?

No worry.

The Whirlpool WHES40E Water Softener is a budget solution for getting rid of ferrous iron and hardness in water.

High Iron Removal

The water softener can treat water with a high concentration of iron up to 10ppm, that’s one of the highest in the industry!

Once the iron content is removed by the water softener, you’ll never see those ugly red stains again.

Low Salt Light Indicator

The Whirlpool 40,000 grain water softener also comes with a low salt light indicator that will notify you when it’s time to add more salts, which make the guessing a thing of the past.

Regenerate Only When Needed

The system uses the salts efficiently by continuously monitoring the water usage and regenerating soft water only when it’s needed.

Pros:

  • Treat hard water with high iron up to 10ppm
  • Effective against extremely hard water
  • Low salt light indicator
  • On-demand regeneration for greater salt efficiency
  • Simple to install

Cons:

  • Initial flushing will take some time
  • Heavy

Check out the latest price of Whirlpool WHES40E Water Softener on Amazon now.

 

10. On The Go Portable Double Standard Water Softener [Review] – Best Portable Water Softener

10. On The Go Portable Double Standard Water Softener [Review] - Best Portable Water Softener image
  • Portable
  • 16,000-grain capacity
  • Compact and fit easily to any space
  • No electricity is needed
  • Great for RVs, boat, camping etc.
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

Looking for a portable water softener that you can carry along with you?

I’ve got you covered!

Mobile Water Softener

The On The GO OTG4-VM-DBLSOFT double standard water softener is a portable water softening system designed for RVs, marine, boats, camping, and more outdoor activities.

The compact system comes with a top handle for easy carry, a 360-degree swivel for smooth connection of the standard inlet hose, and a big opening mouth for easy salt addition.

Besides, it required no tools and electricity to operate and perform fast and simple regeneration.

All the above characteristics make it the best portable water softener for travelers and campers.

Sizable Capacity

While being portable, it does come with a sizable capacity at 16,000 grain, that’s about 1,600 gallons of soft water, enough for a long-duration round-trip on RVs.

The system regenerates soft water with 2 boxes of table salt within half an hour.

Compact Size

One advantage of this water softener over the others is the small and compact size, whereas most water softeners are bulky and heavy.

The size advantage allows it to be installed or stored in a tight space.

Pros:

  • Soften hard water
  • Prevent scale build-up and rust stains
  • Compact size
  • Portable
  • Not require electricity

Cons:

  • Smaller capacity

Check out the latest price of On The Go Portable Double Standard Water Softener on Amazon.

 

Water Softener Alternatives: Top 6 Best Water Descaler Systems

The water softener is not the only water treatment system that can prevent scale forming, the descaler, including the physical descaler and electromagnetic descaler, is both a great alternative way to prevent limescale forming.

Also, private-owned water softeners are banned in some areas due to the high amount of salt/sodium flushing to the drain lines, so if you are staying in those areas, a water descaler is your ideal alternative to treat hard water.

 

11. Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter with UV Purifier & Salt-Free Descaler [Review] – Best Salt-Free Descaler (Whole House)

11. Aquasana Rhino Whole House Filter with UV Purifier & Salt-Free Descaler image
  • Salt-free descaler to condition and soften the water to prevent scale forming
  • Remove and reduce contaminants like chlorine, VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, lead, mercuryetc.
  • With a UV filter to kill microorganisms
  • Ultra-long filter life up to 1 million gallons of filtration or 10 years
  • Unique Upflow, Dual-tank design
  • Easy maintenance
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000-AST-UV is not just a water descaler, but a complete whole house filtration system with descaling and UV features.

It’s a 3-in-1 whole house water treatment system that greatly conditioning and purifies your water.

Salt-Free Water Descaler

The system uses a salt-free & chemical-free Scale Control Media (SCM) to effectively prevent scales forming on your appliances, pipes, and bathroom floors.

Strong Water Filtration System with UV Filter

The system includes 3 stages of water filtration and 1 stage of UV sterilizer to protect your families from harmful water contaminants and hardness.

The sediment filter, activated carbon/KDF media, and 0.35-micron post-filter will remove the majority of contaminants from water, the UV filter will take care of any residual microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, and the salt-free descaler will greatly reduce the water hardness.

If you are more toward a complete water conditioning solution, the Aquasana Rhino is the ideal choice.

This powerful water treatment system supplies clean water to your entire house, allowing you to get healthier skin and hair from showering.

It’s the best whole house water treatment system with a descaler in my research.

Long-lasting Lifespan

The main filter can last for 10 years without replacement, which greatly saves your efforts in maintaining the system.

Pros:

  • Effectively prevent scales from building up
  • Salt-free & chemical-free descaling system
  • Powerful water filtration against a wide range of contaminants
  • Effectively remove potential microorganisms in water
  • Reduce sulfur, hydrogen sulfide, heavy metals, and bad smell
  • Great for both well and city water
  • Ultra-long filter life
  • Great water taste

Cons:

  • Not effective against extremely hard water
  • High upfront investment
  • Take time to set up the whole system
  • Large physical size

Check out the latest price of the Aquasana EQ-1000-AST-UV whole house system here!

 

12. AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR Whole House Salt-Free Water Softener Descaler [Review] – Best Water Descaler

12. AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR Whole House Salt-Free Water Descaler [Review] - Best Water Descaler image
  • Salt-free descaler
  • Last up to 600,000 gallons or 6 years
  • No salt bags, backwashing, or electricity required
  • Reduce 97% of chlorine taste and odor
  • Suitable for both well and city water
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

If you are a type of person that doesn’t feel like using salt water softeners, whether you don’t want to deal with the bags of salt or simply dislike the feel of softened water by salts, you should seriously consider the AO Smith Salt-Free Water Softener Descaler.

Salt-Free and Chemical-Free

The AO Smith water softener is a salt-free and chemical-free solution to prevent scale forming and extend the life of your household appliances and pipes.

Budget Solution to Prevent Scale

The system costs about 50% lower compared to the ion-exchange water softener, which makes it a great budget alternative to water softening solution.

Pros:

  • Salt-free descaling solution
  • High capacity and long-lasting
  • Reduce chlorine smell, taste, and odor
  • Simple to install
  • Not require electricity

Cons:

  • A little bit noisy during the self-cleaning process

Check out the latest price of AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR Salt-Free Water Descaler on Amazon.

 

13. Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler System [Review] – Best Electronic Water Descaler

13. Yarna Capacitive Electronic  Descaler System
  • Salt-free & chemical-free water descaler
  • Prevent scale forming and corrosion caused by rust
  • Simple and quick to install
  • Maintenance-free
  • Made from high-quality CNC Aluminum material
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The Yarna capacitive electronic water descaler is a budget and maintenance-free solution to hard water.

How the Electronic Water Descaling Work

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.

How to install Electronic Descaler image

The impulse bands produce a strong electric field that alters the mineral crystals in the water to a form that will not attach to appliances and floor.

That said, you will still find the deposits on your bathroom floor, but rest assured that they can be wiped off easily.

Alternative to Water Softener

The Yarna electronic water descaler will not remove the calcium and magnesium minerals in water but simply convert them into ion form that will not cause any limescale deposits, which is basically the main disadvantage of hard water.

Also, the electronic descaling will not waste any water or use any chemicals or salts in the water treatment process, making it a great alternative to the water softener.

Energy Efficiency

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 system to treat water flowing at a rate of up to 15.4 GPM with 99% efficiency.

Pros:

  • High water descaling efficiency up to 99%
  • Support a high water flow rate up to 15.4 GPM
  • The salt-free and chemical-free solution
  • Prevent limescale from building-up
  • Maintenance-free
  • Simple installation
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Require electricity
  • You will still notice the white scale deposits (non-adhere)

Check out the latest price of Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler System on Amazon.

 

14. HydroFLOW HS38 Water Descaler [Review] – Best Electronic Water Conditioner

14. HydroFLOW HS38 Descaler  image
  • Reduce pathogens in water
  • Eco-friendly alternative to salt-based water softeners
  • Ideal water conditioner for small houses and RVs
  • Easily attach to many different types of water pipe
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The HydroFlow water conditioner uses the patented Hydropath Technology to treat water electronically to prevent hardness minerals from attaching to water heaters, pipes, faucets, showerheads, and dishwashers.

How the Electrical Descaling Work

The water conditioner will produce electric waves at 150khz to the plumbing system and transform the hard mineral ions into stable crystals and stay suspended in water.

You may still see the white scale deposits, but it’s loosely attached and can be cleaned up easily with a simple wipe.

Easy Installation

The system is designed to be attached easily on different types of water pipe to make the installation process a breeze.

Release Biofilms

If there are biofilms (algae, bacteria) attached inside the piping system, the Hydropath signal can release them eventually by agitating the plumbing system.

Inhibit Corrosion

Besides, the magnetic field created by the system can also restrain internal pipe corrosion by up to 65%.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Maintenance-free
  • Effectively prevent hard scale
  • Compact design
  • Cost-effective

Cons:

  • May not work well with extremely hard water
  • Require electricity to operate

Check out the latest price of  HydroFLOW HS38 Water Descaler on Amazon.

 

15. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler [Review] – Best Budget Water Descaler

15. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler  image
  • Salt-based water softener alternative
  • Prevent limescale build-up and dissolve existing deposits
  • Eco friendly & maintenance-free
  • Suitable for water hardness at 20 grain per gallon
  • Keeping the healthy minerals in the water
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The Eddy Water Descaler is one of the simplest electronic water descaling devices in the market.

How Eddy Electronic Water Descaler Work

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 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 pipe system, electrical appliances, and surfaces.

It will not add or remove anything from the water nor reduce the water hardness level, but simply prevent and lighten your work in cleaning up the limescale build-up.

In other words, the electronic device emulates softened water and makes sure the minerals will not adhere to pipes and expensive appliances.

Effortless Installation

The system comes with a device, 4 wires, and an AC adapter, simply install it on your pipe and turn on the power. No plumber is ever needed.

Just ensure that you wrap the wires around the pipe correctly.

It’s suitable for all types of water pipe except iron and lead pipe.

Economical Solution to Hard Water

This 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 in preventing limescale forming, and if that’s your main concern, why not give it a try?

To give you further confidence, this electronic descaler actually comes with a lifetime repair or replacement guarantee, you heard it right, not years of limited warranty, but a lifetime assurance! And plus a 12-month risk-free money-back guarantee!

How To Install the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

Pros:

  • Prevent limescale
  • Effortless installation
  • Lifetime repair or replacement
  • Keeping essential minerals
  • Maintenance-free
  • Eco friendly
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Not suitable for extremely hard water
  • Will not softened the water
  • Not waterproof
  • Not recommended to install at outdoor

Check out the latest price of Eddy Electronic Water Descaler on Amazon.

 

16. 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition Water System [Review] – Best Water Descaler for Hot Water Appliances

16. 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition Water System
  • Includes Polyphosphates to prevent scale build-up in water heaters, boilers, and hot water appliances and faucets
  • 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
  • Read more
Expert’s Commentary:

The 3M AP430SS Aqua-Pure is a scale inhibition water treatment system that protects your hot water appliances like water heaters, boilers, dishwashing machines, clothes washers, showerheads, and faucets from scale build-up and corrosion.

The scale forming in the piping and appliances, and on the bathroom floor is mostly due to the water hardness like excess calcium and magnesium minerals, these scales shorten the life of appliances and reduce the water pressure as the inside of pipes get smaller.

Scale Inhibition with Polyphosphates

The Polyphosphates are 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.

Tired of lime scales on your bathroom floor surface or inside the electrical appliances?

The 3M Aqua-Pure scale Inhibition Inline water system can solve your problem.

Protect Hot Water Appliances

It’s the best scale Inhibition water treatment system for hot water appliances

The system effectively protects your hot water appliances and house piping system and from scale build-up, which extends the life of appliances and prevents loss of water pressure.

Financial Alternative to Expensive Water Softener

Due to its lower cost, you may use it as a cheaper alternative to the water softener for low to medium hardness water.

Pros:

  • Prevent scale build-up
  • Extend the life of hot water appliances
  • High water flow rate
  • Robust stainless steel filter head
  • Easy filter replacement

Cons

  • Not effective against extremely hard water
  • Need to refill the Polyphosphates

Check out the latest price of the 3M Aqua-Pure AP430SS Scale Inhibition Water System here!

 

Why Is Hard Water Bad for You?

Water, whether they are municipally treated water or well water, contains a certain amount of dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron.

Huh? I thought these are healthy essential minerals? That’s what I read from nutrition articles.

Yes. They are beneficial when you take in the recommended amount (I’m not posting any controversial findings of them, this is not a nutritional article).

The problem is, these minerals, mostly calcium, magnesium, and manganese will form white color limescale inside the pipes, expensive electrical appliances, and on the floor surfaces.

limescale effects on pipes and appliances image

The limescale problem affects countless households and burns loads of money on cleaning services, appliance replacements, dropped energy efficiency, and pipe flushing every single day.

The hard water will also negatively affect people’s skin and hair.

These are the main issues that can be found in most consumer reports on water softeners.

 

Hard Water Effect on Pipes

The scales will accumulate inside the pipes and make the pipe interior smaller and smaller, and the same will happen to your water pressure.

Eventually, you’ll be annoyed and irritated by the poor water pressure and have no choice but to hire people to flush the entire plumbing system

$$$$ – See this?

Besides, hard water also contains iron – the main culprit for rust and pipe corrosion.

 

Hard Water Effect on Water Fixture

Faucet aerators and showerheads are the common victims of scales.

The hard water flowing through these water fixtures on a daily basis causes the scales to form inside in a short period of time.

The scale form inside the faucet aerators and showerheads will reduce the water flow rate by blocking more and more pores, and eventually make them unusable.

It’s also easy for you to find the trace of soap scum here and there on your sink and dishes.

 

Hard Water Effect on Floor Surface

Do you like the white-color scales that are attached firmly on your bathroom floors?

I bet the answer is no, right?

Most people love beautiful things, and those cloudy thin-film build-ups are plain ugly.

Most people are lazy, and those scales are hard to clean!

So to make your bathrooms look good again, you’re either forced to spend hours and wipe off these stubborn scales with harsh chemicals or vinegar mixed solutions yourself or hire a professional cleaning service ($$$) to do the job.

Neither is a good solution.

Worst part?

You will have to do it again after weeks or a few months, then again, and again, it will never stop until you make a decision to get a water softener or a water descaler.

 

Hard Water Effect on Laundry

Hard water will cause the washed clothes to feel stiff and rough, sometimes, you can also spot white residue on them.

Not good.

 

Hard Water Effect on Electrical Appliances

Hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) in water will form a scale inside the water-using electrical appliances like water heaters, coffee machines, dishwashers, washing machines, water dispensers, and water coolers.

First, the scales will reduce the energy efficiency and water pressure of the appliances.

Talking about energy efficiency, especially for heating and cooling elements, the scale will lower down the effective contact area for energy transfer, hence reducing the energy efficiency and causing the appliance to take much longer time to deliver what it’s supposed to, like heating and cooling.

For instance, a water heater without scale will take 5 minutes to heat the water up to 100 degrees, whereas with scale, the water heater needs 15 minutes to reach the same water temperature, which utilizes 3x the electricity energy!

Because of the lowered energy efficiency, you’ll notice your electricity bill getting increased.

For water pressure, because the interior of the affected electrical appliances gets smaller, which directly reduces the volume of water that flows through the appliances.

The reduced water pressure and flow rate will surely impact the user experience, such as less enjoyment showering, impatient water filling, longer wait time for cloth and dishwashing, and more.

Secondly, the limescale will shorten the lifespan of electrical appliances by damaging the inside components and make them malfunction much earlier than you expect.

Few years down the road, the money wasted on replacing the appliances ALONE is more likely to exceed what it cost to use and maintain a water softener system.

Adding in the extra electricity bill, cleaning expenses, bad usage experience, skincare products, and more, you might as well get a water softener and make all these hassles a thing of the past!

In short, limescale = bad & costly experience for all households.

 

Hard Water Impact on User Experience

Ok, let’s say you have plenty of money to dump in replacing expensive appliances, professional cleaning services, and electricity bills.

How about your family members’ water-using experiences?

How about the dry skin and hair that annoyed you and your family?

The bad experience caused by limescale is beyond money.

 

Low Water Pressure Experience

If you ever use pathetic water pressure for showering and washing dishes, you will know how painful it is.

I would rather pay to enjoy a pleasure showering session with high water pressure than a free showering session with miserable water pressure.

 

Hard Water Effect on Skin

The hard minerals make it tough to wash away the soap from your skin, which can leave a build-up of soap residue that clogs your skin pores and lead to acne or eczema when your body releases its natural oils but is trapped.

The hard water will also make your skin feel dry or irritated as it takes away the natural moisture from your skin.

 

Hard Water Effect on Hair

After showerings, the dissolved minerals will build a thin film on the hair surface that blocks the moisture from entering the hair which erodes the hair elasticity and causes dry, tangly, dull, rough, and discolored hair.

The hard water will also cause color-treated hair to fade faster as the dissolved minerals can interfere with color.

Besides, the hardness minerals will reduce soap & shampoo lathering and make them less effective in use.

In short, the hard minerals build-up can cause serious deterioration of the whole water-related infrastructure, fixtures, and electrical appliances.

They are unwelcome guests.

 

Water Softener Benefits

Water is crucial to human beings, and the quality of water you use on a daily basis will directly affect your overall body health and living experiences.

As we discussed earlier, hard water carries a lot of negative impacts, and soft water does the opposite, bringing in plenty of benefits to your life!

benefits of water softeners to your life and home image

A water softener will save you a lot of money and hassle in the long term.

Here are the advantages of using a water softener.

 

Better Minerals Content

Unlike hard water which contains a high concentration of certain minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron, the softened water has better minerals content that will not harm your body like what hard water does.

 

Softened Water is Tender to Your Skin

Human skin needs to be moisturized to stay healthy and soft, and that’s what soft water does, it will not strip away the water off your skin like hard water but let your skin to retain them, resulting in a vibrant and healthy skin.

Want a tender skin without wrinkles? 

Use soft water.

 

Softened Water is Gentle to Your Hair

Soft water improves the shampoo efficiency to clean your hair more effectively, giving you vibrant and healthy hair after the showering session.

 

Softer Clothes

Soft water improves detergent efficiency, and therefore washing the clothes with it will result in softer and cleaner clothes.

 

Improve Appliances’ Life & Efficiency

Without the scales buildup, the electrical appliances can be used for a much longer period of time, saving you lots of money and hassle to get a new one.

All the household appliances will also be operating at max energy efficiency – cheaper electricity bills every month.

 

Cleaner Surface

Soft water will not leave any stain or scale buildup on floors’ and fixtures’ surface – no more cleaning session for limescale.

 

Hard Water & Soft Water: In-Depth Understanding

Let’s take a deeper look into hard water and soft water like what’s the differences between them, how to classify them, what’s their advantages and disadvantages, and how they compared to each other.

 

What is Hard Water

Hard water refers to the water with a high concentration of minerals, mostly calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and manganese.

While these minerals are essential to maintain body health, at the same time they also cause many headache problems to your whole water-related infrastructure, household appliances, and your body health.

The hard water can come from both municipal and domestic wells.

The soft rainwater travels through the ground and picks up minerals like calcium and magnesium from minerals deposits and stones along the waterways before reaching our main plumbing system, and that’s how hard water is created.

Not sure whether your water is hard or not?

These are some of the traces of hard water:

  • Formation of whitish scale and cloudy film on the floor surface
  • Accumulation of scale inside electrical appliances like water heaters, boilers, kettles, dishwashers, and washing machines
  • A decrease in soap, shampoo, and detergent lathering
  • Increasing electricity bill

Or you can simply test your water with a hardness test strip.

Note: It’s the hardness test strip and NOT a TDS test meter, TDS value is based on the overall conductivity in water and NOT specific to the calcium and magnesium ions, so it’s NEVER accurate.

 

What is Soft Water?

Soft water refers to the water with a low concentration of certain mineral ions, particularly calcium and magnesium and followed by iron and manganese.

The soft water can occur naturally or produce by water softeners. 

The water produced through the water softening process is also called ‘softened water’, which is the more accurate term, and softened water usually contains a greater amount of sodium ions than soft water.

The increased level of sodium content is due to the ion-exchange process used by water softeners, which exchange the calcium and magnesium ions in hard water with sodium ions to effectively reduce the hardness level and prevent limescale formation.

Note: Water produced by a water descaler is still the hard water (high concentration of calcium and magnesium ions) and not considered as soft water.

Some of the benefits of using soft water (or softened water) are:

  • No calcium scale deposits in water heating appliances like water heaters and boilers
  • No soap residue to scum from washing
  • Enhanced soap, shampoo, and detergent lathering
 

How to Classify Soft Water and Hard Water?

Different countries may have different classification of water hardness, but for the United States, soft water should contain less than 3.5 grains per gallon (or 60 milligrams per liter) of calcium carbonate.

In the US, hard water is classified for water with more than a certain amount of calcium carbonate concentration in water:

  • Soft – below 3.5 grains per gallon (<60 mg/L)
  • Moderately Hard – 3.5 to 7 grains per gallon (61 to 120 mg/L)
  • Hard – 7 to 10.5 grains per gallon (121 to 180 mg/L)
  • Very Hard – above 10.5 grains per gallon (>180mg/L)

In fact, most states in the United States are using very hard water, and that’s the reason why most households in the US need a water softener.

water hardness map in the United States (US) image
 

Hard Water vs Soft Water: The Differences

Let’s take a deeper look into hard water and soft water like what’s the differences between them, how to classify them, what’s their advantages and disadvantages, and how they compared to each other.

 

Hard Water

It has minerals like calcium and magnesium that are essential for body health.

Some people may prefer the taste of hard water over soft water due to the mineral contents, and softened water is slightly salty in contrast.

 
Symptoms of Hard Water

Here are some of the common symptoms of hard water:

  • Spots and residues on sink and dishes
  • Soap scum and cloudy film on the surfaces of bathroom floors and fixtures
  • The rough feel of clothes and with whitish residue spots
  • Reduced soap effectiveness and lathering
  • Scale build-up in household appliances and pipes
  • Hot water appliances take a longer time to heat up
  • Whitish mineral deposits on faucets and fixtures
  • Reduced water pressure and flow rate
  • More expensive electricity bill
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Dull and inelastic hair
 
Advantages of Hard Water:
  • Better water taste
  • Rich in minerals
  • Low sodium content
 
Disadvantages of Hard Water
  • Leave spots and stains on sink and dishes
  • Make clothes feel dull and rough, and with whitish residue
  • Consumes more electricity due to reduced energy efficiency of appliances
  • Cause scale build-up inside appliances and damage the components
  • Leave soap scum and cloudy film on bathroom floors and fixtures
  • Cause dry and itchy skin
  • Cause dull and flat hair
  • Reduce water pressure
 

Soft Water

Soft and softened water is preferred by most people due to its benefits.

Soft water allows you to perform daily household tasks more efficiently, particularly washing and cleaning. Soap, shampoo, and detergent will lather much better and make the cleaning and showering session more effective and smooth.

The dishes will be super clean without any soap scum or residue, the same thing happens for your sink, fixtures, faucets, and more.

How good is it!? Does any mum here agree with me?

You’ll also notice the lifespan of your household electrical appliances last much longer than before and seldom need any repair.

Aside from fixtures and appliances, soft water is also beneficial to you!

Your skin and your hair will see the most significant improvements after changing from hard water to soft water.

After showering with soft water, your skin will be moist and vibrant, let’s make dry and itchy skin a thing of the past, you don’t deserve to suffer this!

Not only that, but your hair will also feel elastic and smooth as well!

As softened water has a higher amount of sodium, so it’s not suitable to drink regularly, especially for people on a low sodium diet and with circulatory or heart problems.

Again, sodium is essential minerals for the body, but excessive intake always comes with some consequences and is not recommended.

But even if it’s not softened water, you should always drink filtered water, and I highly recommend Reverse Osmosis system for the last point of water filtration before drinking, simply because it’s the best water filtration system in the market.

 
Advantages of Softened Water
  • Extend the life of electrical appliances
  • Reduce energy bill
  • Improve soap lathering and make the cleaning process more efficient
  • Gentle to skin and hair
  • Prevent scales build-up
  • Will not clog the water pipes and fixtures
 
Disadvantages of Softened Water
  • Higher sodium content
  • Not suitable to drink regularly
  • May cause circulatory and heart problems if drank it frequently
 

Comparison of Hard and Softened Water

After going through the advantages and disadvantages of both hard and soft water, here’s the comparison table for your quick review:

Impact

Hard Water

Softened Water

Skin

Dry, Itchy

Moist, Vibrant

Hair

Dry, Dull

Elastic, Smooth

Water Pressure

Lower

High

Pipe

Clog

Clear

Appliances

Reduce Lifespan

Improve Lifespan

Water Fixtures

Dirty, Stain

Clean

Clothes

Rough, Stain

Soft, Clean

Soap Efficiency

Reduce

Improve

Energy Bill

Increase

No Change

Minerals

Calcium, Magnesium

Sodium

Taste

Better

Slighly Salty

 

Hard Water vs Soft Water: Which One is Better?

For consumption, neither are ideal for direct drinking. But hard water does have the edge in drinking purpose over softened water due to the minerals content.

Therefore, the ideal solution is to use softened water for all purposes except drinking and install a point of use water filter solely for drinking and cooking purposes.

Whereas for most other household purposes, softened water is far better than hard water.

If you have an extra budget, a water softener plus a RO water filter and a whole house water filter is the ideal option for a complete house water solution.

Otherwise, you may use a water softener with a bypass valve so that you can bypass the hard water for drinking and cooking purposes, and use the softened water for the rest of the household purposes.

 

Hard Water Solution

There are three solutions for hard water, the most effective way is to install a water softening system, the second solution is using a water descaling system, and the third method is manual cleaning.

 

1. Water Softening System

Installing a water softener for your house is the most effective way to get rid of hardness and soften your water.

The system effectively exchanges all the calcium and magnesium ions in the water with sodium ions inside the resin bed via the ion-exchange method, and the whole process from turning hard water to soft water is called regeneration.

There are two types of regeneration methods – timer and water usage.

Timing regeneration will regenerate soft water based on time, like every hour, and usage regeneration will regenerate soft water based on water usage.

I highly recommend the latter because it’s a more efficient process that can save you 50-60% of salts and water, all water softeners featured in this article are using regeneration based on actual water usage and not clock.

The sodium ions used for the ion-exchange process are supplied from the salt bags, so once the salts are used up, you’ll have to replace the salt bags for your water softener.

The 2 Types of Water Softener

There are two main types of water softeners in the market:

  • Salt-based water softener
  • Salt-free water softener
 

Salt-Based Water Softener

This is the most common type of water softener in the market, they are classic, popular, widely-used, and highly effective in treating hard water.

The salt-based water softeners use a water treatment process called ‘ion-exchange’ to exchange the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions to produce softened water.

A salt-based water softener is still the most effective method to remove water hardness, it can effectively treat even the extremely hard water that has the hardness level of beyond 100 grain per gallon.

For families with high water consumption, there are dual tank water softeners to meet your needs too.

Some of the best water softeners for well water (salt) in the market are:

 

Salt-Free Water Softener

Since salt-based water softeners are so effective, then why are there salt-free water softeners in the market?

Well, because salt-based water softeners are not perfect.

Due to some disadvantages like altering water taste and producing wastewater (brine), some people prefer to use the salt-free water softeners.

Technically, a salt-free water softener is a water conditioner and not a water softener because what it does is conditioning the hard water so that the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) will not form any build-up deposits when coming in contact.

The water conditioned by a salt-free water softener is still ‘hard’ water as the calcium and magnesium minerals are not removed from the water, but these minerals are converted to a crystal form and will not bond together and stick to any surface to form mineral deposits.

How Non-Salt Water Softeners Prevent Scale Formation

The most common technology used in salt-free water softeners is called Template Assisted Crystallization, a method to transform calcium and magnesium minerals into crystal form that stays suspended in water and will not form any scale build-up.

In short, salt-free water conditioners prevent the formation of scale buildup and not remove them. You’ll still see the white mineral deposit, but rest assured they can be cleaned off easily with simple wipe.

The salt-free water softeners are not suitable for households with extremely hard water as they can only treat water with hardness up to 20-25 grain per gallon.

Here are some of the best salt-free water softeners:

 

2. Water Descaling System

The water descaling system is an alternative to water softeners in solving hard water problems.

Same as salt-free water softeners, water descalers will not remove the calcium and magnesium minerals from water but transform them into a form that will not attach to the contact surface instead.

The goal of a water descaler is not to soften the hard water, but simply prevent the scale build-up, which is the main concern of hard water.

There are 3 popular types of water descaler:

  • Electromagnetic Water Descaler
  • Physical Water Descaler
  • Additive Water Descaler
 

Electromagnetic Water Descaler

Electromagnetic Water Descaler images

The electromagnetic water descalers (also known as electronic water descalers) use a strong magnetic field generated by electrical energy to treat the hard water flowing through the pipe and change the minerals’ properties.

While electronic water descalers do not soften the water, they do the job in preventing scale formation.

They are economical alternatives to water softeners.

Some of the advantages of electromagnetic water descalers are:

  • Will not interfere with your piping system (They attach on the pipe)
  • Easy to install
  • Maintenance-free

Here are some of the best electronic water descalers:

 

Aside from the electromagnetism method, there are also electronic water descalers that use other types of technology such as electrical induction (eg: HydroFLOW HS38 Water Descaler), which use an electrical current to precipitate the water hardness.

 

Physical Water Descaler

The physical water descaler uses a Scale Control Media (SCM) to speed up the natural tendency of hard minerals to crystallize so that they can’t attach on pipes or surfaces to form scales.

While it can’t remove the calcium and magnesium minerals, it transforms them into inactive microscopic particles that are harmless to pipes and appliances.

For instance, the Aquasana Rhino is a whole house water purification system that comes with SCH media to prevent scale forming.

 

Additive Water Descaler

The additive-based water descalers use food-grade polyphosphates to bind calcium and magnesium minerals to inhibit scale build-up.

If you simply want a small water descaler to protect your hot water appliances, they can make a good fit.

The best additive water descaler is the 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition Water System.

 

3. Manual Cleaning

This is a less effective and time-consuming way.

If there are some reasons that make water softener or water descaler not possible for you, then manual cleaning is the only option left.

You can use an all-purpose cleaning liquid or vinegar mixed solution to remove the scale buildup.

As prevention, make sure you remove all the water on the floor surface after each shower with a squeegee.

 

How to Choose the Best Water Softeners for Well Water (Buyer Guide)

How to Choose the Right Water Softener image

Here comes the most important question – which water softener is the best for me?

In this section, I’ll share with you the best approach to choosing the best water softener for your home.

 

Factors to Consider a Water Softener

Before looking at the features of water softeners, here are something you may need to take into consideration:

  • Reliability
  • Spare parts
  • Seller location
  • Maintenance
 

Reliability 

For an expensive system like water softeners, give priority to established water softener brands with proven technology and a good reputation.

If they can survive in this industry for many years, it’s more likely they have a great quality product.

Fleck, APEC, DuraWater, Whirlpool, AFWFilters, Pentair, and OneFlow are some of the best water softeners brands in the market.

 

Spare Parts

If possible, get a water softener built with non-proprietary components as it’s easier to get the spare parts for repair.

Otherwise, if the company discontinued the particular water softener or went disappeared, you may never be able to find the brand-exclusive spare parts for repair.

 

Seller Location

For bulky and heavy products like water softeners, it’s highly recommended to buy from local sellers.

First, it’s easier to return in case something went wrong, and the second is customer support.

 

Maintenance

Look for a water softener that is easy to service and maintain, you’ll never regret it.

 

Important Features of Water Softeners

Here are some of the key features that determine whether a water softener is right for you:

  • Resin capacity
  • Regeneration
  • Iron reduction
  • Available space
  • Bypass valve
  • Resin crosslinks
 

Resin Capacity

Generally, the larger the resin capacity, the less frequent the water softener needs to regenerate, and last longer.

For large families, aiming for a water softener with high resin capacity or a dual tank water softener is a better choice.

For small families, the only drawback for a high capacity water softener is the cost, so if you don’t mind paying the additional cost, go for higher capacity within your budget.

 

Regeneration

Get a water softener that regenerates soft water based on water usage and not time, it’s more efficient and can save you lots of salts and water.

For a timed system, the water softener’s resin will regenerate based on the time setting, like every 3 days, so even if you only use a little bit of water, the system will still regenerate the soft water and wasted the salts and water, but if your water usage is high, you are likely to run out of soft water.

But for a metered system, the resin will regenerate only after a fixed amount of water is used to ensure you always have the soft water and saves salts and water when your water usage is low.

Here are some great water softeners with trusted Fleck digital metered control:

 

Iron Reduction

If your water is hard and contains a high concentration of iron, it’s recommended to get a water softener that specializes in iron removal to prevent red-brown stains on your fixtures and appliances.

Here are some of the best water softeners for iron removal:

 

Available Space

As the water softener is huge in size, so make sure you have done the measurement before getting a water softener.

You can check the physical measurements of a water softener easily on the internet or from the sellers.

 

Bypass Valve

The water softener bypass valve allows you to bypass the water softening system to let hard water flow through.

This is an optional feature but good to have, for purposes like servicing or when hard water is needed.

 

Resin Crosslinks

The crosslink is the standard indication of resin.

Water softening resin with higher crosslinks will have the following improvements:

  • Larger capacity
  • Withstands high-frequency regenerations
  • Can operate at a higher temperature in the presence of chlorine or chloramine,
  • More chlorine tolerant.

8% crosslink is the industry standard, there are also 6%, 10%, and 15% crosslinks.

In most of the cases, 8% crosslinks resin is fine.

But if you are using highly chlorinated water (city water), it’s recommended to get a water softener with 10% crosslinks for higher durability against chlorine or chloramine.

 

How Do Water Softening Systems Work?

How Do Water Softening Systems Work image

Water softening systems do not remove any contaminants in water, they only exchange the mineral ions or transform the mineral ions’ property to prevent scale build-up.

To remove contaminants in water, you have to use a water filtration system.

Curious about how water softening systems work?

Here’s the water softening processes for each type of water softening systems.

 

How Do Salt Water Softeners Work

The main culprits of scale build-up are calcium and magnesium.

A salt-based water softener exchanges calcium and magnesium ions from hard water with sodium ions from resin to soften the water.

Sodium ions do not form any buildup or interfere with the lathering action of soap.

Initially, a few cubic feet of resin that contain many tiny negatively-charged beads that are used to attract dissolved positive ions in the water are covered with positively charged ions (usually sodium). 

When hard water flows through the water softener’s resin tank, the calcium and magnesium ions from hard water will attach to the resin and the sodium ions are then released into the water to maintain the balance of electrical charge on the resin. This happens because calcium and magnesium ions have a stronger positive charge than sodium ions.

Progressively, the majority of sodium ions are released to the water and the resin is saturated with calcium and magnesium ions.

 

Water Softener Regeneration Steps

Then, the water softener undergoes a regeneration process to rinse and renew the resin with salt water (sodium chloride). The high concentration of sodium ions will replace the calcium and magnesium ions in the resin and make the resin covered with sodium ions again.

Lastly, the calcium and magnesium ions will be flush to the drain together with the salty wastewater, and the system is back to normal operation.

There are two types of tanks in the salt-based water softener, first is the main resin tank that is used to remove the hardness minerals, and the second is the brine tank that is used to keep salts and produce brine for resin regeneration.

Depending on your water usage, you’ll have to add a few bags of salt (sodium chloride) to the water softener brine tank every few days, weeks, or months for the regeneration processes.

Each cubic foot of resin can treat about 3,200 gallons of hard water, which is 10 grains per gallon hardness as defined by WQA, and the regeneration process adds about 750 milligrams of sodium to each gallon of water.

For people on a low sodium diet, you may use the potassium chloride salt instead but it is more expensive than sodium chloride salt.

Results: Softened water, prevent scale buildup and clogged pipes, extend the lifespan of appliances, improve soap lathering, enhance skin and hair, and slightly salty water.

 

How Do Salt-Free Water Softeners Work

No-salt water softeners, or better referred to water conditioners, do not soften water, they use technologies like Template Assisted Crystallization to transform the calcium and magnesium minerals into crystal form that will not bond and stick to any surfaces to form scale build-up.

They condition hard water to prevent scale forming.

As a result, the water is still hard as none of the hardness minerals are removed from the water, but what changed is that those minerals will not form limescale in your appliances and pipes.

And that’s the main problem with hard water.

It has less maintenance work than salt-based water softeners.

Pair it with a water filtration system for complete whole-house protection.

Results: Prevent scale buildup and clogged pipes, and extend the lifespan of appliances.

 

How Do Dual-Tank Water Softeners Work

The dual-tank version works the same as salt-based water softeners, with two added benefits which are larger capacity and you get non-stop soft water supplies due to alternating tanks.

A single-tank salt-based water softener needs to pause the operation for the regeneration process, and the dual-tank water softener solved this issue by using the alternate tank while one tank is undergoing regeneration.

Results: Continuous softened water, prevent scale buildup and clogged pipes, extend the lifespan of appliances, improve soap lathering, enhance skin and hair, and slightly salty water.

 

How Do Electromagnetic Water Descaler Work

The electromagnetic water descaler, often used as no salt alternative to water softeners, uses a strong magnetic field generated by electricity energy to alter the hardness ions’ property so that they won’t stick on surfaces.

They are installed on the outer area of the pipe and coiled the pipe with wires or bands.

They will not interfere with your existing piping system nor have any direct contact with the flowing water.

Results: Prevent limescale buildup and clogged pipes, and extend the lifespan of appliances.

 

How Do Chemical Water Softener Work

This type of water conditioner uses chemical substances like Polyphosphates to effectively bind calcium and magnesium minerals in hard water to prevent them from precipitating and form scale build-up.

Besides, the Polyphosphates will also form a thin protective layer on the metal surface to prevent corrosion, which is great for hot water appliances.

Results: Prevent limescale buildup and clogged pipes, extend the lifespan of appliances, and prevent corrosion.

 

How to Test the Water Hardness?

There are few ways to test and know your water hardness, and they are:

  1. Water Hardness Test Kit
  2. Foam Test
  3. Bathroom Fixtures Observation
 

1. Water Hardness Test Kit

The most accurate way is to purchase a water hardness test kit or test strip to run the test.

With this method, you can know whether your water is hard or soft and how hard it is.

Note: It’s the water hardness test kit and NOT the TDS meter. TDS meter is used to estimate the total dissolved solids through the water conductivity test and is not for water hardness.

 

2. Foam Test (Lathering Test)

Foam test can give you an idea about the type of water – hard or soft.

As we discussed earlier, hardness will reduce lathering.

To do the foam test:

  1. Fill up half of a transparent bottle with water.
  2. Add 4-5 drops of dishwashing or detergent liquid into the bottle and close the cap.
  3. Shake the bottle for 5 seconds.
  4. Observe the foam

If the foam stays for a long period, it’s soft water; If the foam dissipates quickly, it’s hard water.

 

3. Bathroom Fixtures Observation

Another way to know the type of water is through observation, and you may run the investigation in the bathroom.

Observe carefully to see if there’s any white-colored spots or scale on the surface of your bathtub, shower head, and floor.

If there was any, it’s hard water, if not, it’s soft water.

 

How to Install a Water Softener (Step-by-Step Guide)

Most water softeners featured in this article are easy to install, you just have to follow the step-by-step installation guide and install it with the right tools and components.

But if for some reason you are not able to install yourself, then you have to hire a professional plumber to come over and install it for you.

Here are the installation steps for water softeners:

  1. Shut off the main water supply.
  2. Locate the inlet pipe (before the house).
  3. Cut the inlet pipe to install valves and pipes.
  4. Install at least 3 valves: Before and after the water softener, and a water softener bypass valve
  5. Double-check the connectors to ensure they are tight.
  6. Connect the water softener brine tank to the resin tank.
  7. Connect the discharge line to the wastewater drain.
  8. Connect the Water Softener

Before we dive into each individual step, let’s take a look at the required tools and components.

 

Tools and Components for Water Softener Installation

Most sellers will provide you the essential tools and parts for water softener installation.

However, it’s good to have some useful plumbing tools and parts with you in case the quality of the provided components is bad.

Here are some of the basic plumbing tools that you may want to prepare:

  • Measurement tape
  • Water-tube cutter
  • Plumbers tape
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Soldering tool
  • Teflon tapes
  • Pipes (PVC or Copper)
  • Tee valves
 

What to Consider Before the Water Softener Installation

Before you start installing the water softener, you have to decide the location first.

Most of the time, you should install a water softener on the main water line after the pre-sediment filter and whole house water filtration system, and before entering the house.

The common places to put the water softener are the utility room, garage, and basement. Unless the water softener is heavy duty and made to survive under harsh conditions, you shouldn’t place it in an open area with direct sunlight.

Make sure the designated location has enough floor and wall space to install the water softener.

For saltwater softener, make sure the location has a way to drain the wastewater, and for electronic water descaler, make sure a power outlet is prepared.

 

How to Install a Salt Water Softener

Here are the detailed steps to install a salt-based water softening system for your house.

 

Step 1: Shut Off the Main Water Supply

First, turn off the main water supply valve and drain out the water inside.

This is a crucial step and makes sure you’ve done it before you start doing anything crazy.

Step 2: Locate the Inlet Pipe

Next, locate which part of the pipe you want to install the water softener, it should be after the whole house water filtration system (if any) and before entering the house.

Step 3: Cut the Inlet Pipe to Install Valves and Pipes

Now, put a basket below the cutting spot to collect any residual water and cut the inlet pipe with a tube cutter.

Step 4: Install At Least 3 Valves 

The 3 water valves are necessary for future maintenance.

Install one valve before the water softener to control the water entering the system, and one valve after the water softener to control the water exit from the system.

Lastly, install a valve that parallels to the water softener. This valve is used to bypass the water softener during servicing or in case you need hard water for certain purposes.

While some water softeners come with a bypass control valve, you’re still encouraged to install one.

Step 5: Double Check the Connectors

After you installed the valve, do a quick check to make sure all the connectors are tight to prevent leaking later.

Step 6: Connect the Resin Tank to the Brine Tank

Use the pipe provided by the seller to connect between the resin tank and brine tank.

Step 7: Connect the Discharge Line to the Wastewater Drain

Connect the discharge line to the wastewater drain, which can be a floor drain, sump drain, or utility tank.

Make sure the discharge line is lower than the overflow fitting.

Step 8: Connect the Water Softener

Connect the water softener carefully to the inlet and outlet pipes and tighten all the connectors and parts.

 

How to Install an Electromagnetic Water Descaler

The installation of an electronic water descaler is simpler than the water softener due to its size and working mechanism.

Please note that not all pipe materials are compatible with electronic water descalers, so please check with the seller before buying.

Electromagnetic water descalers will not interfere with your pipe system as they are just installed on the main water pipe to do the work.

Here are the installation steps:

  1. Install the electromagnetic water descaler on the wall near the pipe
  2. Coil around the pipe with wires/bands according to the user manual
  3. Turn on the power supply to start the water conditioning process

Easy peasy.

 

Why Should You Buy Water Softener from Amazon?

Because the water softener price on Amazon is much cheaper compared to the local contractors and salesmen.

For the same product, the quotes you get from the contractors can be 1.5 to 3 times higher than the price on Amazon.

Even if you don’t want to install the water softener by yourself, purchasing one from Amazon and hire a professional plumber to install is still cheaper in total.

 

FAQ for Water Softening System

1. If softened water safe to drink?

Yes, it’s safe to consume, but it’s not recommended to drink regularly due to higher sodium content, especially for those who are on a low sodium diet.

2. What is the crosslink of water softener resin?

The crosslink is the standard indication of water softener resin, higher crosslinks have a larger capacity, can withstand high-frequency regenerations, can operate at a higher temperature in the presence of chlorine or chloramine, and is more chlorine tolerant.

3. Should I use 8% or 10% crosslinks resin?

Most water softening resin has 8% crosslinks and the upgraded version of resins has 10% or higher.
If your water is chlorinated (city water), it’s better to go for 10% crosslinks resin for stronger endurance against chlorine, but the 8% crosslinks resin is fine too.

4. Will a water softener alter the taste of water?

Yes. The softened water will be slightly salty compared to hard water.

5. Can a water descaler soften the water?

No. Water descalers only condition the water so that the hardness minerals will not form any scale build-up.

 

Summary: Best Water Softeners for Home Comparison Table

Here are the summary and brief comparison table of the 16 water softeners for home featured in this review article.

ModelTypeBest forPrice
APEC FUTURA-15SoftenerBest Salt-Free SoftenerShow
AFWFilters Dual TankSoftenerBest Dual TankShow
DuraWater 80kSoftenerBest Water SoftenerShow
AFWFilters IRON Pro 2SoftenerBest Softener for IronShow
Fleck 5600SXT 64kSoftenerBest for Well WaterShow
Whirlpool WHESFCSoftenerBest Hybrid SoftenerShow
Pentair WS48-56SXT10SoftenerBest Budget SoftenerShow
Watts OneFlow+SoftenerBest Hybrid Salt-FreeShow
Whirlpool WHES40ESoftenerBest for Iron (Budget)Show
On The Go PortableSoftenerBest Portable SoftenerShow
Aquasana RhinoDescalerBest Salt-Free DescalerShow
AO Smith DescalerDescalerBest Water DescalerShow
Yarna CapacitiveDescalerBest Electronic DescalerShow
HydroFLOW HS38DescalerBest Electronic ConditionerShow
Eddy ElectronicDescalerBest Budget DescalerShow
3M Aqua-PureDescalerBest for Hot AppliancesShow
 

Conclusion

I hope this ultimate guide on choosing the best water softener for well water did help you a little bit in finding the right one for your home.

If you still have any doubts or questions regarding the water softening system or water descaling system, just let me know in the comment below.

 

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4 thoughts on “The 16 Best Water Softeners for Well Water & Home 2020”

  1. Whirlpool WHESFC ProSeries is working nicely and does use less salt like they said it would. Pretty quiet when it recharges in the middle of the night. Pretty easy to install as well!!! Don’t let these plumbers try to gig you on install, it’s not worth the $275 the guy told me it would cost for him to install!

  2. Iron Pro 2 is also working great. We have city water, that comes from a well, so it’s still hard water. We have a family of 5. To do the math properly, avg 75 gal per person per day. = 375 gallons At a 19gp (325ppm) grain hardness. means we need 7125 grains per day. For a 1 week charge, we need 49,875 grains. So this provides enough capacity.

  3. I love iron Pro 2 My absolute favorite appliance in the kitchen. It works so well, it is quiet, easy to use, makes fantastic tea, and really is a tea lover’s dream. I’m primarily a black tea drinker and for that, the variable temp control is less useful as one can boil water in many other ways, but the constant temperature during steeping and the convenience of setting it and walking away til it is done is great.

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