Pros And Cons Of Salt-Free Water Softeners

The guide to pros and cons of salt-free water softeners including what it is, how it works, how much it is, its effectiveness scale and if salt-free water softeners work.
Close up of stainless steel tanks pipes and fittings

You may not be aware, but the quality of water you use has long-term effects on your plumbing system. This is typically the case with hard water, which promotes mineral buildup. 

Over time, clogging and quick wear and tear can happen. For these reasons, there is a surge in demand for water softeners among commercial and residential consumers.

However, not all types of water softeners are alike. Despite the numerous benefits of traditional water softeners, they may not entirely cater to everyone’s needs and preferences.

In this article, we shed light on salt-free water softeners and their pros and cons.

What Is A Salt Free Water Softener System?

Water softener system works

A salt-free water softener is actually a water conditioner, which may confuse many given its name. However, the difference between the two mainly lies in their functions. 

Traditional water softeners involve the process of ionic exchange. Sodium ions remove minerals like calcium and magnesium from hard water, resulting in soft water.

Meanwhile, saltless water softeners use different media instead of sodium ions. They condition the water by changing the structure of the minerals rather than eliminating them. 

In a nutshell, a salt-free water softener enhances hard water without turning it into soft water.  

How Do Water Conditioners Without Salt Work?

Salt-free water softeners vary from one system to another, however, they are less complex than salt-based water softeners. In particular, salt-free water softeners use a Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) process activated by resin beads or magnetic current. 

During a TAC process, unwanted minerals from hard water stick to the beads or media present in the tank. The minerals crystalize, preventing them from mixing and forming limescale

As a result, you get hard water that improves the efficiency of your plumbing system. So, what exactly can you expect from salt-free water softeners? 

Advantages Of Saltless Water Treatment

Water pouring in on woman's hand against nature backdrop

Prevents Limescale and Hard Water Formations – One major drawback of hard water is scaling. Limescale formation rapidly deteriorates your water pipes, faucets, and shower heads.

If you observe some discoloration of pipes, mineral deposits, and weak water pressure, then you may benefit from a salt-free water softener. They essentially prevent calcium carbonate and other minerals from solidifying and clogging your plumbing system. 

This results in a longer lifespan for your pipes and appliances while improving their functionality at the same time.

It Is More Eco-friendly Than Other Water SoftenersConsumers are becoming more conscious of the impact of products they use on the environment. With this in mind, there is a growing concern for the harmful effects of water softeners.

Salt-based water softeners flush minerals released as toxic wastewater in the regeneration cycle. But, the lack of this cycle in saltless softeners makes them a more eco-friendly option.

It Is Cost-efficientSalt-free water softeners are cost-efficient in more ways than one.

Without wastewater, salt-free softeners use less water. They also do not require you to refill them with salt, saving you the hassle of monitoring them monthly. 

In fact, all you need to worry about is replacing the beads every three to five years. 

Salt-free softeners do not use electricity either, significantly cutting your monthly utilities expenses. The absence of limescale in your home appliances also ensures that they work more efficiently.

It Is A Space SaverTraditional water softeners require a resin tank and a brine tank, which can take up a significant amount of space. 

Salt-free water softeners, on the other hand, are compact as they do not need a regeneration cycle, thus eliminating the need for brine tanks. 

Drawbacks Of Saltless Systems for Treating Water

Like other water softener systems, salt-free water softeners have their drawbacks. Here are the major cons to consider before deciding on investing in this device.

It Lacks The Benefits Of Soft WaterThere is much to ponder when it comes to water quality. But, keep in mind that salt-free softeners cannot fully eliminate all the inconveniences of using hard water.

Some downsides of using hard water are dirty spots or marks on your kitchen appliances, which may need regular cleaning and maintenance

Moreover, hard water can also be harsh on your hair and skin. If you suffer from dryness and other skin problems, it’s best to reconsider your options. 

Finally, your laundry isn’t safe from hard water either. After all, the mineral deposits can cause discoloration and dullness in the fabric.

If these are a deal-breaker for you, it would be better to choose salt-based water softeners instead.

It Doesn’t Work With Other MineralsDepending on the minerals and other contaminants present in your water, salt-free water softeners may not completely provide maximum benefits for you.

 For one, high levels of iron and manganese contaminants can turn your water brown or red. Although this is not detrimental to one’s health, this can still be off-putting. 

Meanwhile, unlike salt-free water softeners, their salt-based counterparts have filters that eliminate calcium, iron, manganese, and other sediments.

It Doesn’t Meet Industry StandardsSome cities do not allow the installation of any water softener and water conditioners. 

Before investing in this system, make sure to check with a specialist and refer to your city’s building codes for guidance. 

This is also vital in industrial and commercial applications.  

How Much Does A Saltless Softener Cost?

Timer and valve assembly of a water softener

Modern technology has given rise to innovative salt-free water softener systems. Depending on your preference, there are several configurations for round-the-clock performance available on the market. 

Factor in your budget, monthly water consumption, and other filter requirements when selecting a salt-free water softener.

Some models are more sophisticated than others and can fetch a higher price. They feature sleek designs, UV filters, deodorize your water, and are weatherproof.

With this in mind, you can expect to spend anywhere between $800 and $4,000, including installation fees.

Do No Salt Water Conditioners Work?

Ultimately, the effectiveness of a salt-free water softener depends on your expectations. It is crucial to understand the distinctions between salt-free water softeners and their salt-based counterparts. 

When in doubt, it’s best to consult with a professional and request a water test as you need to take into account the level of calcium carbonate in your water too. Having moderate levels of calcium carbonate may be a nonissue for some, which means a sustainable salt-free water softener will suffice. 

But, high levels of minerals in water require more aggressive treatment for optimum quality. In this case, it’s best to opt for a salt-based softener instead.

For more related pros and cons of salt-free water softeners content, check out this pros and cons of water softeners article. 

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