Are you having issues with hard water in your home? If so, a salt-free water softener could be the perfect solution to your problem. Not only do these types of water softeners help reduce the amount of scale buildup in your pipes and appliances, but they also provide many other benefits as well. But before you invest in one, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of salt-free water softeners so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this type of system is right for you.
In this article, we’ll explore all of the advantages and disadvantages associated with salt-free water softeners so that you can determine if they are worth investing in for your home. So, let’s dive in and learn more about the pros and cons of salt-free water softeners.
What Is A Salt-Free Water Softener?
A salt-free water softener is a system that uses template-assisted crystallization (TAC) to eliminate the negative effects of hard water minerals. It does not use any form of salt or chemicals to accomplish this, which makes it an ideal option for those looking for an eco-friendly way to soften their water. Because saltless softeners do not remove remove hard water minerals, but rather conditions them, they are also known as salt free conditioners.
How Do They Work?
The salt-free water conditioner works by using a template-assisted crystallization to reduce lime scale issues by over 90%. This process takes advantage of the natural characteristics of calcium and magnesium molecules, which are two common components of hard water. As the hard water passes through the system, these molecules form tiny crystals around a polymeric substance that is designed to attract them. These crystals become heavier and fall to the bottom of the tank, leaving softened water in its place.
After being conditioned, the hard water ions are no longer able to stick to plumbing and can reduce existing scale buildup as well.
Advantages Of Salt-Free Water Softener
Now that you know a bit more about how they work, let’s take a look at the advantages of salt-free water conditioners if you have hard water.
1. Prevents And Removes Limescale
Salt-free water conditioners remove limescale from your plumbing and other fixtures. Since these systems do not use salt, they don’t release extra sodium particles into the drinking water. Instead, they employ a process called “ion exchange” to break down hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are then released into the water.
These systems can be used in place of salt-based water softeners to help prevent and remove limescale buildup without adding additional sodium to your drinking water.
2. Minimal Maintenance
Salt-free water softeners require far less maintenance than their salt-based counterparts. There is no need to worry about adding salt to the system, and there are no additional filters or other components that need to be monitored or replaced on a regular basis. This makes them ideal for busy households that don’t have time for frequent maintenance visits.
3. More Eco-Friendly
The use of salt in water softening systems can be tough on the environment, as it increases sodium levels in groundwater and nearby bodies of water via the regeneration process. Saltless water conditioners don’t require any salt, making them a much better option for households that are looking to reduce their environmental impact. And since these systems don’t require frequent maintenance visits, they can help to reduce your carbon footprint as well.
4. Lower Operating Costs
Mainly due to the lack of salt, you’ll find that a saltless water softener requires less maintenance and has lower operating costs than traditional salt-based systems. The salt-based system requires regular refills of their media tanks with bags of salt, whereas salt-free ones don’t need any additional replenishing. As such, there is no need to buy salt or pay for its delivery. What’s more, is that since these systems don’t require electricity, you can save money on your energy bills each month.
On top of reducing the amount of water used, salt-free conditioners also extend the lifespan of filter media compared to traditional softeners. This means you don’t have to replace the filter media as often, which reduces your overall maintenance costs.
5. Better For Low Sodium Diets
Since salt-free water conditioners don’t add sodium to your drinking water, they are considered safer for people with low-sodium diets. Traditional salt systems can increase the sodium levels in your drinking water by up to 40%, depending on how much salt is used in the system. Salt-free systems, however, don’t add any sodium, making them a much better option for people with health or dietary restrictions. If you do have a salt based softener, a reverse osmosis system is able to remove sodium from your drinking water.
6. Retains Healthy Minerals
One of the greatest advantages of using a salt-free water conditioner is that they retain healthy minerals in your water. Salt-based systems often strip all the vitamins and minerals from your drinking water, making it unsafe for human consumption.
Salt-free systems, however, remove only the hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium while leaving behind beneficial minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc. This makes your drinking water healthier, cleaner, and safer for you and your family.
7. Ideal For Restrictive Plumbing Codes
Some areas do not allow ion exchange softeners in their homes due to plumbing requirements. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as an area that is already struggling with high levels of water hardness or where the government has implemented a salt ban. Salt-free systems are the perfect solution for these areas since they do not add any additional salts or minerals to the water supply.
Additionally, many salt-free systems are certified by NSF International and other organizations, providing reassurance that they will do their job effectively. Therefore, if you live in an area where salt-based softeners are banned, a salt-free water conditioner might be the ideal solution for your needs.
8. Takes Less Space
The traditional salt-based water softener needs a separate brine tank to store the salt. This is usually quite large and can take up a lot of space in your home. Salt-free systems, on the other hand, don’t require a brine tank or any additional storage space. This is especially true if you get a cartridge-based salt-free softener that takes up no floor space.
They are smaller and more compact than their counterparts, making them ideal for homes with limited space. Additionally, they are easier to install and can often be a DIY task without any additional help. No matter which type you choose, the right size softener depends on the size of your house and water use.
9. Healthier Skin And Nails
Hard water can be pretty damaging to your skin and nails. The minerals in hard water make it difficult for soap to dissolve properly, leaving behind a slimy feeling on your skin after showering or bathing. This slimy feeling is caused by the soap scum that forms when the minerals react with soap.
Salt-free softeners can help alleviate this issue by softening the water without adding any additional salt or minerals. This makes it easier for soap to dissolve, leaving your skin feeling softer and more hydrated after showering or bathing. It can also help keep your nails from becoming brittle and dry due to hard water.
10. Safe For Pets, Lawn, and Garden
Salt-free systems are also safer for your lawn and garden, as well as any pets you might have. Traditional salt systems can often cause damage to grass, plants, flowers, and shrubs due to the high levels of sodium in the water. Salt-free systems are much safer and don’t risk damaging your lawn. And, since salt-free systems don’t use any chemicals, they’re also a safer option for pets.
These are just some of the advantages of using a salt-free water softener. If you are considering investing in one, make sure to do your research and find the right system for your needs.
Drawbacks Of Salt-Free Water Softeners
While salt-free systems offer many benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. Here are just some of the potential downsides to using a salt-free system:
Salt-free water softeners can be more costly, as they are whole-house water conditioning solutions. Because it is a relatively new technology, saltless conditioners generally have a higher upfront cost over traditional salt-based water softeners. That said, once you install your water conditioner, they require no maintenance costs unlike with ion exchange. They can also last over 10 years before needing to change the resin media.
2. Do Not Remove Hard Water Minerals
Another drawback to using a salt-free system is that they do not remove the minerals that cause hard water, such as calcium and magnesium ions. This means that while they eliminate scale build-up, they do not remove remove hard water minerals from your tap water. Note that this can be a positive as many people want to retain healthy minerals in your drinking water. If you need to completely remove hard water minerals, you might consider investing in an salt based water softener that uses a process called ion exchange that can actually remove the minerals from your water.
The next drawback is that salt-free systems can be challenging to install. Salt-free water conditioners require a whole-house approach, meaning the unit needs to be connected to the point of entry at your main water line.
Most units need some type of filtration system installed prior, which can add to the cost and complexity of the installation process. Professional installation is usually recommended in order to ensure that the system is installed correctly.
4. Not Ideal For Well Water
Lastly, using a salt-free system is not ideal for those with well water. That’s because well water typically has elevated levels of dissolved minerals and other contaminants that can foul the media prematurely. If you have a private well, it’s best to opt for a salt-based water softener designed for well water that uses ion exchange.
These are just some of the drawbacks of using a salt-free water softener. While they can be a great option for many households, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.
Now that you know the pros and cons of salt-free water softeners, you can decide if they are worth it for your home and needs. These systems are generally easier to use and maintain than salt-based systems, but they are not as effective at removing calcium and magnesium from the water.
So if you have really hard water and need a system that will remove the most minerals, a salt-based softener may be your best option. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which type of system will work best for you. Do your research and consult a professional to make sure you are getting the right system for your home.