Salt-Based vs Salt-Free Water Softeners: Key Differences to Note
Dealing with hard water, which is water with excess calcium and magnesium, can be an irritating experience. While hard water isn’t necessarily bad for your health, it can wreak havoc on your plumbing and appliances and leave your skin and hair itchy and dry.
You can get rid of hard water with a water softener, but there are two types of systems to choose from. There are salt-free water softeners and salt-based water softeners.
Read on to learn the pros and cons of each type, and find the one that works best for you.
How Do Salt-Based Water Softeners Work?
Salt-based water softeners are a common and effective way to soften your water supply. For this system, a tank full of resin beads connects to the water supply for your house. The beads have a negative ion charge, which attracts the calcium and magnesium, trapping them on the beads.
Then the newly softened water can flow through your house. Once the beads are full, the system will flush itself with salty water from a second tank, called the brine tank. The saltwater removes the minerals from the resin beads and goes down a drain and out of the system. Then the cycle starts again.
You do need to replace the salt in your brine tank regularly, but the beads never need to be replaced.
How Do Salt-Free Water Softeners Work?
If it’s the salt that removes the minerals from your water, what are salt-free water softeners, and how do they work?
Salt-free water softeners are actually water conditioners. They don’t remove the minerals from hard water; instead, they neutralize them. The advantage of this type of system is that they don’t add any sodium to the water supply.
Salt-free water softeners work by crystallizing the magnesium and calcium and suspending it. This stops the minerals from clinging to your pipes, appliances, dishes, and clothes. The minerals are still in the water, but you won’t get limescale or hard water lines.
There are multiple types of salt-free water softeners. Some use potassium to crystalize other minerals, but others – like the one on this page – are chemical-free.
Which Is Most Effective?
So are salt-free water softeners as effective as salt-based? Which system is right for you depends on how hard the water is in your area, and what your home’s water needs are.
If your water is hard, but not irritating your skin then a salt-free system might be right for you. It will condition the water to prevent scaling and damage to your appliances, but won’t change the mineral composition of the water. This is also the right system for you if you want to avoid adding sodium to your water.
For severely hard water, a salt-based system might be a better choice. If the minerals in your water supply are irritating your skin and damaging your hair, a salt-based system can actually remove the minerals. It will, however, introduce salt into your water.
Pick the Right Water Softener for Your Home
Keeping chemicals out of the water is an important consideration for many people. Salt-free water softeners can give you the protection against scaling that you want without adding anything harmful to your water.
Check out our other articles about home maintenance to learn more!