Published: March 26, 2017
Last Updated: December 2023
Facts (& DANGERS) About “Salt Free Water Softeners”
The name is slightly deceiving because a “water softener” is a machine that removes hard water by definition. However, a saltless water softener does not completely remove water hardness. (Read: this).
Salt free water softeners are sometimes designed to look like regular water softeners. However, they can only reduce odor, sediment and perhaps some chemicals like chlorine. Yes, these devices can greatly improve the quality of your drinking water. But it will not create the “soft water” you’re expecting.
Technologies that are incorrectly marketed as a salt free water softener can prevent scale build up but wont give you soft water. So if your main concern is preventing hard water from “scaling” then this is a good option for you. For instance, if you want to use it to prevent hard water damage to expensive equipment.
Companies can sometimes call a “salt free water softener” a “descaler” or “water conditioner”.
Some companies will call a water softener “salt free” because it uses potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride (salt). Yes, it is true that this version of “saltless water softeners” WILL REMOVE hard water minerals. But be careful because potassium is about 5x more expensive than regular softener salt and about 30% less efficient!
If you have severe hard water issues then the only appliance that will 100% effectively protect your plumbing, expensive appliances, clothes, hair and skin is a traditional water softener machine that uses salt.
What Is A Salt Free Water Softener?
They are normally called “descalers or “water conditioners”.
The idea is to dissolve pre-existing calcium scales while also reducing the chances of new ones forming. Since they don’t use salt (the active ingredient for water softening), they only reduce and delay the effects of hard water.
Benefits of Using A Salt Free Water Softener
It is also a chemical free alternative to using a salt-based water softener.
A salt free water softener will very often use no electricity, create no waste water and, of course you won’t need to continuously buy softener salt. All of this saves you a lot of money in the long run.
Saltless softeners are much cheaper than buying a full water softener.
Ideal if you simply want to maintain expensive equipment. E.g. you are a dentist and rent your space. So can’t tamper too much with plumbing to install a water softener but need to keep scale away from your expensive equipment.
If you only have mild hard water and want a hassle free option to keep your pipes descaled and make your appliances last longer, the saltless water softener is perfect for you.
Salt based water softeners will completely eliminate hard water.
This will leave you with a more “slick” feeling in your water. You will notice the soap creating more bubbles etc.
The reason soft water has a “clean feeling” is because of all the removed minerals that are no longer present to dry your skin.