Salt vs. Salt-Free Water Softeners
Everyone wants clean, healthy, and pure water. However, depending on where you live, the water may contain elevated amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals and metals that cause hard water. Hard water is more than an annoying problem – it can be destructive to plumbing, pipes, and water-based appliances, especially those that use hot water such as the water heater. The calcium and lime build-up in these appliances negatively affect performance, causing more frequent breakdowns and premature replacement. It also causes appliances to consume more water to dissolve detergents, frequently leaving laundry stains and spotty dishware.
Water softeners typically use sodium to soften the water, but there is also a salt-free water treatment that can help alleviate hard water problems. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both salt and salt-free water softeners to help you decide which solution is best for you.
Ion Exchange (sodium-based)
All water softeners use salt to reduce hardness. The ion exchange process contains a tank with positively charged resins. When the water flows through the tank, the calcium and magnesium ions attach to the resins and are replaced with potassium and sodium ions. The soft water is then distributed to all faucets and water connections in the home. So, just how much salt does it use? The water softener system automatically adjusts the salt required depending on water hardness. An 8oz serving of water with 18g of hardness, for instance, would contain about 30mg sodium. That’s a very minimal amount considering that the same size serving of milk has 120mg sodium.
The difference that soft water makes is instantly noticeable. It feels silkier on the skin and doesn’t have the “grittiness” or hard water’s dryness. In addition to smoother and softer looking skin, laundered clothes will be cleaner and brighter. Glassware and dishware will be spot-free without the need for a rinse-aid. The washing machine, dishwasher, and other appliances will consume less water and last longer with less wear and tear.
Reverse Osmosis (salt-free)
Although some may advertise it as a salt-free water softener, reverse osmosis (RO) is technically a water filtration system. The system connects to the main water line coming into the home, where the water automatically flows into a filtration tank. The tank contains a water-permeable membrane that traps the metals and minerals that cause hard water along with other additives or impurities. It also removes any sodium naturally present in the water. The clean and pure filtered water then flows to all water connections and faucets throughout the house.
A salt-free RO water softener treatment system not only reduces water hardness but also removes other chemicals and impurities for crystal clear and pure water at every tap or faucet. It also costs less than buying bottled water.
Choosing a Salt or Salt-Free Water Softener
Both salt and salt-free water softeners are outstanding solutions and will reduce water hardness. If you have minor water quality issues and simply want to reduce hard water, then a sodium-based water softener is the optimum choice. However, household members on a sodium-restricted diet or for more severe water quality issues, a salt-free water softener system is an excellent choice.