By Rehan Iqbal
Many people don’t like the taste of water that has been softened using salt. Others aren’t too pleased with the hassle of monitoring salt levels and topping up the brine tank. There is another solution salt free water conditioners AKA salt free water softeners.
Top Alternatives to Salt Based Water Softener
- 1SoftPro® Elite Salt-Free Water Softener
- 2Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative
- 3Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener Combo
- 4Aquasana Salt-Free Water Conditioner
- 5Water Filter & Pelican Water Softener Alternative Combo
- 6Springwell FutureSoft Whole House Filter System with Salt-Free Conditioner
- 7Crystal Quest Salt-Free Water Conditioner
Also called water conditioners, descalers, or scale inhibitors, salt-free water softeners don’t actually remove the hard minerals from the water. These devices alter the crystal structure of minerals like calcium and magnesium. This prevents scaling as the minerals no longer cling to the inside of pipes, plumbing fixtures, water heaters, and appliances.
Salt-free water softeners generally use a crystallization resin, unlike the ion exchange used for salt-based softeners. They can also utilize a magnetic field to alter hard minerals. A salt-free system offers a wonderful alternative to traditional, salt-based water softeners.
If you’re looking for a great deal on salt-free water softeners, the review to follow should be a valuable resource.
1. SoftPro® Elite Salt-Free Water Softener / Saltless - No Salt Conditioner
The SoftPro Elite salt-free water softener is a great solution for a family home with up to 5 bathrooms. It can be installed as part of a whole house reverse osmosis filtrations system or used as a stand-alone water conditioner. It includes a 5 micron prefilter with numerous upgrade options, like the SoftPro up flow Chlorine+, Media Guard KDF-55, and Viqua UV light filters.
The SoftPro Scale Control Technology (SCT) utilizes advanced FilterSorb media, a nucleation assisted crystallization (NAC) resin, that renders calcium and magnesium inactive. This means that scaling is reduced by 99.6% and the water does not have the feel of hard water. It does not affect the PH of your water. Since the prefilter is made from carbon, it also does a pretty good job of removing chlorine.
The water softener does not remove any of the healthy minerals. Best of all, there are no monthly maintenance costs. It is expected to be completely maintenance free for about 6-years. The estimated average maintenance cost per year is only $32.
For a whole house water softening system, the SoftPro Elite has the capacity to contend with the needs of a busy family. It has a mighty respectable 12 GPM flow rate. The plumbing size is ¾”. The tank, filter housing, and fittings are made from high-grade plastic and should be good for many years. Both the tank and valve are backed by a lifetime warranty, so the guys at SoftPro are pretty confident about this product.
The SoftPro Elite salt-free water softener is an uncomplicated water softening system for the whole house. It is super-efficient with no water wastage and is very economical to maintain. With a bunch of filter upgrade options, this could be part of a complete home water filtration and softening system.
2. Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative
The Pelican salt-free water softener is one of the best whole house water conditioners. It is easy to install with no electrical connections and zero water wasted. Two sizes are available so you can match the water softener you buy to your water usage requirements. Depending on how much soft water you require, you can choose between 10 or 15 GPM, as well as filter combo units for added water filtration capabilities.
I like the quality look and feel of this system. The 5-micron prefilter is the housed in the usual food grade plastic setup. This ensures maximum longevity for the water conditioning unit as it prevents blockages. The salt-free conditioner is excellent, with a stainless steel housing and high-quality plastic valves. There can be no question about performance. With a DVGW certified 99.6% efficacy for reducing the effects of hard water, this certainly is one of the best water softening systems.
The Pentair warranty covers the tank for 5-years if you’re using municipal water and the rest of the system has a warranty of 1-year. They also offer fantastic customer support. You have the assurance of an established US brand. There won’t be any nasty surprises after a few years when you need assistance. That’s worth a lot.
The Pentair salt-free water softener alternative is a relatively inexpensive solution for whole house water conditioning. It is a good quality system with a backing of a trusted US brand. For soft water of a very high standard, without any hassles and continuous maintenance, this is a fantastic option. A really sensible product.
3. Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener Combo
While the Springwell salt-free water softener combo is highly recommended for well water, it is one of the best water filter and softeners systems for any water supply with high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and sulfur. Yes, this is much more than your average water softener. It ensures that your bathtubs and other fixtures are free of staining and ensures that your water smells and tastes great. Naturally, you have all the descaling and soft water benefits that come from an advanced salt-free water conditioning system.
The air injection oxidizing filter system is an economical and effective method of removing iron, manganese, and sulfur from the water. No expensive filters cartridges or media are used. Instead, a pocket of air at the inlet oxidizes the unwanted minerals. The oxidized contaminants are then backwashed from the system This means that there is some water wastage, but this isn’t too high.
The second stage of the Springwell system is a super-efficient water conditioner. The FutureSoft water softener is one of the best of its kind. The engineers at Springwell have done some fantastic work in the field improving water flow adaptability. Their ActiveFlo technology allows the softening media work well regardless of the flow rates in your home. You won’t notice any drop in water pressure.
The system is controlled by a computerized head that allows you to manage water usage by programming regeneration cycles and check on your water consumption. You can access information about the system and manage your settings remotely using the Blue Tooth app.
Three options are available. For a large home or commercial building with more than 7 bathrooms, the 20 GPM system is at the top of the range. The midsized softener combo is suitable for 4 – 6 bathrooms (12 GPM). The smallest model in the range is rated at 9 GPM and is suitable for 1 to 3 bathrooms.
The Springwell Well Water Filter and Salt-free water softening combo is excellent for removing more than just hard minerals. It also oxidizes metals and sulfur that can be found in many well water supplies. A UV filter is also available as an option. This is a high-quality system with a lifetime warranty from a company with over 20-years’ experience.
4. Aquasana Salt-Free Water Conditioner
The Aquasana salt-free water conditioner is a delightfully inexpensive whole house descaler that is compact and easy to install. It is highly effective at transforming calcium and magnesium into harmless microcrystals that won’t collect in your water pipes.
To some, the Aquasana softening system may look a little cheap. There is no stainless steel or other expensive materials used. However, the food-grade high density, tri-extruded material used to make the two tanks is incredibly durable and helps keep manufacturing costs low. It also reduces weight, which makes it easy and inexpensive to install. Using cheaper materials does not make this a second rate product. I think the 6-warranty is a testament to the quality that you’re getting. Perhaps not quite as good as the really expensive products (some with a lifetime warranty), it is still great value for money.
The 5-micron prefilter ensures maximum longevity for the softeners. Using a smart scale control media (SCM), you can be sure that the water in your home will not block pipes and is safe for appliances like dishwashers and water heaters. The system design is all about efficiency and you should not experience any water pressure or flow issues. It is designed to provide 7 GPM, with a 600,000 gallon capacity.
There is basically no maintenance required for the Aquasana whole house water conditioner. Simply install and forget about it. It does not require an electrical connection and there is no drain to complicate the installation. This also means no water is wasted through a media regeneration process.
An economical, yet very effective saltless water softening system. The Aquasana water conditioner is a wonderful alternative to traditional salt-based water softeners. Because it does not use any water and requires no maintenance, it will keep saving you money year after year. If you’re not up spending thousands of dollars for a water conditioner but want top results, this system will certainly appeal to you. Quite simply, a magnificent bargain.
5. Water Filter & Pelican Water Softener Alternative Combo System + UV
We’ve reviewed a bunch of really great water softener and filtration combos. Though few can compare to the magnificent Pelican PSE1800-PUV-7-P and PSE2000-PUV-14-P models. The latter provides 12 GPM for 4 – 6 bathrooms, with the smaller (PSE1800) providing 8 GPM for 1 to 2 bathrooms. Both systems offer multiple stages of filtration and softening, only the size differs.
A top quality product, adorned with durable stainless steel and high-grade plastics, this is quite an expensive filter and conditioner combo. For this price, one would expect a lot and a lot is what you get. It’s not just the quality materials that make this product more expensive, it’s the incredible filtration it provides that really does the trick.
The Pelican water softener combo utilizes 5 stages to ensure the purest water. A 5-micron prefilter takes care of debris, silt, sand, and rust. Then the water passes through a state-of-the-art catalytic granular activated carbon media (GAC). This mesh blend coconut shell activated carbon filter removes most common toxins that can be found in city water – chlorine, chloramide, pesticides, industrial toxins, and the like. A copper zinc oxidation media helps with additional chlorine removal, thereby increasing the lifespan of the GAC media. Longer filter life means lower maintenance costs.
The Pelican salt-free water conditioner neutralizes hard minerals without removing the healthy ones. Finally, an energy efficient UV filter ensures that no bacteria, or any other organism that could cause diseases, are removed. It’s a super safe solution for whole house water filtration.
It’s common knowledge that if you want the best, you have to pay for it. The Pelican combo system is certainly one of the best, ergo one of the most expensive. A quality filtration and water conditioning system like this will remain dependable for a very long time. It also requires very little maintenance, making it quite economical in the long run.
6. Springwell FutureSoft Whole House System with Salt-Free Conditioner
The Springwell FutureSoft salt-free conditioner system is another relatively cheap water filter and softener combo for a mid-sized home. It does a mighty fine job of descaling your water and providing basic water filtration without breaking the bank. There are different models that can accommodate ranging from 1 upto 7 bathrooms.
A fairly large prefilter removes sediment and rust. It also helps control chlorine, chloramide, whilst reducing odors and providing crystal clear water. It provides the added reassurance that microorganisms, with the potential to cause disease, are filtered out of your water. You have safe water for your family to drink.
Two descalers ensure that calcium and magnesium are rendered harmless. Like any of the best salt-free water conditioners, the sophisticated descaling media converts these minerals into a crystal that cannot accumulate in your pipes, household appliances, and plumbing fixtures.
With 1” valves and a great design to maximize waterflow, you won’t notice any waterflow restrictions or reduction in pressure. It is super-easy to install and lightweight. As a cheaper option for a high-end water softening, the tanks are made from food-grade synthetic materials. No expensive metals to increase the price or weight.
When it comes to affordable whole house water softeners, there aren’t too many options available. These tend to be pretty expensive items. This is one of the few inexpensive salt-free water softeners that still makes the grade in terms of general quality and efficiency. It is a dependable water softener that does a superb job of ensuring you have pure, clean water that won’t clog your pipes, or harm your appliances. No bad odors, just great-tasting pure water. A winning solution for the budget-minded homeowner.
7. Crystal Quest Salt-Free Water Conditioner
Way more than just a high-quality water softener, the Crystal Quest salt-free water conditioner is also an incredible water filtration system. The conditioning media is certainly one of the best at preventing hardness in your water. They’ve included some incredible additional filters to provide perfectly safe water to your home, regardless of the water source.
This system provides 4-stages of filtration and descaling, with several options for additional filtration and sterilization and a leak detector smart valve. Even without the extras, this is a magnificent system.
Stage 1 is a high-capacity 20” sediment filter, removing sediment, silt, sand, and dirt. The second stage comprises a Crystal Quest Eagle anti-scale tank. As you may have guessed, this is where the calcium and magnesium is converted into microcrystals the prevent hardness in your water. In stage 3, the water flows through a solid carbon filter. During this stage, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), industrial solvents, insecticides, pesticides, and similar toxins are removed from the water. The fourth and final stage removes colloids, bacteria, viruses, proteins, parasites, protozoa, and other organic molecules using an ultra-fine (UF) 0.2 micron membrane. This ensures that the water is perfectly safe and pure.
Each of the four filters act independently and are pretty easy to install. Filter replacement is also an easy task. It is a good quality product and should last for many years with very little maintenance required over the years. Crystal Quest is a proudly American company; this product is made in the USA. Being a US-made filtration system, you can be sure that it meets all health and safety standards.
Whilst not the most expensive, this is one of the more pricey options in our salt-free water softener review. With that said, it is one of the best for whole house water filtration and softening. You’re getting a lot for your money. Three stages of high-level filtration and a descaling stage means that you’ll have just about the best water quality available.
You have the reassurance of a US brand. This means outstanding quality control and you can rest assured that obtaining replacement filters won’t become a problem many years from now. I’m sure most will agree, this peace of mind is worth paying for.
Hard water is a result of high levels of hard minerals, like calcium and magnesium. This causes scale to build up in water pipes and electrical appliances. It can also cause irritation to eyes and skin. Dry, lifeless hair is another symptom of hard water.
Because hard water is undesirable, scientists have endeavored to find methods of combatting the problem. The more traditional method has been to use a brine tank filled with regular salt (NaCl) or potassium. This causes an ionic exchange between the salt and the hardness minerals. The minerals are then be removed through a backwash process that simply dumps the minerals down the drain. One of the issues with the salt-based water softeners is the amount of water used to regenerate the brine solution.
As an alternative to traditional salt-based water softeners, a catalytic resin media has been developed. When minerals like calcium come into contact with the media, it is undergoes a process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). The hardness minerals are altered to form hardness crystals. In this form, they are unable to bond with surfaces, like the inside of water pipes, plumbing fixtures, or appliances. Because the minerals are not actually removed, these devices are commonly referred to as descalers or water conditioners.
Another method of conditioning water is to use a magnetic or electronic descaler. This topic will be discussed in more detail further down the page.
One of the main benefits of using a descaler instead of a salt-based water softener is that it does not waste water. It is also less maintenance intensive. When using a salt-based softener, you need to continually monitor the salt level and add more salt as needed. A salt-free catalytic media does not need to be regenerated and remains active for its lifespan which is typically many years – some are rated for up to 10-years depending on water consumption.
Salt-Free Water Softener Pros and Cons
When looking at saltless water conditioners vs salt-based softeners, one can’t help but notice there is usually a significant difference. Salt-free descalers tend to be quite a lot more expensive. This may lead some to wonder what are the benefits of salt vs salt-free softening systems.
In the end, there both pros and cons to using a salt-free water softener.
Depending on our needs and preferences, salt-free water softeners can be the ideal solution, sometimes not. While these systems are expensive, the price is offset by low maintenance costs and could even work out to be more cost-effective over the years.
However, you may need additional filtration if contaminants in the water affect how the softener works. This would make the system even more expensive to install. Conversely, contaminants like chlorine are undesirable and you would do best to filter these out of the water, regardless of what type of softener you use.
Electronic water softeners are often referred to as magnetic softeners (or descalers, or conditioners). This is because a magnetic field is used to crystalize the hard minerals in the water. While these devices are super-easy to install and require no maintenance, they are not as popular as salt-based and salt-free water conditioners that use a conditioning resin.
There are those who say electronic water descalers are a hoax and that they don’t actually work. Others insist that these are great devices. They are cheap and can be easily retrofitted to any plumbing system. An electronic (or magnetic) water conditioner simply bolts on to your water pipe and has two wires that need to be connected to an electric supply.
While these devices do seem to help reduce scaling in pipes, they are not suitable for water with high concentrations of calcium or magnesium.