Do you have hard water causing frizzy hair, stains on your sinks and bathtub, and your clothes and washed dishes and glasses?
There are easy ways to soften all of the water used in your home, including the one you use for showering and your washing machine and dishwasher.
The salt-free water softeners are the more eco-friendly, less expensive and easier to maintain systems for softening the water than those which require the use of salts.
They are also known as descalers and water conditioners and do not remove the healthy minerals from the water, but just remove their negative impact on the piping, clothing, your hair and skin, and on the appliances.
But picking the best one for your needs could be a hassle, especially if you have no previous experience with these ingenious filtering systems.
We have picked the best salt free water softener systems and devices for 2021 for you and have come with a quick guide with the features to look for when shopping for a water softener that is sodium-free.
1 million gallons = 10 years
46 x 54 x 9 inches
The system comes with a complete top grade installation kit, helps reduce heavy metals, chemicals, VOCs and other contaminants
- A huge 1 million gallon capacity, which will last at least 10 years before they need for replacement
- The price of the filtering and water softening per gallon is calculated at $0.01
- This is a complete salt-free water softener system with a pre-filter, filters, and post-filter – for the whole home
- Removes 97% of the chlorine from municipal-treated water
- Reduces contaminants like mercury, lead, pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, and others
- A 20-inch pre-filter to capture the sediments
- A salt-free water conditioner that prevents the build-up of scale in the piping, safely and chemical and salt-free
- The special Scale Control Media converts the mineral grains into non-stick, inactive particles
- The descaler removes contaminants but leaves the healthy minerals in the water
- A Rhino whole house filter utilizing carbon and KDF filters
- There is a post-filter that removes any leftover contaminants at the end – it needs to be replaced every 3 months
- It is offered with a pro-range installation kit including brass fittings for 1 and ¾ inch pipes, shut-off valves, bend supports, a filter replacement wrench, and everything you need for its installation
- The up-flow design prevents any clogging and improves the filtration by increasing the contact of the water with the filters
- Easy filter replacement and the replacements are sold in inexpensive packs of several pieces
20 x 10 x 48 inches
Low maintenance tank, NSF certified, no backflushing or drainage, reduces scale without removing the beneficial minerals
- 300,000-gallon capacity which lasts for 3 years
- Offers a complete salt-free water softener system suitable for municipal water
- Easy to install, replace and maintain
- The system can be customized by adding a post-filter, UV filter, and others
- No drainage, backflushing or electricity required
- A unique up-flow, dual tank design increases the contact of the contaminants with the filters for better filtering
- A sediment pre-filter (replacement required every 2-3 months)
- A salt-free water conditioner that prevents scale buildup naturally without the use of salt or chemicals
- A copper-zinc and mineral stone filter for reducing chlorine, heavy metals, scale, and prevention of algae and bacteria growth
- An activated carbon filter that traps herbicides, pesticide, and chemical components, VOCs, as well as odors and tastes
- The system is NSF certified for removal of up to 97% of chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, rust, industrial solvents, water-soluble materials, sediments
- Saves money for buying bottled water
- Makes the food cooked with the water tastier and healthier
- Helps soften the skin, hair, and clothing
- Improves the quality of the air by removing chlorine and VOCs from the water in the shower
- A 3-year warranty
- It is also available for well water, as well as with a larger capacity of up to 1,000,000 gallons, and UV filtering
Best budget-friendly option
It doesn’t require plumbing changes and can help improve the flow rate in the home
6.7 x 1.6 x 3.5 inches
12-months money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty for repair or replacement
Simple installation, no plumbing required, prevents the build-up of scale and removes any existing deposits, no salt is used, the flow rate will improve, sold with a lifetime replacement and repair warranty, no maintenance required
- Incredibly easy to set up, no plumbing or tools required, just plug it in, and clamp the coils to the pipes
- Uses safe electromagnetic waves to dissolve scale and deposits, and prevent its build-up
- No filters need to be changed and no polyphosphates to be replenished – so it is maintenance-free
- The unit does not impact the water flow, apart from the fact that it may improve it if you have scale build-up
- Keeps all the healthy minerals like calcium or magnesium in the water
- It is environmentally friendly, no chemicals or salt is used
- Sold with cables and coils for pipes up to 1.5 inches
- Sold at a very affordable price
- The unit uses minimal electrical power
- An amazing 12-month money-back guarantee, and a lifetime warranty
The rest of the best salt-free water softeners for 2021
26.5 x 8 x 8 inches
Suitable both for city and well water, best for households with 4 or more people, 6 year life
- Suitable for both city and well water
- The unit will work for 6 years before the need for replacement
- Chemical and salt-free descaling of the plumbing and pipes in the whole house
- Comes with a shut-off valve, a hose, and a nipple
- Will improve the softness of your skin and hair
- Reduces turbidity and sediment
- Operating temperature range is 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sleek design and a light weight of 12 lbs.
- The unit is sealed and needs to be replaced with a new one after its service life
- A 6-year warranty – for the entire life of the product
36 months for 1-3 bathroom homes
44 x 27.2 x 8 inches
100% no worries guarantee
NSF/ANSI 61 certified for healthy drinking water, comes with full installation kit, 3-year capacity, an added pre-filter, an up-flow design, no salt or chemicals
- 3 year capacity for homes with 1 to 3 bathrooms
- Uses Template Assisted Crystallization to soften the water
- Maintains the healthy levels of calcium, and magnesium in the water
- Reduces scale build-up and prolongs the longevity of your pipes, plumbing, and appliances
- No salt and chemical regenerates required for descaling the pipes which results in water that is healthy for you and good for the environment
- No wasteful backwash
- Includes a 44 x 8 inch resin tank with descaling media, a 10 x 4.5 inch pre-filter for sediments, as well as all flex connectors, brackets, nipples, and ball valve for easy installation
- The sediment pre-filter will remove silt, rust, and sediment from the water flowing into your home
- NSF/ANSI 61 certified for safe and healthy drinking water
- Also available in a larger capacity version for 3-6 bathroom homes
- An operating temperature of 41 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- 100% guarantee by Tier1
3 to 5 years for 1-3 bathroom households
The tank is 48 x 9 inches, and the pre-filter is 20 x 4.5 inches
10-year limited warranty, and lifetime support
Maintenance-free, no salt or corrosive chemicals, no added sodium in the drinking water, safe for plants
- A 10 GPM flow rate
- Suitable for homes with up to 3 bathrooms
- Lasts for 3 to 5 years depending on the water consumption
- Removes and prevents scale build-up and prolongs the life of the piping, as well as the appliances that use water (washing machine, dishwasher, boiler, coffee maker, humidifier, iron, and so on)
- The system reduces and removes scale via safe advanced ceramic media which turns the minerals into crystalline form
- No salt or corrosive chemicals are used in the process
- The result is water which is safe for drinking, cooking, washing, for pets, for people who are on restricted sodium diets, and for watering plants
- No drainage, no backwash, and no electricity is required for its operation
- It is also available for up to 6 bathrooms, as well as in combination with the standard or the flagship WH filters
- A 10-year warranty and lifetime support
It will last for decades
15.4 GPM maximum for 99% efficiency
59 x 2 x 1.8 inches, 2.23 lbs.
365 days money-back guarantee
No plumbing is required, takes 15 minutes to install, no maintenance requires
- No cutting of the pipes, no plumbing and no instruments are needed for the installation
- Simple DIY installation for less than 15 minutes – all you need is access to 10 inches of a pipe which is up to 2 inches in diameter
- It works with all types of pipes – copper, iron, stainless steel, PVC, plastic, PE-x, and compound pipes
- No salt, no chemicals, and no contact with the water to remove scale and to soften it
- Uses electric impulses to loosen limescale particles and remove their adhesive power
- Doesn’t remove the healthy minerals like magnesium or calcium from the water
- 99% efficiency of water flow with a rate of up to 15.4 GPM
- You will protect your appliances like dishwasher, washing machine, water heater, iron, coffee machine, and so on
- The system helps improve energy efficiency by 40%
- You will save money and time for cleaning the limescale from the faucets and bathrooms and kitchens from deposit build-ups
- Helps reduce harmful bacteria in the water
- No filter replacement and no maintenance is needed
- An affordable price
Why do you need a salt-free water softener?
If you have water that has high contents of calcium, magnesium, magnesium carbonate or other minerals, this means that you have hard water.
Some signs that the water in your home is hard, include – the soaps not lathering properly, rings in the sinks or bathtubs, spots on the dishes, stains on the ironed clothes, a reduced water flow, dingy-looking laundry and others.
While there are other types of water softeners, salt-free ones do not add sodium to the water, and thus the water is healthier for drinking and cooking, as well as better for the environment.
Plus, salt-free water softeners do not actually remove the minerals from the water which runs in your house, they just prevent it from sticking on and building up on the inside of the pipes, in your appliances, and on your bathroom and kitchen furniture.
The minerals which remain in the water are actually good for you, for your pets, and your plants.
Salt-free water softeners are also easier to maintain and a superb addition to the whole house water filter system.
Features to consider when buying the best salt-free water softener
Since many of the salt-free water softeners are quite expensive, buying a system like this needs some preliminary planning to ensure that you are making a wise long-term investment.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best salt-free water softener for your needs, as well as the main features to look for.
Test your water for your grain rating
Testing your water with a home test kit or by using a professional to do it is essential if you want to buy a system or device which can actually help make the water in your home softer.
A home water test may also help you identify other potentially harmful and dangerous issues like high levels of bacteria, viruses, chlorine or other contaminants in your water.
The test results will show you the numbers of grains of the different minerals are present in a gallon of water.
This will give you the grain rating you should look for when shopping for a salt-free water softener.
If you use municipal water, you can ask the city to provide you with the grain rating per gallon, instead of doing the test yourself.
The difference in the grain ratings of city and well water can differ very much. In most cities, the allowed tolerance is for 15 grains per gallon of water, while some wells can contain water with 40 grains or more per gallon.
Most of the salt-free water softeners have a capacity to handle 15 grains per gallon, but if the grain rating of your water is higher than that, you may want to opt for another type of water softener or one with a higher capacity.
The water flow rate
Since the salt-free water softeners do not backflush the materials filtered, and instead turn them into non-adhesive crystalized ions which remain on the surface of the filter, the water passing through them will retain its continual up flow.
You should choose the water softening system in accordance with the water consumption and flow in your home.
While some of the systems can cause a drop in the water flow when several appliances or faucets are turned on, others have a higher water flow rate and will not have an impact on the water flow in the house.
A rule of thumb to follow is that one member of the household uses 4 gallons per minute. You should add another 1-2 gallons per person, to get the total water flow rate you will need.
In other words, the more people living in your home – the higher the water flow rate you will need.
For example, if four people are living in your home, you should opt for a salt-free water softener with a flow rate of 7 to 10 GPM.
The maximum pressure
The different salt-free water softeners have different maximum pressure rates. Choose a system that does not require too much pressure, and which will decrease the overall water pressure in your home.
As you can see from our list, the water softeners can vary in size quite a lot. Make sure you have the space to install your salt-free water softener before buying it.
The technology used for softening the water
There are 4 basic types of water softeners on the market. It is essential to understand how which one works, and what its pros and cons are so that you can choose the most suitable type for your needs.
In order to understand the four different types of salt-free water softening systems, it is essential to note that as mentioned previously, these devices do not actually remove the minerals from the water.
They simply convert them into a form that is not harmful to the pipes, the plumbing, the hair, clothes, skin, appliances, and for the aesthetics and cleanliness of your sinks, toilets, bathtubs and others.
The fact is, mineral grains are good for our health. They are good for our pets and good for our plants as well.
So, these water softeners simply remove the negative impact these minerals have, instead of eliminating them.
To do so, salt-free water softeners use several different methods.
Here are the main types of salt-free water softeners which you can choose from:
Use of Polyphosphates for softening
Polyphosphates are perfectly safe chemicals that are added to the water. They coat the minerals in the water in a way that prevents them from sticking to the pipes, appliances, furniture, clothes and to you.
These chemicals do not remove the actual minerals from the water, they just reduce their harmful effect and the buildup of scale in the pipes on the heating elements of your appliances and elsewhere.
This type of water softening system is straightforward and has the sole purpose of softening the water. It will not resolve iron and sulfur contaminations from wells, and will not remove the chlorine from treated municipal water.
These systems will not remove bacteria, pesticides, or herbicides.
They usually have filters that will capture the larger particles and will allow the coated calcium and magnesium particles to pass through.
Systems like this do require regular cleaning as well as refilling with polyphosphates.
They are highly efficient in removing the buildup in your pipes and are a great option for the first step in a more complex water softening system.
Complete filtering systems
Apart from softening the water in your home, systems like this will filter out a variety of other contaminants from your water as well.
They are more complex than the polyphosphate systems.
The water is softened by filtering units that crystalize and coat the mineral grains and thus preventing them from sticking to the pipes or to anything else.
The systems with additional filters can also remove chlorine and chloramines from municipal water, or herbicides, viruses, pesticides, and bacteria from well water.
This type of salt-free water softeners is the most recommended option for homes that use city water, although they can be very efficient for softening well water too.
But if your water comes from a well and has a very high grain rating, you may want to opt for another water softening system or pair this one with another technology.
The full filtering systems for softening and filtering the water are an excellent solution, but they do require regular filter replacements at about 6 to 12 months, which will add to the overall cost of maintaining such a system.
Electro-Magnetic softening systems
The electro-magnetic salt-free water softeners are amazingly easy to install. You just need to plug them in and connect their coils to a pipe at the entrance of the home, and it will do the rest.
These nifty and affordable devices send electromagnetic waves through the pipes in your home. As a result, the waves cause the mineral grains to magnetize and send them into the water, instead of clinging to the pipes and causing a build-up.
These water softening systems are suitable for homes that have a mineral grain rating of 15 or less per gallon. They are also perfect as an addition to another water softening system and can be installed at the end of the filtering and softening process for the best results.
These compact devices do not require that you cut any pipes, or do any plumbing. Nor do they require costly filter replacements or polyphosphate refills.
They use up very little electrical power, but they need to be plugged in constantly.
Magnetic water softening
These water softening systems are similar to the electromagnetic ones but do not use electricity to magnetize the mineral grains.
Instead, they use strong magnets which are attached to the pipes, and which magnetize all of the minerals passing through them.
Plus, over time, it will help loosen the buildup on the pipes and will flush the particles stuck to the pipes through your plumbing system.
The magnetic water softeners are the least effective ones, but they are permanent and require no maintenance whatsoever.
They are suitable for the final stage of a whole water softening system.
Chlorine filtration and reduction
If your home is supplied with chlorine-treated water, you should check out whether the salt-free water softener of your choice reduces the chlorine in the water.
It helps to get the water tested before buying and installing a system like this so that you know just how much of the chlorine you need to be filtered out and find one which meets your needs.
The operating temperature
Depending on where you live and also on where you are planning to install your salt-free water softener, you should pick a system that is capable of working in the temperatures there, as well as the water temperatures.
Check out the characteristics of your water softener to ensure that it will work properly at your given conditions.
Ease of installation
If you are a DIYer and would like to install your salt-free water softening system by yourself, it will help to check out whether it is sold with a detailed installation guide or DVD, and also if the package includes the parts you will need for the installation.
If you have picked an electromagnetic or a magnetic system, then you can easily install them by yourself, as they do not require any plumbing whatsoever.
But if you are opting for a more complicated system which requires cutting pipes, and other more complicated tasks, you may want to hire a professional plumber to do the job to prevent any incidents and to ensure that the system is installed correctly and it will do the job you have purchased it for.
Keep in mind that full filter systems will require regular filter replacements, and polyphosphate systems need to be cleaned and refilled periodically.
Check out how often you will need to buy replacement filters, polyphosphates, or will need to clean or otherwise maintain your home water softening system.
This will give you an idea of what kind of ongoing costs you should be prepared for, as well as the efforts which will be required to keep the water softening system working properly.
The materials used
If you have the chance, always check out whether the parts of your salt-free water softener which come into contact with the water, are made of safe materials. You should opt for BPA free materials, to reduce the risk of cancer caused by the carcinogens found in some plastics with BPA.
Stainless steel and BPA-free plastic are the best and safest options to opt for when choosing the materials because you will be using this water for drinking, cooking, washing your dishes, clothes and yourself.
As with any other purchase of expensive products for the home, it is essential to check out what kind of warranty is offered by the manufacturer, as well as what exactly is covered by this warranty.
Some of the products on our list come with warranties that will last the lifetime of the system, and others have shorter warranties, or offer money-back guarantees.
It makes sense to choose a salt-free water softener which comes with a more extended warranty which includes covering more problems, defects and others because a water softening system is supposed to be a long-term investment.
Which is better – salt-based or saltless water softeners?
There is a big difference between salt-based water softeners and salt-free water conditioners.
The systems which use salt to make the water softer replace the magnesium, calcium and other minerals into softer minerals – sodium and potassium. They do actually remove the minerals from the water.
The salt-free water softeners change the form of the mineral grains into ones that do not stick to the surfaces of the pipes, appliances, clothes and so on. But the minerals remain intact in the water, so the process should more appropriately be called water conditioning or descaling, and not softening.
Both types of softening have their pros and cons.
The advantages of the salt-based systems are that the water will give you a cleaner feeling when you are showering or bathing, the soap will lather more, your clothes will retain their bright colors after washing, and there will be no unsightly buildups on your sinks, toilets, and others.
The disadvantage is the regular refill of salt, as well as the presence of higher levels of sodium in the tap water, which can be harmful to people on low-sodium diets.
With the salt-free systems, the main advantage is the low maintenance required, and that these systems do not wastewater, and use no chemicals and salts. The water will not feel as slick and slippery, and the results may not be as apparent on your skin, clothes, and furniture.
The best salt-free water softener depends on your specific water grain rates, your overall water consumption, and the other contaminants you have in your water from the city or a well.
Hopefully, our detailed guide has helped you understand the basics of the process of water softening, as well as the pros and cons of the different types of systems that help reduce the build-up of scale and rust in your pipes, appliances, and your bathroom and kitchen furniture, utensils, and clothes.
All of our top picks for the best salt-free water softeners for 2021 are excellent and highly efficient products, but remember that one solution may work for some, but may not be suitable for others.
So, go ahead and test your water so that you can make an informed decision about the best salt-free water softener system or device for your needs.
With a system like this, you will prolong the longevity of your plumbing system, your appliances which use water, and will have stain-free sinks and bathtubs.
Plus, your water will be healthier to drink and use for cooking.
So, good luck with your purchase, and hopefully, you will soon enjoy the benefits of having such a system installed in your home!
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Last update on 2021-03-01 at 15:24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API