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Question DetailsAsked on 7/21/2013

How good are salt free water softeners

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3 Answers


I did a more complete response to this issue about a month ago, but can't find it - must have been listed under plumbing, not water treatment.

Anyway, short story - water "softeners" use a chemical, typically a salt, to replace an element in the water such as calcium, iron, sulfur, manganese, or magnesium (the most common problem ones) with another element - commonly sodium, hence regular crushed rock salt (sodium chloride) is normally used as the exchange medium. This does result in a higher salt level in the treated water, which can be a concern to some people on principle, and for those on a reduced sodium diet also, although an osmotic filter on the drinking water faucet(s) can virtually eliminate the excess salt.

For household systems, the non-salt ones tend to be filter oriented or suspend the natural chemicals ionically in the water rather than removing them as in chemical treatment systems, so they generally to not achieve the same goal - that of "softening" the water by removing iron and such, and tests show they do not substantially reduce buildup of deposits in pipes either. Therefore, generally the two are not really comparable systems, and a great many users are very disappointed that after installation, their non-salt systems does not seem to be "softening" the water or removing deposit-causing chemicals.

Those that do remove a large portion of the dissolved solids, because they tend to work on the osmotic filtration rather than chemical change principle, clog up really quick (I have seen total clogging in less than a week) with hard water.

Personally, for a residential system I would not recommend one. Of course, for industrial use where you are treating hundreds of thousands or even millions of gallons of water a day it can be a different story, but those systems typically may have sedimentation, filtration, resin contact chambers, flocculant settling, sand filtration, carbon absorption, etc - so in a multi-stage system one can remove several undesireable constituents with several different processes in series.

Generally, I would say the harder your water, or the more you need water softening, the less likely you will be happy with a salt-free system, within the normal residential price range.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


My Culligan man said we can use Potassium pellets instead of Salt pellets and they should work just as well and not cause as much environmental harm as salt. The Potassium pellets will likely be maybe 50% more expensive, but I think they are worth it.

Answered 5 years ago by Guest_90497862


The comment on Potassium pellets rather than Sodium is correct on usability - does not work quite as well per pound because of solubility differences.

No environmental difference that I know of - they are both almost identical salts, just one is "table salt" sodium chloride and the other is potassium based. You should ask your doctor before using either, especially if on meds and most especially if on heart or blood pressure or kidney or liver treatment, because the added salt can be harmful in that case. Commonly doctors will say to use bottled water for drinking and cooking in that case.

One thing itdoes do is because the potassium salt is somewhat less water soluble than the sodium based one, is you will get more water spotting and slight "hard water" stains - though nowhere as much as with untreated water.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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