What Are The Pros & Cons Of Salt-Free Water Softeners?

image of water

Salt-free water softeners are not actually water softeners. Technically, they work as water conditioners. They are effective in helping reduce the number of chemicals in the water, as well as serious limescale buildup. A salt-free water softener changes the chemical structure of the minerals present in the water using the process of descaling. This helps prevent any solid particles from sticking to the pipes and fixtures.

To change the properties of the minerals in the water, salt-free softeners use a type of catalytic media called TAC or Template Assisted Crystallization. It simply changes the form of the minerals into a type of crystal that will not adhere to surfaces such as pipes, tanks, and faucets. In this type of system, the water is not “softened” but is actually conditioned.

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What Are The Pros & Cons Of Salt-Free Water Softeners?

In this article, we discuss some of the perks and downfalls of salt-free water softeners.

Advantages Of Salt-Free Water Softeners

advantages of salt free water softener

Below, we outline some of the benefits that come with a salt-free water softener.

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Limescale Buildup is Reduced

The process of TAC helps prevent solid particles such as minerals from accumulating inside the water distribution system. This helps reduce the problem of limescale buildup, which appears as a stubborn, chalky residue that hardens over time.

Lower Cost

Smiling couple calculating savings

Salt-free water softeners do not require the addition/purchase of salt. In general, a softener will usually require 50-lb. salt bags to be added on a regular basis. This can mean significant savings over the long term with salt-free softeners.

Does Not Require Back-Flushing

Back-flushing or backwashing refers to the process of using water to wash out minerals that have accumulated in the system. This is done to prevent limescale buildup, especially in the resin component of a salt-based softener. Back-flushing requires the use of a lot of water, which can equate to a large volume of water wasted during the cleanup process in regular softeners. With salt-less water softeners, this is not necessary, which means there is no need to use water for cleanup that will only end up as wastewater.

Does Not Require Softening Chemicals

For homes that prefer the use of fewer chemicals in their water, salt-free softeners offer a more ideal option.

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Does Not Use Up a Lot of Electricity

Since the system does not have to run a cleaning cycle to flush away accumulated minerals, it will not require the extra use of electricity. As such, you can still keep your power usage down.

Does Not Require Proximity to a Drain

Wastewater that was used to back-flush the system will have to be discharged into a drain, which is why a water softener must be installed in an area close to a septic tank or a sewer. If there is no drainage nearby, there may be a problem with the installation of the unit.

More Affordable

Salt-free water softeners are generally more affordable than salt-based softeners. They are preferred by households that want a less costly method to condition water. Salt-free water softeners are also comparatively easier to maintain than salt-based systems.

Disadvantages Of Salt-Free Water Softeners

image depicting pros and cons of salt free water softener

Below, we outline some of the downfalls that come with a salt-free water softener.

Limescale Buildup

Salt-free water softeners are not very effective in preventing the buildup of limescale, especially in tanks and water depositories. Since salt-free softeners do not eliminate minerals completely, these tiny particles can still collect where water is held and result in a buildup.

The reason for this is simple. Since the process involved in the treatment of water in salt-free softeners merely changes the characteristics of the minerals, they are not actually eliminated from the water. Minerals that remain in the water will still build up over time but the process is significantly slower compared to that in salt-based softeners. However, the build-up on fixtures will be reduced.

No “Soft” Water Feeling

water softener

Soft water feels smooth and silky on the skin. Since salt-free systems do not soften the water, this familiar water texture is absent. Note, however, that this may be considered an advantage by other people who prefer the texture of hard water.

Slower Results

Salt-based systems show results far more quickly than salt-free systems. This is because salt-based systems use a physical filtration process while a salt-free system uses electricity.

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The Chemistry of the Water is Changed

Some households may require the presence of certain minerals in the water as part of their dietary needs. Since salt-free softeners do not use sodium, the contents and amount of the minerals in the water are altered.

Efficacy Will Depend on the Area or Location of a Home

How well a salt-less water softener can work will depend largely on the contaminants present in the water. This, of course, will also depend on the area where you live. Water in some areas, for example, may contain more minerals or contaminants. As a result, salt-less softeners may work better in some areas than in others.


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Contact Robinson Plumbing, one of the most trusted plumbing companies in the Lehigh Valley, for reliable plumbing services. We offer a variety of plumbing services ranging from plumbing fixture upgrades, drain clogs, water leak repairs, toilet replacements, and more. We always give a wide range of solutions when possible for any plumbing repairs. This allows you to choose the best option for your budget and home.

We proudly offer the most affordable and best plumbing services in the Lehigh Valley area. Additionally, our experienced plumbers all have the proper licenses and expertise to ensure your satisfaction. We back all of our work with a guarantee. Contact Robinson Plumbing today and schedule your free estimate.

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