WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SALT FREE “WATER SOFTENERS”
Several companies have begun promoting a Salt Free Water Softener. The claim is these systems change the physical properties of hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) by turning them into tiny hard crystals which will not adhere to pipes and other fixtures in your home. In theory, it’s a nice idea to be able to eliminate a salt requirement. The problem is that there are a number of common minerals typically found in your water supply that make these systems ineffective after having invested your money into this type of product. Also, this approach does not create “soft water”, therefore you will not get the full benefits of soft water in your home. For an assessment by The Water Quality Association on water softening and Salt Free Water Softeners, please see the link at WQA Consumer Alert.
YOU CANNOT TEST THE WATER TO SUBSTANTIATE IT IS WORKING
Standard water softener testing consists of measuring hardness levels before and after the water softener to make sure hardness minerals are being removed. This method cannot be employed with a salt free water softener as the hardness minerals are not removed from the water. Testing will show equivalent hardness levels prior to water going through the system and after going through the system. As a result of this, the only way you will know for sure if the hardness minerals are not building inside your pipes and other fixtures is if you see no evidence of this after many months or years. By then, your warranty period will likely be over.
IF WATER HAS IRON OR MANGANESE IN IT, WILL IT WORK?
Different companies selling a purported salt free water softener have different parameters regarding levels of iron and manganese that will render the “Salt Free” Water Softener ineffective. The highest allowable level in the published information we have seen is Iron at .3 parts per million and manganese at .05 parts per million. For those of you living in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and have a private well, you know that iron and manganese levels typically exceed these levels. In Concord, water test results typically show iron and manganese easily exceeding .3 and .05 respectively. As a result, a Salt Free water softener is definitely not a viable option for you. If you lived in Nebraska or Kansas where they have plenty of calcium and magnesium (the “hard water” minerals) in the bedrock and water but no iron or manganese, you might consider one of these products. For more information on Iron or Manganese, see the links at Iron Article in Water Tech or Manganese in Water Tech.
For a full description of water softeners in general, please see the Water Quality Association link at WQA Water Softener info.
As a company that has been in the water treatment business since 1989, we have seen and are presented with new technologies all of the time. The ones we feel have merit we test in-house and in the field before offering these products to our customers as viable solutions to their water quality issues. If we were presented with a Salt Free water softener that we believed would work in Massachusetts, New Hampshire or anywhere our customers are located, we would add the product to our warehouse. To date, we have not seen such a product.