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Water is an essential resource for living beings, and it is necessary to ensure that the water you drink has removed the impurities and chemicals present in hard water.
To do that, you need a water softener.
The question is whether you should buy a salt-based or salt-free water softener.
To make this choice, you must know both types of water softener.
There is lots of technical information that goes along with how both kinds of these water softeners work.
However, in this article, we will provide a brief comparison of these two types of water softeners to help you determine which meets your requirements best.
Salt-Based water softeners use a process known as ‘ion exchange,' to eliminate calcium and magnesium minerals by exchanging them with sodium (salt).
Salt-based water softener systems require the use of regeneration periods and salt pellets, which in simple terms, is similar to a' recharge' of the device.
Salt-based water softeners are best for non-drinking applications like showering, cleaning dishes, washing clothes and outside work.
You may not like the taste of water you end up with after using salt-based systems (or you might be considering your sodium levels due to health problems), but there are three easy solutions for this:
Install a bypass valve; you can deactivate your water softener with the turn of a handle.
Install a filter tap to filter your own water for drinking
Bypass the machine to a supply point on your home – you will need a plumber to do this.
Best Situation to install a salt-based water softener at your home: Salt-based water softening is the most powerful way to remove hardness from water, so you should use a salt-based softener if your water hardness levels are very high.
Salt-free systems are often called ‘water conditioners.’
Salt-Free Water Softeners do not actually remove minerals present in hard water, but they do prevent them sticking to metal surfaces in your piping and appliances.
Hard water undergoes a procedure in which the hard water minerals are 'crystallized,' meaning that they cannot adhere to surfaces, like on your kitchen utensils or inside your plumbing.
This method isn't as effective as a salt-based system and won't work well when subjected to really high hard water levels.
Some salt-free water softening systems in the marketplace comes with an internal water filter to remove hard water minerals. In this way, it conditions your water.
Some don’t even consider these systems as a water softener because they do not lower the hardness of water to less than 1 grain per gallon, the official standard as set by WQA.
That is why these systems are referred to as water conditioners or descaled.
However, people actually only care about the outcome, so the choice of water softening depends on your requirements.
So, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this particular water softener:
OK, we have described both kinds of water softeners.
Both salt-free and salt-based have advantages and disadvantages.
Which one you buy entirely depends on your requirements and choices.
If you want a water softener that is affordable, easy to install, inexpensive to maintain and does not entirely remove healthy minerals like calcium and magnesium, then definitely go with a salt-free water softener.
On the other hand, if you desire for a water softener that is fast, efficient and eliminates the hard water minerals, a salt-based system is the right choice.
Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built CleanerSofterWater.com to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.
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