Salt vs. Salt Free Water Softener Systems

I received a very interesting phone call today from a woman in Highland, UT and her request was very interesting.  She asked me to come over and not sell her a water softener but to help her understand the difference between all the salt free systems that are on the market today and the traditional systems that use salt or potassium.  I told her that I would be very happy to do so free of charge as long as she would spread the information as far and as wide as she could.  I also then realized that I needed to post the same information to my website so I could do the same.

Many people understand that a salt based water softener system removes hardness from water in St. George, but this is only half the truth.  The whole truth is that a salt based system exchanges the hardness in the water for the sodium part of salt.  In other words the hardness is physically removed from the water and replaced with sodium.  The technology is called “ion exchange” and ion exchange or salt based systems are simply the best and most economical way to remove hardness from water.  We all know the results of using a salt based water softener – with the hardness removed we gain the benefits of getting rid of hard water spots on dishes, sinks, and faucets.  Soap scum in bathrooms disappears.  No more hard water rings in toilets.  Dry and itchy skin is eliminated. Scale build-up in our plumbing and the destruction of appliances is eliminated and so on.

It is arguable whether or not salt free water softener systems should be called a “softener” or not.  I believe they should be called “conditioners” because they do not actually remove the hardness from the water.  All salt free or no salt systems on the market today are unable to remove hardness from water.  They can “bind or restructure” hardness in water very effectively which prevents scale buildup in plumbing and appliances.  All salt free systems, if you look closely at their websites hold up this one benefit of scale prevention more than any other because that is pretty much all they can do.

 Let’s look at common sense for a moment and compare salt free systems to a regular water softener:

1.       Scale Prevention:  Both salt and salt-free systems will provide this benefit

2.       Soap Scum:  Soap scum forms from soaps reacting with the hard water minerals in your water.  Remember, salt free systems do not actually remove the hard water minerals from your water and therefore soap scum will still form in your showers and wherever soaps are used if you choose a salt free system

3.       Dry Itchy Skin:  Dry, itchy skin comes from soap scum that is smeared on you when you shower.  Think about it with common sense – if there is soap scum on your shower walls, it’s on you too!  That grippy, squeaky, feeling you get with a hard water shower is the soap scum on your skin.  The slippery feeling of soft water is not soap or salt, it is your natural skin and the way it should be.  The results of softer skin from a salt free system if at all, will be very marginal

4.       Laundry:  Your laundry soaps will still react with the hard water minerals present in the water from any salt free system.  Your laundry for the most part will still be crusty

5.       Hard Water Spots: When you leave a water drop behind on any surface evaporation will eventually happen.  Use common sense again.  The water evaporates and leaves everything else behind – minerals, chemicals, whatever was in that water is left behind and that is a water spot, therefore salt free systems do NOT get rid of hard water spots.

All this being said, you should know that I have installed hundreds of Pelican Salt Free water softener systems in St. George for some of my customers, but here is the reason why – the customer’s needs demanded a salt free system.  They are all customers and if you are a person too that:

·         Hates the feel of soft water

·         Cannot, will not, or does not haul salt

·         Do not care about anything besides scale build-up. Or you only care about preserving your plumbing and water-using appliances and that is it

You will be happy with a salt free system and in this view of the salt free systems, they are a good thing.

But if you are a person that cares about all the other benefits of a salt based water system, you will absolutely hate a salt free system.  Many people are inclined to install a salt free system just because they do not want to haul salt.  In the old days water softeners were salt hogs, but today we are installing many water softeners that need the salt tank filled only once per year for some customers.

If you have any further questions, or would like additional information, please feel free to send me an email at: