If you’re looking for a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to soften your water, investing in a salt-free water softener system is the way to go. Not only are these systems more cost-saving than traditional salt softeners, but they also require much less maintenance and are better for the environment. Salt softeners have traditionally been used to remove calcium and magnesium ions that cause hard water; however, saltless water softening systems eliminate this problem without the use of salt.
In this article, we will look at the best salt-free water softeners on the market and discuss their pros and cons over other types of softening systems.
Types of Saltless Water Softener Systems
Electronic Water Descaler
An electronic water descaler is an innovative device used to reduce scale buildup in households. This technology works by using an electrical current which causes the minerals that make up the scale to break down into tiny particles. As a result, the minerals are suspended in the water instead of sticking to pipes or fixtures, reducing headaches associated with plumbing issues due to hard water. It is also beneficial for those on municipal systems since it can help reduce chlorine taste and odor.
These electromagnetic systems have been developed in recent years as an easy, maintenance-free way to solve hard water issues without using expensive and potentially harmful chemicals.
Cartridge-Based Water Softener
A cartridge-based water softener utilizes a replaceable cartridge that contains a special type of resin to remove hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium, from your home’s tap water. The cartridge-based system requires minimal maintenance compared to salt-based water softeners since there are no moving parts or salt brine tanks to maintain or change out periodically. Also, it’s an ideal choice for those looking for an eco-friendly option.
5 Best Salt-Free Water Softener Systems
#1. Best Overall: Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler
- HOW IT WORKS BETTER: Yarna CWD24 is a Patented Water Descaler System designed to treat water for the whole house! Our descaling system treats water with electric pulses generated within the electronic unit and controlled by a micro-chip. These pulses are transmitted via our Ultra Flat Impulse Bands that are wrapped around the pipe and change the crystals in the water as it flows by, allowing for the breakdown of crystals that would otherwise buildup into limescale, which can break appliances.
- WHO BENEFITS FROM YARNA: We serve homeowners and small businesses by reducing the negative effects of hard water and protecting appliances. Our customers report cleaner pipes and faucets, lower costs for descaling and heating, and better overall water quality. Depending on the current condition of your plumbing and how large existing limescale deposits are, it may take up to three months to observe a significant improvement.
- EASY, CLEAN INSTALLATION: All you need is access to a minimum of 10" of free pipe space with a maximum pipe diameter of 1". Yarna water descaling system is completely DIY with no need for any tools or specialized help. Installation is simple, takes only 15 minutes and is 100% maintenance free. Our whole house water descaler works with any type of piping up to 1" thick including iron, copper, stainless steel, plastic, PVC, PE-x, and compound pipes.
- WHY DESCALING IS BETTER THAN SOFTENING: The Yarna CWD24 Water Descaler System won't eliminate wanted minerals from the water that are good for our bodies. The patented system allows the hardness level of water to remain unchanged before and after treatment, which mitigates the negative effects such as preventing minerals from forming scale deposits, which is the main disadvantage of hard water. Unlike traditional water softeners, Yarna does not require the use of salt or any water to be wasted.
- RISK-FREE 365 DAYS, 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: You will enjoy a limescale-free environment as long as our Yarna house water softener descaling system is installed. To that end, should you not be satisfied with the product's performance, you have a whole year to return it for a full refund!
- Softener Type: Electronic Descaler
- Wattage & Power Source: 4 watts (Corded Electric)
- Dimensions: 5.9″L x 1.8″W x 2″H
- Warranty: 1-Year
The patented Yarna electronic water descaler uses low-voltage electric pulses to treat your water and protect it from limescale build-up without chemicals or salt. Installing it takes just 15 minutes and provides reliable performance on any type of pipe, including PEX, PVC, steel, copper, or lead pipes.
There’s no need for professional assistance since the installation process does not require plumbing skills or specialized equipment making the entire experience stress-free. Also, there are no worries about replacing parts or maintaining upkeep.
It comes with a 1-year money-back guarantee that ensures your satisfaction and protection against any problems or flaws.
- Best salt-free water softening alternative
- Easy & hassle-free installation
- Compact design (works on any pipe)
- It requires a power source near the installation point
#2. Best Whole House: AO Smith Salt-Free Water Descaler
- Salt-Free Scale Prevention - The AO-WH-DSCLR naturally reduces scale build up in pipes and plumbing using a salt & chemical-free system. No cleaning, backwashing, salt-bags or electricity required.
- Works For All Your Water Needs - System works effectively on water for use in drinking, cooking, showering & bathing. Perfect for households of 4 or more people. System will not reduce TDS, sulfur, or iron.
- Well Or City Water - Our Whole House Descaler is engineered to work with both well & city water systems.
- Long Lasting & Cost Efficient - Reduces scale build-up for up to 6-Years or 600,000 Gallons. System includes a 6-Year warranty.
- Includes one Whole House Descaler, shut-off valve, hose adapter and nipple - Limited 6-year warranty.
- Softener Type: Salt-Free
- Capacity: 600,000 Gallons
- Dimensions: 30″L x 9.25″W x 9.25″H
- Warranty: 6-Years
This salt-free water descaler from AO Smith is an invaluable tool for any home that uses city or well water. Not only does it effectively prevent scale buildup, but there’s no need to purchase and add expensive chemicals.
This no-hassle water descaler works without the need for backwashing or electricity usage. With its ability to reduce scale build-up for up to 600,000 gallons of water, this salt-free solution eliminates the need for constant maintenance and turnover.
AO Smith’s salt-free water descaler protects your family for up to 6 years with a limited warranty. The unit is perfect for a family of four or more.
- Works with city & well water
- Salt-Free scale prevention
- Long lasting & cost efficient
- 6-Year warranty
- Not easy to install if you don’t have PVC pipes
#3. Best Cartridge Based: NuvoH2O Water Softener System
- The Manor Duo Water Softener + Taste Filter System is ideal for homes that are larger than 1,500 sq. ft. and experience symptoms of hard water and have bad tasting or smelling water in their homes.
- Prevents hard water scale buildup. Removes existing hard water scale. Compact design - fits almost anywhere. Simple cartridge replacement. Cartridge and filter last up to 6 months. Removes sediment and most chemicals from house water.
- Developed from 30+ years of commercial experience. Extends the life of your water heater, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. Eco-friendly - no salt, no phosphates, no wastewater, no electricity.
- Retains healthy minerals in your water. No slick feeling like you get with other water softeners. Complies with NSF/ANSI Standard 42
- Included in package: System housing (1 head and 2 sumps), Mounting bracket, 1 Softener cartridge, 1 Carbon taste filter, 1 Wrench, Tapcon screw pack, System head screw pack, 2 O-rings, Lubricant, Installation guide and Warranty/Registration card.
- Softener Type: Chelation water softener cartridge
- Best for: Homes that are larger than 1,500 sq. ft.
- Cartridge Replacement: 6-Months
- Dimensions: 26″L x 8″W x 8″H
The NuvoH2O water softener provides the best cartridge-based duo water softener and taste filter system on the market. By pairing a manor water softener with a taste replacement cartridge, it ensures that your home’s main supply of drinking and showering water is free from hard minerals that can cause damage to appliances as well as develop a poor taste or odor.
It provides clean hydration for your home without the need for costly, often environmentally damaging salt or electricity. With minimal setup and simple cartridge replacement, you have the convenience of a smooth water supply for up to 6 months without having to replace your filter or cartridge.
Retaining healthy minerals helps to ensure that your drinking water remains packed with essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet. Plus, this system complies with NSF ANSI Standard 42, making it an exceptionally safe choice within the industry.
- 2-in-1 Water softener & filter
- NSF/ANSI Certified
- Eco-friendly operation
- Easy-to-install and maintain
- Requires a plumber to install
#4. Best Salt-Free Softener & Filter Combo: Aquasana Water Filter System
- Clean, Great Tasting Water From Every Tap In Your Home - Activated carbon reduces 97% of Chlorine. Plus, this Rhino's newly-improved divider valve enables up to 14.6 gpm flow rate with no noticeable change in water pressure.
- High-Performance Filter System - Salt-free conditioner, carbon & KDF filtration engineered to maximize filtration and reduce scale while leaving healthy minerals in your water. This system will NOT reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
- Cost Efficient & Long Lasting - Clean water for less than dollars0.01 a gallon - Save twice as much compared to other brands on purified water for 1 million gallons or 10 years
- Easy Maintenance - No draining or back flushing needed - Easily replace pre and post filters every 2 months for best filtration and flow rate
- Top-Grade Install Kit & Components - System includes filter tank, conditioner tank, 20" pre-filter, post-filter, brass fittings for 1'' or 3/4'' pipes, bend supports, and shut-off valves – Item may ship in more than one box and may arrive separately
- Softener Type: Salt-Free
- Flow Rate: 11.8 gallons per minute
- Purification Method: Activated Carbon, Sedimentation
- Dimensions: 46″L x 9″W x 54″H
Aquasana water filter system is the best salt-free water descaler and filter combo available, using carbon and KDF filtration to provide crystal clear water that is free of scale buildup.
It filters out sediment, chemicals, and other impurities from the water—including 97% of chlorine! Plus, it’s designed to help prohibit algae growth in your drinking water so you can enjoy incredibly refreshing hydration.
The system guarantees purified water for up to 1 million gallons or 10 years, whichever comes first. It’s perfect for high-usage households. It will retain healthy minerals and will not reduce the total dissolved solids (TDS) of your water.
- Salt-free operation
- Reduce scale buildup in pipes
- Retain healthy minerals in your water
- Provide water filtration for up to 10 years
- It requires installation by a licensed plumber for warranty claims
#5. Best Budget Pick: iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Descaler
- [Improve Water Quality] Solves hard water problems without the need for chemicals, salt, or maintenance, while keeping healthy minerals in the water by preventing scale deposits from forming and allowing existing scale to break down.
- [Reliable Descaler] Descales your entire water system and prevents scale buildup in pipes. Reduces energy consumption with an average one year payback period. Great for your home and the environment, individuals on salt-restricted diets, and those looking for healthier skin and hair.
- [Environmental Friendly] Designed for very hard water areas (10-19 grains per gallon). Saves energy and extends the life of your appliances.
- [Easy Installation] No plumbing modifications required. Maintenance-free. Works on any pipe, even PEX and PVC. 1-year money-back and lifetime tech support from iSpring.
- [No change on Chemistry of Water] Unlike salt water softeners, ED2000 does not change the chemistry of water.
- Type: Electronic-based water descaler
- Process: Electromagnetic wave
- Iron Limit: 3 ppm
- Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 x 2 inches
- Warranty: 1–year
The iSpring ED2000 water descaler excels as a great budget option for people who want to enjoy the benefits of a salt-free water conditioner. It has all of the features you would expect from an advanced system with none of the added expense, allowing you to combat hard water without breaking the bank.
This device works like a charm for very hard water (10-19 GPG). It helps reduce limescale and prevent deposits from building up on household fixtures, plumbing, and appliances that use water.
It easily attaches to any water pipe in your home, ensuring simple and stress-free installation. In addition, the descaler is 100% maintenance-free. It’s backed by a 1-year money-back guarantee.
- Easy to install
- Prevents and reduces scale on fixtures
- Ideal for individuals on low-sodium diets
- If the water has an iron content higher than 0.3 ppm, this water descaler will not function properly. It is recommended to install a pre-water filter to achieve the best possible results.
The Pros and Cons of Salt-Free Water Softeners
Saltless water softeners are becoming increasingly popular for those who want to soften their water without the hassle of regularly refilling a salt tank. They are also a great option for people concerned about the environmental impact of excess salt discharge. But despite their advantages, there are still some drawbacks associated with using these systems.
One of the biggest benefits is that salt-free water softeners won’t add additional sodium or other chemicals to your drinking water – instead, they use physical filters or electromagnetic effects to help reduce mineral buildup in pipes and fixtures. Best for people on a sodium-restricted diet.
Salt-based water softeners are more expensive to install, operate, and maintain. Salt-free water softeners are generally less expensive and can save you money in the long run.
With a salt-free softener, you won’t have to keep buying salt and you won’t have to worry about the environmental impact of having to throw away the used salt.
No Maintenance Required
Saltless softeners require less maintenance than traditional water softeners, so you won’t have to pay as much for upkeep.
Retain Healthy Minerals
Salt-based water softeners remove calcium and magnesium from your water supply. However, they can also remove beneficial minerals which can affect the taste and quality of your water. A salt-free water softener just changes the structure and does not remove any minerals from your water supply, so you can enjoy high-quality water without any additives.
Salt-free water softeners are not as effective as those that use salt. Salt-based systems are better equipped to remove hard minerals from the water such as calcium and magnesium. While saltless water conditioners just change the mineral structure to minimize the limescale buildup. As a result, salt-free systems are not able to achieve the same level of water softening that salt-based systems can.
Water Won’t Feel Soft
Salt-free water softeners won’t produce the same feeling of “soft” water that comes from traditional ion exchange systems, since they don’t remove calcium or magnesium from the water. While this may still help with issues like the scale build-up in pipes and dishwashers, it won’t make the shower feel as comfortable or create sudsier laundry detergents like an ion exchange system can.
The saltless water softening process takes time to show results, so consumers may not notice immediate improvements when switching to a salt-free system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do electronic water descalers remove hard minerals from water?
Water descalers do not actually remove the minerals from the water, they can help reduce their effects on plumbing and other appliances. By passing an electrical current through the scaler, it changes the physical properties of calcium and magnesium ions in hard water. The scales are unable to stick together and form limescale which in turn stops them from attaching to pipes and surfaces in your home.
How can you tell if a saltless water softener is working?
Since salt-free water conditioners do not actually remove the hard minerals from the water, one of the best indicators of whether your no-salt water softener is functioning properly is reduced limescale buildup. By looking at your appliances, you can determine whether or not your no-salt water softener is doing its job.
A good indication of smooth functioning would be an absence of build-up on dishes or clothing after being washed. If the items have less residue than before installation, then there’s a good chance your saltless water softener system is working properly.
Are salt-free water softeners better than salt-based ones?
Salt-free water softeners are a great option for those looking for an efficient system that requires minimal maintenance. They do not rely on the use of chemicals or salts, so they often cost less upfront and require less maintenance than their salt-based counterparts. However, they are not as effective at removing hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium. On the other hand, salt-based systems are generally more effective when dealing with very hard water.
What is the maximum hardness a salt-free water descaler can handle?
The maximum hardness threshold for a salt-free water descaler to effectively operate is below 25 GPG (grains per gallon). This is because of the technical limitations associated with saltless water descalers which are designed to reduce and prevent scale build-up without resorting to the use of salts or other chemical treatments.
Does a no-salt water conditioner also filter water?
A saltless water conditioner does not serve to remove any of the impurities which are present in untreated water. It only serves to counteract the water’s hardness by passing an electrical current to separate positive and negative ions such as calcium and magnesium. If you want to remove contaminants from your water supply, you’ll need to install a separate filtration system.