There are solutions. A wide range of companies offer water softening solutions that can help remove some of the minerals. These solutions can be as simple as salt to pour into your dishwasher.
Some, however, are more complex but efficient. These solutions include electronic softening systems that can treat the whole house. Knowing which company to choose or what products to use can be a bit of a minefield. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you.
Here, you’ll find lots of information about hard water and how to treat it, as well as a rundown of the best water softener companies. That way, you can buy the best softener for your home and needs.
How to Choose a Water Softener?
Before the rundown of the best water softener companies, here’s a brief guide to how to choose the ideal softener for yourself. Read it or skip to the list, that I have chosen keeping the below factors in mind.
💧1. Test your water
you need to get an accurate reading of the dissolved minerals in your water. You can do this at home with a testing kit that you can buy online or in a hardware store.
The kit will tell you the hardness of the water in parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/L). They are essentially the same and are equal in value.
You will need the value in grains so you need to do a bit of math. The formula is:
☑️ Hardness in ppm/ 17.1 = Hardness in grains.
So if the mineral content of your water is 130 ppm you would do the following calculation:
☑️ 130/17.1 = 7.6 grains. This would mean that your water is moderately hard.
NB: You can send a sample of your water to a lab for full chemical analysis. This will not only tell you how hard your water is but will also give you a rundown of the chemicals and contaminants in your water.
💧2. Choosing the right water softener size
You can’t just pick any old water softener. You need to make sure that the softener you choose can cope with the amount of water you use each day.
You also need to decide how often you want the system to regenerate. This should be no more than every three days but more than once a fortnight.
If you have a duo tank system regeneration time is less of a pressing issue as you’ll still be able to get soft water. However, single tank systems are less convenient so you’ll need to choose a regeneration time that suits your lifestyle.
Salt-based softening system capacities are expressed in grains. The number tells you how many grains the system can deal with before it needs to regenerate. The higher the grain, the more water it can handle before regenerating.
The problem remains, what size do you need? Well, you’re going to need to do one more bit of math.
To determine the capacity of your water softener you need to do the following equation:
☑️Capacity = Number of people + 1 (for appliances) x Hardness x 80 Gallons x Days between regenerations
The hardness is the figure we worked out earlier which is expressed in grains not the parts per million figure.
If you’ve had a test that detects iron in your water you’ll need to adjust the formula so it looks like this:
☑️Capacity = Number of people + 1 x (Hardness + 5 x ppm of iron) x 80 Gallons x Days between regenerations.
Let’s look at an example using the following information:
- 5 people in the home.
- 9 grains per gallon hardness.
- 2ppm of iron
- 7 days between regeneration cycles.
Therefore your calculation would look like this:
- Capacity = (5 + 1) x (9 + 5 x 2) x 80 x 7
- Capacity = (5 + 1) x (9 + 10) x 80 x 7
- Capacity = 6 x 19 x 80 x 7
- Capacity = 63,840 gpg.
So with that calculation complete, you can now start looking at water softeners with at least 63,840 gpg capacity.
Higher grain water softeners tend to be more expensive. You can combat this by reducing the time between regeneration cycles. This will allow you to have a smaller capacity system.
In general, water softeners can cost anywhere between $500 and $2500 outright. That figure doesn’t include the expense of monthly salt refills or the amount of money wasted on water used to regenerate the system.
That being said, in the long term, water softeners do save you money because they prevent or reduce damage to your plumbing and appliances, therefore, saving you the cost of replacing your pipes or your dishwasher.
If you can’t afford a water softener system, you could consider one of the salt-free descaler systems. They tend to be cheaper to install and require less or no maintenance.
They are, however, less effective than salt based systems at protecting your appliances.
The Best Water Softener Companies
With water softeners being so expensive and also creating an ingestible product, you want to make sure you can trust the manufacturers.
There are a few names in the water softener industry that have good form and a lot of consumer trust. We’re going to take a look at each of them individually so that you can see what each has to offer.
The brands we recommend: Overview
- Whirlpool: Whirlpool is making water softener for nearly 30 years, so they are far more experienced in this matter compared to many other water softener companies.
- General Electric: General Electric has a lot of variation when it comes to water softener.
- Eddy: Eddy is more like a perfectionist, they have made a salt free alternative to regular water softener and they have only one product, which is world class.
- Aquasana: Aquasana provide more than just a water softener. Its product is more like a holistic water filtration system for all purpose.
- Pelican: If you like huge range of option, Pelican is just the company you may like.
- Culligan: Beside making water softener they also have other services like water quality testing, cooler delivery, salt delivery, and well water exchange. So, Culligan is kind of one stop shop.
- Kinetico: The unique thing about Kinetico is their water softener do not use electricity, It only uses the force of moving water.
- Fleck: Unlike any other companies in this list, Fleck makes nothing but water softeners.
Whirlpool has been around for over a hundred years and in the water softener game for over 30 years. They are a household name with a fully established customer service team able to handle any issue.
The company offers softeners from 18,000 gpg to 48,000 gpg and so are able to manage any household.
The majority of softeners offered by Whirlpool are single tank designs although they do offer the WHES3T 33,000-grain Dual Tank for households that want constant soft water.
Whirlpool’s single tank softeners are built with 6th Sense Technology that monitors your water usage and schedules regeneration for days and times when you are less likely to use water. This means that the regeneration process doesn’t interfere with your normal water usage.
Let’s take a closer look at one of Whirlpool’s water softeners.
This water softener is a single tank machine. It is ideal for households of 1- 5 people thanks to its high grain rating.
The machine is NSF certified meaning it is proven to reduce hard water problems like build-up and appliance deficiency.
Like other Whirlpool water softeners, this machine includes 6th Sense Technology. Not only does this schedule regenerations at the least disruptive times, but it also measures out the correct amount of water and salt for the regeneration.
This water softener has an optional warranty of 5 years covering the tank and parts. It’s not the longest warranty we’ve seen. In fact, it’s half the length of the warranty offered by Whirlpool for their PRO series.
That being said, this is a high quality machine that is loved by many users. It is efficient, great value, and durable. This unit will serve you well for years to come. It’s a no nonsense unit that requires little more than the monthly salt top up.
Another great feature of this water softener is that you can install it yourself if you wish. There is lots of support online to help you with the installation. This means you can save a significant amount of money by not having to hire a plumber!
2. General Electric
General Electric is one of the best known and loved names in household appliances. They are an all American company that produces high-quality appliances designed to provide unparalleled service.
The GE water softener range currently consists of 5 different units. All are single tank constructions but they range in capacity from 30,000 gpg to 45,000 gpg.
Of all the companies that produce water softeners, GE probably has the smallest selection in terms of capacity range. Their softeners are really aimed at family homes with between 4 and 6 occupants.
All GE water softeners are NSF and WQA certified. These are two of the most respected water quality bodies and their seal of approval is a sign of a quality machine that genuinely does reduce the hardness of your water.
Some GE softeners include built-in sediment filters. This is ideal if you have particularly gritty water.
The vast majority of the GE softeners also include SmartSoft technology which predicts how much soft water you need based on usage history. It also sets the salt and water levels for the regeneration cycle based on demand. This saves you water and salt over time.
Let’s take a closer look at one of GE’s water softeners.
This water softener can manage water up to 160 gpg in hardness. That would make for some extremely hard water! Most places are far lower than this level but it goes to show that this softener can manage the hardest water in the US!
The system softens 9.5 gallons of water per hour which is more than enough for a family of 4 or 5.
This softener does not come with a built-in sediment filter. If you’re using municipal water then this shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re using well water, you’ll want to invest in a filter system as well.
The SmartSoft system ensures your softener regenerates at the most convenient time for you and your family. It monitors your water usage and selects a time when you’re less likely to use water.
One of our favorite features is the salt display feature. This display on the top of the unit tells you how many days you have until the salt runs out. This takes the guesswork out of maintaining your system. It also means you have enough warning to run out and grab salt before you’re empty! That is always appreciated!
You can install this softener yourself, thus reducing costs associated with hiring a plumber. The instructions provided are clear, simple, and supported by a video. The majority of customer reviews discuss how easy the system is to install.
This unit comes with a 1-year limited warranty from GE covering all parts and accessories for material or workmanship defects. After that, you get a 10-year warranty on the brine and resin tank and a 3-year warranty on the electronic monitoring system.
Eddy is a London based company that specializes in electronic water descalers. This is a salt-free method of handling hard water. However, you need to remember that this does not remove the minerals from your water. It just changes the way they interact with pipes, appliances, and surfaces.
Eddy descalers are much cheaper than salt softeners and much smaller. They require no plumbing, as they work by sending an electric current through two coils.
All Eddy descalers are manufactured in the UK but are built to meet US standards. This covers the product performance and the electronic parts.
One of the great things about Eddy descalers is that they are much better for the environment. The electric method does not require any water or sodium to backwash chambers. As such, water is not wasted and excess sodium is not washed down the drains.
Eddy is a one-trick pony company in that they only have one product, the Eddy Electronic Descaler. However, the quality of that product is wonderful. Let’s take a closer look.
The first thing to love about this product is the price. It is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than most salt-based softeners. If you’re looking for something cheap to reduce the effects of hard water, the Eddy is a really good choice.
Installation is super easy. Two coils are supplied with the machine. These need to be wrapped around the water entry pipe. It doesn’t matter which way the pipe is orientated or which way the water flows. You just need to wrap the wires.
Once you’ve wrapped the wires, you peel the sticky pads on the back of the electric box and stick that to the wall nearby. Then you can plug the color-coded wires in.
The final step is to plug the unit into the mains outlet and you’re done! No fiddling with plumbing, no big, bulky units. Another great thing about the Eddy descaler is the fact that it requires no maintenance. You don’t need to top up salt or beads, no need to clean out chambers.
The Eddy descaler comes with a 12-month no-quibble money-back guarantee which is absolutely fantastic! It suggests that the company has a lot of confidence in their product! You also get a lifetime repair or replacement warranty on the whole unit. Again, this is amazing. It’s the best warranty of any company on this list.
The one thing you will need to remember is that as a descaler, this machine does not remove calcium and magnesium. It simply prevents these minerals from sticking to surfaces. This will help prolong the life of your appliances and pipes, but it won’t remove the soapy taste and smell from your water.
Like Eddy, Aquasana doesn’t offer water softeners. They are better known for their larger and elaborate filtration systems. These systems reduce the particulates, contaminants, and chemicals in your water.
Aquasana does offer salt-free whole-house water descalers as well as under sink reverse osmosis systems. The RO systems will remove the calcium and magnesium from your water but only from the sink the system is placed on.
A stand-alone descaler is a wonderful piece of equipment. It is a proper workhorse that can handle 7 gallons of water an hour. It can be integrated into a filtration system or be used as a stand alone item.
Let’s take a closer look at the whole-house descaler.
The salt-free water conditioner system consists of a 46” tank, a 10” pre-filter, and all the fittings required for installation. You will need about 27” of piping to install this system.
The capacity of this system is listed by the manufacturer in years. They give it a 6 year lifetime and a 6-year warranty to go along with that. This shows that they have a lot of faith in their product and also gives you peace of mind. Who doesn’t love a system that requires no input for a whole 6 years?
One of the major selling points of this product is the fact that it doesn’t use salt. This means that you don’t need to lug big bags of salt around every month to refill brine chambers.
More importantly, it means that sodium heavy water is not being released back into the environment. Water that contains a lot of salt can cause soil and water imbalances and is difficult to clean for consumption.
The system works by transforming the calcium and magnesium particles into harmless crystals that just wash out of your plumbing system. It does not remove the minerals so you may still have a soapy taste.
One of the great things about this unit is that it comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not happy, you can send it back no questions asked and get a refund. While we’re talking about warranties, let’s take a closer look at that 6-year warranty. It covers parts and accessories for defaults or workmanship errors.
However, the major problem with this warranty is that it is only valid if a qualified plumber installs the system. This means you can’t, unfortunately, save yourself a bit of cash by installing the system yourself.
Having to spend money on a plumber after forking out nearly a grand on this system is a bummer. We’d prefer to have the option to install ourselves, especially seeing as the instructions make the process seem simple.
Pelican was acquired by Pentair in 2020. By that point, Pelican was already an established name in the water treatment industry.
They currently have a huge range of filters and water softening systems available for purchase. Whether you want a stand-alone shower head filter or a complex, whole house filtration system, Pelican has a solution for you.
By their own admission, Pelican is ‘America’s #1 water softener alternative.’ This is an interesting claim as they do sell a salt-based softener system as well as alternatives.
Their salt softener comes in two sizes. The first is suitable for 1-3 bathrooms and the second suitable for 4-6 bathrooms. It’s a bit of an odd way of measuring especially when pretty much every other company just lists capacity by the grain.
The NaturSoft Water Softener Alternative also comes in the above 2 sizes. It is marginally cheaper than their salt system but still well over a grand in price.
That really is the defining feature of Pelican water treatment systems. They are very expensive! You do get great quality for the price but for many, the price is prohibitive and that is why it is one of the best water softener companies around the world.
Let’s take a closer look at their ‘alternative’ system.
First and foremost, the NaturSoft system is, according to Pelican, the only water softener alternative that has been independently tested and verified as 99.6% effective. Effective at what you might ask? Well, it’s 99.6% effective at preventing the build-up of limescale.
Like other salt-free alternatives, the NaturSoft doesn’t remove calcium and magnesium from the water. What it does do is suspend the calcium and magnesium in the water so that they can’t stick to surfaces.
The calcium and magnesium are still present and still interact with detergents, soaps, and oils as you’re used to. In fairness, this problem isn’t restricted to Pelican alternatives. It’s a common theme across all kinds of salt-free water softeners.
This system, unlike salt systems, doesn’t require electricity to work. Power outages won’t interrupt your water flow or reset any programs. It also doesn’t need to waste water on backwashes so you save money in the long run.
Culligan was founded in 1936 in Illinois. In the 80 years since, Culligan has become an international leader in water purification and softening.
It now operates in 90 countries around the world providing a huge range of filtration, softening, and dispensing solutions for residential, office and commercial premises.
The brand is popular here in the US where it sells hundreds and thousands of units per year. They sell individual filters or softeners as well as integrated filtration and softening systems.
They also offer a number of related services including water quality testing, cooler delivery, salt delivery, and well water exchange.
The salt delivery system is particularly handy for people who purchase a salt softener. It means you don’t need to run to Lowes or somewhere similar for a bag of salt.
In terms of the products offered, Culligan has two salt softeners, one salt-free alternative, and a portable exchange water softener system.
The salt systems are designed to handle a wide range of water hardnesses. The higher range model features a smart monitoring system that regulates the amount of salt and water used in the regeneration process.
It also allows you to set the desired hardness level for your home with the twist of a dial. This is great for people who don’t like the ‘slippery’ feeling associated with soft water.
What is really interesting is their portable exchange water softener system. In some places, salt based softeners are banned because of the environmental damage that goes hand in hand with disposing of sodium heavy water.
In these places, Culligan offers a portable exchange system. For a monthly fee, you will receive water softener tanks at your property. These will be installed by the technician and you’ll have access to soft water for your home. Later in the month, the technician will return to replace the tanks with fresh tanks.
This system is great because it completely minimizes the amount of maintenance you have to do. It also means that you can have beautifully soft water even in restricted areas.
Let’s take a closer look at the high end salt softener.
This system features a smart brine tank. This monitors your water usage and makes sure that you have enough soft water for your needs. It also helps schedule regenerations for times when you are less likely to be using water.
Another thing we like about this system is that the outer casing is completely waterproof and weatherproof. This means you can install it outside. For those who don’t have a basement, this is a god send. Culligan’s softeners are great value for money. They offer monthly payment options that can be as low as $33.
Culligan systems also come with remote diagnostic systems that alerts a Culligan technician of any errors or maintenance issues. They will get in touch with you to schedule a fix or maintenance check up for you.
Kinetico was founded in 1970 and developed non-electric, automatic water systems. They were industry leaders and pioneered research and development in this area.
Since then, Kinetico has expanded to serve over 100 countries across the globe. They offer complete systems as well as individual filters and softeners.
Kinetico’s major selling point is the fact that their systems do not use electricity to work. Everything is powered by the movement of the water. This means that there are no expensive electrical parts to break or replace.
Kinetico systems are incredibly efficient. They can handle large volumes of water and still offer exceptional results. Their products last for years and years providing you with excellent value for money and superior reliability.
Currently, Kinetico offers three different water softeners. Two are dual tank systems while their smaller compact system is ideal for smaller households.
Let’s take a closer look at the dual tank system.
This system contains two resin tanks and a brine tank. All are waterproof and weatherproof meaning you can install them outside as well as inside. Like many other softeners, this one is able to monitor your water usage and schedule regenerations only when necessary.
As a dual tank system, this unit will never stop supplying your home with soft water. When one tank is regenerating, the other supplies the water. This is perfect for busy households who want 24/7 access to soft water.
This system is highly efficient because it only regenerates when it needs to. As such water and salt are not wasted on unnecessary backwashes.
The Signature system can handle medium to hard waters. If you have especially hard water, you should look at the premier series.
Fleck is owned by Pentair, the company that also owns Pelican. It has a well established name and following in the US.
Fleck started out making one thing and one thing only, water softeners. Unlike Eddy, which literally just has a single product, Fleck has a range of water softeners on offer. They have also now expanded to water filters too. So, it deserves a place in the list of best water softener companies.
Their range has a variety of capacities designed to manage a wide variety of households. They also have a range of single and dual tank options to suit your needs.
Fleck products start at about $600 but can go as high as $31K! You can really customize the service you receive based on the hardness of your water and your budget.
Of course, if you need to filter your water as well as soften it, you can purchase one and create your own filtration and softening system. It’s perhaps not as slick and cohesive a system as some of the other companies, but it works just fine.
What we love about Fleck systems is just the sheer amount of options you have. Most companies only offer a handful of water softeners, sometimes as low as one or two. Fleck has about 12 different softeners available to choose from.
We’re going to take a closer look at the Fleck 5600 SXT Metered Water Softener. It’s one of their smaller softeners that is suitable for home use.
One of the most popular water softeners on the market, the 5600 SXT is available in a range of capacities from 26,000 gpg to 70,000 gpg. With the larger capacities you do pay an additional cost to cover the extra materials.
One of the great things about this system is that it has a built in capacitor to provide memory storage. This means that even if the power goes off, the machine will remember it’s settings and routines. This saves you a trip to the basement to reset everything!
The valves on the unit are covered by a 5 year warranty while the tanks itself are covered by a 10 year warranty. This shows a significant amount of confidence in the product by the company.
Unlike other softeners, there is no smart sensor. You do get a range of adjustable timings on the on board computer but it won’t adjust based on your water usage. As a single tank system, this is a bit frustrating as your water will be restricted when the tank needs to be regenerated.
Despite this, Fleck products are very much worth your investment. They are incredibly reliable, durable, and competitively priced.
What is Hard Water?
As mentioned above, hard water is water that contains lots of dissolved minerals. The minerals that cause issues are calcium and magnesium.
Hard water happens when the water supply flows through or over deposits of limestone, chalk, or gypsum. These rocks have high levels of calcium and magnesium which are highly soluble in water.
Hard water is a geographical problem. It only occurs in areas where those rock deposits are present. Unfortunately, about 85% of the US has hard water so it’s odds on you’ll need some help managing your water.
Water is considered hard if it measures between 7 and 10.5 grains per gallon. It is considered very hard if it is over 10.5 grains per gallon. Between 3.5 and 7 grains per gallon is moderate hard water. You may not need to soften this water. It depends which end of the scale your water falls. Water below 3.5 grains per gallon is considered soft and doesn’t need to be softened.
Why is Hard Water a Problem?
As we mentioned, hard water isn’t a health hazard. In fact, calcium in your water can be beneficial to your body.
The problem with hard water is the deposits it leaves behind. These deposits can cause significant damage to your pipes, appliances, and possessions.
You don’t generally see your water pipes, which means that you don’t tend to know if an issue is developing until it’s at crisis point.
If you live in a hard water area, always assume that an issue is developing in your pipes. You see, every time water runs through them, minerals are deposited. This mineral deposit builds up over time and can wreak havoc on your plumbing.
The first signs of mineral deposit in your pipes won’t be noticeable. However, when the deposit begins to grow and take up a lot of the pipe’s area, you might notice a drop in water pressure or clogs developing.
There are products you can pour down your drains to help descale the system though many people swear by vinegar. Ultimately, if the deposits are not kept at bay, your pipes can end up cracking from the added weight and pressure of the minerals.
Mineral deposits can also build up in your home appliances. Anything that uses water is a risk. This includes your dishwasher, washing machine, water heater, shower, sinks, and boilers.
The deposits can build up in any pipes or tubes connected to the appliance. This makes it difficult for water to flow in and out. However, the deposits can also build up on the heating elements of your appliances. When mineral deposits build up on heating elements, they make the appliance less effective over time. If left unchecked, mineral deposits can break your appliances.
Appliances like water heaters or boilers are most at risk of mineral build up because they tend to have standing water. Water that sits around for any length of time creates an opportunity for the minerals to stick to the appliance.
💧Skin and Hair
If you live in a hard water area, you will be all too familiar with the dry, itchy skin caused by the minerals in your water.
Both calcium and magnesium are drying agents. Even when carried by water, they can leave your skin and hair feeling bone dry. This is because they remove the natural moisture from your skin and hair.
Hard water can also leave a soapy scum all over your body and anything else it comes into contact with. This scum is irritating and can cause clogged pores that can in turn lead to acne, eczema, and dermatitis.
When it comes to your hair, calcium and magnesium coat the hair preventing moisture from accessing the follicles.
💧Clothes and Dishes
One of the more obvious signs of hard water you’ll probably notice is the scummy residue left on your dishes and clothing. Even after going through the dishwasher, you’ll find spots or streaks on your glassware or flatware. It’s infuriating and unpleasant to look at and hold.
Hard water can also ruin your clothes over time. Part of the problem is the fact that calcium prevents the laundry detergent from working properly. This means that stains and dirt end up building up on your clothes even though they’ve been washed.
Hard water scum also clings to your clothes making them feel dry and soapy. The scum can also diminish the color of your clothes, particularly whites.
Signs of Hard Water
You might already know that you have hard water. If you’ve been living in the area for a while, you’ll probably have dealt with some of the issues associated with hard water.
If, however, you’re still not sure. Here are a few things to look out for.
- Layers of white scum or film on your body, clothes, and dishes after a wash.
- Slower water flow over time.
- Mineral residue on appliance components.
- A soapy smell or taste to your water.
- Dirty residue builds up on taps and showerheads.
- Pipes that need constant maintenance or attention.
If you want to check the hardness of your water you can do so on this map.
Is Water Softening Worth It?
The short answer is, absolutely! You’ll notice a huge range of benefits for your home and your body. Before choosing best water softener companies for you and buying a piece, you must know if it is actually a good thing to install.
One of the biggest benefits you’ll get from a water softener is the reduced build-up in your pipes. You might notice better water flow or an increase in water pressure when your pipes are no longer blocked by limescale.
However, the biggest benefit is the fact that your pipes will be safe and functional for longer. Having to replace plumbing or appliances because of damaged pipes can cost you a bomb. Getting a water softener can minimize the financial damage!
Softer water will also prolong the life of your appliances as the amount of mineral build-up is significantly reduced. This means you can say goodbye to film covered taps or showerheads, and crusty heating elements.
Softer water will help prolong the life of your clothes and fabrics. When there is less calcium in the water, laundry detergent and soaps can lather better allowing them to clean clothes better.
You can also say goodbye to stiff, chalky clothes. Soft water doesn’t leave a residue on your fabrics like hard water does.
If you soften your water you will notice that your dishes feel cleaner when they come out of the dishwasher or the sink. That soapy film that normally clings to everything will be gone.
💧Skin and Hair
When you use softer water to wash your hair and body, you’ll notice that some of the irritation of dry skin leaves you. It can also help your hair feel healthier and nourished. Conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and acne might start to clear up if they were caused by hard water.
So, choosing best water softener companies will provide you with all these benefits.
How Do You Soften Water?
Whole house water softeners are often the best option for most homes. These units attach to the water supply of your home and remove the minerals before the water enters your house.
There are a few different kinds of water softeners available on the market. We will take a look at those in a moment.
First, a word on filtration. Filtration does not remove minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water. Filtration systems are designed to remove contaminants and sediments but not minerals.
The only filtration system that can remove minerals is a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system. RO filters are expensive, especially if you want a whole house filter. They are also a lot slower than most other kinds of filtration systems. This means you need to buy a bigger RO filter to be able to cope with the demands of your household.
Water softeners can be used in conjunction with a filtration system to provide your home with crystal clear water of the highest quality. The best way to ensure your water is as soft and clean as you need it to be is to use a whole house water softener and an under the sink RO filter.
The water softener will remove minerals in the water and thus save your pipes, appliances, clothes, hair, skin, and dishes. The RO filter will target the water that is being used in the kitchen sink, mainly water used for cooking or washing food. This water will be free from sediment, chemical contaminants, and minerals.
It’s ideal because it keeps the costs associated with RO filters as low as possible as you only need a small one for under the sink. However, you still get purified water to drink and cook with.
Different Types of Water Softeners
Best water softener companies only focuses on 4 types of water softener, know all about them below.
There are two kinds of salt based water softeners available on the market today. Both work on the same premise of ion exchange. In your standard water softener, there are two chambers. One is filled with resin beads, the other is filled with salt.
Water enters the system through the first chamber. The beads have a negative charge while calcium and magnesium have positive charges. When the water enters the chamber, the positively charged minerals are attracted to the negatively charged beads. This attraction is strong enough to keep hold of the minerals as the water moves on.
The water then exits the chamber and goes to your home. The water that exits the system is soft but it does contain a little bit more salt after passing through the beads.
You might be wondering where the salt comes from. Well, there’s a second chamber in this system. It is called the brine chamber.
The brine chamber is filled with water and salt to create a brine. Periodically, the brine is flushed through the resin beads to dislodge the gathered calcium and magnesium.
The sodium in the brine has a positive charge which means it too is attracted to the resin beads. To maintain balance, the calcium and magnesium ions are dislodged from the beads and rinsed away down the drain with the rest of the brine.
The beads are now regenerated and ready to soften more water.
This salt-based method is neat and efficient. The only issue is the regeneration process. Water can’t be softened while the beads are being rinsed in brine. To reduce disruption to your water usage, the regeneration period is usually scheduled for night time.
It’s not a foolproof method but it works for most households. Of course, this does mean you can’t set washing machines or dishwashers to work overnight.
To combat the inconvenience of having to wait for the regeneration process to finish, you can get a duo tank water softener system.
In these softeners, the science is exactly the same. Beads are used to remove calcium and magnesium from the water via ion exchange. These beads are then washed with brine to remove the calcium and magnesium ions.
The difference is that there are two bead chambers. When one is being regenerated, the other is being used to soften water thus, there is never any downtime.
This is a method that does not use salt to treat the water. Technically, it is not a softener as it doesn’t remove the calcium and magnesium. Rather, it uses water-soluble materials or chemicals like polysaccharides to change the way the minerals behave.
When treated in a water descaler, the minerals in hard water can no longer cling to surfaces and produce scale. The benefit of salt-free methods is that the sodium levels in the water are much lower than in a traditional salt-based softener.
Electronic descalers work in a similar fashion to standard descalers except, instead of using a chemical they use electricity and magnetism.
An electronic descaler will have a small box that is installed near the point of entry water pipe. Sticking out of this box is two wires. These are wrapped around a section of pipe to form two coils.
When electricity is run through the two coils a small magnetic field is created. The magnetic field interacts with the mineral atoms and changes their structure from square to circular. This prevents the minerals from sticking to surfaces and creating scale.
💧Salt Vs Salt-Free
There is a lot of debate about whether salt or salt-free systems are better overall. Most people tend to lean towards salt-based systems because they actually soften the water.
Descalers, while good at what they do, don’t remove calcium and magnesium and so don’t fully prevent the problems caused by hard water. In particular, they are not particularly good at preventing limescale build-up in appliances over time.
Descalers are good for people who need to be on a low sodium diet because no salt is added to the water.
Salt-based softeners are not harmful and the amount of sodium added to the water is fairly negligible. However, for people who need to be on top of their sodium intake every little bit can have an impact.
When you’re looking for a water softener, all the options and choices can become overwhelming. That’s why it is important to clear the clutter and find out about the best water softener companies before buying it. We hope that this article will help you understand the different kinds of softeners as well as giving you an idea of which companies to trust.