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The Best Salt-Free Water Softeners & Conditioners for 2023

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

Saltless water softeners don’t work similarly as a water softener. These systems work as a water conditioner or a descaler. You might want to check them out if you wish to preserve essential minerals in the water. They are an excellent addition to any home because they’re easy to use, too. The best salt-free water softener can be more valuable than a traditional appliance that squanders water. It can also offer low maintenance, long-lasting use, and an eco-friendly solution.

best salt free water softener

Picking the most suitable salt-free water softener is easy if you learn various essential factors. After trying out various products, we’ve determined that the following aspects are of utmost importance.

  • Water Conditioning Technology: Salt-free water softeners feature different technologies for preventing limescale formation and buildup. Most products use template-assisted crystallization (TAC) technology, while others employ electrical conduction or magnetic field creation. TAC systems are the most effective while retaining healthy minerals. Meanwhile, magnetic systems are the cheapest but may yield inconsistent results.
  • Water Flow Rate: Some water conditioners do not impact water flow, while others do. Regardless of the technology, the water descaler should maintain your home’s ideal flow rate. For instance, a water conditioner with a flow rate of 12 GPM is sufficient for houses with one to three bathrooms. Meanwhile, a 15 GPM unit is advisable for households with at least four bathrooms.
  • Installation Requirements: This factor is not a concern if you have a DIY spirit. Sadly, not everyone has the skill or resources to set up a water conditioner. Electromagnetic water descalers are the easiest to install, while TAC setups are similar to water filter installation. You might want to check the user guide, installation instructions, and other resources.

To find the right saltless water softener, we’ve researched the top recommendations for a saltless water softener. These products are by reputable manufacturers in the industry and are highly reviewed by users themselves. To further help in the selection process, we’ve included a buying guide for the considerations when examining your choices.

Top-Rated Products

Best Overall

iSpring ED2000


Most Budget-Friendly

YARNA Water Descaler System


Premium Choice

Eddy Electronic Water Descaler


Table of Contents

Top-Rated Salt-Free Water Softener Reviews

1. iSpring ED2000 Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner

Families looking for a more advanced technology to prevent scale formation in water lines should consider the iSpring ED2000. It is a water conditioner that utilizes a very different approach to descaling and preventing rust in water lines.

The ED2000 is one of those devices that rely on electromagnetism to prevent the adhesion of minerals on the inner surface of water lines. It is almost like conventional salt-free systems, except that the ED2000 requires electricity for it to operate. If one is already familiar with the pros and cons of salt-free water softeners, it is easy to understand the advantages of using electromagnetism in scale prevention.

Traditional salt-free house water softening systems use a medium that serves to change the polarity of the minerals in the water. It prevents the metals from sticking to the water pipe’s inner surface.

The same applies to magnetic systems wherein their magnetism changes the polarity of the minerals. In this case, you will never lose calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals. And since the system does not use salt, there is also no danger of increasing sodium in the body.

Because the minerals do not stick to the inside surface of the pipes, you get to maintain the integrity of appliances that use water. You will be able to use your water heater, ice maker, dishwasher, and washing machine for more years with this water conditioner.

Installing this whole house salt free water softener ED2000 is also straightforward. There are no connections necessary. You only need to wrap the ED2000 cables around your pipeline, and you are good to go.

Unfortunately, this is where the drawbacks of a magnetic system become evident. First, the magnetic force of the device is limited to about 50 feet. You may have to install one machine for every 50 feet of water pipe.

The system’s effectiveness is also dependent on water iron levels. The maximum level of iron in the water that it can accommodate is 0.3 PPM. If your water has a higher iron content, then the performance of the ED2000 can suffer.

Despite these drawbacks, many people still consider the iSpring ED2000 to be an excellent water conditioner. It protects your appliances and water pipes from both corrosion and limescale formation.

What We Like
  • Protects the integrity of water appliances
  • Retains the natural chemistry of water
  • Easy to maintain
  • Very easy to install
  • Eco-friendly design
What We Don’t Like
  • Limited descaling- and rust- prevention capability
  • Requires electricity to descale

2. YARNA Water Descaler System

To determine the best salt-free water softeners on the market, we deemed it necessary to read reviews as well. We read reviews about water softeners and conditioners from Consumer Reports, Lowe’s, and many more. What surprised us is that one of the most trusted products is not a real water softener at all. However, it is so effective in its descaling capabilities that many people consider it the top-tier system to use in their households. This product is the YANRA Capacitive Descaler System.

What separates YARNA from other types of so-called water conditioners is its capacitive technology. The design of the product is a lot like an electromagnetic device. The difference is in the way the device clumps the hardness minerals calcium and magnesium.

The main effect is that capacitive technology alters the basic structure of water. This change in water structure promotes the crystallization of hardness minerals. This crystallization allows the mineral to travel with water and never adhere to the inside of the pipes. It prevents limescale buildup.

The effects are almost noticeable right after the installation of the device. Your plates, cutlery, glassware, and kitchen utensils will look and feel cleaner. And if you take a shower, you will never have that slick feeling on your skin and hair. The technology protects and prolongs the lifespan of your appliances that use water.

We were also amazed to learn that a single device is enough to descale an entire house. Electromagnetic water conditioners are only useful so long as the minerals are within the range of the electromagnetic field. It is not unusual for you to have several units of electromagnetic water conditioners for the entire house. It makes the YARNA a more efficient system to use.

Now, keep in mind that the YARNA is not a water softener. You still have the hard minerals in the water. What the device only does is prevents the adhesion of these minerals to the inside wall of pipes.

On the bright side, you get to retain these beneficial minerals. The YARNA Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler System is a must-have for modern families. It has a straightforward design that belies its excellent capability to prevent limescale formation.

What We Like
  • Straightforward installation
  • More efficient than electromagnetic descalers
  • Retains beneficial minerals in the water
  • One device works for the entire house
  • Works with different types of water pipes
What We Don’t Like
  • Not a real water softener

3. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

I am not a fan of electromagnetic water conditioners, but I will make an exception in the case of Eddy. This easy water no salt conditioner enjoys substantial positive reviews from numerous customers, providing peace of mind to families who remain skeptical about its effectiveness.

Setting it up is never an issue. Even teens can mount the product on a water pipe, wrap the wire following the water flow, and plug the unit into an electrical outlet. Unsurprisingly, many households prefer this device to other systems, such as NuvoH2O.

Convenient installation is not the only thing positive about this water descaler. Its performance is also impressive, even to doubters like me. For one thing, this softener does not dump sodium or potassium into the environment during regeneration, making it more eco-friendly than conventional salt-based systems.

According to the company, this product can handle water hardness levels of up to 20 grains per gallon or about 343 mg/L. The US Geological Survey says that water with 180 milligrams of calcium per liter is already “very hard.” If the product information is accurate, I can say this product beats even leading water softeners.

This product’s best attribute is that it does not remove magnesium and calcium from the water. It retains them, making them available to folks with mineral deficiencies.

Buyers can also ask for a replacement or a repair of the unit, no questions asked. And if they feel the water descaler did not meet their expectations, they could return it within 12 months and get their money back.

Although its water-conditioning performance is impressive, this salt-free softener is not suitable for households with a water flow rate higher than ten gallons per minute.

Still, I would not mind recommending this water descaler to anyone who desires an effective and easy-to-install system.

What We Like
  • Uber-convenient to set up
  • Can treat hard water with up to 20 GPG hardness
  • Lifetime parts replacement and repair warranty
  • Eco-friendly design with potassium- and sodium-free regeneration process
  • Retains healthy minerals
What We Don’t Like
  • Not for households with a flow rate higher than 10 GPM

4. NuvoH2O DPHB Home Water Softener System

It is not easy to find hard water solutions without salt requirements. I knew I was in luck when NuvoH2O introduced its DPHB Home Water Softener System.

Eddy might be convenient to install and does not require salt, but it runs on electricity. Some families might not want to increase their electrical consumption only to enjoy more pleasant baths and use limescale-free water fixtures and appliances. This water conditioner can offer these benefits without requiring electricity.

Surprisingly, this product has an NSF 42 certification. It suggests that this system can also remove chlorine, chloramine, and chlorine taste/odor. The certification also proves that this water conditioner is objectively better than Eddy.

Like other water conditioners with similar technology, this product binds calcium, magnesium, and other hard minerals. It allows them to form crystals with the chelating agent. As a result, calcium and magnesium stay in the water, enabling families to leverage these minerals’ many health benefits.

Six months might be too short for a TAC cartridge lifespan, but I should not worry because it is about the same longevity as carbon-based water filters. Besides, the package has an extra cartridge to extend its use to about a year.

Keep in mind that this water-conditioning system is only effective for homes with a floor area not exceeding 1,500 square feet. Families might want to get an extra unit if they live on a larger property.

Some folks find this salt-free water softener pricey. However, I must emphasize that template-assisted crystallization technology is not cheap. Moreover, it is more effective than electromagnetic systems in treating water while retaining healthy minerals.

Water softeners do not manage CTO (Chlorine, Taste, and Odor). Given that this conditioner does actually have this feature, I’d consider this product a better buy than a typical water softener (without an accompanying filter) and an electromagnetic system.

What We Like
  • Advanced mineral chelation system for improved “soft water” characteristics
  • Requires no electricity and salt
  • Recommended for small houses
  • Six-month cartridge lifespan with a back-up cartridge
  • NSF 42-certified for chlorine and CTO removal
What We Don’t Like
  • Rather pricey

5. AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR Water Descaler

AO Smith is one of the brands that never label its products like water softeners. Instead, it plays it safe by identifying its AO-WHI-DSCLR as a water descaler that does not rely on salt or any chemical. The product remains one of the most reliable hard water treatment systems without salt added to its efficient operation.

As a descaler, the AO-WH-DSCLR works like a charm. It prevents the different minerals found in water from ever clumping together and attaching to the inside surface of water fixtures. The clumping and adhesion of these minerals can lead to the formation of limescale. Since the AO Smith product prevents this from happening, you can expect your water fixtures to be free of scale.

According to the company, the AO-WH-DSCLR is ideal for both city and well water. We have also encountered some homeowners who use the system in their well water systems. The perfect setup is to have a pre-filter first before the descaler. It maximizes the performance of the device. The filter will help minimize the number of sediments and contaminants passing through the AO-WH-DSCLR.

We like the simple design of the AO-WH-DSCLR. It already comes with a hose adapter, a nipple, and a shut-off valve. You will still need a few more things to connect it to your existing water system. Maintaining it is never a problem either. Once installed, you can leave it as it is. There are no backwashing and cleaning involved.

One must remember that this is the descaler unit alone. If you want a more efficient water system in your home, you will need to install a filter. You will also need to purchase a separate water softener if you want to address water hardness. There is also the issue of the replaceability of the unit. The AO-WH-DSCLR requires the whole unit’s replacement once it has reached the end of its service life.

Nevertheless, AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR remains the right choice for people in the countryside. It does a decent job of addressing the scaling and rusting of your water fixtures. It allows you to use fresh and saltless water for different applications.

What We Like
  • Reliable descaler
  • Works with both city and well water
  • Easy installation
  • Zero maintenance
  • Durable construction
What We Don’t Like
  • Does not come with filter and water softener
  • Requires replacement of the whole unit upon reaching its service life

6. Aquasana EQ-1000-AST Whole House Water Filter System

Aquasana continues to surprise many households by providing cost-effective house water systems. One of their most suitable is the Aquasana EQ-1000-AST.

It is a kit that is perfect for homes that want to free their water from most contaminants and impurities. Simultaneously, the system also includes an element that conditions the water to improve the lifespan of water fixtures and water lines.

We have seen a lot of favorable Aquasana salt-free water softener reviews. Most of these underscore the completeness of the kit and its efficiency in terms of filtering water impurities and conditioning water. As such, we shall be covering our review of these two EQ-1000-AST features.

The whole house water filter capabilities of the house water system can help reduce the levels of water contaminants. These can include chlorine, mercury, lead, other chemicals, industrial solvents, and others. It can also minimize the amount of chloramine in the water. The only issue here is that the filter membrane’s pore size is large enough to allow the passage of viruses and certain bacteria.

We laud Aquasana for labeling its product as a water conditioner and not as a water softener. One must understand the distinction between softening and conditioning. No salt water softeners are actually water conditioners by design. They do not remove magnesium and calcium – two minerals that can ‘harden’ water.

Saltless systems only prevent the adhesion of these minerals in water pipes. The resulting water still contains calcium and magnesium that can help improve the health of bones. At the same time, you will no longer need to fret about increasing sodium levels in your blood.

One comment we have about the whole house water filter is that it has a short service life. The pre-filter can only last about a month or so. The post-filter has a longer service life of 2 to 3 months. While the system itself can last a decade, you will have to replace its whole house water filter up to 12 times every year. The entire kit also requires a good working knowledge of plumbing for proper installation.

Nevertheless, we agree with existing reviews that the Aquasana EQ-1000-AST non salt water softener is reliable. It does a decent job of conditioning water, while also removing many contaminants that can undermine our health.
What We Like
  • Excellent combination of water conditioner and filter
  • 10-year service life span
  • Includes everything you need for installation
  • Hassle-free maintenance
  • Good value for money
What We Don’t Like
  • Requires necessary plumbing skills for installation
  • The filters have a short service life

7. Watts Premier OneFlow & Salt-Free Scale Prevention

If you are looking for affordable and effective softeners for conditioning your water, then OneFlow is the one to get. This product is unlike saltless water softener systems that mislead customers into thinking that they are buying a water softener. The OneFlow system focuses more on the prevention of scale.

We think this is the right way to go as people will not be misguided in their buying decisions for softeners. Water softeners and water conditioners work in different ways. Pure water softeners remove the different minerals that give water a ‘hard’ characteristic. Water conditioners eliminate the hardness minerals’ ability to adhere to surfaces, the main action of salt-free systems. Watts Premier plays it safe by naming its product as the OneFlow Salt-Free Scale Prevention System.

People using the house water softening system report a dramatic improvement in the operation of their water appliances. There is less incidence of limescale formation. It suggests that the Template-assisted Crystallization technology embedded in the OneFlow system is working. People also report not having that slimy feeling right after taking a shower.

OneFlow softeners have a built-in filter cartridge. It is very different from other products with a filter canister separate from the so-called water softening compartment. The design makes installation a lot easier. The addition of a pre-filter also helps improve the odor and taste of water. You will never taste chlorine or any other impurities in your drinks.

Unfortunately, the pore size of OneFlow’s house water softening system filter is too large to be effective in trapping smaller particles. Some households may have to add another water filter with a smaller pore size to take care of microorganisms. We also found the actual service lifespan of the screen to be less than what the company claims. However, we do realize that the published lifespan adheres to the law of averages. Some may have to replace their filters more frequently than others.

We believe in the ability of the OneFlow water softeners to prevent scale. They are an excellent product for those who want to protect their water appliances. OneFlow is also great for people who do not want to throw away the essential minerals present in their drinking water.

What We Like
  • Prevents the buildup of sediments and the formation of scale
  • Eliminates chlorine odor from water
  • Improves the lifespan of water appliances
  • Easy installation
  • Good value
What We Don’t Like
  • Short actual filter life span
  • Large filter pore size

Outdated Products

Aquios Jumbo Salt-Free Full House Water Softener (Outdated)

The Aquios Jumbo is one of the brand’s newest water softener models that are perfect for the entire house. It has a point-of-entry design that eliminates the need for small, individual systems in different faucets and water appliances.

Like other Aquios products, the Jumbo house water softening unit comes with Siliphos technology. It prevents the adhesion of minerals on the inner surface of water pipes and fixtures. One must understand that the system does not eliminate the minerals or substances that ‘harden’ water. These minerals – calcium and magnesium – are still present in water. The only difference is that these minerals will not cling to the walls of pipes.

One advantage of such a saltless water softening system is the retention of these beneficial minerals to the body. You get to consume these minerals and strengthen your bones. Another benefit will be the absence of sodium in the water. Since the system is salt-free, there is no danger of elevated sodium levels in your blood. You will also not have to maintain the optimum functioning of the system. There are no bags of salt to think about or tedious backwashing to bother you. It is a hassle-free system explicitly designed to help you prevent scale formation.

While Aquios calls its house water softening product “Jumbo,” we were surprised at its compact design. There is already a filter built into the product. We did notice an improvement in the natural chlorine odor of the water. You can still smell some chlorine, but only if you pay close attention. Otherwise, we can say that the Aquios filter does an excellent job of improving the taste and odor of drinking water.

Keep in mind that this is a water conditioner and not a water softener. Your water will still be ‘hard’ because of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals are not being replaced by other chemicals. It is also worth noting that the fittings tend to leak if they are improperly installed. But then, you do not need a plumber to set it up if you have a good understanding of basic plumbing. The Aquios Jumbo is not perfect. However, it does help preserve the integrity of your water appliances. It also helps retain minerals that are vital to one’s health.
What We Like
  • Prevents and reduces scale-formation
  • Improves the quality of water
  • Hassle-free maintenance
  • Compact design
  • Comes with a built-in filter
What We Don’t Like
  • Does not ‘soften’ water
  • The tendency to leak if not installed properly

SpringWell Water Salt-Free Water Softener (Outdated)

Most of us want healthier hair and softer skin. And while nutrition and effective stress management can help us stay on top of our health, using the right water quality can also be beneficial. That is why the SpringWell Water Salt-Free treatment system is an excellent product to install.

It is a descaler and a conditioner that can provide us with water that is gentler for our bodies. It can also remove impurities in water, further safeguarding our health.

This SpringWell product features a unique ActivFlo technology. It packs four very efficient stages of filtration into a compact package. Water goes through different stages, removing or reducing contaminants as they pass each stage.

One thing we noticed about the SpringWell is that it does an excellent job of eliminating the distinct odor of chlorine. You will feel more refreshed knowing that you are not introducing unusually high levels of this mineral in your body.

While the product label says it is a whole house salt-free water softener, SpringWell is modest enough to clarify that it is a water conditioner. It modifies the characteristics of the minerals that harden water. They are no longer capable of clinging onto the insides of water pipes and fixtures.

It addresses two things. First, it frees your water system from mineral deposits and the risk of corrosion. Second, it does not remove these minerals so that your body can still benefit from them strengthening your bones.

Maintaining the SpringWell system is never a problem. There is no need to clean the system or even to connect it to your electrical system.

It is worth noting that SpringWell is one of the most expensive systems we have seen on the market. Installation can also be a bit tricky. However, you should have no issues at all if you have a basic understanding of plumbing.

The SpringWell water softener without salt is an excellent system to install in the house. It filters and conditions water in ways that are more efficient than other brands. And since it has a point-of-entry design, you will never have to install individual filters in your tap.
What We Like
  • Efficient filtration of water contaminants
  • Conditions water a lot better than other systems
  • Prevents and removes existing scale
  • Does not require extensive maintenance
  • Provides better-tasting water
What We Don’t Like
  • Very pricey
  • Can be tricky to install

Filtersmart Salt-Free Water Softener System (Outdated)

We all want to preserve the integrity of our washing machines, dishwasher, water heaters, and other appliances and gadgets that use water. One of the top-rated ways we can do that is by using tankless water softener systems like the Filtersmart Salt-Free Water Softener System. Filtersmart provides households with a better means of safeguarding water appliances from mineral deposits and corrosion.

One issue with salt-based water softeners is that they remove calcium and magnesium from water. Meanwhile, a salt-free system does not remove these minerals. You get to enjoy the many benefits of these minerals, while also eliminating the minerals’ tendency to cling to water lines and cause scale. It is the beauty of a salt-free system that Filtersmart optimizes to the fullest.

It is also significant that Filtersmart also includes a filtration mechanism in its system. The activated carbon derived from natural coconut helps neutralize the nasty odor of chlorine. It also improves the taste of water, making it more enjoyable and refreshing to drink. We also find it worth noting that the design does not substantially impact the rate of water flow.

We appreciate Filtersmart’s inclusion of a built-in bypass system in its conditioner-purifier. It makes installation a lot easier, whether it is inside the house or outside. The canisters are also extra-large. We can only assume that this system is going to last many years. This system also requires very little maintenance. The only form of support you will be performing is making sure there are no leaks in the connections.

We must remind buyers that salt-free systems are not actual water softeners. They do not remove the minerals that harden water. A more appropriate term for them will be water conditioners. We also want to inform potential buyers that this product is in the 4-digit figure.

We still give the Filtersmart Softener System a huge thumbs up. We believe that its price is just right with the system’s completeness, ease of installation, and ability to protect your water appliances and support your health.

What We Like
  • Prevents scaling and corrosion
  • Comes with a pre-sediment filtration system
  • Hassle-free maintenance
  • Protects water-using appliances
  • Easy to install
What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive
  • Works as conditioner-purifier rather than water softener

Pelican Water Systems Whole House Water Filter & Softener (Outdated)

It is fantastic to see many people say beautiful things about the Pelican Whole-House Water Filter & Softener. That is why we decided to put it to the test and learn more about making people so happy about it and why you should consider buying it.

First, let us talk about the filtration capabilities of the Pelican salt-free water softener system. Pelican’s filter can remove microorganisms that can lead to infection and other diseases. Other products can only reduce certain chemicals. Further analysis of the system to soften water reveals that Pelican uses a bacteriostatic media. It does not kill bacteria but immobilizes it so that they will not grow. It is one of the essential advantages of the Pelican system.

The filtration system not only removes bacteria from water. The device to soften water can also enhance the overall experience of drinking water straight from the tap. Our test did not show any hint of chlorine in our glass of water. We can assume that this has something to do with the integrated filter.

Moving on to the water softener element of the system, we were quite dismayed as to why many brands label their products as ‘softeners’ when they are only conditioners. The Pelican does nothing to remove the chemicals that define water hardness. What the system does is that it changes the electrical charge of the hard minerals. The changing of the electrical charge prevents these minerals from adhering to the walls of the water lines.

Conditioning your water is actually beneficial. Since the minerals do not attach to the inside walls of water pipes, you will never have rusting and scaling issues. It translates to a longer lifespan for your water heaters, ice makers, dishwashers, and washing machines.

Aside from the fact that it is not a real house water softening system to soften water, the Pelican system is not really affordable. It would be good if you could get one on sale. We are not surprised that people like the Pelican Whole House Water Filter and Water Softener. It does an excellent job of providing you with safe drinking water, while also taking care of your water appliances.
What We Like
  • Provides impressive water quality and taste
  • Filters bacteria and other impurities
  • Prolongs the life of water-using appliances
  • Removes chlorine odor
  • Easy installation
What We Don’t Like
  • A bit expensive
  • Water conditioner, not a softener

APEC Water Systems FUTURA-15 (Outdated)

The APEC FUTURA-15 is the right maintenance-free water softener that ditches salt’s inclusion in its ability to prevent scaling. It has a very sleek-looking appearance and reliable construction for long-lasting use.

APEC Water Systems is straightforward in highlighting what its product can and cannot do. We appreciate the brand’s focus on the principal function of a salt-free system. It mainly concentrates on the scale and corrosion prevention in your plumbing system.

The FUTURA-15 is not a real water softener because it does not remove the minerals (magnesium and calcium) that can harden water. The system does alter the characteristics of these minerals so that they do not adhere to the inner walls of your pipes and water fixtures. It is how it prevents corrosion and scaling. That is why a more appropriate term for this device is ‘water conditioner.’

Because the system prevents the formation of scales and rust, you can bet that your water will be much better. You will not have that ‘soapy’ and slick feel on your skin when you take a bath. You will also be able to water your plants without fear of introducing sodium and salt in them.

There is also no need to worry about backwashing the system or plugging it into an electrical outlet. You will not have to fret about replacing the salt and draining the wastewater, too.

Unfortunately, the FUTURA-15 is only useful in conditioning the water of households with hardness levels that do not exceed 25 grains per gallon. You may not see any noticeable difference if your home has a water hardness level higher than 25 GPG. We also lament the exclusion of a water filter. It would have addressed the issue of other particles in the water.

We still believe that the APEC Water Systems FUTURA-15 is one of the top-tier systems you can buy to prevent scaling and corrosion in your water system. The system can provide you with good-quality water for different uses in your home.

What We Like
  • Prevents corrosion of water lines
  • Easy to install
  • Provides safe water for different uses
  • Does not require maintenance
  • Good water flow rate
What We Don’t Like
  • No integrated water filter
  • Not for households with high water hardness levels

Tier1 Essential Certified Series Salt Free Water Softener (Outdated)

Bathing with water from salt-based water softeners can leave a slick feeling on your skin. You can even see hard water stains on your dishes and kitchen utensils. One way to address this is by using a water treatment system that does not use salt. One of the most reliable softeners you can use is the Tier1 Essential Certified Series. It is a system that already comes with a pre-filter to give you water with better quality.

The unique design of the Essential makes it a good option for those who want a low-maintenance water softener. There is no backwashing to worry about choosing this unit. You also get to eliminate the need for a repeated salt refill. Another advantage is that you do not have to plug this device into an outlet to condition your water. That is a considerable saving in terms of your electric consumption.

We find the design of the Essential to be straightforward. You have two separate canisters joined by connectors. One handles the filtration, while the other conditions the water. Installing it is easier than other systems we have tested. The different fittings also have a good fit in the system to eliminate the risk of leaks.

The addition of a water filter is notable. It can help reduce the odor of chlorine in the water while minimizing the levels of copper and other minerals. The product also comes with ANSI 61 and NSF certification which gives you peace of mind.

Some people may find the product name of the treatment system to be misleading. The Essential is not a water softener. It is more of a water conditioner that changes the behavior of calcium and magnesium in water. You still get these minerals in your water, but without the risk of forming scales.

While we thank the Tier1 treatment system for including a water filter, we wish the mechanism has a smaller pore size. It should make it more efficient in trapping other impurities in water.

If you ask us, we still consider the Tier1 Essential treatment system to be one of the most reliable saltless water softeners. Its combination of filtration and conditioning technologies allows it to provide water with much better quality than your average.
What We Like
  • Conditions water to prevent scaling
  • Can filter the chlorine and other particles
  • Very easy to install
  • Hassle-free maintenance
  • High maximum water hardness level capability
What We Don’t Like
  • The filter is only useful in removing some particles
  • Not a true softener

Aquios AQFS220 Full House Salt-Free Water Softener (Outdated)

It is not uncommon for people to ask, “do salt-free water softeners work?” If you look at the performance of the Aquios AQFS220, you will know that it does.

It is a device that conditions your water and helps prevent scaling in your water system. You get water that is a lot more refreshing to use in the shower and healthier to include in your cooking chores.

At the heart of the AQFS220 is the Siliphos additive. It is a natural polyphosphate substance that acts to ‘transform’ calcium and magnesium in water. The critical action is to render calcium and magnesium incapable of clinging to your water system’s interior surface. You still get calcium and magnesium in the water that you drink.

You do not lose these essential minerals for bone health. The other good news is that you do not have to regenerate the system by adding salt. It is beneficial for people who may have issues with excessive levels of sodium.

The other thing we like about the AQFS220 is that it already comes with a built-in water filter. Water softeners only address the hardness of the water. They do not reduce the number of particles in water. We think Aquios hit the right mark when it decided to include a water filter. The water filter membrane has a standard pore size of 5 microns, which is adequate for regular use. The system can filter up to 40,000 gallons of water enough for an average household to use for half a year.

The capability of softening hard water of AQFS220 is noticeable if the level of the harness is not too heavy. It can both soften and filter the water to some degree. However, users should secure the fittings. Otherwise, you might end up with a leaking system. Overall, the Aquios AQFS220 is easy to install and maintain and already comes with an integrated water filter for other impurities. It has a friendlier price, too.
What We Like
  • Prevents scale formation in water lines and fixtures
  • Inhibits corrosion
  • Improves the quality of water
  • Filters particles larger than 5 microns
  • Suitable for the whole house
What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for households with substantial levels of water hardness
  • Leaks if not correctly installed

What Is A Salt-Free Water Softener/ Who Is This For


Hard water may be one of the trickiest and most prevalent problems every homeowner faces. In simple terms, hard water is just water containing vast amounts of dissolved compounds such as calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, aluminum, and the like.

While hard water may not be a health hazard, it is still nonetheless a problem. Due to the presence of these compounds, hard water often leaves a white, cloudy residue on surfaces and sometimes even on specific kitchenware. This residue is difficult to remove since hard water counteracts and lessens the efficacy of cleaning supplies.

Hard water also poses a danger to plumbing and pipes. These minerals often get stuck and buildup on your pipes, which might damage them in the long run.

Hard water may also have specific effects on one’s skin, especially to those who are sensitive. Bathing using hard water may increase the risks of skin allergies, and the like as it tends to leave the skin feeling dry and itchy. It can also cause hair dryness.

Electronic water softeners provide homeowners the option of mitigating and even eliminating these skin and hair issues. The standard model can effectively lessen the mineral concentration as it trades these compounds using salt. With this, water will eventually “soften.”

However, while called a water softener, water softeners that don’t use salt behave more like a descaler. Unlike the other versions, these models do not per se remove these minerals in the water. Instead, they just prevent these compounds from sticking and building up in surfaces.

As such, salt-free water softeners are ideal in prolonging the lifespans of appliances and plumbing systems and pipes.

How Does It Work

Unlike their salt-based counterparts, electronic water softeners do not necessarily remove the hard minerals found in the water. Instead, these models alter these hard minerals into a new form.

Also called water conditioners, salt-free softeners rely on a process called template-assisted crystallization (TAC) responsible for the mineral alteration process. Water must first flow via a TAC media tank. It contains the “nucleation sites.” They are crater-covered and tiny polymer beads.

The nucleation sites serve as templates, which then catch all the hard minerals in the water. During this process of catching and building up, small micro-crystals form from the hard minerals. Once they reach a certain weight and size, these crystals break off and go into the water.

Since they are very stable, these micro-crystals retain their form, size, and shape as they travel through plumbing systems, pipes, and even appliances. Because of this, they do not unnecessarily attach themselves to flat surfaces.

However, these hard minerals are still present in the water. Still, many people prefer the top-quality salt free water conditioner since it’s simple to use and virtually maintenance-free. Unlike its counterparts, this doesn’t require any salt, electricity, extra water, chemicals, etc.

What Are The Different Types Of Salt-Free Water Softeners


Salt-free softeners, also known as descalers or water conditioners, fall under the broad classification of water softeners. This section will list all of them thoroughly to give the user a better idea of their differences.

Salt-based Softeners

Often called the “classic” model, salt-based water softeners are a staple in many households. According to customer reviews like Tac water treatment systems reviews, these types of water softeners rely on an ion exchange process to eliminate the hard minerals found in the water.

How this works is that water flows into a tank containing resin beads. These resin beads act as magnets that attract all the hard minerals into them. Once the minerals build up into a certain amount, the system automatically regenerates and flushes all of these out.

Thus, salt-based softeners are great for reducing mineral buildup that damages plumbing systems, pipes, and appliances. However, they need to undergo routine maintenance, and the water they produce tends to carry a salty taste.

Salt-free softeners

More appropriately called water conditioners or descalers, salt-free softeners do not per se remove these hard minerals like the salt-based models. Instead, they just alter and transform these minerals to prevent them from clinging to surfaces.

Relying on a process called template-assisted crystallization (TAC), salt-free models have magnets or cartridges responsible for the mineral alteration. Here, the ions in the minerals realign, removing their ability to adhere to surfaces.

Salt-free softeners are great in lessening scale buildup. They are also simple to use and are maintenance-free.

Dual Tank Softeners

As in their name, dual tank softeners consist of 2 large tanks and a brine variant. Because of their bulk, this heavy-duty system is in large households that often consume a lot of water.

With these tanks, this system provides easy and instant access to water. In salt-based softeners, one cannot usually use any soft water while the system is undergoing the regeneration process. However, this problem is not in dual tank systems due to multiple tanks.

As such, even when one of the tanks regenerates, the others are still working and can also provide the user with soft water.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Salt-Free Water Softener

Like all products, water softeners also have their respective pros and cons. This section will jot down the advantages and disadvantages these models provide.


Because of its contents, hard water tends to leave a white, cloudy residue on surfaces. It is often found in the bathroom and other flat surfaces, as well as on particular kitchenware.

However, with a water softener, one wouldn’t have to worry about this anymore. Salt-free softeners alter and transform these hard minerals into crystallized forms that lose their ability to cling and adhere to these surfaces.

As such, one can see a decrease in these white, dark spots. With this, one can maintain the aesthetic as well as cleanliness on flat surfaces and the like.

Lessen Scale buildup

Hard water also poses a danger to plumbing systems, pipes as well as certain appliances. Due to their content, hard water can cause limescale buildup, which might cause significant damage in the long run.

For the pipes and plumbing system, the problem may be clogging, leaking, and other related issues. On the other hand, appliances might have shorter lifespans and might need frequent repairs.

Moreover, when left unnoticed, these buildups often produce a foul smell. It is especially true if there is a buildup in sinks, faucets, showerheads, water heaters, and other similar products.

However, a water softener can help mitigate this problem since they produce new forms of these hard minerals. As such, these new forms have lost their ability to adhere and clinging to surfaces.

Simple and Maintenance-free

Salt-free water softeners are also simple to use and are virtually maintenance-free. Unlike the other types, they do not have any additional parts, nor do they require any chemicals, extra water, salt, and the like.

With this, the user doesn’t have to worry about performing routine check-ups. It also enables the user to save on some expenses.


Still hard water

However, unlike their salt-based counterparts, salt-free softeners cannot necessarily remove the hard minerals found in the water. Instead, it just cleverly realigns ions and alters their structure to create a crystallized version.

While the crystallized forms are useful in lessening scale buildups and residues, it remains that hard minerals are still present in the water. One can see this when performing a water test. Because of this, one will again face the other problems posed by hard water.

Salt free water softener buying guide

Unlike their salt-based counterparts, salt-free units can only prevent limescale buildups. However, these products are simple to use and are virtually maintenance-free. Moreover, they do not inject any salt in the water.

Because of this, salt-free softeners also have a significant following in the market. They can come in a variety of sizes, shapes, models, types, and the like. An array of choices makes it quite difficult for users to pick a product, especially for beginners.

However, you don’t have to worry. This section will list down all the factors to check.

Capacity and Size

Capacity refers to the volume of water the water softener can treat in a day. To determine the softener’s ability, the user needs to determine the household’s size and daily water consumption and intake. One also needs to know the hardness level of the water.

When these numbers are all figured out, one can now know the minimum and maximum capacity the water softener should have. For reference, take note that water softeners in the average household have a size of 33,000 grain.

It is essential to pick just the right amount for capacity. Buying an oversized system can be detrimental since it costs more. On the other hand, a too-small unit might wear the softener out faster due to a heavy workload.

Available Area

It is also essential to determine the size and measurements of the area you plan to install the softener. With this, you can adequately estimate the size of the softener for it to fit into the pipes and the proposed space snugly. This method also enables the user to save up on expenses since there is no need for back jobs or additional costs.


Another factor one needs to consider is the product’s certifications. These ensure the product’s efficacy as well as its quality. It also speaks about how safe the product is to use.

Certifications may differ in specific locations. Hence, it’s best to know and study the certifications your city uses.

Durability and Performance

Of course, no one wants a product that quickly deteriorates. It is the same when it comes to water softeners. Ensure that the product is made from high-quality materials and has an interface that is simple and easy to use.

You must look for a product that boasts a reliable performance. One can know this by carefully studying the products online or by reading different product reviews. If you have the means and the time, it’s most suitable to visit your local stores and check out the product. A salesperson may even be there to assist you and answer all your queries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an alternative to water softener?

A water conditioner (or descaler) is the best alternative to a water softener. Most folks call a descaler salt-free softener for well water and other supply systems with unusually high mineral content. However, it is worth noting that salt-based and salt-free softeners work differently.

In the salt vs salt-free water softener debate, the former systems contain ionically-charged resins that attract calcium and other minerals from the water. The chemical reaction replaces the hard minerals with sodium chloride. Meanwhile, a “salt-free” system changes the minerals’ characteristics through various mechanisms.

For example, a water descaler for Arizona homes might feature electrically-induced precipitation that clumps and sticks the hardness minerals on an electrode. Some water conditioners dissolve the minerals. Others promote hardness mineral crystallization through magnetic induction and template-assisted processes.

We must emphasize that water conditioners do not remove calcium, magnesium, or other hard minerals. These chemicals are still there, making such systems appealing to health-conscious families. Salt-free systems also prevent limescale formation, promote more pleasant showers, and optimize water appliance functioning.

Moreover, some salt-free systems remove water contaminants, such as chlorine, while a water softener cannot. And as pointed out by several users on Reddit, these systems don’t require frequent maintenance as salt-based ones do.

How long do salt-free softeners last?

The longevity of salt-free water softeners varies across brands. For example, Aquatell’s salt-free system’s template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media can last three to five years before requiring a replacement.

Meanwhile, a top-of-the-line Culligan salt-free water conditioner can stay operational for at least a decade. Moreover, this brand offers an unequaled lifetime guarantee on some parts while covering ten years on most.

On the other hand, the Springwell FutureSoft salt-free water softener requires a pre-filter change every six to nine months. However, the brand does not mention how long its system would last.

How can salt-less softeners remove hard minerals without salt?

Let us get things straight first. Salt-less water “softeners” DO NOT remove hard minerals from the water. They only change the minerals’ chemical characteristics, preventing them from adhering to the walls of water pipes, plumbing fixtures, and water appliances. Unsurprisingly, experts call salt-free systems “water conditioners.”

Water conditioners or “salt-free water softeners” work in various ways. Some products induce mineral precipitation by running an electrical current along the water pipe. The minerals form a sludge that adheres to the system’s electrodes, preventing the hard minerals from sticking to pipes, faucets, water fixtures, and water appliances.

Other brands use an electrical system that dissolves calcium and other hard minerals, preventing surface adhesion. Some water conditioners feature template-assisted crystallization (TAC) technology to induce hard minerals to form crystals instead of limescale.

Magnetic induction is another salt-free water treatment choice, with the manufacturers claiming the system can force hard minerals to form crystals as they pass through a magnetic field.

However, the scientific community hasn’t found conclusive proof of its effectiveness, considering the minerals may revert to their original configuration once they’re beyond the magnetic field.

What are the most trusted salt-free water softener brands?

You won’t go wrong if you choose one of the most trusted brands among saltless water conditioners and softeners. A few brands to rely on include Aquios, APEC Water Systems, and Tier1 and the rest featured earlier.

Do salt-free water softeners remove iron?

Salt-based water softeners remove water hardness. On the other hand, salt-free systems work the opposite because they retain the minerals in the water. However, they don’t harden and stick to the surfaces. Salt based water softeners are the actual water softeners, while salt-free ones are conditioners.

Water conditioners don’t require a valve. It never arrests anything, so in a nutshell, water conditioners only have partial efficacy against hard water. Well water, for instance, has a moderate to high content of iron and manganese. Unfortunately, water conditioners are outright ineffective against these two elements. What will happen is the iron and manganese ions will just bounce off the anti-scale media but will still eventually flow through your entire plumbing.

Should you want the iron removed from your water, you would likely need an iron filter and softening system. You can also go for an alternative treatment other than using salt-free water softeners. Your water will still be hard even after it goes through a salt-free water softener.

How much is a salt-free water softener?

There are many available water softeners on the market today. The good thing about having options is that you can be more flexible when it comes to your budget. There are essential salt-free water softeners that would fall under the most affordable bucket when it comes to price.

Of course, like any other product, the more premiums that go with it and add-ons, the more the price of the salt-free water softeners increases. It is best to canvass and compare prices, including the unique benefits of the salt-free water softeners you have shortlisted. Of course, each would highlight the pros, but see if you can work and compromise with the system’s cons.

Initially, this investment may cost, but it is an asset that you can use for years and years to come. It is a long-term addition to your entire household. You can continuously reap its many benefits for a good number of years. Compared to salt-based water softeners, salt-free systems are usually less expensive.

Does Culligan have a salt-free water softener?

It is excellent news for a lot of avid users of the Culligan water treatment equipment. This all-time trusted brand does offer salt-free water softeners from which you can choose. You can have their systems installed quickly in your home and even in your businesses.

Culligan refers to this water treatment as salt-free water conditioner, and they have several series of systems that you can consider. Culligan has got you covered if you are looking for a water conditioner that will suit your needs, preferences, and especially your budget. The company has salt-free water softeners that promise better water quality for you with a simple and easy process.

With everything now being accomplished online, you can quickly check the site of Culligan Water to gather information about their water treatment systems. It includes salt-free water softeners. As a piece of advice, you might want to reach out to Culligan for guidance. They can offer you a suggestion on the correct product based on your location and the source of your water supply.

This brand extends its expertise. It can also provide you with a free water analysis to make sure that what you purchase with them will be the top-tier and most applicable water softener based on the facts of your water at home. This free water test will allow a representative from the company to review and discuss all your options with you before you finally take the leap and purchase their system.

How to install and use?

Salt-free water softeners utilize potassium instead of sodium, which in return crystallizes the minerals instead of having them removed from your water. They are more accurate in the lines of water descalers than softening agents.

Installing these systems can be a DIY project for you, especially if you have some background in plumbing and torching. You have the needed tools, but yes, you can complete the installation without calling in a professional. If you are not confident in doing it yourself, you can get help from an expert.

Most salt-free water softeners come with a step by step guide to complete the installation of the softened water system. Others also come with videos to make it easier to get everything working. The installation process requires space because you’d expect a lot of moving around before getting everything settled.

After installation, there will be no changes to how you use your water. The salt-free water softener will automatically complete the process in the background. However, you must install it close to your water system’s entry point.

You can just open your tap, fill your tub, or let the water flow to your laundry area as always. Once the salt-free water softener is installed, nothing is further required from your end to make it work. It is one of the advantages of a salt-free water system softener.

How to care & clean?

One main reason why people opt to get a water softener system is that it requires zero to very minimal maintenance. This system only consists of a single cartridge or tank. They neither go through a regeneration cycle or a backwash, so you don’t need the frequent maintenance of draining the connections. You won’t also be needing storage tanks for brine or valves to monitor the flow. As far as the overall upkeep is concerned, you are not required to do anything further once installed.

The Template Assisted Crystallization or TAC media primarily used by salt fewer water conditioners only require replacement once in three to five years. You don’t need regular visits from the plumber to ensure that the water flow and pipes are in tip-top shape.

There is also no electricity involved for it to operate, so you don’t need to worry about cables and corrosion. Sound advice is to do a quarterly check on everything just for sanity’s sake, but as far as maintenance is concerned, you’re free. It silently does its work in the background, and you won’t experience any water disruptions during the process.

For salt fewer water softeners, you’d be spending more time cleaning and maintaining your appliances and fixtures where water flows through the occasional buildup of limescale. Consider it as part of your regular maintenance of cleaning the faucets, heaters, sinks, and tubs. Still, again, as far as your water conditioner is concerned, your responsibility in maintenance is very little.

Where to buy?

Find these softening systems in places such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target. They offer you a broad range of selections for these saltless water softening systems that you can choose from and use.


There you have our buying guide and the reviews of the most excellent water softening units on the market. From this source, we’re hoping you’re able to pick the best salt-free water softener with the properties and features you want yours to have. Compare and weigh your choices well among excellent salt-free softeners today!

4.9/5 - (18 votes)