What Is the Difference Between Salt Water Softeners & Salt-Free Water Softeners?

March 22, 2022 12:00 am Leave your thoughts

If you have hard water in your home, you know the struggle. Hard water can be a pain to deal with, and perhaps you are considering looking into different water softeners. It’s worth doing a little research and finding the best one for your needs. If you do not know the difference between salt water & salt-free water softeners, let’s discuss the ins and outs of both.

Salt Water Softeners

A saltwater water softener uses an ion exchange process to get rid of the minerals that can cause hard water. Calcium and magnesium are the most common two that lead to build-up and other problems. The typical saltwater water softeners are generally comprised of two tanks. The first tank contains small resin beads and has a metered valve at its top. This is known as the resin tank. The second tank contains a mix of water and salt called a brine tank.

Your hard water flows into the resin tank. The hard water minerals are removed by the resin beads that soften the hard water. The softened water s much better for you, your sinks and showerheads, and your appliances. The resin beads can only collect so much calcium and magnesium before they have to be cleaned. That’s where the brine tank comes into play. Every few days, your salt and water mix from the brine tank gets sent into the other resin tank. The resin beads are cleaned by the sodium and then build-up gets washed away.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

The term "salt-free water softener" is a little bit misleading. This is mainly because salt-free water softeners technically don’t soften the water. Rather, they condition the water. They keep scales from forming inside your plumbing system by crystallizing the calcium and magnesium ions, basically conditioning your water rather than softening it. They should actually be called salt-free water conditioners instead of salt-free water softeners.

Differing from a salt-based water softening system, a salt-free water conditioner consists of only a single tank that contains tiny pieces of potassium. When hard water flows through the potassium, it creates a chemical reaction that crystallizes the calcium and magnesium particles. After that, the water is returned to the plumbing system, where it’s unable to form any types of scales.

Many of the issues people have with hard water are still present when utilizing a salt-free water softener. The problem occurs when the water exiting your plumbing system hits oxygen. The calcium and magnesium particles detach from the water droplets and can still cause problems with your home’s plumbing, appliances, and showerheads.

Saltwater softeners do a better job of protecting many of the components in your home. Purchasing salt numerous times during the year may be inconvenient for some, but necessary for optimal water conditioning needs.

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