Every day, I receive calls and emails from customers asking if, and how, no salt water softening systems work. I cringe when I hear this because while I understand why customers consider these systems, I know that referring to what these systems do as “water softening” is incorrect and misleading.
While no salt systems do minimize the negative impact of hard water on your pipes, they do not operate like a true water softening system. To understand how no salt systems work in comparison to salt water softeners, let’s look at what soft water is and how it’s created.
How Soft Water is Created
The term “soft water” refers to water that contains low concentrations of calcium and magnesium. Soft water is created through a process called ion exchange, in which calcium and magnesium ions are removed using an ion exchanging chemical like sodium chloride or potassium chloride. Without these chemicals, it’s not possible to remove these minerals from water or transform hard water into soft water.
Do No Salt Water Systems Make Water Soft?
Unlike true water softeners, no salt water systems do not remove calcium and magnesium ions — the byproducts responsible for hard water’s filmy residue and corrosive effects. Instead, no salt water systems simply alter the chemical structure of minerals through a process called descaling.
This can prevent these minerals from depositing on pipes and fixtures, but doesn’t create soft water. For this reason, no salt water systems are actually water conditioners or descalers, not water softeners.
Common Misconceptions About No Salt Systems
Misconception #1: No salt systems enable better results from soaps and detergents. A telltale characteristic of hard water is the lack of lather produced by soap. Since no salt systems do not create soft water, the mineral ions will still leave a filmy residue on dishes, hair, skin and clothing. This is why whites and colors look dull when using hard water, and why black clothing washed with hard water has a slight chalky look to it.
Misconception #2: Healthy calcium and magnesium is left in the water. The majority of our
minerals are consumed through food, which is easier for our bodies to absorb than minerals in
water. While the calcium and magnesium in water certainly isn’t harmful, it simply isn’t needed
when we are eating a balanced diet.
Misconception #3: Whole house water filters replace bottled water. No salt water systems use
carbon as a key filtration component, which is effective for removing chemicals like chlorine.
However, carbon is not effective for removing total dissolved solids (TDS), which are the primary
contaminants that impact how water tastes. While no salt systems decrease TDS by about 2-5%,
reverse osmosis reduces TDS by 95-98%.
Should I Buy a No Salt System or a Salt Water Softening System?
Most can feel the difference between water that’s been processed through a no salt system versus a salt water softening system. While no salt systems may be suitable for certain applications in your home, most people prefer soft water for their showers and faucets because of its benefits for skin and hair.
To decide which system you need, consider consider the differences between water processed through each type of system:
Water Processed Through a Salt Water Softener
- Does not leave deposits on pipes and fixtures
- Easily washes soap and shampoo off skin and hair
- Doesn’t leave filmy residue on appliances or dishware
- Feels slippery or slick
Water Processed Through a No Salt Water System
- Minimizes deposits on pipes and fixtures
- Does not easily wash soap and shampoo off skin and hair
- May create a filmy layer on appliances and dishware
- Feels sticky rather than slick
Get Soft Water In Your Home
If you want the benefits of soft water in your home, a salt water softening system is the best performing and most reliable option for you. If you have questions about water softener options, or want to get a quote for a water softening system for your home in the Phoenix area, contact the experts at Clearwater Concepts.