Salt Free Water Softeners
Unlike their salt-based counterparts, a salt free water softener does not remove the minerals from the water. Instead, it merely alters their molecular structure so that they become more solid and unable to cling onto surfaces. This physical water treatment process is called template-assisted crystallization (TAC), and a 2011 independent study at Arizona State University reveals that TAC reduces scale by up to 90%.
Salt-free systems are virtually maintenance-free and are also highly favoured as an environmentally friendly alternative. Since the system doesnât create brine, it doesnât lead to excess waste water.
Salt-based systems use an ion exchange method in which negatively charged sodium ions bind to the positively charged metal ions from the calcium and magnesium in the hard water. This draws the mineral deposits out of the water and creates a salty brine solution that is filtered out, thus leaving behind clean and âsoftâ H2O. This method is actually an age-old technique that was developed back in 1903 and is still widely in use today.
Salt-based softeners do require regular regeneration and back flushing. This requires the system to be replenished with salt or potassium pellets, which can be obtained inexpensively at your local store. Regeneration can be done manually by the owner or set automatically. The frequency of regeneration depends on how often the water is used and the level of hard deposits in the water.
Which System Is Superior?
Both have their respective advantages; it comes down to what your priorities are. It is important to note that some municipalities have enforced a ban on salt-based softeners due to the wastewater they emit. You will need to check with your local county to determine if there is a city ordinance barring the installation of salt-based softeners in residential homes and businesses.
There is no right or wrong decision. The only wrong choice is by not having a water softener at all when your faucet is spouting out hard water. While itâs a matter of personal opinion which system is better, the damage done by hard water is a hard fact.