Best Water Softener for Well Water (with Iron): Reviews 2020

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Water hardness isn’t a health concern, but it definitely is a nuisance if the mineral concentration passes a certain threshold. Unfortunately, water from the majority of wells across the United States is affected.

Apart from ugly spotting, hard water leads to scale buildup in plumbing, fixtures, and appliances, and poor performance of soaps and detergents which can strain your skin and hair.

What to do about it? The most straightforward solution is to install a water softener. This buying guide provides a collection of the best ones for well water (we made sure to include systems that can handle well water containing iron). What’s more, you’ll learn what you need to look out for when shopping for your ideal system.

On This Page You Will…

No Time to Read? Check Our Best Water Softener for Well Water Top Picks

SystemsOur RatingPriceTypeWater ForIronWarranty
SpringWell SS Water Softener

Best Water Softener for Well Water: SpringWell SS4

Read Review
$$$SaltUp to 6 People (13 gpm)≤ 3 ppmLife
Crystal Quest Water Softener

The Runner-Up: Crystal Quest Water Softener with Pre/Post Filtration

Read Review
$$$SaltUp to 3-4 People (~10 gpm)≤ 3 ppm1 Year
SpringWell WSSS Well Water Filter + Water Softener Combo

Best Setup for High Iron Content: SpringWell WSSS Filter-Softener Combo

Read Review
$$$$SaltUp to 6 People (13 gpm)≤ 10 ppmLife
SpringWell FutureSoft Water Conditioner

#1 Water Conditioner for Well Water: SpringWell FutureSoft

Read Review
$$$TACUp to 5-6 People (12 gpm)-Life
Tier1 Essential Series Water Softener

Most Affordable: Tier1 Essential

Read Review
$SaltUp to 3-4 People (11.2 gpm)?1 Year
Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

#1 Electronic Water Descaler: Eddy

Read Review
$Electric?-Life

Best Water Softeners for Well Water

1. Our Top Pick: SpringWell SS

In our opinion, the best water softener for well water in 2020 is the SpringWell SS. The system comes in 3 sizes for different flow rates. The SS1 is for homes with 1-3 bathrooms. The SS4 for homes with 4-6 bathrooms. And the SS+ is for very large houses with 7+ bathrooms.

Most importantly, SpringWell SS water softeners eliminate hard water by removing calcium and other hardness minerals through ion exchange. The result: No more scaling in your plumbing system, water-using appliances, and fixtures for reduced maintenance requirements, fewer repairs, and an overall increased lifespan. Additional side effects include a higher efficiency of your water heater, no more ugly spotting on surfaces, and your hair, skin, and clothes will feel nice and soft, too.

On top of that, this is also the best water softener for iron removal (up to 3 ppm clear-water iron).

What does SpringWell do better compared to other salt-based water softeners? They combine metered regeneration with a Vortech resin tank to achieve supreme salt and water efficiency while regenerating, the digital control head is Bluetooth-compatible which allows for easy programming and monitoring, there’s a 6-month money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty – and the list goes on. 5 stars!

SpringWell SS - Best Water Softener for Well Water with Iron

SpringWell SS4 Water Softener System

Unit Price:$$$
Process:Cation Exchange
Household Size:Up to 6 People
Tank:48,000-Grain Capacity
Iron:Up to 3 ppm

Our Rating

Pros & Features

  • Traditional ion exchange water softening using sodium or potassium is the most effective way to turn hard water into soft water.
    • Can handle up to 3 ppm clear-water iron + 1 ppm manganese/hydrogen sulfide.
  • Water softener comes in 3 sizes:
    • SS1 system features a 32,000-grain mineral tank. Rated at 11 gallons per minute water flow ideal for households with 1 to 3 bathrooms.
    • SpringWell SS4 has 48,000 grains softening resin. 13 gallons per minute service flow is enough soft water for 4-6 bathrooms.
    • SS+ comes with 80,000-grain resin tank. 20 gpm is only really needed if your house is very large with 7 or more bathrooms.
  • 10% crosslink resin is more chlorine-resistant than standard 8% resin. Lasts up to 2x longer if you chlorinate your well.
  • Water softener can be programmed via Bluetooth using a tablet or smartphone + Legacy View app (available for iOS and Android).
    • This is optional. You can configure digital control head the old-fashioned way if you want.
  • Digital-metered system measures soft water usage to adjust salt dose and water when regenerating. Highly efficient. #moneysaver
  • Vortech plate in resin tank increases backwashing efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
  • Every system component is NSF-certified for structural integrity.
  • Protective neoprene tank sleeve is part of the package.
  • SpringWell water softening systems are designed for DIY installation.
    • Bypass valve + installation kit included.
  • You can return the product within the first 6 months after purchase in case you’re not satisfied and receive a full refund.
  • Warranty covers entire system for lifetime.
  • SpringWell customer support is A+. These guys are super knowledgeable and will help you solve any problem.

Cons

  • Larger investment upfront.
    • Pays back in the long run due to high efficiency and longevity.

→ Detailed SpringWell Water Softener Review

2. Well Water Softener Alternative: Crystal Quest with Pre/Post Filtration

For us, the number one well water softener alternative to the SpringWell SS series is the Crystal Quest whole house water softener setup. It combines traditional water softening to reduce water hardness with pre- and post-filtration. The latter removes

  • sediment to protect the water softener from clogging/fouling.
  • different chemicals and organic contaminants which not only makes your water taste better but also improves its healthiness.

4.5 stars!

Crystal Quest Well Water Softener

Crystal Quest Water Softener

Unit Price:$$$
Process:Cation Exchange
Household Size:Up to 3-4 People
Tank:48,000-Grain Capacity
Iron:Up to 3 ppm

Our Rating

Pros & Features

  • System is made in the US.
  • 20″ pre-filter removes sediment, dirt, sand, etc.
  • Eaglesorb ion exchange water softener resin binds hard water minerals (calcium and magnesium).
    • Prevents new scale deposits from building.
    • Can treat up to 3 ppm ferrous (clear-water) iron.
  • 20″ activated carbon block post-filter (5 microns nominal) adsorbs chlorine, bad taste and odor, VOCs, pesticides, and other potentially harmful contaminants that could be lurking in your well.
  • Choose:
    • 1.5 cubic feet resin system if your home has 1-3 bathrooms. Water flow: 9 to 11 gpm.
    • 2.0 cubic feet resin system if your home has 4-6 bathrooms. Service flow rate: 10 to 13 gpm.
  • Regeneration cycle only kicks in when the remaining softening capacity is low.
    • Demand-initiated regen is most water and salt-efficient.
  • All parts are NSF Standard 61 certified to comply with safety and health standards.
  • Upgrade resin tank from fiberglass to stainless steel for longevity.
  • Easy to install if you’re handy with tools.
  • Maintaining this water softening system is a breeze.
    • The resin lasts up to 10 years, depending on your average daily water usage and the condition of your well water supply.
    • Both pre and post-filter last 12-18 months. Cost: ~$40-65 a year which seems reasonable.
  • Backed by one-year warranty.

Cons

  • High quality means higher price tag.

3. Best Setup for Well Water with Iron Over 3 PPM: SpringWell WSSS Filter-Softener Combo

In our opinion, the best solution for softening well water with high iron content is to use a combo of the SpringWell SS water softener and the SpringWell WS whole house well water filter system.

We’ve already reviewed the SpringWell softener above. It’s salt-based and removes calcium and magnesium using ion exchange technology. Thus, pipes, home appliances, and fixtures are protected from scaling, meaning less maintenance, fewer repairs, and increased lifespan. Other benefits are no more limescale spots on surfaces, softer skin & hair, etc.

If you combine that with the SpringWell WS whole house well water filter which uses air injection with greensand filter media you get something powerful enough to deal with almost any iron contamination issue – filters out ferric + ferrous iron up to 10 ppm without problems. 5 stars!

SpringWell Filter-Softener Combo

SpringWell WSSS4 Well Filter-Softener Combo

Unit Price:$$$$
Process:Cation Exchange
Household Size:Up to 6 People
Tank:48,000-Grain Capacity
Iron:Up to 10 ppm (Both Forms)

Our Rating

Please note: To learn all about the SpringWell SS water softener check the first review. Here are all the important details about the SpringWell whole house water filter:

Pros & Features

  • Eliminates iron staining and rotten egg smell (from sulfur) + greatly improves drinking water taste.
  • Air injection oxidization + greensand filtration filters a maximum combined of ferrous and ferric iron (7 ppm), manganese (1 ppm), hydrogen sulfide (8 ppm).
    • Greensand also removes arsenic and radium if present.
    • Process requires water pH of 6.5 – 10 to be effective.
  • Water flow rate is limited by softening system:
    • At 11 gallons per minute, SpringWell WSSS1 combo is ideal for 1 to 3-bathroom houses.
    • SpringWell WSSS4 provides 13 gpm which is perfect for 4 to 6 bathrooms.
  • Compressed air pocket in the top of the tank needs to reset daily. Greensand filter media requires periodic backwashing to remove any trapped iron and manganese etc.
    • Automatically controlled by digital control head unit. Set and forget!
    • Requires nothing but water for backwashing. No harsh chemicals.
  • Control head has Bluetooth connectivity built in. Programmable via mobile app.
  • Detailed installation instructions and bypass valve facilitate do-it-yourself install.
  • SpringWell WS well water filters are 100% maintenance-free. The greensand bed lasts 18-25 years.
  • Manufacturer promises full refund for the first 6 months if you’re not satisfied with the performance.
  • All parts are covered by lifetime warranty.
  • Excellent customer support.

Cons

  • We would have preferred metal fittings rather than plastic.

4. #1 Water Conditioner for Well Water: SpringWell FutureSoft

If you’re not a big fan of water softeners that rely on salt to take care of water hardness you’ll like SpringWell’s FutureSoft salt-free water conditioner. If you ask us, it’s the best of its kind using Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to crystallize all minerals causing hard water so they remain suspended instead of attaching to surfaces.

This means that your water won’t be softened in the actual sense. It’ll still contain the same amount of calcium and magnesium. However, scaling is inhibited by as much as 99.6%. What’s more, already existing scale deposits will vanish with time – great for your home’s pipes, the water heater, the dishwasher, shower heads, and so on. And there’re more benefits which you’ll learn about below. 5 stars!

Important: If your well water contains noticeable levels of iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide, or copper additional pre-filtration is required. We recommend the SpringWell WS whole house filter system as introduced on top. The filter-conditioner combination can be purchased here.

SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Softener

SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Softener

Unit Price:$$$
Process:Template Assisted Crystallization
Household Size:Up to 5-6 People
Tank:
Iron:

Our Rating

Pros & Features

  • Based on the size of your family and home, choose between these 3 systems:
    • FutureSoft FS1 for 1-3 bathrooms. 12 gpm flow rate.
    • FutureSoft FS2 for 4-6 bathrooms. 15 gpm service flow.
    • FutureSoft FS+ for 7+ bathrooms. 20 gallons of water per minute.
  • About Template Assisted Crystallization process:
    • Effectiveness was verified in a study conducted by Arizona State University. Customer satisfaction is accordingly high.
    • Can effectively treat water classified as extremely hard.
    • Does not lower water pH. Better for your family’s health and your entire home (acidic water is more corrosive).
    • Compared to regular softened water, conditioned water doesn’t have slippery feel.
    • Aids healthy hair and skin.
    • Scale wipes off easily for fast cleaning.
    • Absence of salt and chemicals helps the environment and you don’t have to do any heavy lifting.
    • No regeneration required. Saves water.
  • Sediment pre-filter protects TAC media. Needs replacement every 6-9 months. Annual cost: ~$40-55 which really isn’t much.
  • Designed to be DIY-installed. Installation kit, detailed step-by-step instructions, and walkthrough video are provided.
  • Very low in maintenance thanks to media which lasts infinitely.
    • System pays for itself over time.
  • Comes with lifetime warranty + 6-month money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • Requires pre-filtration if heavy metals or sulfur are present.

5. Cheapest Option: Tier1 Systems

In case you’re looking for a low-budget solution to your hard water problem, you should definitely consider a Tier1 water softener. They’re a “no-frills option”, which by the way doesn’t say anything about their effectiveness. It’s just that there’re a few trade-offs like lower regeneration efficiency and limited water flow when compared to the higher-priced models in this guide.

Which Tier1 should you go for? If you’re okay with a manual bypass valve which shuts off the water supply during regeneration process (about 2 hours), check out the Everyday/Essential series (see picture). They’re the most popular and the most affordable – coincidence? If, however, you’re willing to invest just a tiny bit more we recommend a Tier1 Advanced/Certified water softener which has a few nice extras.

Tier1 Essential Water Softener

Tier1 Essential Water Softener

Unit Price:$
Process:Cation Exchange
Household Size:Up to 3-4 People
Tank:48,000-Grain Capacity
Iron:?

Our Rating

Pros & Features

  • Tier 1 Everyday a.k.a. Essential water softening systems are the cheapest we could find. They’re designed for small to medium-sized households with one to three bathrooms. Choose between:
    • 32,000-grain water softener (10 gpm).
    • 48,000 grains (11.2 gpm).
    • 64,000 grains (11.2 gpm).
  • Tier 1 Advanced a.k.a. Certified water softener has 48k grains (11.2 gpm). 1-3 bathrooms.
    • Resin tank and control head have earned NSF certification.
    • Entire system is NSF certified against Standard 44 for hardness reduction which guarantees effectiveness.
  • Protective neoprene tack jacket is part of the package.
  • No more difficult to install than any other water softener (confirmed by reviewers).
  • You can return your Tier1 water softener within the first 90 days after purchase and get a refund.
    • Only if well water parameters are within the stated specifications.
  • Control valve and mineral tank of Everyday series are covered by 1-year warranty.
  • Advanced water softener system has 5 years warranty on tank and 3 years on control valve.

Cons

  • Softened water flow rate is somewhat limited and probably too low if you have more than 3 bathrooms.
  • Standard crosslink resin (8%) is more vulnerable to chlorine.
  • Installation instructions could do with an overhaul.
  • System programming requires some getting used to.
  • Manual bypass of Essential water softeners shuts off water supply while regenerating.
    • Make sure to schedule regeneration cycle to kick in at night!

6. #1 Electronic Water Descaler for Well Water: Eddy

The Eddy Electronic is our number one water descaler in 2020 for both tap water and well water. It reduces hard water scaling with the help of electromagnetic waves. Sounds like bogus? It isn’t! The same study that proved Template Assisted Crystallization as used by the SpringWell FutureSoft to be effective also analyzed electromagnetic treatment. The result: It reduced scale formation by about 50%. Now, this is nowhere near perfect but the scientists also found that the remaining scale was “soft” and could be easily removed with the help of a brush. Add to that the small price tag of the Eddy Electronic water descaler and you get 4.5 stars from us!

Eddy Electronic Water Descaler

Eddy Electronic Salt-Free Water Descaler

Unit Price:$
Technology:Electromagnetic

Our Rating

Pros & Features

  • Electromagnetic wave treatment requires 2 coils to be wrapped around the incoming main water supply line(s).
    • Works with hardness levels of up to 20 grains per gallon.
    • Does not remove any healthy calcium or magnesium from your water.
    • Environmentally friendly.
    • Does not work with iron or galvanized pipes. For all other types, maximum allowed diameter is 1.5″.
  • Quick and easy to install. Does not involve plumbing.
  • Virtually maintenance-free.
  • Cheapest way to handle hard water. No ongoing expenses.
  • CE and FCC certified to international standards.
  • Manufacturer provides repair and replacement warranty throughout entire product life.
  • You can fall back on the 12-month satisfaction guarantee (full refund) if you’re not happy with the results.

Cons

  • Does not seem to work for every user.

→ Detailed Eddy Electronic Descaler Review

7. SoftPro Elite Well+ Water Softener Review

The SoftPro Elite is another solid water softener for any well water supply. We recommend either the Well+ Basic version for salt-based water softening + ferrous iron filtration (up to 3 ppm), or the Well+ KDF if you want to soften your well water and get rid of ferrous (up to 3 ppm) and other heavy metals, and sulfur (up to 2 ppm) at the same time.

SoftPro Elite Well+ Basic Water Softener

SoftPro Elite Well+ Basic Water Softening System

Unit Price:$$$
Process:Cation Exchange
Household Size:Up to 6 People
Tank:48,000-Grain Capacity
Iron:Up to 3 ppm

Our Rating

Pros & Features

  • Grain capacities range from 24,000 to 80,000 (64,000). Choose the system size and flow rate – ranges from 10 all the way up to 20 gpm – which fits your home best.
    • Most home owners probably want to go for 40,000-48,000 grains.
  • Filled with fine mesh resin for better iron removal.
  • SoftPro Well+ KDF system uses bacteriostatic KDF-85 to control bacteria growth inside the resin tank.
  • Metered on-demand regeneration saves salt and water.
  • Neoprene tank jacket provides protection and insulation.
  • Water softeners are easy to install.
    • Built-in bypass.
    • Ship with resin pre-loaded.
    • Include free 3/4″ stainless steel quick connect hoses at the time of writing this guide.
    • Video tutorial can be found on website.
  • Large LCD touchpad allows for easy programming.
  • Limited lifetime warranty on tank + control valve.

Cons

  • No issues so far.

Comparison List

Water Softening SystemSpecsInformation About Products
SpringWell SS Water SoftenerSeparate brine tank.High-quality control valve is Bluetooth compatible.
Crystal Quest Water Softener with FiltersSeparate brine tank.Filters sediment, chemicals, and organics. Improves drinking water taste. Only one-year warranty.
SpringWell WSSS Water Filtration System + Water Softener ComboTwo tanks. Separate brine tank.Uses water filtration system to remove iron, manganese, and sulfur. Improves drinking water taste. High-quality control valve is Bluetooth compatible.
SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water SoftenerNo salt tank.Salt-free unit reduces scaling effects of hard water (no limescale buildup). High-quality control valve is Bluetooth compatible.
Tier1 Water SoftenerSeparate brine tank.Only one-year warranty.
Eddy Electronic (Salt-Free)Very Small.Technology: Electromagnetism. Salt-free unit reduces scaling effects of hard water. Easy installation at main water line. No need for plumbing.
SoftPro Elite Well+ Water SoftenerSeparate brine tank.Fine mesh resin removes iron.

More Reviews

Buying Guide: Choosing the Perfect Softener to Conquer Hard Well Water

Pre-Filtration

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to softening hard well water. Sure, you always need a water softener or water conditioner, however, additional pre-filtration might be required.

For example: Well water that contains a lot of sediment should run through one or more sediment filter stages before it enters the water softener. Otherwise, the softener might clog up.

If your water is high in chlorine – think shock chlorination – you want to consider adding a carbon pre-filter which will protect the delicate softening resin.

In case of iron, manganese, and/or sulfur, a well water filter system might be necessary.

Bottom line: Have your water tested and, based on the results, make sure to have the right pre-filtration in place.

The Exception: Well Water with Ferrous Iron

Almost any standard salt-based water softener can be used to remove low amounts of ferrous (clear-water iron) from water. You usually achieve good results if the iron concentration doesn’t exceed 3 ppm – read the manufacturer specifications to double-check.

That said, it’s likely that the iron will eventually foul the resin beads. This is why it’s critical that you inspect the bed regularly. Also, more frequent regen cycles with longer backwashes and higher salt doses can delay fouling and increase the resin’s lifespan. The same goes for adding chemical iron removers (if done regularly). Once a resin bed has fouled beyond a certain point there’s no chance for recovery and replacement is the only option.

Water pH

Ferrous converts to ferric (red-water iron) more quickly in alkaline water (pH above 7). Thus, if the pH of your well water is too high a water softener is not the best choice for iron removal.

Ferric, Organic Iron & Iron Bacteria

You should not use a water softener to try to treat ferric, organic iron, or iron bacteria. For one, they may simply pass through the system totally unaffected or, even worse, lead to rapid clogging or fouling of the mineral bed which will render any water softener useless.

Water Softeners and Water Conditioners

Only systems that are salt-based are water softeners in the real sense. They make use of a process called “ion exchange” to remove hard minerals – mainly calcium and to some extend magnesium – from (well) water. All other types are water conditioners. They use different treatment methods like Template Assisted Crystallization or electromagnetism to reduce the scaling effects of hard water without actually removing anything from it.

Traditional salt water softeners have a long history and are still the industry standard today due to their very high effectiveness. But salt-free water conditioning systems are growing in popularity as they’re becoming more sophisticated delivering better results. Plus, they have many advantages such as oftentimes being more affordable, not adding extra salt to the water, and not requiring any backwashing or regeneration whatsoever.

Softening Capacity

Ion exchange water softeners must have a high enough capacity to be able to meet your soft water needs. The required capacity depends on 2 factors:

  1. Your individual water hardness level usually measured in grains per gallon (gpg).
  2. The average amount of water you use on a daily basis.

For example: Let’s say your well water is moderately hard containing 11 gpg of hardness minerals. And your family of four uses 320 gallons of water a day. This means your hypothetical water softener would have to remove 11 grains per gallon x 320 gallons of water per day = 3,520 hardness grains per day or 24,640 grains every week.

Now, the amount of hardness grains that a salt water softener can remove before it needs to regenerate (backwashing the resin beads to flush out all hardness minerals that have accumulated and replenishing it with sodium or potassium ions) equals its softening capacity. Capacities for whole house water softeners range from around 24,000 to 80,000 grains and even higher if need be.

Based on weekly regeneration cycle which is considered the optimum, the water softener from our above example should have a capacity of at least 40,000 grains in order to be able to handle both water hardness level and water consumption.

Why not go with 24,000 or 30,000 grains? Salt efficiency! Regenerating a water softener to 100% requires a disproportionately high amount of salt. Partial regeneration on the other hand is much more efficient. For comparison: Recharging no more than 40% of the softening bed may require ⅕ of the salt dose, whereas recharging 85% of the bed may require ⅗ of the salt.

Simply put, partially regenerating a larger system will save you a lot of money on salt in the long run. Higher salt efficiency also means discharging less salt into the environment or your sewage system which are nice additional benefits.

Water Flow Rate

If you live in big household with multiple bathrooms you need a water softener with a higher service flow rate. Measured in gallons per minute (gpm), a system’s flow rate determines how many showers and faucets etc. you can simultaneously use without seeing a water pressure drop or hard water bleeding through.

Typical Water Use of Modern Outlets & Appliances

  • Kitchen faucets: 1.5-2.0 gpm
  • Bathroom faucets: 1.0 gpm
  • Toilets: 3.0 gpf
  • Shower head: 2.0 – 2.5 gpm
  • Dishwashers: 6.0 – 16.0 gpl
  • Washing Machines: 25.0 gpl

For homes with one to three bathrooms we recommend a flow rate of 11 gpm or higher. Around 13 gpm should be sufficient for 4+ bathrooms.

NSF Certifications

NSF Standard 44 was established for cation exchange water softener systems. A certification substantiates a manufacturer’s performance claims with regard to

  • The effective reduction of calcium and magnesium, and possibly other hard water minerals
  • Salt efficiency (system must remove a minimum of 3,350 hardness grains per pound of salt)
  • Water efficiency (system must not waste more than 5 gallons of regenerant water per 1,000 hardness grains removed)
  • Material safety
  • Structural integrity

Cost

There are water softeners that cost a few hundred dollars and there are units that cost more than a thousand dollars. Going with the lowest price isn’t always the smartest decision. Cheaper systems often lack the efficiency that more expensive models provide which makes a huge difference long-term expenses (salt, water, sewer, repairs).

Other Considerations

  • Municipal regulations – Your local authority may have banned the use of ion exchange water softeners.
  • User-friendly digital control head – Allows for simple programming, monitoring, and troubleshooting.
  • Built-in bypass valve – Makes system installation a whole lot easier.
  • Separated or combined resin/brine tank – We prefer separated.
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Questions? Ask away!

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About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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