Best Salt-Free Water Softener Systems (a.k.a. Saltless) – Reviews 2020

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There are salt-free and there are salt-based water softeners. Both can be used to deal with the issues caused by hard water. The difference, however, is that, unlike traditional water softeners that rely on salt, salt-free water softeners a.k.a. water conditioners do not remove any hard minerals from water. Instead they only neutralize their scaling effects.

Both methods have their right of existence. The most important advantages which salt-free systems have over salt-based are that

  • already existing limescale deposits will be removed.
  • many of the systems require absolutely no maintenance and none of them have to regenerate using salt and water.
  • the conditioned water won’t feel slippery on your skin.

How can you find the best salt free water softener? This buying guide lists a collection of our favorite products as well as systems that are popular right now. We’ll also answer many more questions such as what features to look out for when shopping. Let’s dive right in!

On This Page You Will…

No Time to Read? Check Our List of the Best Salt Free Water Softeners!

ModelOur RatingPriceTypeFlow RateWater ForWarranty
SpringWell FutureSoft Salt Free Water Softener

Our #1 Salt Free Water Softener: SpringWell FutureSoft

Read Review
$$$TAC15 gpmUp to 6 PeopleLifetime
FilterSmart FS500

The Runner-Up: FilterSmart FS500

Read Review
$$TAC15 gpmUp to 6 PeopleLifetime
Tier1 Essential Water Conditioner

For Small Budgets: Tier1 Salt-Free System

Read Review
$$TAC20 gpmUp to 6+ People?
Eddy Electronic

Eddy Electronic Saltless Water Softener

Read Review
$El.magneticLifetime
P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Softener

P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Softener

Read Review
$Magnetic10 Years

Best Saltless Water Softener Reviews

1. Our Number One Salt Free Water Softener: FutureSoft by SpringWell

In our opinion, the best salt free water softener in 2020 is the SpringWell FutureSoft. That’s because it’s based on Template Assisted Crystallization, short TAC, which has shown to reduce hard water scaling by up to 99.6 percent. (Study)

How does TAC work? Simply put, it uses catalytic media to crystallize mainly calcium and magnesium which are the primary minerals that make up hard water. In their crystal form, these minerals cannot stick to pipes and other surfaces, thus remaining suspended on their entire journey through your home’s water system.

Consequently, your plumbing and home appliances are protected from scaling. And, on top of that, already existing limescale deposits will gradually dissolve. This will increase the efficiency of your water heater for example, and result in overall longer lifespans with less maintenance work and fewer repairs. #MoneySaver

All other benefits below!

Bottom line: Serious competition for any salt water softener. 5 stars!

SpringWell FutureSoft Salt Free Water Softener

SpringWell FutureSoft Salt Free Water Softener

Price:$$$
Method:TAC
Flow Rate:15 gpm
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • TAC effectiveness has been verified in study conducted by Arizona State University.
    • The majority of people are more than happy with their results.
  • Up to 81 gpg (grains per gallon) water hardness can be handled, according to manufacturer.
  • Template Assisted Crystallization does not rely on chemicals. No need to worry about the compromising the quality of your drinking water.
  • Unlike traditionally softened water, water processed by the SpringWell FutureSoft doesn’t feel slippery.
  • Conditioned water promotes healthy skin and hair due to better lathering of soaps and shampoos.
  • Hard water stains may be less obvious and are much easier to clean.
  • All healthy minerals remain in the water which means they add to your daily nutritional intake.
  • Catalytic media bed lasts forever when used as specified and doesn’t require regeneration.
    • Saves you a lot of time and money.
  • 3 system sizes available to choose from:
    • FutureSoft FS1: For 1-3 bathrooms, rated at 12 gallons per minute (gpm) water flow.
    • FutureSoft4: For 4-6 bathrooms, 15 gpm.
    • FutureSoft FS4: For 7 or more bathrooms, 20 gpm service flow.
  • Additional pre-filter removes sediment to protect the catalytic media tank from clogging. Needs replacement every 6-9 months. Average annual cost: About $40-55.
  • Designed with DIY install in mind. Instruction manual + explainer video + installation kit are part of the package.
  • No maintenance required apart from changing pre-filter.
  • Salt-free water conditioner is covered by 6-month satisfaction guarantee + lifetime warranty.
  • Outstanding customer support.

Cons

  • If water contains iron, manganese, sulfur, copper, or other contaminants that could foul the media bed, pre-treatment is needed.

2. The Runner-Up: FilterSmart FS500 Salt-Free Water Softening System

FilterSmart’s FS500 respectively FS500PRO is a legit alternative to the SpringWell FutureSoft salt-free water softening system reviewed above. The biggest difference is that the former is a tad more affordable. Therefore, the risk-free trial period is much shorter and we also prefer SpringWell’s customer service.

Anyway, the FilterSmart, too, uses Template Assisted Crystallization to convert hard water minerals into their crystal form which, most importantly, prevents them from building scale deposits, plus old deposits will vanish over time. The benefits: Water heater and other appliances last longer and perform at peak efficiency, and your plumbing requires less attention in terms of maintenance and repairs. 5 stars.

FilterSmart FS500

FilterSmart FS500 Salt Free Softener

Price:$$
Method:TAC
Flow Rate:15 gpm
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • TAC media won’t add nor remove anything from your water.
    • All healthy minerals are preserved.
    • No salt, no excess chemicals.
  • Salt-free softener does not have to regenerate meaning no water wastage.
  • FilterSmart FS500 comes in 2 sizes:
    • One is rated at 12 gpm service water flow, ideal for homes with 1-3 bathrooms.
    • One is for 4-6 bathrooms. Provides 15 gallons per minute.
  • FilterSmart FS500PRO comes with a larger 20-inch pre-filter for well water with high sediment levels.
    • Too many sediments can foul the catalytic media bed.
    • Change filter every 8-10 months. Cost: ~$20-35 per year.
  • System components are NSF certified.
  • Shipped with everything assembled. Easy to install.
  • Completely maintenance-free except for sediment filter replacement.
  • 90-day trial period allows you to return the product if you’re not satisfied and receive a full refund.
  • System is backed by lifetime warranty.

Cons

  • Water must be free from iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide.

3. For Small Budgets: Tier1 Salt-Free Water Conditioner With Pre-Filtration (Essential Series)

The main reason to opt for Tier1 when shopping for a saltless water conditioner is cost saving. How much is the price difference? Up to a few hundred dollars depending on which competitor model you use for comparison – not bad at all!

What’s more, Tier1 uses the exact same tried and tested technology that we also find in SpringWell and FilterSmart systems.

On the downside, a Tier1 system naturally cannot compete with the cream of the crop in regards to overall quality. It also lacks lifetime product warranty and, as far as we can tell, there’s no money-back guarantee/trial period.

All in all, 4.5 stars!

Tier1 Essential Water Conditioner

Tier1 Essential Series Saltless Water Conditioner With Pre-Filtration

Price:$$
Method:TAC
Flow Rate:20 gpm
Water:For Up to 6+ People
Warranty:?

Our Rating

Pros

  • Depending on the size of your household, choose between:
    • Small water softener system, 12 gallons of water per minute, designed for 1-3 bathrooms.
    • Large water softener system, 20 gallons per minute, ideal for homes with up to 6+ bathrooms.
  • Salt-free water softener renders calcium and magnesium in hard water harmless by converting them into nano crystals. Study has shown up to 99.6% reduced scaling in your entire home + existing deposits are cleared up eventually.
    • Maximum hard water level as per manufacturer: 75 gpg.
    • Media doesn’t require backwashing/recharging. Saves water.
    • All other benefits All other benefits as listed above.
  • You can do the installation yourself. All parts needed are included in the package.
  • Sediment filter pre-conditions the water removing sand, silt, rust and other sediments to protect the large conditioning tank from clogging/fouling.
    • Replace once or twice a year. Cost (annually): $25-50.

Cons

  • Catalytic TAC media lasts 3-5 years, says Tier1. Competitors claim their media lasts forever.
  • No product warranty information provided.
  • We would have appreciated a money-back guarantee for the first few months after product purchase.
  • Feed water must meet the following conditions:
    • Ferrous iron ≤ 0.3 ppm.
    • Manganese ≤ 0.05 ppm.
    • Copper ≤ 1.3 ppm.

4. Eddy Electronic Salt-Free Water Conditioner

The Eddy Electronic is our #1 salt-free, electronic water conditioner in 2020. With its wires wrapped around the incoming water pipe, it induces electromagnetic waves which eliminate the scaling effects of hard water by approx. 50 percent (tested in a scientific study).

Furthermore, the remaining half of the scale is less persistent and can be wiped off easily. 4.5 stars!

Eddy Electronic No Salt Water Softener

Eddy Electronic

Price:$
Method:Electromagnetic
Flow Rate:
Water:
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • The Eddy Electronic is highly affordable compared to salt-free water softening systems on top.
    • Cost for electricity is negligible.
  • Unit comes with 2 wires to be wrapped around the incoming water supply line (both on cold, or one on cold and one on hot water line). The wires generate electromagnetic waves that alter the adhesion properties of hard water ions so that they won’t stick to pipes etc.
    • All healthy minerals are retained.
    • Works with both tap and well water.
    • According to the company, hard water levels of up to 20 gpg can be handled.
    • Attention: Maximum allowed pipe diameter is 1.5 inches.
  • Easy to install within a few minutes, no plumbing involved.
  • Designed for tight spaces.
  • Virtually maintenance free.
  • Certified to international safety standards (CE + FCC).
  • Risk-free satisfaction guarantee for 1 year that allows you to return the product for a full refund.
  • Lifetime repair + replacement warranty.

Cons

  • A small proportion of users said they saw no positive effects.
  • Does not work with iron and galvanized pipes.

→ Complete Eddy Electronic Review Here

5. P3 P7920 (Magnetic) Review

The P3 P7920 may sound like a robot, but in reality it’s a salt-free softening system that makes use of magnets to, just like the Eddy Electronic, induce a magnetic field into the water. The ionic minerals in the water form relatively large crystals which are less likely to attach themselves to whatever surface they touch. In regards to effectiveness, we’re talking about one-third to one-half reduced scale formation.

Taking into account the extremely low price tag, it’s 4 stars from us!

P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Softener

P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Softener

Price:$
Method:Magnetic
Flow Rate:
Water:
Warranty:10 Years

Our Rating

Pros

  • Super cheap. Nothing can beat the P3 as far as pricing is concerned.
  • Permanent magnets are built into two plastic halves which wrap around the incoming water pipe.
  • Setup couldn’t be easier.
  • Highly compact, perfect for tight places.
  • Warranted for ten years.

Cons

  • Salt free softener is only compatible with ¾-inch pipe diameter.
  • Not everyone saw a positive effect.

6. Crystal Quest Salt-Free Whole House Water Softener + Water Filtration System

The Crystal Quest salt-free water softener is another systems applying TAC – because it’s the most effective water softening process that doesn’t involve salt. Again, possible scale reduction is well above the 90 percent mark. On top of that, old buildup in pipes etc. will disappear sooner or later.

What distinguishes the Crystal Quest from its competitors is that it not only includes pre- but also post-filtration for conditioned water that’s also healthy to drink with great taste. Everything is Made in USA so your budget has to be accordingly high. 4 stars.

Crystal Quest Salt-Free Whole House Water Softener + Water Filtration System

Crystal Quest Salt-Free Whole House Water Softener + Water Filtration System

Price:$$$
Method:TAC
Flow Rate:?
Water:For Up to 6 People
Warranty:1 Year

Our Rating

Pros

  • Whole House Water Softening + Water Filtration System.
  • Pleated 20-inch sediment pre-filter rated at 5 microns removes large particulates. Prolongs life of the softening resin.
  • Stage two uses catalytic anti-scale media to eliminate scaling effects of hard water. All benefits are as mentioned above.
  • 20-inch coconut shell carbon block filter removes VOCs, pesticides, bad taste and odor, and all kinds of chemicals.
  • 20-inch ultrafiltration cartridge rated at .2 microns filters colloids, microorganisms including bacteria and viruses, organics , and “most other water contaminations known today” (source: Crystal Quest).
  • Optional: Upgrade fiberglass to stainless steel tanks for longevity.
  • More time-consuming and not as easy to install due to the additional filter stages.
  • Minimal maintenance requirements.
    • Pre- & post-filters last between 1 and 3 years. Average annual cost: $80-$125.
    • Catalytic softening resin lasts up to 10 years.
  • Crystal Quest warrants this product for one year.

Cons

  • Pre-treatment of water might be necessary in case of elevated iron, manganese, copper, phosphate, or hydrogen sulfide levels.
    • Talk to Crystal Quest support team about this.

7. Aquasana SimplySoft Water Treatment System

Our final saltless water softener review features the Aquasana SimplySoft which uses scale control media to “naturally” counter the negative effects of hard water. Our guess is that the process is very similar, possibly identical, to what SpringWell and the other TAC water conditioning systems do: Convert ionic hard minerals into crystals which stops them from binding to surfaces – think scale prevention (more details above).

Aquasana SimplySoft

Aquasana SimplySoft Saltless Water Softening System

Price:$$
Method:SCM
Flow Rate:7 gpm
Water:For Up to 3 People
Warranty:6 Years

Our Rating

Pros

  • 5-micron sediment pre-filter removes large solids. Protects the large softening/conditioning tank.
    • Replace every other month. Cost: $30 per year.
  • Suited for DIY installation.
  • 90-day satisfaction guarantee has you covered in case you’re not happy with the results. Send back the Aquasana SimplySoft for a full refund.
  • Warranted for 6 years.

Cons

  • Product has received a considerable amount of bad reviews.
    • Most importantly, people complained about the softening capacity declining rather quickly. Aquasana says you can use the system for 6 years. Some reviewers said theirs stopped working after 6 months to 1 year.
  • Not the right system in case of extreme hardness. Maximum recommended hardness level is 25 gpg but system works best at 15 gpg or below.
  • 7.0 gallons per minute service water flow is too low for larger households. Up to 2 bathrooms is okay and should not cause low water pressure.
  • Aquasana SimplySoft lacks built-in bypass.
  • Changing the pre-filter can get a little messy.

→ Full Aquasana SimplySoft Review

Comparison List

SystemsTypeAdditional Info
SpringWell FutureSoftWhole HouseDIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.
FilterSmart FS500Whole HouseDIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.
Tier1 EssentialWhole HouseDIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.
Eddy ElectronicWhole HouseQuick Install. Needs Electricity.
P3 P7920Whole HouseQuick Install.
Crystal Quest Salt-Free Whole House Water Softener + Water Filtration SystemWhole HouseDIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.
Aquasana SimplySoftWhole HouseDIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.

More Reviews

Buyer’s Guide: What to Consider When Buying a Salt Free Water Softener

System Types (Technology) + Cost

There’re many different types of saltless water softeners. Personally, we favor systems using catalytic TAC media. That’s because they’re the most effective and don’t release anything into the water nor do they remove anything. The only downside is that this type is also the most costly.

Then we got systems which add a chemical additive to the water, such as citric acid or polyphosphate. Honestly, these are not our preferred choice. We simply don’t like the thought of consuming water that contains any kind of additive. Cost: Medium to high.

And lastly, (electro-)magnetic units – nowhere near as effective as TAC models but really affordable.

Water Parameters

You need to double-check that your water meets the necessary conditions set by whichever salt free softener you’re eying. Potential parameters may include a certain water pH range or temperature, and low iron, sulfur or manganese content.

Water Flow Rates

Whole house water treatment systems allow for a certain maximum flow rate. Your demand should not exceed this threshold even at times of peak consumption or you might experience a water pressure drop or have unconditioned water bleed through.

Here’s what most industry experts recommend:

  • At least 12 gpm service flow rate for household with 1 to 3 bathrooms.
  • At least 15 gallons per minute for homes with 4 to 6 bathrooms.

Ease of Installation & Maintenance

wrench

If you’re handy with tools you should be able to hook up any water softening/conditioning system provided you have enough time and patience. Tip: Flex tubing combined with shark bite fittings save you from soldering and make the whole process a lot faster and easier.

With most systems you also don’t need to worry about installing an extra bypass as they already have one built in.

As far as maintenance goes, there’s usually not much to do, maybe replace a sediment pre-filter every once in a while.

In case you prefer installation by a professional, expect to pay a few hundred extra bucks.

By the way, everything of the above doesn’t apply to the Eddy, the P3, and similar products. They can be installed in under 10 minutes and don’t need to be looked after – it’s set and forget!

Dimensions

Electronic and magnetic units being the exception, salt free water softeners are larger than you might think. Make sure there’s enough room in your garage or basement to install one.

Seller + Warranty

We prefer sellers that

  • offer a trial period with all their products which guarantees the buyer a full refund if he or she is not satisfied.
  • back their systems with a lifetime warranty.
  • provide US-based, technically-versed customer support.

More on Salt Free Softeners

What is a Salt-Free Water Softener/Conditioner?

Traditional water softeners use salt to remove calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from water in a process called ion exchange. Although being highly effective, this method of softening water has several disadvantages.

For one, a regular water softener has to regenerate on a frequent basis. This means backwashing the resin bed to flush out all accumulated hard water ions and recharging the small resin beads with sodium (in some cases potassium). This wastes a considerable amount of water and releases excess salt into your water supply which will eventually end up in the environment. Another drawback is that you have to buy new salt bags on a continuous basis.

This is why engineers came up with the concept of salt-free water softeners. They may not actually remove any minerals from hard water, however, they reduce or completely eliminate its scaling effects which is just what regular water softeners are trying to achieve in the first place.

How Do Saltless Water Softeners Work?

As mentioned above, there are various types of saltless water softeners. They come in all shapes and sizes and are based on different technologies. In other words, not all saltless water softeners work the same way.

By far our favorite type are systems using Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC), due to their unmatched performance and ease of use. We’ve already explained how the technology works in one of the reviews above. In a nutshell: Water flows through a catalytic media which causes all calcium and magnesium ions to crystallize so they stay suspended in the water. TAC has shown to prevent scale buildup by more than 99% when applied right.

Some saltless water softeners add chelating agents to the water. Two examples are the Aquios systems which use a polyphosphate and NuvoH2O which add citric acid. However, customer feedback for systems working with chelation is mixed at best.

And lastly, electric respectively magnetic no-salt water conditioners also known as water descalers. They alter the adhesive properties of calcium and the like by creating a magnetic field in the water. Here, too, overall effectiveness is rather limited.

Benefits of Salt-Free Water Conditioning

The main benefit of salt free water conditioners is them preventing scale deposits from forming. This protects your home’s plumbing and appliances. Above that:

  • They remove existing limescale, contrary to traditional water softeners.
  • Hard water spotting may reduce. Any remaining scale is soft and wipes off easily.
  • Some users reported skin and hair + laundry look and feel much better.
  • Compared to traditionally softened water, the conditioned water doesn’t feel slippery.
  • Mineral content in the water won’t be altered and adds to your daily nutritional intake.
  • Salt-free softeners don’t need to regenerate. This saves a lot of resources, especially water. Not releasing any excess salt is also more environmentally friendly. Speaking of salt, you don’t have to heave heavy salt bags or worry about sodium in your drinking water.
  • They’re relatively easy to install if you’re a DIYer.
  • With most models you don’t have to worry about maintenance at all.
  • There’s no softening resin to replace every couple of years.
  • Salt free systems are the only option in communities where regular water softeners are banned.

scale-free shower head

Disadvantages

  • The general consensus among experts is that, overall, salt water softeners are more effective than their salt-free counterparts.
  • Proper water softeners tend to perform better at higher hardness levels than most no-salt units.
  • Not all people are satisfied with their system. Most of them complain about not seeing any or only marginal effects.

Salt vs Salt Free Water Softeners

Which is better salt or salt free water softener is a question we get asked quite often. Again, there’s no doubt that the former is more effective than the latter.

That said, saltless units have their own benefits which are listed right above. Most importantly, they also remove existing scale deposits which is something no salt water softener can do.

Remember: It’s Not Softened Water

Last but not least, we want to make very clear that water treated with a salt-free system is not soft water in the real sense. With softened water, all hard water minerals have been removed. Salt-free conditioners can only reduce the scaling effects of hard water without actually taking out any calcium or magnesium.

Where’s the difference? Well, there’s no guarantee that your soap and shampoo usage goes down, that your clothes become whiter, brighter and softer, and that you see a difference in spotting.

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I hope this list of the best saltless water softeners was helpful. Questions? Ask away!

And keep in mind: We’ll add new no-salt water softener reviews occasionally. So come back for more!

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.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

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