Please note: This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more about our product review process or check our FTC affiliate disclosure.
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
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…
|Model||Our Rating||Price||Type||Flow Rate||Water For||Warranty|
Our #1 Salt Free Water Softener: SpringWell FutureSoft
|$$$||TAC||15 gpm||Up to 6 People||Lifetime|
The Runner-Up: FilterSmart FS500
|$$||TAC||15 gpm||Up to 6 People||Lifetime|
For Small Budgets: Tier1 Salt-Free System
|$$||TAC||20 gpm||Up to 6+ People||?|
Eddy Electronic Saltless Water Softener
P3 P7920 Magnetic Water Softener
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
|Flow Rate:||15 gpm|
|Water:||For Up to 6 People|
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 Salt Free Softener
|Flow Rate:||15 gpm|
|Water:||For Up to 6 People|
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 Series Saltless Water Conditioner With Pre-Filtration
|Flow Rate:||20 gpm|
|Water:||For Up to 6+ People|
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!
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
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
|Water:||For Up to 6 People|
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 Saltless Water Softening System
|Flow Rate:||7 gpm|
|Water:||For Up to 3 People|
|SpringWell FutureSoft||Whole House||DIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.|
|FilterSmart FS500||Whole House||DIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.|
|Tier1 Essential||Whole House||DIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.|
|Eddy Electronic||Whole House||Quick Install. Needs Electricity.|
|P3 P7920||Whole House||Quick Install.|
|Crystal Quest Salt-Free Whole House Water Softener + Water Filtration System||Whole House||DIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.|
|Aquasana SimplySoft||Whole House||DIY Install. Mineral Treatment Might Need Pre Filtration.|
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
We prefer sellers that
More on Salt Free Softeners
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
Sign up to join 1,000+ subscribers and get notified about new BOS guides & checklists as well as exclusive product sales and discount codes.