The global water softener market is expected to reach or exceed $10 billion by 2024. Consumers worldwide use these products to improve water quality in their homes or offices. Soft water can extend the lifespan of dishwashers and other appliances while preventing scale buildup.
Choosing a water softener isn’t easy, though. These products come in all shapes and sizes, and each model has distinct characteristics. There are salt-based water softeners, reverse osmosis systems, and everything in between.
Salt water softeners are durable and can completely remove the minerals in hard water. The downside is that they require weekly upkeep and involve higher costs than other models.
This brings up the question, is salt really necessary? And what’s the difference between salt-free water softeners and salt-based systems? Let’s find out.
How Salt-Based Water Softeners Work
Hard water contains magnesium, calcium, and other minerals that can leave stains on your clothes and appliances. Over time, these minerals cause scale buildup, leading to rust stains, clogged pipes, and skin problems.
While hard water isn’t a health hazard, it can irritate your skin and cause plumbing issues. You may also end up with higher water bills, faded clothes, and stained sinks.
One way to prevent or reduce these problems is to install a home water softener in your home. Salt-based water softeners, for example, replace the minerals in your water supply with sodium ions.
Also known as ion-exchange water softeners, these systems only eliminate the minerals in hard water. Salt-free systems, on the other hand, can also filter out bacteria, chemicals, and other impurities.
Salt water softeners require sodium chloride to work, meaning that you need to buy salt bags regularly. While these appliances are effective at softening water, they affect the environment and can be expensive to maintain. A typical device uses about 25 gallons of water per day, reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Salt Water Softeners Are Not Your Only Option
As you can see, salt-based water softeners can increase your carbon footprint—and your water bill. The good news is, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
Depending on your budget, you can opt for salt-free waters, magnetic water softeners, and other models. Salt-free systems, such as this salt free water softener, require no maintenance and help preserve water. Your only job is to replace the sediment pre-filter once a year.
A salt-free water softener will prevent scale buildup while lowering your bills. These appliances neutralize the minerals in hard water and keep them from sticking together. Most models can also remove other impurities.
Make an Informed Decision
Salt water softeners have been around for decades, but they’re not necessarily the best option. With the advances in technology, manufacturers are now offering better products.
Salt-free systems, for instance, are easier to install and maintain than ion-exchange systems. Plus, they can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Interested to find out more? Browse our Household section for other tips on how to fix plumbing issues, lower your bills, and prevent water waste!