Your salt-based water softener can dump up to 500 pounds of salt into the environment each year, so salt-free free solutions to this environmental problem seem like a good idea. Salt is also damaging to some metals like galvanized pipe and the last thing most people want or need is a major repair on their water supply system. Because of the minimal negative effect on the environment, salt-free water softening systems are at least worth doing some research on before spending your hard earned money.
Types of Salt-Free Water Softeners
Electric water softeners are said, by their manufacturers, to send an electric pulse through the water that prevents scaling. There is no real claim that it will remove dissolved metals that cause hard water, just that it will reduce scale buildup. Magnetic water softeners are mostly claimed to reduce scale buildup in your pipes. Just wrap a couple of magnets at about 0 each around your pipes and some distributors claim that your plants will thrive better, some diseases will be prevented, and, oh yeah, it will soften your water, too. Well not really soften your water because it doesn't remove any dissolved metals, but make your water feel softer and act softer. Sorry, but the scientific support for these claims cannot always be replicated when discovered by one scientist and the actual studies are somewhat ambiguous and even anecdotal in nature. Electro-magnetic water softeners are just a magnet with an electrical current added. Sort of like combining the two just above. Not surprisingly, these devices are not claimed by most distributors to actually soften your water. Like the other two approaches, this type also only minimizes scale buildup in your plumbing. But the U.S. government has some positive things to say about the potential of this type of system. Catalytic Media systems use a filter media type that chemically alters and/or traps hard water compounds. Ceramic filter types are similar to what backpackers have been using for years and are usually effective to the size of cryptosporidium which is a nasty paramecium that is found in streams where there is also wildlife around. One ceramic filter system insists it is a durable, long-life system because the filter's catalyst is a non-sacrificial type. One could argue that since the introduction of a true catalyst in chemical reactions is for the purpose of enhancing a reaction, how could this really be a catalyst? Or if it is, then what is the chemistry behind the non-sacrificial reaction? Suffice it to say that a ceramic filter of high quality will have a long life but will need some cleaning maintenance and its filtration ability will be limited to its pore size. The ceramic filter's ability to filter viral material might be a major feature for some people. Reverse Osmosis is a non-salt based system that was first developed for the purpose of desalinization of sea water to become pure drinking water. It has considerable limitations, but is easier on the environment than salt-based water softener systems. Reverse osmosis has been a proven solution to providing high quality pure drinking water for about 40 years.Salt-Free Water Softeners SOFTENER