Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks asks the following question: “ What is your opinion of the “new” no-salt water softeners? Is there real science behind their operation?”
Here is The Water Doctor’s Response:
First of all, there is no such thing as a “no-salt water softener.” By definition, a water softener removes hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) and replaces them with soft minerals (sodium or potassium). That is the only way to “soften” water. The term “salt-free water softener” is inherently misleading. It is however, appropriate to call them “no-salt water conditioners,” because they can condition the water.
There are two distinct sides to this issue: (1) many water treatment dealers say that this type of technology does not work at all; and (2) many companies selling these products make claims which are unsubstantiated or even outrageous in nature. What’s the truth? As a 38-year water treatment industry veteran as well as one of the highest certified water treatment specialists in the country, I would have to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. First of all, not all of the devices work, and some work better than others, so in my vast experience, I have to say that the side that says they don’t work is not facing fact – some do work. However, the side that calls them “water softeners” and claims they deliver “naturally softened water” that use 50% less soaps and detergents, is also something that is easily proven false. Some of these systems are very effective at preventing scale, but they do not soften the water, cause you to use dramatically less soap and make your clothes whiter and brighter. In fact, these devices are very “site specific” and greatly impacted by certain contaminants in the water.
As long as the customer understands it is not a “salt-free water softener,” then I would suggest that they do their due diligence and investigate the product. Promises that sound too good to be true, frequently are. The biggest problem is that there is no regulation or testing of these salt-free devices and until there is, it is “let the buyer beware.” My advice is to deal with a reputable company. Check them out with the BBB and Angie’s List and make sure they have a Money-Back Guarantee before buying any no-salt water conditioner.