The Hard Truth About Salt-Free Water Softeners

Ask the Water Doctor, The Hard Truth About Salt-Free Water Softeners

NOTE: This is a 2023 update of a blog published in 2015.

For over a decade, marketing companies have been selling customers on the idea of salt-free water softeners. It's unfortunate that salt-free water softeners don't really exist. The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines soft water as,

“Water that is free from dissolved salts of such metals as calcium, iron, or magnesium, which form insoluble deposits such as appear as scale in boilers or soap curds in bathtubs and laundry equipment.”

Soft water is made possible by the cation resin in traditional water softeners which use an ion exchange process to displace calcium and magnesium ions from the water.

How Do Salt-Based Water Softeners Work?

Chuck Wright, who is a chemistry professor at the University of Utah, wrote this in the Scientific American, almost 20 years ago, but the science is still the same:

“A typical water-softening system removes calcium and magnesium ions from hard water and replaces them with sodium ions. Calcium and magnesium ions interfere with the action of household soaps and detergents, but sodium does not. The water-softening process thus helps detergents to more effectively remove dirt and oils from clothing and dishes. It also helps soaps to give a "slippery" feel to your skin when you wash. Most manufacturers of water softeners recommend that you reduce the amount of soap and detergents you use after installing a water softener.

The water softener unit is located in your household plumbing near the place where water enters the house so that it softens the water used for drinking and washing but not for irrigation. The unit contains several cubic feet of porous plastic resin covered with molecules that attract and bind to positive ions dissolved in the water. Normally, sodium positive ions coat the resin, but as water flows over the resin on its way to your sink or washer, the naturally occurring calcium and magnesium positive ions that exist in hard water stick to the resin. This releases sodium ions into the water in order to maintain a balance of electrical charge on the resin. Gradually, most of the sodium ions are released into the household water, and the resin becomes saturated with calcium and magnesium ions. Every few days, the unit must renew the resin by rinsing it with a concentrated solution of saltwater (sodium chloride), usually in the middle of the night. The high concentration of sodium ions in the salty water displaces the calcium and magnesium ions the resin, and the resin becomes once again covered with sodium ions. The salty rinse water, calcium, and magnesium ions are flushed down the drain, and the system resumes normal operation. (Every so often it is necessary to add a bag of sodium chloride salt to the softener unit to prepare this salty rinse water.)

Each cubic foot of resin can effectively remove calcium and magnesium from about 3,200 gallons of hard water, which the Water Quality Association defines as 10 grains per gallon hardness. The process adds about 750 milligrams of sodium to each gallon of water, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers to be in the "low sodium" range for commercially sold beverages. For people who are concerned about their overall intake of sodium, resins that instead of release potassium into the water do exist, but the potassium chloride salt used to renew the resin every few days is more expensive than ordinary sodium chloride salt.”

So, a water softener simply softens the water by exchanging sodium or potassium for calcium and/or magnesium. It's a straightforward process that has been commercialized over the past 75 years. In some parts of the country, the water is somewhat naturally soft and water softener usage is rare, while in other parts of the county, it is the opposite.

The level of hardness is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) or milligrams per liter (mg/l). Both terms are a measure of weight.

1 gpg = 17.1 mg/l

So, if your water were 276 mg/l it would be 16.14 gpg (276 divided by 17.1 = 16.14). The Water Quality Association or “WQA” ( ) rates water hardness as follows:

Water Hardness Chart

Term Grains Per Gallon (GPG) PPM (MG/L)
Soft < 1.0 < 17.0
Slightly Hard 1.0 - 3.5 17.1 - 60
Moderately Hard 3.5 - 7.0 60 - 120
Hard 7.0 - 10.5 1210 - 180
Very Hard > 10.5 > 180

How Do Salt-Free Water Conditioners Work?

However, if you want to understand the science behind salt-free water softeners, the information and science behind them is not so clear. One online seller of salt-free water softeners on their website, say this is how they say their process works:

“The process our salt-free water softener media use water flow to naturally prevent limescale build up. The process takes hard water (calcium and magnesium) and transforms the ions into microscopic nanocrystals. This suspends the particles so that it cannot “stick” or cause scale while the water travels through.”

Another online seller of “salt-free water softeners” is Nuvoh2o. They describe how their process works here:

“First, instead of removing beneficial minerals like old-fashioned salt softeners, the NuvoH2O system binds and isolates the hard mineral ions with a process known as chelation. Once bounded to CitraCharge®, NuvoH2O's binding agent, the mineral cannot form scale.

So, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? US Water Systems also sells a Salt-Free System called the GreenWave, but we call it a “Salt-Free Water Conditioner” not a “salt-free water softener.” We also explain the science a little more in depth:

The GreenWave 2.0 utilizes Filtersorb SP 3 Media by Watch Water. The Filtersorb SP 3 Media utilizes a process called Nucleation Assisted Crystallization or “NAC” for short. As the hard water passes through a pressure vessel (in the upflow configuration) the calcium bicarbonate or Ca (HCO3, is transformed into the aragonite form of calcium carbonate CaCO3 crystals. These crystals are formed through decomposition and crystallization process, forming very stable harmless crystals.

The following equation describes the reaction that occurs inside the pressure vessel when flow over grains of nucleation.

Ca(HCO3)2 → CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O

Most companies do not tell you how much Anti-Scale Media is inside their tanks. However, if you check, you will find out that it is generally about half of what we use. Ours is engineered to be long lasting and more efficient, typically lasting 4-6 years.

TAC & NAC Systems

Insofar as I can tell, the US Water Systems Green Wave, Pelican Water's Natursoft, Aquasana's Salt-Free Water Conditioner, Filtersmart, Smartwell, nextScale Stop, Spring well Water, Watts One Flow, Lifesource, and several others all use the TAC or NAC technology. This is time-proven technology that does not soften the water but does provide protection from hard water scaling.

Citric Acid Systems

The second type of salt-free system is the introduction of citric acid into the water stream, which is what NuvoH2O offers. We have used this technology and it is highly effective at preventing scale. We have utilized in streamers and several other food service applications. My problem with this technology is that it lowers the pH of the water, which could potentially create corrosion. I believe they prevent that problem by only injecting a small amount into the water supply. However, that makes it less effective in preventing scale.

We do not believe it is a viable option for home usage and we have chronicled many people who have tried it… only to be disappointed. Having a product work in “test conditions” versus “real life” conditions are two entirely different things. Franky, we would sell this technology if we were convinced that it worked. We know it works in steamers and the like, but the flow rate is low, and the steamers are generally stainless steel, so they can withstand the acidic pH. You don't want that in your home water treatment system.

Polyphosphate Systems

Polyphosphate or orthophosphate systems effectively "seal" the plumbing and appliance surfaces so that calcium and magnesium (often called limescale) cannot stick. Limescale is formed when cold water is heated in a water heater, boiler, or tea kettle.

In heating water, such as in a water heater, calcium carbonate precipitates and forms limescale. We recommend installing our Limeblaster on the line to the water heater as the limescale generally does not form inside cold water pipes. About half the water used in a home is hot water. While it is completely acceptable to install it on the entire home water supply, some people do not like the idea of adding a chemical to the drinking water, even though it is a "food grade" product and is safe for human consumption according to the WHO and FDA recommendations. It meets all FDA requirements for being "food grade. Still, we use the Limeblaster just on the line feeding the hot water heater.

When installed in tandem with the GreenWave, the combination of the Limeblaster offers the most protection possible for all the plumbing in your home and protection for the water heater.

Note: It should be noted that hard water scale in a water heater insulates the heat from the water and inhibits the transfer of heat to the water. This dramatically increases fuel costs by 30% to 40% while cutting down the life expectancy of the water heater in the process. This is especially true with the new tankless water heaters.

Hold the Salt But Tell The Truth

Why Do We Call Our System a Conditioner, Not a Softener?

The short answer is that it is not a softener, so we call it what it actually is: a salt free water conditioner. Words are powerful. Words have started wars, caused murders and divorce, alienated siblings, and have tricked people into buying something they believe will soften the water, when in fact, it does no such thing!

Compared to a few years ago, only a few companies are now calling their product a salt-free water softener. In the past two years, these companies have stopped calling their products “salt free water softeners” because they really do not soften the water.

Why is that? Well, I would like to think that I have had a hand in this as I have blogged about this very deception for over ten years, but I think that the big blow to the bogus salt-free softener claims was delivered by the Water Quality Association ( ) when they decreed that any member who claimed that their product was a salt-free softener, but did not, in-fact soften the water, would be removed as a member… literally booted out!

The WQA, according to their website is devoted to providing water treatment solutions to end-users in an honest and ethical manner:

“WQA primarily represents the sector of the water treatment industry devoted to treating water on the homeowner's or business-owner's property. We often refer to this aspect of treatment as the Final Barrier that prevents waterborne contaminants from entering a home or business. Whether your water arrives from a community treatment plant, municipal well or other source, WQA's member companies are committed to making that water safe and aesthetically pleasing for those who consume or use it.

WQA does not provide testing services directly to consumers, does not sell any products, and does not solicit door-to-door or over the telephone. Its members, who offer critical water technology products and services for households, businesses and industry, do not engage in scare tactics and follow a strict Code of Ethics. If you have any questions about whether someone is a WQA member or is working on behalf of WQA, please reach out at”

As I mentioned, a couple of years ago, WQA took a stand against deceptive and unethical claims, such as claiming to sell a water softener, which, in fact, does not soften the water. Occasionally, some people ask: “What's the big deal?” Here's the big deal: If you asked me for a facial tissue and I gave you a Kleenex or a Puffs, you would be getting what you asked for. But what if I handed you a paper towel? While it might work to some degree, a paper towel is not a facial tissue.

If I asked for a quart of milk, would you give me almond milk or soy milk? I think we all understand that milk is from a cow, but some people prefer almond or soy milk which is why almond, and soy are part of the name. The words clearly communicate what it is. Words matter!

A conditioner “conditions” the water but does not “soften” the water while a softener conditions and softens. The accepted meaning of the term “water softener” is a device that removes the hardness to below 1 grain per gallon (gpg). Let's consider some definitions of water softener or soft water:

  • Wikipedia: "Water softening is the removal of calcium, magnesium, and certain other metal cations in hard water. The resulting soft water requires less soap for the same cleaning effort, as soap is not wasted mopping up calcium ions. Soft water also extends the lifetime of plumbing by reducing or eliminating scale build-up in pipes and fittings. Water softening is usually achieved using lime softening or ion-exchange resins."
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: Water softening, the process of removing the dissolved calcium and magnesium salts that cause hardness in water.
  • Oxford Language Dictionary - A device or substance that softens hard water by removing certain minerals.
  • McMillian Dictionary - A substance or piece of equipment used for removing unwanted (not wanted) minerals from the water.
The plain and customary usage of the word “water softener” is well-established in the English Language and even my 7-year-old granddaughter comprehends that to make water soft, you must remove the calcium and magnesium. One of the major differences between a water softener and a water conditioner is that calcium and magnesium reacts with soap and forms “curd” not suds. This necessitates the use of 50 to 75% more soaps and detergents.

A salt-free water softener only exists in the minds of unscrupulous marketers who want to deceive you into buying one.

Water Softeners vs Salt-Free Conditioners

As mentioned earlier, it was in 2007 when US Water Systems released our Green Wave salt-free water conditioner and from its' inception, we called it a salt-free water conditioner, not a softener because it did not soften the water. Undoubtedly, we could have sold a lot more of these had we called them “GreenWave Salt Free Water Softeners” but as a family-owned business we cannot conscientiously engage in that kind of deception.

"Not only is it a specific type of device but its specific purpose is to soften water ... and whether the water is soft or not is scientifically provable."

A water softener is a specific type of device utilizing ion-exchange resins to "soften" water. Not only is it a specific type of device, but its specific purpose is to soften water... and whether the water is soft or not is scientifically provable. Some companies claim that they have a device that softens the water without salt. This is simply not true.

Salt-free "conditioners" are a much larger category because they do not soften the water by using ion-exchange. The hardness minerals exist in crystallized form, but they are still present in the water. This means that loads of laundry will still be drab and dull and of course, your bathroom will still have to deal with soap scum stains. The only way to eliminate these headaches to soften the water.

This is why the name “salt-free water softener” is not only false, but also deceptive. Salt-free water conditioners do provide protection against scale, but they are not to be associated with all the benefits afforded by water softening.

Soft Water vs Hard Water

Where To Use A Salt-Free Conditioner

Don't misunderstand, there are many benefits to salt-free water conditioners, but they are just not the same as a salt-based water softener and some people are OK with that. Some people do not like the “slick feeling” of soft water in the shower or bath. Personally, I love it, but it is not for everyone. That part is subjective, but the savings part is a fact.

Benefits of Salt-Free Conditioning

  • Removes the existing scale in plumbing
  • Maintenance-free.
  • Prevents scale INSIDE the plumbing
  • Very easy to install
  • Provide the best quality healthy water without the addition of Sodium or Phosphates
  • Carbon Neutral
  • Eco - Friendly
  • The perfect water softener alternative for people who do not like the slippery feel of soft water.

Pretreatment For Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are gaining popularity all over the country for several reasons, but the top two reasons undoubtedly are (1) saving money on energy; and (2) never running out of hot water. Limescale is formed when cold water is heated in a water heater. In the process of heating water, calcium carbonate precipitates, and forms limescale.

As I mentioned earlier, many of our customers choose to install the GreenWave to the entire house and then put the Limeblaster on just the line to the water heater as the limescale does not form inside cold-water pipes.

Scale Removal

One of the features of a TAC or NAC water conditioner is its ability to remove preexisting scale from pipes. The CaCO3 crystals formed by the NAC or TAC media are able to slowly dissolve away the existing scale as they move through the pipes of your home. Doing this slowly ensures that the dissolved scale does not block off plumbing and prevents clogging.

Where Water Softeners Are Banned

If you live in certain parts of California, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, or Massachusetts, you might live in a part of the state that has strict water softener regulation or has outright banned the use of water softeners. If you live in a state that experiences frequent droughts, then water conservation may be a key factor in the water treatment system you use. Water softeners produce wastewater, so the use of a water conditioner may suit your needs perfectly. Salt-free water conditioners produce ZERO wastewater and are usually carbon-neutral and eco-friendly.

But if you are looking for a salt-free water softener, I can save you the trouble - There are none! Several companies have complied with the Water Quality Association Code of Ethics and have discontinued this type of false and deceptive use of words and advertising. I applaud them! This is a partial list (I am sorry if I left anyone out):

  • Aquasana - They call theirs a “salt-free water conditioner”
  • Apec Futura - They call it a “salt-free anti-scale water conditioner”
  • Pelican Water - They call it a “water softener alternative using salt-free technology”

However, there still are several companies who persist in calling their product a salt-free water softener. (I apologize if I missed anyone)

  • Aquios
  • Filtersmart
  • NuvoH2O
  • Springwell

Do We Sell Salt-Free Systems?

We get lots of calls every day asking us about this. In short, yes we also have two salt-free systems, called the GreenWave and the Limeblaster. However, we clearly state what each system is capable of. These systems do not soften the water, rather, they condition it, but most of the benefits that you get with softened water are not benefits you will get with a salt-free system.

Things like spot-free glasses and dishes, whiter, brighter, and softer clothes, and reduced soap usage are not the benefits you receive with salt-free systems. The main benefit is the reduction of scale. We also have a full line of salt-free systems that uses no energy and waste no water while removing dramatic amounts of contaminants, called The Disruptor Filter System.

So the question is, why do these companies persist in calling these "salt-free water softeners?" Let me attempt to answer this. The "baby boomers" are getting up in years and don't like carrying salt, and it has become in vogue to ban softeners in some areas. This is America - the land of opportunity and marketers see an opportunity to sell a salt-free softener, but if they called it a conditioner, would it be as easy to sell? I doubt it! In my opinion, the use of the word softener instead of conditioner is an attempt to deceive the consumer. At the very least, it confuses them. Earlier, I mentioned that these companies are "Marketing Companies." Do they have any Certified Water Specialists on staff? Well, the only way they can be certified is by the WQA and if they engage n these practices, the WQA terminates their membership, so the answer is NO.

US Water System is first, foremost and always, a Water Treatment Company - we have nearly 5,000 products because no one product is the solution to everything. If it filters, we call it a filter. If it produces ozone, we call it an Ozonator. If it softens, we call it a softener and if it conditions, we call it a conditioner. We don't call a squirrel an elephant. We call them what they are. We are not a marketing company - we are a full-service water treatment company with many Certified Water Specialists on staff. The fact is, a salt-free conditioner may or may not be right for you, but we can help you decide. However, a salt-free softener is never right for you... because it simply doesn't exist!

Mark Timmons, aka/The Water Doctor, is a Certified Master Water Specialist with 50 years of water treatment industry experience. He is the Founder, President and co-owner of US Water Systems, Inc. located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Now that you've learned a thing or two about salt-free water conditioners, which do you think is better a water conditioner or a water softener? Comment below and let us know what other types of water treatment you'd like to learn about.

February 15, 2023
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March 4, 2015 at 5:34 PM
What are my options for a town that has banned salt-softeners, but provides hard and dirty water.
Mark Timmons
March 5, 2015 at 8:06 AM
Deanna, Many people successfully treat their water with this system: It utilizes micron filtration, carbon filtration and salt-free scale removal technology to provide exceptional water. Let us know if you have further questions.
April 11, 2015 at 9:29 PM
Yes, a number of companies are sneaky claiming water softening with saltless system, And then there are conventional salt based water softener companies that claim these saltless system are snake oil exactly because they do not remove the hardness. No wonder consumers are confused - they're expecting the soft water feeling and feeling taken when the saltless systems do not meet this expectation. I prefer the saltless system for a number of reasons: 1) the environmental impact of adding salt to the natural water ways, 2) added salt intake in drinking water 3) extra water usage required for the backwashing.
July 3, 2015 at 4:45 PM
IMHO, anything that removes the dissolved minerals, which make water "hard", is a type of water "softener". Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems can certainly be considered softeners, as can distillers.
Mark Timmons
July 3, 2015 at 7:20 PM
Michael, You are correct that a distiller and RO can be considered to be a water softener. However, the point of the post was to emphasize the fact that most of the systems that claim to be "Salt-Free Water Softeners" don't actually soften the water.
August 3, 2015 at 11:22 AM
Is there a salt-free system that does work?
Mark Timmons
August 3, 2015 at 3:36 PM
I guess it depends upon what you want it to do. Our Green Wave does what we say, but what do you want it to do?
August 15, 2015 at 1:36 AM
My only goal is to prevent the scaling on appliances and in pipes, so I'll be buying the basic Green Wave. I am no plumber, will I need to hire one or can I install myself with a bit of trial and error? Also, is there a noticeable difference in the 10/15gpm versions?
Mark Timmons
August 15, 2015 at 3:01 PM
1. We have tech support 7 days a week. We are not fond of plumbers. Read this: It's easy to install with our support. 2. I would use the 15 GPM model if I have more than 3.5 baths and more than 5 people in the family.
December 9, 2015 at 11:56 AM
Hello Water Doc Do you have any proof that your competitors water conditioners don't do what they claim? It appears all you have is the fact they are calling them "salt free water softners", I don't have a problem with them calling them that. They don't claim to remove the minerals but claim or state the results are the same as your product. Congress changed the definition of a word last year, diffinitions can be changed when people understand the meaning. I also understand the marketing aspect behind the term. My conclusion is if there is no such meaning of "salt free water softner" , but the term exists and people understand "salt free water softner" means water comditioners, then the term "salt free water softner" must be eccepted by all as the definition of water conditioner. What I'm trying to figure out is, does this technology actual do what they are claiming? I don't care what they call it, but does it actually work!
Mark Timmons
December 9, 2015 at 9:55 PM
Jason, I'll address each issue individually <strong>in bold</strong>: Do you have any proof that your competitors water conditioners don’t do what they claim? <strong>Yes, we have tested them all with a water hardness test kit. A water softener makes water "soft" a conditioner does not. Their systems all test "hard."</strong> It appears all you have is the fact they are calling them “salt free water softners”, I don’t have a problem with them calling them that. They don’t claim to remove the minerals but claim or state the results are the same as your product. Maybe you work for them... which may be why you don't have a problem with it. I don't know. <strong>Maybe you don't have a problem calling an airplane with a propeller, a jet, but it's not. A jet is an airplane, but a propeller airplane is certainly not a jet... which is why normal people don't call it that.</strong> Congress changed the definition of a word last year, diffinitions can be changed when people understand the meaning. I also understand the marketing aspect behind the term. <strong>OK, you understand it, but many people are "duped" into thinking it softens, when in fact it doesn't! </strong> My conclusion is if there is no such meaning of “salt free water softner” , but the term exists and people understand “salt free water softner” means water comditioners, then the term “salt free water softner” must be eccepted by all as the definition of water conditioner. <strong>I have to respectfully say that is one of the dumbestest things I have ever heard. It's obvious from all the typos that you are not a linguist or English major. Those words all have specific meanings and to call a conditioner a softener is grossly misleading. Period!</strong> What I’m trying to figure out is, does this technology actual do what they are claiming? I don’t care what they call it, but does it actually work! <strong>It doesn't do what they say - it doesn't soften - So, yes it doesn't do what they say. If one of them can prove that it softens the water, I'll buy their system.</strong>
February 22, 2016 at 12:01 AM
I have a water well and softener that I put salt in. I have raised and lowered the level on how much salt it uses and still get hard water spots and my skin breaks out. When I test the water it is always same level of hardness whether salt is up high or low. The ice out of the fridge melts into a milky color. Is there a way to test the water besides DEQ? Any suggestions on how to fix or improve it?
Mark Timmons
February 22, 2016 at 8:22 AM
A water softener has to be set properly and what are the proper settings is determined by the Total Hardness of your water and the size (in grains) of your softener. Also, if you ever run out of salt, you have to use 15 pounds of salt per cubic foot to restore the capacity. If you don't do that, it will never deliver soft water. What size is your tank? What is your water hardness (any iron)? Is it a timer or a meter?
February 28, 2016 at 5:26 AM
I've done some searching online and I understand that the salt variety water softeners will remove impurities in the water to prevent water spots and remove the buildup on lines. I also understand that the salt-free "water softeners" do not remove the impurities, but rather modify them so it won't build up on the lines. My question is: Since my home just finished construction, is there a benefit to installing the traditional setup vs salt-free? My concern also lies in the fact that I am on a septic system and that the impurities in the water that would normally eat/process the septic, will not be able to do so if they're removed. Lastly, I'm also considering a whole-home filtration system; would that be redundant if using a water softener? Would that in conjunction with the salt-free system do anything more/less than a water softener? Thanks
Mark Timmons
February 28, 2016 at 10:20 AM
Before I can answer, can you tell me about your water? Are you on city water or well water? If you are on well water, what can you tell me about the water quality?
Paloma Achlen
June 4, 2016 at 8:18 AM
Hello Mark, Yes, I totally agreed with you that from about last ten years salt-free water softeners have become the dream of many marketing companies and it’s really very beneficial for us.
October 2, 2016 at 11:46 PM
I just want to have a better water for a better skin and hair, what is the best option, and what exactly that will do? thank you!
Mark Timmons
October 5, 2016 at 10:14 AM
There is absolutely nothing that can deliver better water than a water softener like this: However, if you are on city water that is chlorinated, this will do even better because it softens as well as removes the chlorine, chloramine and chemicals:
Joe Greene
October 21, 2016 at 9:47 AM
Mark - Thanks for all this information. My son and I are currently researching this right now, trying to figure out what type of system is best for a new house he just purchased. Let me ask you a specific question or two. I've read that the nucleation process used in salt-free systems will prevent corrosion and scale build-up in the plumbing, but that you can still get the staining and other undesirables on your surfaces where the water remains standing (including the bottom of your water heater). Is this true? Also, if you don't care about the "slippery" clean feeling in the shower, do you think the lower maintenance requirements (and cost, both up front and ongoing) of these systems outweigh the benefits of a true water softener? Thank you for any info. - Joe
October 21, 2016 at 9:47 AM
I have city water and just want better quality water. Less spots on shower doors etc. However I'm concerned about the environmental impact of a water softener, adding salt and using excess water. What's my best option?
Mark Timmons
September 22, 2020 at 9:29 AM
There is no right answer. Like most things in life, it is based upon choice and sometimes the "lesser of evils." It is true that a softener adds sodium to the water and also does waste some water, but before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider this: If you have hard water, not only are you going to have spots on shower doors, but the hard water will etch them, and glassware and water heaters and appliances will have their lives impacted. It doesn't stop there: Without a water softener, you will use 50-75% more detergents, soaps, and cleaning chemicals… which end up back in the environment. We sell conditioners and softeners, but you have to decide which is right for you.
Mark Timmons
October 31, 2016 at 11:15 AM
Joe, We have discontinued the use of the nucleation process as the results have been less than stellar. We are now using this: The upfront cost is much lower and the results are dramatic and predictable. We were never able to predict when the TAC or NAC process would work. The best thing is that we have a one-year money-back guarantee. What do you have to lose? We have NEVER had one returned because they work!
February 2, 2017 at 5:25 PM
What are your thoughts on salt vs no salt for homes with septic system? I have a new build house that is on septic that I would like to start getting conditioned or softened depending on the effects to the septic system.
Mark Timmons
February 5, 2017 at 12:08 PM
My opinion is that having a water softener dramatically down on the amount of soap, detergent, chemicals, lime removers and the like, all of which harm the septic tank. There are studies that actually show soft water can improve the operation of va septic tank.
February 7, 2017 at 11:02 AM
Mark, I wish I would have found your article a couple years ago. At that current time, my husband and I were looking for a softener, but didn't want to be using salt. At that time, we didn't realize not only does our water have ferric iron, but it also has ferrous iron as well. We purchased an Aquasana system, thinking we would be fine. But we have learned the hard way and are now kicking ourselves for our decision. We since have posted a YouTube video on our Aquasana system and have tried to inform others of their deceptive claims. There have been a lot of active responses from potential buyers of Aquasana, turning away from purchasing the system, thanking us for posting our video. Just wanted to say thank you for remaining to keep this article posted, as it is informative and will continue to help future customers make the correct and right choice for them.
March 1, 2017 at 9:55 AM
Hi, I am researching under the sink water filters, but found your information on water softeners interesting. We have a Kinetico water softener - it was at our previous home which was well water and now in our new home that has city water but from a city well. I've never felt the slippery feel in either home, but my hair actually feels less silky now in our new home. Our towels feel rougher. I don't know if either has to do with the water softener. Can all water softeners be adjusted to perform better? When we don't use the water softener, we start to get rust residue in the sinks and tubs and soap doesn't lather well. If we switched to your saltless water conditioner, will the rust be eliminated? Do clothes come as clean as with a water softener? I'm also looking to get a whole house filter for the chlorine and am considering replacing our Kinetico, if the saltless unit gives good results. Thanks so much for your information & help!
Mark Timmons
March 2, 2017 at 3:20 PM
We would need to know more about your water. This is the first step:
April 20, 2017 at 12:34 PM
I have very hard well water (36 gpg). I would like to condition my water with a no-salt system but have not found a no-salt system that can condition water with my hardness level. Is there a no-salt system that will effectively reduce hardness level that perhaps I have overlooked in my research that you would recommend? Is it possible to use two different no- salt types of appliances, i.e.. magnetic/electric impulse in conjunction with carbon filtration system, to help reduce hardness to acceptable level?
Mark Timmons
April 21, 2017 at 9:41 AM
The magnetic/electric impulse products do not reduce the hardness in fact most do nothing except take your money. Hard water scale only occurs in the hot water as heating causes the limescale to precipitate. This product coats the pipes so that the limescale cannot stick: It works every time and we have a 1-year Performance Warranty on it.
April 23, 2017 at 12:56 AM
Our well water is above 140gpg/1300ppm. We need to know exactly what USWater has for us as another tech/ sales rep from one of your competitors refused to sell us any system claiming our water is beyond help. His remedy is ship in water, then soften it with a water softener and filter our well water for use in our pool and irrigation...sparingly. We prefer it if we can find a system that's supports our use of the well w e just spent nearly $30,000 installing, especially some our area suffers drought conditions frequently and water trucked in gets very expensive plus we have to purchase the 2500 gal water tank.
Mark Timmons
April 24, 2017 at 11:12 PM
We can definitely fix it, but we need a good water test, like these: No one can size a system without that.
June 12, 2017 at 8:26 AM
The distinction is between DISSOLVED minerals vs CRYSTALLIZED minerals and it is a perfectly valid distinction, is very likely to cause a difference in scaling. Whether this changes "hardness", depends on the specific definition used. That particual"water hardness test kit" doesn't show a difference is a limitaiton of the test, and does not show TAC provides no benefit wrt scaling. The temporary hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium carbonates) are only poorly soluble in neutral water. No reasonable persons would say that tossing a stick of chalk or a hunk of coral (crystallized calcium carbonate) into a bucket of water makes it hard until and unless it dissolves. This article fails to recognize and address this important distinction. I have no opinion on whether the TAC physical water treatment systems actually creates crystalline carbonates from dissolved carbonate salts, however the theory is sound.
Mark Timmons
June 12, 2017 at 8:46 AM
In theory, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus may seem sound, but we know how that works out. The rest of your argument is so silly it deserves no response. None of it is factual.
Stuart Mattson
July 16, 2017 at 10:46 AM
Hi! My story is typical of finding ones self facing hard water in a new town and location. First, we noticed the calcium deposits on our dishes that were run through the dishwasher and then the deposits on shower stalls was the most obvious area of concern. We had a consult with Culligan and tried Eddy and Clearwave Salt Free Electronic Water Conditioners with no significant changes. I was ready to purchase a Salt Free Whole House Water Conditioner from Aquasana and fortunately my wife found your article and this website. YAH!!!!!!!! SMATT
Mark Timmons
July 16, 2017 at 9:36 PM
Thank you. We will not let you down!
September 11, 2022 at 4:43 AM
Not a good informative reply. I'm in same situation and location as Stuart but your reply leaves me short of considering your products as a solution. Just saying....
Mark Timmons
September 11, 2022 at 11:52 AM
This article was written several years ago, and things have changed dramatically. The company that propounded the "salt-free water softener" deception (Pelican) is no more. Several others have stepped forward to offer their own versions of salt-free water softeners, which do not, in fact, soften the water. Can you articulate what I can do to help you?
August 30, 2017 at 7:22 PM
Hi Mark, I bought a house in Minnesota and the previous owner did NOT have a water softener in the fifteen years he owned the house, and I can feel it in the shower and see the results in the dishes coming out of the dishwasher. I'm interested in the Greenwave ( if you like it) but I'm also concerned about buildup in the pipes. If there is extreme buildup, short of ripping out old pipes, is there something to de-scale the buildup in the pipes? Thank you very much! Brad
Mark Timmons
August 30, 2017 at 10:28 PM
We now have a better systems than the Green Wave: Not only does it prevent scale formation, but it slowly dissolves existing scale.
August 31, 2017 at 7:42 PM
Hi Mark, That link didn't take me to the system that you were talking about. I'm interested in getting it put in my new house so if you could type it out again, that would be great Brad
Mark Timmons
September 1, 2017 at 3:57 PM
Fixed the link. It works now.
October 15, 2017 at 9:40 PM
Hi Mark, we have a 60' drilled well (I think mostly in ledge) and have been dealing with hard water for almost 40 years. I bought a Sears "water softener" about 15 years ago when we had a forced hot water furnace installed (with domestic hot water coil). I was hoping this would prevent scale build up in the coil and hot water pipes. I think the "softener" helped but not sure how much. It did reduce the white mineral deposits on pans when we boiled water. What we DID NOT like was the slimy feeling after a shower and having to add salt. I removed the "softener" and for the last 8 yrs or so we've been living with the problem. The hot water now has less pressure (I think the inside of the coil is scaling up) and I have to constantly clean little hard white and brownish crystalized sand like nuggets from all the faucet screens, shower etc. I recently had our water tested and the analysis showed the Hardness (calc.) to be 164 mgCaC03/L. What do you think is the best solution to our hard water problem? My wife and I are the only ones living at this residence. I would appreciate your advice. Thanks, Ken
Mark Timmons
October 16, 2017 at 12:11 PM
I would recommend this: A properly sized water softener would work too (Sears are usually very small) but if you don't like the slick feeling then the Limeblaster will prevent scale. It also helps dissolved existing scale.
October 17, 2017 at 9:17 PM
Thank you
October 26, 2017 at 12:02 AM
I’m in a rental home and it’s impossible to hook up a salt-based softener cause of where the pipes are and the clean out, so what do you suggest as an alternative to treat the water? I’m mostly concerned about my hair & skin, having had a salt system for the last 10+ years. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
October 26, 2017 at 11:57 PM
Here's a two step economical way: With the Radial Flow Carbon Filter Followed by this: It's not soft water, but it will be a lot better than tap water.
November 10, 2017 at 1:17 PM
I have very hard water that leaves residue and buildup on all my counters, fixtures and pipes. I would like to purchase a system that resolves that issue, but does not cause issues with watering my garden and is environmentally friendly. I currently have an appointment to have a Rayne Defender system installed on Thursday...then I found your article. Is there a better solution?
Mark Timmons
November 10, 2017 at 1:48 PM
Our approach is a modular one and we have a number of "modules" to address a number of issues. However, the hard Water issue is the easiet and least expenive way. Here is all you need:
Sandra Kraus
November 19, 2017 at 2:35 PM
GREAT WEBSITE!!! I just got here but still can't find info you're referring to in the part of the blog shown below....Can you help me please? Thanks! "Mark Timmons says: August 30, 2017 at 9:28 pm We now have a better systems than the Green Wave: Not only does it prevent scale formation, but it slowly dissolves existing scale."
Mark Timmons
November 21, 2017 at 10:42 PM
Here's the link:
December 16, 2017 at 5:09 PM
Okay...I got a couple of serious questions here...I've decided to go with the aquasana option, can I get the "scm" filter from some other supplier other than aquasana themselves? If so, why should I spend $550+ on their(or any other companys) when I can build my own for under $100? I can get a pentek ws20 filter for $37 and a 20x2.5 head unit for $40. Why are these guys charging so much for such inexpensive materials? Is it all a scam? Or just unsuspecting victims. Enuff of that, sorry. Which filter should I use for a tankless water heater? And should I use a pre or post filter? Thanks.
Mark Timmons
December 17, 2017 at 2:39 PM
As far as I am concerned the SCM filter is a scam. We have used that same media and we no longer use it because we do not feel it works. If you want to; protect a tankless water heater, here is what we suggest: It has a one-year Money-Back Guarantee - That's how sure we are of it.
December 17, 2017 at 4:23 PM
Thanks Mark, what about pre or post filters. I live in a mobile home park and they have a water system all their own from a well. Definitely hard water but not sure of actual hardness. The wife is complaining of dry skin and hair and dingy clothes. Will this help in reducing these little problems and can I make icecubes?
Mark Timmons
December 17, 2017 at 4:28 PM
It prevents scale and it will help with skin and hair... how much is the question. Whether it solves all your problems is questionable. Reverse Osmosis is the only sure way to produce great ice cubes.
December 17, 2017 at 4:51 PM
Thanks Mark, what about pre or post filters. I live in a mobile home park and they have a water system all their own from a well. Definitely hard water but not sure of actual hardness. The wife is complaining of dry skin/hair and dingy clothes. Will this help in reducing these little problems and can I make icecubes or should I get a post filter for that after the blaster?
December 17, 2017 at 5:06 PM
I must say, you are on it, Mark! Thanks for the info. Just trying to save some money and keep the little lady happy at the same time. Seems like a never ending circle. Any other filter would you recommend along with your pulsar limeblaster? I do have an RO system just not sure which filter goes where. Last time I hooked it up the water coming out of the dispenser was bubbly and tasted funny.
Mark Timmons
December 17, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Joey, Call 800-608-8792 between 8 AM and 8 PM and we will try and help you. This requires a conversation.
December 17, 2017 at 7:28 PM
Thanks, but it'll have to be after the first of the year. I'm out of country for the holidays. But I will call as soon as I return. Thanks again.
January 18, 2018 at 7:11 PM
True on conditioner vs. softener, but there are some reasons for the salt-free systems: + Condos/Apartments with no drainage + No desire to kill vegetation with the salt systems + Avoidance for litigation (some areas banning salt systems) + Low desire for added sodium and/or removal of minerals in water Living in a Condo, I have to select from the no drainage systems which are all salt-free.
Mark Timmons
January 18, 2018 at 10:10 PM
But, they are not all created equal and none are water "softeners" although they call themselves that. If they can pass that stuff off as water "softeners" maybe I can pass myself off as Brad Pitt...
February 1, 2018 at 8:14 AM
Hello, Your article is very informative. Do you think the ban on salt based water softeners will grow, forcing consumers to buy conditioners?
Mark Timmons
February 10, 2018 at 8:39 AM
Possibly in some areas, but most peopole I know who have had softeners are not happy at all with conditioners if they live in an area of the country that has extremely hard water.
Veronica Lucas
February 14, 2018 at 3:39 PM
Hi Mark, I am wanting to improve my water, and just as a lot of Boomers don't want to carry salt, I'm in line right behind them. but I really need help!. I have a carbon filter for minerals a Scale Blaster, to ionize the water. and I had a UV light which is now not working. I am drawing water from my well. I have High levels of Iron and sulfur I think its Sulfur. I have an egg like the smell of my hot water. do you have any suggestions? I was going to get a new UV. but I still need to filter the water when it comes into the house. Or is the problem with my water heater? The water heater was here when I bought the house and was sitting for I don't know how long. I had the Well tested when I bought the house and there wasn't anything to worry about in the well. let me know what you think.
Mark Timmons
February 18, 2018 at 5:35 PM
Sulfur has to be oxidized to be removed. We use a system like this: However, before you do anything, you need to get a detailed water test like this:
Veronica Lucas
February 14, 2018 at 3:47 PM
I was also told to if it's the water heater that is causing the egg smell, then i should pour a bottle of peroxide in the tank. Let me know what you think Veronica
Mark Timmons
February 18, 2018 at 5:29 PM
Water heaters don't cause rotten-egg smell unless sulfur is present in the water. If you want to waste money, you can pour hydrogen peroxide into the tank. You could also pour champagne into it, but it probably won't be very effective either!
February 24, 2018 at 11:47 PM
The reason some cities ban water softeners is it cost money to remove salt from waste water. This also the reason you see do not dispose of this medication in toilet or sink.
February 27, 2018 at 12:52 AM
Though your article was most insightful and useful, I was seeking more specidfic suggestions for softening north las vegas water.
Marlene Wiegand
March 9, 2018 at 1:46 PM
Hi Mark I always had only a water softener. We are now in Arizona. My main concern is showering and my hair! AZ water is very hard. I want to buy a water softener but some are trying to convince me to go saltless. I think I understand the differences due to your great article. We don't plan to drink the water and we have the RO system in our new house that we just built anyway. Do you think the saltless system water conditioner system will have the same affect on my hair as a water softener? Not sure which chemical makes the water so bad on hair, is it chlorine? So would the water softener help remove chlorine in the water any different than saltless system? Thank you so much Thank
Mark Timmons
March 11, 2018 at 4:00 PM
If you have ever had soft water, you will immediately dislike a salt-free system. It absolutely does not have the same effect on the hair as a water softener. By itself, a water softener does not remove the chlorine, but you can add a carbon filter. Let me know if you need help in picking out a system.
Gauri Rao
March 11, 2018 at 7:31 PM
We had a Rain Soft water softener system installed somewhere around the 1980s. When the company disappeared we got Sears to maintain it and then of course from there on the entire system began failing. So we shopped and finally bought one from Sears. Don't know the name since it has been a few years. Now our contractor who remodeled our home tells us salt free softener "Nuvo" is good since it is small, occupies less space and he does not even need an RO for it. Somehow I was not convinced so I did some research online and chanced on your explanation which is that of a professional working in the field. So I am now convinced that salt free is not what it is made out to be. Although carrying 25-40 lbs of salt is not a joke for a 5 feet something woman. So now the $128K question. Name a couple good whole house water softeners please. Thank you for clearing up our doubts.
Mark Timmons
March 11, 2018 at 10:22 PM
Well, I would be remiss if I did not tell you about two water softeners we have that we have engineered to be the best in their class: <strong>AQUATROL</strong>: This is a system that will last 10-15 years with little to no maintenance <strong>FUSION NLT</strong>: This system will last 15-25 years with little to no maintenance and save up to 75% on salt and waste water due to it's Next Level Technology
Robin Clark
April 11, 2018 at 12:39 PM
Why didn’t you include the Aquios whole Home water filter / softener in your review? I researched all the units you mentioned against the Aquios system and pretty much found the same information about them as well. However, I couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of my Aquios system! No Salt! No Electicity! No Hard Scale! No Oder! Great Taste! Best of all it only costs $127 a year to replace the filter every 6 months
Mark Timmons
April 11, 2018 at 5:14 PM
First of all, it is not a softener and secondly, we don't run into it very often. It uses basically the same technology as our Limeblaster units.
George G Higgs
April 15, 2018 at 10:00 AM
Very well written article, happy to get the real scoop on water treatment solutions. Have a customer who asked me about the difference yesterday but did not have a truthful answer for them. My reply was to do a Google search and read all they could about the two systems. Also advised them to not make a decision until much research was done by them and myself as well. Thanks for setting the myth straight. Will bookmark your article and let them read it.
April 18, 2018 at 6:46 PM
I am moving to a place with very hard water. where I live now I do not have a water softener. When I visit my soon to be new home area there is softener. ( I don't know what kind of water softener the corporate housing has )It is horrible on my hair my hair is frizzy and overly soft. I hate it. So question is we are building a house and must get a softener what softeners should I get? Move from Cincinnati water to San Antonio to water.
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018 at 1:46 PM
Sue, We sell a lot of systems in San Antonio which has very hard water. This is our most popular:
Ken Larsen
April 20, 2018 at 6:51 PM
My water hardness is 24-29 GPG, according to the city website. I've replaced my water heater four times in the last ten years because the capacity is so reduced by scale that you have to hurry while showering. I buy a gallon of vinegar a month to clean my coffee pot. I'm not too concerned with how much lather I get when I bathe, etc. I'm just tired of carrying thirty gallon water heaters full of scale deposits. I really haven't got the space for another appliance either, I live in a trailer house. I think that salt-free would be the way to go for me. I've been looking at ScaleBlaster mostly, but they all seem to do the same thing. They say they will reduce or remove the deposits that are already formed in my water heater and pipes also, which would be great. Am I thnking correctly?
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018 at 11:04 AM
We do not believe in the Junk Science of the Scaleblaster. Our Limeblaster works and is backed with a 1-yqar Money-Back Guarantee:
May 2, 2018 at 1:30 AM
The more I read, the more I am confused. I do not want a softener, I want a conditioner. I believe the softeners will be outlawed here soon and I don’t want to waste my money on it. I have a very porous rock in the shower. House is 3 weeks old and I can already seem the scale build up. What particular salt free equipment or combination of equipments would best reduce the build up in my showers? Thank you
Mark Timmons
May 5, 2018 at 10:03 PM
This will do a great job:
May 4, 2018 at 7:34 AM
Thanks for full breakdown and the TRUTH on the (so called) salt free softeners. I live in the Valley Stream area of Long Island NY, and recently had a Whole Home water system installer visit my home. After doing several water tests with little white strips with colored dots on them. We were advised that yes, we had hard water, and these are the soft water system we needed. He recommended the DEEPMAX- Natural Filtration by Water Tech ($2800), and also the CareSoft Pro RC Softener by Water Care ($3200). He was also willing to include the Clear Flo - Reverse Osmosis Drinking water System by Water Care for free (normally $1200) and a five year supply of free merchandise vouchers to order all kinds of cleaning and household items from for free. The total for equipment and installation is $5000 and I would get my first year of maintenance free, each year after, it will cost me $500 to maintain the units, unless I refer a client to him, to which he will waive the fee. I find this to be extremely expensive! Also, for some reason, I can't find any real reviews on any of the equipment ( DeepMax or CareSoft Pro RC) other than the manufacturers website info. I can't find any price points to compare he cost with. It feels like the rep is throwing in all these freebies just to get my attention away from the HIGH price. I can't really agree with that price when I'm seeing other units like the Pelican Combo Whole House Filter & Salt Softener ( Pelican Model: PAC3) for $2400. We are really tired of the calcium residue feeling on our skin after taking showers and just want something to get rid of the hard water ( our glass cups and plates always have the white residue after hand washing them and we are blowing through laundry detergent like water, I already replaced a bathroom faucet cartridge due to residue from the water which totally dissolved and cracked a plastic nut fastener within the cold water faucet knob), Is there anything you can recommend, we are new home owners (6 months ) and a family of three - 2 adults and a 6yr old, we live in a one family home which has 2 full baths. Any recommendations are really appreciated. Also, let me know if you have any affiliates in this area. Thanks
Mark Timmons
May 5, 2018 at 9:55 PM
I hate to call that a scam because this is how many dealers go to market, but as you have already seen, it is not a good deal. The Pelican PAC3 is an OK system which really does soften the water, unlike some of their other "softeners" which do not. The valve on that softener was obsoleted by Fleck almost a year ago. We never sold that valve - for a reason - it is very unreliable. Here's what I would recommend: - $1,195.00 - $1,395.00 TOTAL COST - $2,590.00 PLUS there is an additional 20% off with MOMDAY Coupon Code. Discount $518.00 Final Cost with Free Shipping - $2,072.00 Pelican's softener has a 5-year warranty on the valve - Ours has 10!
May 10, 2018 at 12:37 PM
I live in Fort Mohave, AZ. My home built in 2002 initially had a water softener. Husband's doctor suggested we get rid of it because of the negative side effects of salt with his high no and heart problems. 2006 we installed the H2o Concepts whole house water system @ cost of $6300.00. Our water quality is good all levels of contaminants except the ph 8.5 ppm is at the high end and the LR Total Hardness @/or above 425ppm. All faucets, washing machine, toilets, shower walls are built up with calcium deposits, replaced 2 water heaters and can't even use a new dishwasher as dishes/glass wear come out milky white, even with using vinegar, LemiShine, etc and then difficult to get it off by hand washing and immediately drying. After a few washes of new clothes they seem dingy, let alone hair and body after a shower is extremely dry, this in turn adds more expense in lotions, shampoo and conditioners. What solutions do I have without spending another fortune?
Mark Timmons
May 19, 2018 at 9:52 AM
I will respond to this in a video blog shortly!
S Whitney
June 1, 2018 at 11:29 AM
Mark - we purchased a Pelican salt free water softener about 3 months ago. Pelican is offering to switch out the system to their actual salt using system with no add'l charge. Will it work like my old culligan system did? Per our water report we have 18 grains per million hardness. I don't care for the salt free system as dishes are no longer getting clean all the time and it seems like my shower door is constantly cloudy even though I scrubbed it well and put rain Ex on like they suggested and now continue to scrub it every other day. . My husband and I are on different sides of the fence about the system. He likes the non slick feeling of the water and I feel like I have something stuck on my skin, my hair is yucky. I don't care if I have water spots on the dishes, but it seems like I can't keep anything clean anymore..
Mark Timmons
June 2, 2018 at 10:36 AM
Well, you are correct. You do have soap and hardness stuck in the pores of your skin with hard water. To prove it, you can wash one hand in hard water and one hand in soft water with a soap that has a strong taste like Ivory. Then rinse each and in the soft water and the hard water and after you dry them, you will noit taste the soap on the softnwater but will on the hard water. POSITIVE PROOF that your skin is clogged with soap and hard water scum. Do you still trust Pelican after they sold you what they called a Salt-Free Water Softener, which does not soften the water? If so, go for it, or demand your money back and buy ours. Ours are much larger and have DOUBLE the warranty!... and we don't lie about having salt-free water softeners" That is purely fiction. They do not exist.
June 1, 2018 at 6:45 PM
I work in a textile mill, and we have a current resin ion-interchange system to obtain soft water using salt. Our hard water has 130ppm Hardness. Is it safe to use TAC technology to obtain conditioned water to avoid scale on pipes and Boilers? Does the final crystal seed has any ionic charge that could affect dyeing or bleaching? We normally use a disperse/chelating agent to avoid hardness from water and cotton affect dispersion of reactive dyestuffs used into the dyeing process. Thanks
Mark Timmons
June 2, 2018 at 10:26 AM
1. We used to use TAC Technology and don't because it has a poor "predictable success rate" in our opinion. 2. When we did use it, we would never and I mean NEVER put it on a boiler. In our experience, ity NEVER works there. 3. I think the "seed crystal" is more fiction than fact. Just my opinion based upon 45 years of water treatment experience. I would need more information, but I would think that a twin-alternating system like this would be your best bet:
June 18, 2018 at 5:12 PM
How do these work? Are they ion exchange or membrane based?How do they cause minerals to precipitate out? Basically, I need to know how they work before considering a purchase.
Mark Timmons
June 24, 2018 at 3:36 PM
They don't work. There is no such things as a salt-free water softener. That's the point!
Tara D
June 25, 2018 at 10:49 AM
You mentioned Easy Water in your article. Would you say the salt-free conditioner is effective and worth the cost? We purchased it in Indiana about 3 months ago and I have not noticed a difference. I'm considering returning it.
Mark Timmons
June 26, 2018 at 12:00 PM
We are also located in Indy and very familiar with Easy Water. Your observation is typical of our testing. We have one and could not discern any difference between the treated and untreated water. Our salt-free conditioner is about 25% of their cost and has a one-year money-back guarantee:
August 7, 2018 at 9:13 AM
Mark at the plant I work at we have 2 U.S Water, softeners up stream of that we have 3 of their multi media filters the problem we have is that when the softners switch the one that was on standby has a huge hardness spike for awhile then goes away. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
Mark Timmons
August 11, 2018 at 1:15 PM
There are many factors at work here. You should call our tech support at 800-608-8792 for help.
John H
August 11, 2018 at 7:51 AM
Do you have any updates on this issue? I contacted Pelican, ask for tests to backup claims, all their test were done in Germany, I have no idea what their water is like over there. I asked if it was tested in Florida, they based there after all, answer no it wasn't Looks like scam
Mark Timmons
August 11, 2018 at 12:59 PM
Pelican does not soften water, even though they call it a "softener." What else is there to know? It's not what they call it and it is easily proved. If they start by calling something a water softener and yet, it does not soften the water... what more is there to talk about. Fool me once...
August 21, 2018 at 11:52 AM
Good artical as a chemical engineer it was bs free. I have struggled for years with hard water and installed an iron filter it works great. I always wondered if similar technology was available for mg and ca Now I know.
August 29, 2018 at 1:25 AM
Hi, Mark I had a problem getting my washer to drain the detergent out during the rinse cycles. I tried several popular methods I read about online such as using very low amounts of detergent, using vinegar, cleaning the machine with Affresh type cleaners, and such but with no improvement (not to mention those methods felt pretty off to me). The only thing that worked satisfactorily was a liquid called Calgon. I don't think it is perfect, but it is satisfactory for me. The problem is that with the amount of laundry our family goes through every week, it seems rather expensive and not so environmentally friendly to constantly be buying the little bottles it comes in. Do you have any salt-less products that can deliver similar or better results that can be installed either for the whole house or adapted to the washer and perhaps the shower head?
Mark Timmons
September 3, 2018 at 5:43 PM
There is nothing that will improve that, except a water softener. Of course there are some people who SAY that have something that will. Be careful what you believe...
August 29, 2018 at 10:05 PM
The tankless water heater in our new house is installed outside the house. There's no good drainage option out there so I think we're stuck with one of these "conditioning" systems. But it seems like many of them say to avoid direct sunlight, which it will undoubtedly get for at least a couple of hours a day. Are any options better than others in this situation?
Mark Timmons
September 3, 2018 at 5:24 PM
This is the best we have ever found: If we find something better, we will sell it. Right now, there is nothing better!
February 26, 2021 at 5:43 PM
Mark, I bought this limeblaster and used it for about 4 years and just went through the Texas storms where my 11 year old Takagi tankless water heater (outdoor) finally busted a pipe in the heat exchanger. I took a moment to take a closer look and was curious to see if any scale had developed. I didn't see too much scale within the exchanger where the cracked hole formed, however I did see a lot of iron (red) looking deposits right at the hot-side outlet. The copper connection immediately connected to the outlet was about 50% blocked with the iron looking deposits. I never noticed any of the deposits during hot water use, but hot water was always less flow and this might have been the reason. Reading this old 1990 article from Clemson University, it talks about the drawbacks of polyphosphates -- "These units can handle up to 3 milligrams per liter of iron in solution. They contain a phosphate compound which coats the soluble iron and prevents its oxidation when the water is exposed to air. The compound is not effective against ferric iron that has already oxidized. Polyphosphate is only effective in cold water. Heating the water will release the iron so that oxidized iron accumulates in the water heater. The heated water will be rusty and unsatisfactory for home use." Link to article : Have you seen this as well in your experiences? BTW, what is the amount of Siliphos in each cartridge? Trying to determine what your dosing at?
Mark Timmons
March 22, 2021 at 3:52 PM
It sounds like what you may be seeing is some corrosion, rusting, or electrolysis at the outlet, which could very well be caused by dissimilar metals. If you are only seeing it at the outlet and not in the heating area, then that makes it extremely likely. Polyphosphates have improved over the years and are now more capable of handling higher temperatures… sometimes up to 165 Degrees F. Using a cartridge is not an exact science and we have had a lot of success with our Green Wave System for the Whole House with the Limeblaster feeding just the water heater. Additionally, we are re-formulating the Limeblaster to be able to withstand even higher temperatures.
Alfred Engling
September 1, 2018 at 12:33 PM
Do you have anyone near Peosta, IA 52068
Mark Timmons
September 3, 2018 at 5:19 PM
We sell all over the country, but only sell direct. We have no dealers or middlemen. That saves you a lot of money. About half our customers do it themselves (we have SS flex connectors) and the other half use a handyman.
Victor walker
September 5, 2018 at 12:42 AM
Mark I have been researching systems till I am ready to slit my throat. So many inconsistencies on the web. I live in Temecula, ca Our water is 184 mg per liter / 10.7 per gallon. The water flow in our house (10 years old) is terrible. I am ready to replace the hot water heater and all of the shower valves. Before I do I know I need a system. We have a 5 bed/5 bath house but only 3 people live in it. I want a slightly oversized system just so I have some peace of mind. Can you suggest a system? Also...will your system do anything for the buildup that ghas already occurred? Is there anything I can do to repair the current buildup other than replace everything?
Mark Timmons
September 8, 2018 at 12:28 PM
Victor: Here's your asnswer:
Duy Pham
September 13, 2018 at 2:50 AM
Hi Mark: I live in San Jose, CA. The water report in my area says it has 63 ppm Calcium and 57 ppm Magnesium. I currently have a RO system under the sink for drinking water. I had a Culligan salt water softener but it broke down 5 years ago. Can you recommend a whole house saltless water conditioner system for me? Also do I need professional installation for the system? I already have a drainage line built in where the water softener was placed. thank you in advance.
Mark Timmons
September 15, 2018 at 9:30 PM
We sell the Limeblaster salt free conditioner. If we find a better one - we will sell it. No professional installation is required.
Danielle Budau
September 18, 2018 at 3:21 PM
I have a softener system & my boys love it. However, the salt is destroying my skin & hair. I don't know what to do at this point. If I am in the city & wash my hair, it's amazing. As soon as I go home & have to wash it at my own home, it's horrible. We have a water person that comes out every month and he's tested the levels, all is good. Do you have any suggestions?
Mark Timmons
September 18, 2018 at 8:49 PM
Elaborate more about your problems. How is salt destroying your skin and hair? By the way, it's not salt that is in the water. It's sodium bicarbonate. There's a big difference...
Milton Roberts
September 20, 2018 at 12:23 PM
Hello Mark, I am researching this stuff because my wife told me to. Probably like every other guy. I had her discuss what she really wants and it turns out to easier and cheaper (maybe) than I thought it would be. I talked to her about soft vs hard water because our water lathers just fine. It turns out that she hates the taste of our town water and will settle for an under sink unit that can fix the taste of the water out of the kitchen sink. Of course, that could mean something for both hot and cold lines. What kind of unit do you think will do this for us? We moved from a property that had a very deep well for household use, the water was terrific. Our current neighborhood will not allow anyone to put in a well for this type of use. Only shallow wells for watering the lawn. Thanks for any help you can give me. Milton
Mark Timmons
September 21, 2018 at 11:35 AM
You do no want to treat both hot and cold for drinking. Just drink water from the cold side. If you are on city water, this is our system that removes the widest spectrum of contaminants:
Steven McIlvaine
September 21, 2018 at 5:36 AM
Would there be any benefit to adding a chelating conditioner on your cold distribution if you already have a softener on your hot, or would the calcium and magnesium fall out of solution and cause scale when the two mix?
Mark Timmons
September 21, 2018 at 11:28 AM
In a word: NO! That makes no sense.
John A Buck
October 28, 2018 at 3:59 PM
I am building a house in Troy, Missouri. The house will be on well water. What type of a water filtration system and water softening system would work best.
Mark Timmons
October 28, 2018 at 7:16 PM
Step 1: Once we know what is in the water, then we can fix it an guarantee the results.
Janice Flaherty
November 1, 2018 at 3:12 PM
We are building a house outside Portland Oregon in the farm area. We will be using a Septic. The water tastes wonderful but leaves a scale that can be chiseled. I am not looking forward to chisel cleaning. Any ideas?
Mark Timmons
November 2, 2018 at 10:59 AM
Janice, Start with a detailed water test and we can tell you exactly what to do:
Melvin O Kennon
November 2, 2018 at 6:22 PM
I live in an area where Radium is common. We also have a very high iron content that will turn your whites orange, Does a salt-free system remove the Radium and the iron?
Mark Timmons
November 4, 2018 at 12:41 PM
I can't say without a detailed water analysis. We have one on our site. Just enter Lab Water Test in our search boxc.
November 11, 2018 at 7:06 AM
I live in IL and we get municipal treated water from Lake Michigan, looks like the water in my home is around 7 grains/125 ppm hardness, TSD is around 201 PPM Im looking at getting a conditioner system VS a salt based system for my older home built in 1969, all copper piping. I dont really have any major issues so far (knock on wood) except some light spotting on glass wear but want to be proactive to keep my copper piping and appliances clean as a new home owner. Any suggestions would be great! I noticed the limeblaster but looks like I cant just use this as a stand alone system correct? thanks again!
Mark Timmons
November 12, 2018 at 8:52 AM
You can use it as a stand alone system, but many people use it as part of this system:
Anthony Spadafora
November 20, 2018 at 7:14 PM
Hello Mark, I am Master Plumber of 35 years. The last 10 years I have been installing tankless water heaters, I am a certified Navien service specialist. Navien accepts up to 10 grains hardness without equipment but require a annual acid cleaning of the exchanger. They now will allow up to 75 Grains of hardness if you install their peak flow anti scale filter before the unit, this unit is not a phosphate injector. The unit specs can be viewed here What is in it and how does it work/ Navien will honor their 15 year exchanger warranty with this installed on water up to 75 gpg. Navien is not some fly by night manufacturer, obviously this thing works or they wouldn't sell it.
Mark Timmons
November 20, 2018 at 7:28 PM
This is not a new product. I know exactly what is in that cartridge. It is made by Watts and called nextScaleStop TAC Media. We sold it at one time and the results were not very good. There is no scientific way to prove it works! You said "<em>obviously this thing works or they wouldn’t sell it</em>." I have seen scale PACKED inside a tankless and tank water heater on this media many times. Obviously, you believe it, so all I can say is "watch and learn." I would be glad to go into more detail if needed.
Gaylon Mccorkle
December 2, 2018 at 9:04 AM
I am on a tight budget. I would like a saltless softener or conditioner which ever is best. I don't want to be spending a lot of money on filters. I did have a water softener that used said a few years ago. Got tired of carrying bags of salt down the stairs .What is best, I do have city hard water. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
December 6, 2018 at 2:17 PM
The BEST and Least Expensibe Options are one and the same:
Vincent Salsano
December 4, 2018 at 2:03 PM
We are primarily concerned about mineral build up on pipes, water heater, appliances, etc. Will a salt less water filtering system like following address this"LimeBlaster", "Aquasna", "Pelican", etc. Unfortunately, we prefer not to install a salt waters oftener.
Mark Timmons
December 6, 2018 at 12:48 PM
A saltless system utilizing the right technology can prevent scale build up. Not all are created equal. We used to use the technology Pelican and Aquasana now use, and were not satisfied with the results. The Limeblaster is less expensive and works WAY better!
December 12, 2018 at 2:14 PM
Maybe they call it a softener because it's easier for consumers to understand. Just like an aerobic water treatment system is often called an "aerobic septic tank." Because most consumers don't care to split hairs, as long as the end result is what they are looking for. I would be in this group. You can call it Lucy, or Daisy, or a whatsit. As long as it keeps my pipes from clogging up, who cares?
Mark Timmons
December 14, 2018 at 1:49 PM
An aerobic water treatment system in not an aerobic septic tank, but under your reasoning, it's OK to call it that? People that do are ignorant of what it really does, but I can see them making that mistake. However, what if a septic tank manufacturer called their septic tank an aerobic septic tank? That would be deceptive. Would you like to use paper towels as toilet paper? A paper towel is closer to toilet paper than a water softener is to a salt free conditioner. A conditioner can keep pipes from plugging up, but a softener cuts soap usage by 50%, makes clothes whiter and brighter and eliminates spotting on dishes. A conditioner does none of that. Thank you for making my case with the aerobic septic tank. I appreciate it!
Rich Huner
December 14, 2018 at 12:52 PM
We are on a well with the following analysis. Probably, a worst case scenario. HAH. Older Culligan water softener that's now inoperable. Results in mg/L Ca - 111; Iron - 1.50; Sulfate - 117; Mg - 45.9; Na - 14.6; K - 1.57; F - 0.32; Cl - 6.74; NO3/N - <0.07; Al - 34; As - 1.70; Be - <0.55; Ba - 139; B - 138; Cr - <5.8; Cu - 0.91; Mn - 46; Ni - 21; Zn - 7.3; Alkalinity CaCO3 - 385 (7.70 meq/L); Silica - 22; Hardness (as CaCO3) - 466; Total Dissolved Solids - 558.
Mark Timmons
December 14, 2018 at 1:40 PM
While your water may seem awful, as problem water specialists, it is easy for us to fix. There are several ways to do this. I will have one of our water specialists reach out to you after I consult with them.
Steven Johnson
December 31, 2018 at 7:13 AM
Mark, we are planning on installing a whole-house water filter and a water softener, what is the ideal sequence-of-devices? Here's my best guess: 1-water flows through a "pre-filter" 2-water flows through a water softener 3-water flows through a whole-house water filter (sediment + carbon) 4-water flows to hot and cold house lines and throughout house Thanks for taking the time to read my question. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Mark Timmons
January 10, 2019 at 9:51 AM
ANSWER: Sorry for the delay – I have been on vacation. Depending upon your water analysis, I would likely put the sediment and carbon ahead of the softener. We would just need to know more about what is in your water – well or city?
Sean Vinci
January 1, 2019 at 5:59 PM
Hi Mark, Thank you for this informative article. I came across this product from Cascadian. The product claims to solve all the usual problems that come from hard water (we're also looking to remove or reduce the sulfur smell from our water which is why we're looking at this combo system). Any thoughts you could share would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Mark Timmons
January 10, 2019 at 9:34 AM
It says it is a saltless water softener. If it softens the water I will buy it for you. That is simply untrue. It might remove sulfur smell for a few days. My opinion? Run!
Patrick Castenie
January 18, 2019 at 8:03 AM
Hi Mark, Water conditioners and septic tank- are they an issue? Thank you, Patrick
Mark Timmons
January 18, 2019 at 9:22 AM
If you don't have soft water, you use a lot more soaps, chemicals and cleaners. That is hard on a septic tank. The new softeners are extremely salt efficient and use very little water and it is very likley that soft water actually helps a septic tank.
Alan J Smith
January 19, 2019 at 12:01 PM
Mark let me say that you are a godsend. Over the years I have contemplated soft water systems and did ample research though never installed one for various reasons. My only concern is scale buildup and the environment/conservation. I want to install a tankless water heater or a couple point of use water heaters. Water hardness as you know is an issue for this equipment. I live in San Diego, California and the water report states a hardness of about 16 GPG for 2018. After stumbling onto your blog I'm convinced I will use the Limeblaster. However I'm not sure what size to purchase and how often to change the filter. I plan to harvest rain and possibly use grey water for watering plants which reduces my daily water use to about 50 gallons per day for 1.5 people. Any landscape irrigation using city supplied water would be upstream of the Limeblaster. So I can't imagine ever exceeding the 12 GPM flow rate of the smaller unit even would I add a Granny Flat on my property. However my main water line will need to be upsized from 3/4" to 1 1/4" to accommodate the number of fixture units as stated in the code. So should I get the higher flow rate unit. Also the filter life is about 100,000 gallons but at what GPG? With 16 GPG at even 100 gallons per day I would only have 36,500 gallons flow through the Limeblaster. How long would the filter last at this rate?
Mark Timmons
January 22, 2019 at 10:03 AM
I would go with the highest flow rate as it will consistently keep the pipes in peak condition. I would just replace it every year.
January 20, 2019 at 4:34 PM
Hi, I have 2 water problems. I live in South Florida and our water is hard. I would like to soften the water to prevent scale build up and have cleaner clothes and feel clean when I take a shower, not like I have dust on my face..... Problem no. 2 We have a condo in Canada. Water is hard. We hardly harvest room to install a salt tank. The water is HARD, please help us save money while taking care of our problems in an efficient manner. You seem like the only company who seems genuinely interested in properly informing people and guiding them to something that will work.
Mark Timmons
January 22, 2019 at 9:56 AM
If space is an issue, the system takes up the least amount of space: Choose the Spacesaver option. It's "footprint" is 11" wide by 20" Deep. Do you need anything smaller?
January 30, 2019 at 5:49 PM
Mark, My 3 bedroom 2 bath house is on a septic tank, and I need to do something about the hard water. Looking into a traditional salt softener, I have read that the backwash of brine into the septic tank will damage the septic system. What can I use to treat the water without damaging my septic tank? (The house is connected to city water and not a well.)
Mark Timmons
February 3, 2019 at 1:53 PM
Short Answer: That is simply an untrue Urban Legend! The fact is: A water softener may actually help a septic tank. Read this:
January 31, 2019 at 11:53 AM
Hi Mark, I recently moved into a new house which has an existing Culligan Medallist Series water softener controller and tank, but it does not have a salt tank of any kind. The water flows from the well pump through the Medallist tank, then through a UV lamp. There is half a bag of "Fine Calcite Neutralizer" media I was told to use to top off the tank when I change the UV lamp each year. What is this system doing for my water?
Mark Timmons
February 3, 2019 at 3:36 PM
Probably not a lot, but in order to understand what is happening, I would need to see a detailed water test like one of these: This falls under the category of “Measure twice – Cut once!”
E Thomson
February 2, 2019 at 5:39 PM
We are primarily concerned about mineral build up on pipes, water heater, appliances, etc. We live in Las Vegas and Colorado River water is full of minerals. We have been disappointed with the hassles of water softeners, including hauling salt. You say the Limeblaster does not require professional installation. How is it installed and does it condition both hot and cold water?
Mark Timmons
February 3, 2019 at 3:24 PM
The Limeblaster will indeed stop and prevent mineral buildup on pipes, the water heater and appliances. It is installed on the main water line and treats all the water in the house. Simple in and out!
February 3, 2019 at 10:23 AM
Hi Mark, I recently moved to a house with a well that has a softener system. The color in my hair fades within 2 weeks. To combat color loss, I shampoo less frequently but this isn't helping. The sodium levels in our softened water tested at 190 mg/L. I'm wondering if the sodium is the reason for the loss of color. Do you know if switching to potassium chloride might help? Everything on the web says how great softened water is for your hair. No one talks about the effects of sodium chloride on color. I suspect it is because everyone who is writing articles wants to sell you a softener. Thanks!
Mark Timmons
February 3, 2019 at 3:03 PM
It always puzzles me why everyone is so quick to blame sodium for something when there could be any number of contaminants that would cause that. It is extremely doubtful it is sodium. My wife colors her hair (don't tell anyone), and it lasts for 8-10 weeks. If you are on city water, it could be chlorine or chloramine or other contaminants. Potassium will not help. Tell me more about your water.
Shane Borowski
February 21, 2019 at 11:51 AM
Hi Mark- Thank you for this opportunity. We have a small 3 bedroom 2 bath home, and last year installed both a high end water filtration (carbon based) and water softener system, along with an RO unit under our sink (our daughter was diagnosed with a skin disease and we felt the city water may have contributed to the problem due to a toxic plume in our ground water supply....that's w hole other post though!) With our water softening system, we used sodium chloride the first 6 months and could noticeably taste the salt in th water. We switched to potassium and it's been a bit better, but when I fill the container full with the potassium rocks, we immediately get the salty taste back. I noticed when the container is only about 1/3 full of potassium rocks that we don't get a bad taste. I'm thinking about keeping the container only 1/3 full. What do you think? We must get rid of that salty taste!
Mark Timmons
March 6, 2019 at 8:16 PM
If you are drinking RO water, you should not get any taste of sodium or potassium. I would only drink RO water. Do not “starve” your water softener. Keep salt in it. However full the tank is has no effect on taste. If it were me, I would not use potassium, but I would drink RO water.
February 27, 2019 at 2:38 PM
I have a home where the water is hard (11 grains) and want to put in a salt free water softener because I live in the country and have a septic system. I am looking at the Pelican and Rainbolt water softener. What is your opinion on these systems? Thanks!
Mark Timmons
March 6, 2019 at 6:49 PM
First of all, not only does water softener brine not hurt a septic tank, but it can also improve the performance of the septic tank... just to be clear! OK, here's the deal I will make with you: If the Pelican or the Rainbolt soften the water, I will pay for it. How's that? See, they are not telling the truth if they say they will soften the water. Our tests show that you could wrap a cardboard box around the pipe and do as well in softening the water as either of those products. No way, no how do they soften the water. When someone says that they have a salt-free water softener, but it does not actually soften the water, well they lose all credibility with me. I don't know many people who like to be lied to, but that is what they are doing. You asked - I answered! This is really a pet peeve of mine. These guys give our whole industry a black eye.
June 30, 2019 at 10:38 PM
Hi Mark. I have a scaling problem in my hot water system (commercial installation); I have had two water tests done, one providing a total hardness of 72g CaCO3/m3 the other at 50g/m3 both with a pH of 7.7. The solution provided by our plumbers is to install a salt softening plant. As the water is not particularly hard, is a softener the correct solution?
Mark Timmons
July 18, 2019 at 10:18 PM
It may be, but I would need to see a detailed water analysis like this to know for sure:
Lori C
July 7, 2019 at 6:09 PM
Hi Mark My head is spinning, I am so actually, I understand how the two systems are different. I live in south Florida, the city water is terrible and has gotten worse the last 19 years I've lived in this house. We have never drank the water, but over the years, all of my dogs have. Fast forward about three or four years ago, the chlorine smell when you turned on the faucet or the shower was overwhelming. My hair and skin dry and brittle, I started using about once a week, a swimmers shampoo to remove the build up of chlorine! Then all four of my very large dogs were getting sick with the runs, it was like a never ending cycle. After numerous tests, change of food, countless trips to the vet, it came to me in the middle of the night, I sat straight up in bed and was like,'s the WATER making my dogs sick! Sure enough....I stopped giving them city water and bought 15 to 20 gallons a week of drinking water or spring water and within a couple weeks, no more runs. For almost two years I bought and hauled water and we have never had a problem since. So, after some research and saving for a new system, I chose a Kinetico system by Aqua Soft. It's a whole house dechlorinator and water softener and under the kitchen sink installed their RO system which is what we all drink, including the dogs. But here's the kicker....and the the same time that was being installed, I had a Stiebel Eltron electric tankless hot water heater installed, along with a sediment filter. The sediment filter is installed before the tankless heater but after the Kinetico System. Should my tankless system be using a salt free softener instead of a softener that uses salt? I thought I had done my due diligence on this project, but now I'm second guessing myself. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Mark Timmons
July 18, 2019 at 8:47 PM
I would prefer a water softener 100% of the time. Many salt-free systems are just gimmicks.
Nancy Wheeler
July 25, 2019 at 10:01 AM
We need advice. We want a no salt system that will help eliminate calcium or scale buildup in our old home pipes. Don’t want to keep lugging salt to our basement, but feel we need something.
Mark Timmons
July 27, 2019 at 2:40 PM
We have excellent results with our Limeblaster:
Al Klecanda
July 27, 2019 at 7:44 PM
Will the Limeblaster prevent scale buildup on the heating elements in an electric hot water heater?
Mark Timmons
July 28, 2019 at 7:49 AM
Yes, that is one of the areas where it shines!
Sorina Neaverth
August 6, 2019 at 6:35 PM
I live in Fernandina Beach, Fl in Nassau county Florida. The water hardness here is 17. I don’t want scale build up on my appliance elements, shower heads, and stainless steel sink and fridge. I don’t want cloudy, spotted dishes. I want the chlorine removed. I want better tasting water. Will a salt-free system do this since the hardness of my water is 17? Does a salt-free system remove anything from the water like chlorine and other harmful chemicals or things? I know it leaves the hardness in the water and prevents it from scaling. Does it do this 100%? Do the minerals still stick to your skin and cause dryness? I dislike the slick feeling of a salt system and hate buying salt, lifting it, and storing it, but if a salt system is better for my water, then I will get one. I want the right system for my area’s hard water. Also, do I need a complete water analysis to make this decision?
Mark Timmons
August 9, 2019 at 1:50 PM
It sounds like you are pretty particular and I am too. Salt-free systems do not stop the build-up of hard water deposits on glasses, dishes, showers, faucets, and fixtures. Salt-free systems do not make your white clothes whiter and colors brighter and softer. You won't save 50% or more on laundry detergent and the like. The slickness you feel is because the minerals do not stick to your skin and plug your pores. Some salt-free "conditioners" will help prevent scale in the pipes and water heater, but they are complete frauds when it comes to spots, scale, streaks, and hard water deposits. Our systems are precision programmed with a Smartphone and use up to 75% less salt than ordinary water softeners. Here's what I would suggest to remove chlorine, chemicals, pesticides and provide soft water. <strong>STEP 1: </strong> Bodyguard Whole House Chemical Removal System - <strong>STEP 2:</strong> Matrixx Water Softener with Smartphone Programming - <strong>STEP 3</strong>: (Drinking Water Only) If you like, I can have one of our Water Specialists quote you a system.
Timothy Werner
August 23, 2019 at 10:42 PM
I'm blown away by your knowledge in your field and the confidence to direct it toward such a potential uninformed media. I've been in the plumbing industry for 15 years and a recently been trying to hone my knowledge on the principles of softening and conditioning. I think you could potentially offer me a lot of education in the market and would be extremely keen on learning more about how to inform a customer of the fact that your product is the best for them. I would love to talk to you more about it if you want to reach me via email I would appreciate it. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
September 2, 2019 at 3:51 PM
Thank you. You can contact me at and ask for Mark
September 1, 2019 at 10:56 AM
Hi Mark, great post. I have been tricked into buying the salt-free water "softener". I now realize that it is not "removing" anything and changing the minerals into "crystals" that are not supposed to scale. I am just worried that I am still drinking and having "crystals" in my water lines. Probably answer is to switch to salt based softener system. For my understanding, there are "combo" system with water filter and salt-free conditioner for whole house. Does the filter component remove the "crystals" formed by salt-free system? That way you get advantage of salt based system without using the salt (with help of combo system)? Thanks.
Mark Timmons
September 2, 2019 at 12:36 PM
Ardy, Thank you for confirmation of what I have been preaching for a dozen years. The problem is that there is no scientific validation or proof from “disinterested third-parties” that it actually works. Since the crystals are allegedly visible only with an electron microscope, it is impossible to filter them out, unless you are using reverse osmosis which also takes out the mineral themselves. There is no value to using a salt-free system ahead of a water softener unless you are talking about the Micron Filtration and Carbon Filtration component of a “Combo System.” That does serve a valuable purpose, but the salt-free component might as well be a cardboard box. The answer is a salt-using water softener. Water softeners like our Matrixx Smartphone Programmed Water Softener use a small amount of salt while producing all the money-saving benefits and luxury of real “soft water.” Here’s the link: I would follow that up with a reverse osmosis system that removes the sodium and over 30,000 other potential contaminants, like this:
Dennis Tanguay
September 2, 2019 at 4:44 PM
Hi Mark: What do you recommend for the pan handle area which has very hard water. I am also installing a tank-less water heater.
Mark Timmons
September 2, 2019 at 5:21 PM
If the water is very hard, I would always recommend a water softener, such as one of these:
S Wilson
October 14, 2019 at 8:15 AM
Hello Mark, We have had our water tested in every way including naturally occuring uranium levels. Our current water is actually excellent. However scaling and water stain deposits on dishes and fixtures is a bit annoying. I do agree with you regarding the marketing or conditioners as softeners. That said, I have no need or desire to add salt to my water or septic. Do the salt free systems work? In changing the mineral structure using a salt free conditioner is the digestibility of my drinking water changing? In other words will my body me able to digest the beneficial minerals that are currently present in my water? How do the salt free systems work? Is the media harmful to humans in any way? Will the salt free system help reduce scaling and water staining at any level? I do not want to add a salt based system. The water I have is excellent in every way except from a cleaning perspective.
Mark Timmons
October 20, 2019 at 10:23 PM
Saying that <em>"Our current water is actually excellent. However, scaling and water stain deposits on dishes and fixtures is a bit annoying."</em> is a lot like saying "my health is great except for the lung and heart disease I have." I can't imagine scaling and water stain deposits on dishes and fixtures. That's what a softener eliminates, but salt-free systems do not do that... even our Limeblaster. If you don't want a salt-based softener, you will never get the benefits of a true water softener. However, if you don't want one, I respect that. I am just not going to lie to you and make you think a salt-free conditioner will do what a softener does. Here's something else to think about: Water is not a significant source of minerals. If you drank a bathtub full a day, you might get 10% of what your body needs. There are numerous methods and media used in salt-free systems and insofar as I know they are all safe... however some are worthless. Again, the salt-free system may help reduce scaling, but not water staining at any level.
December 10, 2019 at 8:21 AM
Amazing blog. Keep doing the great work. Love to see such blogs more.
December 16, 2019 at 2:13 PM
Our water is from a well & it has an sulphur odor in the hot water even though we have the anode rod in the water heater for that. When the hot water heater was new with the new anode rod we didn't notice the smell. It's 4 years old & the smell came back so I put in a new anode rod for smelly water. It isn't as bad but the smell is still there. Would your Limeblaster system help?
Mark Timmons
December 22, 2019 at 5:49 PM
No, the LimeBlaster is not going to help. First, you should sanitize all your water lines and water heater with chlorine, like this: Please call our Technical Service Department about proper use of this. If that does not work, you will need to oxidize the sulfur with something like this:
December 17, 2019 at 7:17 AM
Very informative post! I really liked it. It helped me alot.
Jhon Martin
December 28, 2019 at 3:38 AM
Nice blog. It will surely help beginners update their knowledge. The efforts you have put in to create the posts are quite interesting. Looking forward to seeing you soon in a new post. You will be shocked to know that more than 85% of American homes receive hard water. However, you may feel that they are at a loss when confronted with a wide variety of water softener available these days.
Diane Carr
February 27, 2020 at 9:36 PM
A few Q. Does a softener that uses salt lower the PH?, Does RO encourage acidic water?, And is the crystalized calcium and magnesium, in a salt free unit, usable or good vs harmful for the body ?
Mark Timmons
March 8, 2020 at 11:47 AM
First of all, I do not recommend drinking soft water, although it is probably fine to do so. I simply don't like the taste. I drink RO water and when the water passes through the cell wall, it becomes the pH of your body. There is no issue with it.
Jhon Martin
March 11, 2020 at 3:13 AM
Nice blog. The efforts you have put in to create the posts are quite interesting. Looking forward to seeing you soon in a new post.
March 19, 2020 at 1:58 AM
I am really impressed that you put together good and useful information on water problems.
Kami Cox
April 27, 2020 at 10:57 AM
I would like to eliminate scaling AND improve lather and spotting. I understand that a conditioner would manage scaling and that softened water would improve lather. So, I've considered two possible set ups. 1) Put a conditioner on the hot lines and a softener on cold lines. One con this brings up is whether there would be enough cold water/softened water in the shower to make a difference in lather. 2) Put a descaler in before a softener so both cold and hard would be processed. I don't know if the new form of calcium and magnesium post-conditioner could be effectively handled by the ion exchange process in the softener. I'm going to guess there aren't any studies on this combination. My hardness level here in the Denver area is 15.7. It seems like the best solution for me will likely be just a softener.
Mark Timmons
April 29, 2020 at 12:50 PM
You would still have hard water and it would make no noticeable difference in the lather. I know people who have tried this... unsuccessfully, I might add! You are right - a water softener is the best solution and we have the best and most efficient ones.
Steven T.
May 21, 2020 at 6:36 PM
A friend used a water tester to test our city water. It registered an average of about 450 from 3 attempts. We constantly have mineral deposits around our water fixtures and have seen scale inside some plumbing lines when they were opened. We'd like to address the hard water with a whole house solution. We have a closet in the garage with the main water line in a loop for softened/filtration equipment, but no drain. Also, we are both senior citizens and don't like the idea of hauling 40 pound bags of salt around to soften the water. Several companies have recommended ion exchange/filtration systems that are very expensive to purchase and install with questionable effectiveness. We wanted to hear from a company with a variety of product solutions to see what they recommend. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
May 30, 2020 at 10:21 AM
There is no doubt that a water softener is more effective and preventing scale than any other method, and if there are two in the family, you would likely use about 40 pounds every six weeks. However, if you are dead-set against salt, then this may be the solution for you: Read it carefully and see if that would satisfy you. There are lots of companies making claims that they cannot backup about salt-free systems. We just tell the truth. It’s a good idea to add the radial flow carbon option as that helps too. Let me know your thoughts.
Rosetta Acotd
July 17, 2020 at 2:55 PM
I am a 64 year old woman who does a load of laundry once every other week. I do'nt have a dishwasher I use paper plates and drive-thru food, shower every other day I'm the only one at this address. I bought the "Charger System" about 18 months ago. It recycles every Friday in to recycle it takes over two and a half hours I think that's ridiculous and I'm tired of carrying 40 lb bags of salt. What would you suggest?
Annie Arbela
July 17, 2020 at 2:55 PM
Hi, can you tell me which water softener I should buy? I was looking at that site and there are many good options. But I saw your site blog and it attracted me a lot. So I want to know from you that which water softener is best from your products between that budget 700-1500$. Can you suggest your best water softeners, please? Looking forward to your suggestion. Thanks
Mark Timmons
October 8, 2020 at 6:50 PM
The site that you mentioned is strictly an advertising site. He builds it and every product on there has to pay a months fee for the listing. It is not the way we do business. Here is our BEST softener: It has the best warranty in the business. If price is important, then I would do this: You get an extra 12% off with Coupon Code FLASH2020
Mark Timmons
July 25, 2020 at 9:51 AM
I would need to know more about your water before I could recommend anything.
Brian B
November 23, 2020 at 6:04 PM
I have hard water from my well but my tests show low calcium. What product do you suggest for this kind of water? Hardness, Total (As CaCO3) 206 - 6.62 mg/L Calcium 57.4 - 1.00 mg/L Magnesium 15.2 - 1.00 mg/L But we do have white residue on the faucets
Mark Timmons
December 1, 2020 at 11:20 AM
I would suggest a water softener such as this: That is absolutely the best way.
Jazz J
January 15, 2021 at 1:15 AM
Do your water softener’s support potassium instead of salt? Do you recommend this alternative? I understand it is significantly more to maintain due to the cost of the bags. But the health benefits seem great along with getting soft water.
February 10, 2021 at 7:14 PM
Mark, can you comment on the "lifetime" media that Pelican/Springwell/Filtersmart are using in their water conditioners? When asked, they will say that it's a proprietary technology that they can't divulge any technical information about. One thing I like about your Green Wave conditioner is that the details about the Filtersorb S3 media is readily available online. The same cannot be said for these other companies - fishy. However, if the media is truly "lifetime" then that is compelling... but without any real information on it, I wonder if they're all using something like nextScaleStop still. Also, I wonder if you can comment on the difference in scale prevention performance between the Green Wave and Limeblaster solutions. Thanks!
Mark Timmons
February 15, 2021 at 4:23 PM
We tested Pelican and several others and it was Filtersorb SP3. We have used the TAC and the NAC media and we like the NAC better, but the difference is not great. We are working on a new and improved LImeblaster!
Edward Pietrzyk
February 19, 2021 at 5:57 PM
What would prevent the formation of the hard ring of minerals that form at the water line in a toilet bowl?
Mark Timmons
March 15, 2021 at 7:42 AM
A water softener would be the correct solution.
March 17, 2021 at 6:10 PM
Hi! Is it possible to use a conditioner and a softener in conjunction? Will a conditioner preserve appliances like a softener? Also, I've heard that softeners can corrode pipes over time. Have you seen that to be true? I like the eco-friendly benefits of a conditioner but would also like to use less soap. It would be awesome of there was some middle ground. Thanks!!
Mark Timmons
March 18, 2021 at 12:19 PM
Number One: Artificially softened water does not cause corrosion. Only Naturally softened water can do that. Naturally softened water falls from the sky and is called "rain." It can contain high levels of oxygen or CO2 which is corrosive. A water softener does not produce corrosion. You can use both a water softener and a conditioner, but it will do no more than just a softener. The only advantage to using both is that you need to relieve your wallet of some money. There is no advantage! It's simply a waste of money.
March 24, 2021 at 9:49 AM
Hi. Water softeners use decent amount of water for resin regeneration. Is there a way to re-use this "reject" water?
Mark Timmons
April 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM
I guess the answer is maybe or maybe not. It should probably not be used for internal consumption by humans or animals and most likely it would not be suitable for irrigation (depending upon actual hardness levels), so I guess it depends upon what you want to use it for.
mike barnett
March 25, 2021 at 5:48 PM
Hi Mark – We moved into a brand new house in NorCal about a year ago; friends advised us the water was hard in our new town, and it became apparent rather quickly: having to squeegee the glass shower doors, spots on faucets, showerheads, glasses and pots/pans, hard water deposits in the dishwasher and sinks, etc. We have city water; just my wife and I; 3 BR 2 BA home. Not so concerned with the drinking water (filtered through fridge) and the “feel” of the water (although my wife says it’s harder dealing with her hair). We are more concerned with protecting the appliances, pipes and tankless water heater. We had Rainsoft and Culligan come out the first few months to test the water (yes it was hard) and to give their presentations ($4000-$6,000 for their systems). As is my way, I have since over-analyzed the issue and we have still not pulled the trigger. I understand a salt-based water softener is preferred, but one thing you don’t hear much about is what about the thousands of dollars we have spent in landscaping? How do we reconcile not wanting sodium in the irrigation water for lawns, plants and veggie garden? Running a second water line? Some sort of a bypass? On the other hand, if we install a water conditioner instead, it won’t affect the vegetation, but will it do what we need it to do regarding the pipes and appliances?
Mark Timmons
April 2, 2021 at 12:16 PM
It is a fact that a water softener will do a much better job of protecting your plumbing and appliances. We are coming out with a new water softener that has a smartphone Wi-Fi app where you can bypass the softener during times of irrigation. It does this with an app, so that if you have an irrigation system, it will automatically bypass it at the set time, or if you are doing the irrigation manually, you just press a button in the app. It should be ready in early May.
April 10, 2021 at 12:49 PM
The best and most comprehensive article on water treatment systems I've seen so far. Thanks Mark. I noticed this article dates back to 2015. Given it has been several years and we're now in 2021, any advances in these systems? Is salt-based still the only way to soften the water? I'm looking for a system to help with the following requirements. Any recommendations? Appreciate your help. 1. No drop in water pressure 2. Protect tankless water heater including plumbing and other appliances (Dish Washer, Clothes Washer etc) 3. Safe on plants and lawns (should I use some type of bypass?) 4. Limit wastage/usage of water in the process of treating/softening the water 5. No stains or marks on faucets, dishes, glasses upon evaporation or on washed clothes 6. Reduce the slimy feeling . Is there some kind of post-treatment that can be added to remove/limit that slimy feel? 7. Also, any suggestions on filtration for drinking water Please advise. Thanks.
Mark Timmons
April 15, 2021 at 9:20 PM
1. No drop in water pressure A good softener will not cause any significant drop in water pressure. 2. Protect tankless water heater including plumbing and other appliances (Dish Washer, Clothes Washer etc) Nothing does this better than a salt-regenertaed softener 3. Safe on plants and lawns (should I use some type of bypass?) You should not water plants or irrigate with soft water. However, we have a new system called the Matrixx Drop that is operated by an app on your smartphone whereby you can bypass the softener when watering plants or grass. 4. Limit wastage/usage of water in the process of treating/softening the water The water waste is very minimal on our most efficient systems. 5. No stains or marks on faucets, dishes, glasses upon evaporation or on washed clothes Only a salt-regenerated water softener does this. 6. Reduce the slimy feeling . Is there some kind of post-treatment that can be added to remove/limit that slimy feel? Set on a "high-effociency setting" you will not feel "slimy". 7. Also, any suggestions on filtration for drinking water Absolutely use reverse osmosis for drinking and cooking. It removers the sodium, chlorine and 35,000 other chemical contaminants.
Walter Bobruk
July 25, 2021 at 7:54 PM
I would like to say THANKS for this article.. I used to sell and install Kinetico water softeners. That was like 40 years ago.. YOUR article is excellent. ON all points your correct.. When I moved to TEXAS I needed a part time job and answered and add for sales and installation. Remembering my uncles remarks I took the JOB and took a short course on how the systems work. My HS chemistry classes kicked in.. I sold and instralled about 1 a week in HUNTSVILLE, Txs... many customers called to thank me and I made a point to give them my home phone and if they every had a problem I would go and fix it.. Most of the time is was a very minor issue with loading the salt improperly and blocking the float in the salt tank.. I wish everyone in TEXAS would read your article. YOU tell the truth.. I send my daughter your link .. to convince her that the others are conditioners and will not remove the minerals and her water is very very hard. AGAIN THANKS and hope you make a lot of happy customers.
Ben Teitelbaum
November 24, 2022 at 1:08 PM
How does one know if one's septic system can handle the continual flush of a water softener?
Mark Timmons
November 25, 2022 at 3:04 PM
Well, it is like having an additional person in the family. It is generally no problems in 95% of the cases. But, it's also wise to use a system like one of our smart valve systems that are totally programmable and highly efficient in the use of water.
Joseph Donahue
December 26, 2022 at 1:30 AM
This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too coolUpdateLand