Will a Salt-Free Water Softener Work for Me?

Will a Salt-Free Water Softener Work for Me?
By Mark Timmons
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Will a Salt-Free Water Softener Work for Me?

Let's get this out of the way immediately:  There is no such thing as a salt-free water softener!  By definition, to be called a "water softener" a device must take the water to below 1 grain per gallon (gpg) of hardness.  You have to be careful of what you believe... even on the internet (SHOCK).   Today, I Googled the words "water Softener," and here is what came up:
  • Nuvo H2O
  • Pelican PC600 Whole House Water Filter
  • Rhino Whole House Water Filter
  • Pelican PSE 1800 Whole House Salt Free Softener
  • Pelican NaturSoft Salt-Free Water Softener
Here's the thing - none of those devices are really water softeners.  It becomes very confusing to people who want to legitimately shop for a water softener when companies do that.  For the uninitiated, all of those results are "pay-per-clicks" (PPC) which means that the companies bid a certain amount with Google for their product to come up when you search for certain terms.  I get that it is just marketing, but I hope you get that you can easily be mislead.  Recently, I received this e-mail recently from Heather Zenzen, who was also confused when she bought a salt-free "water softener:"
The salt-free water softener is a scam, and we fell for it. Our house is new construction, and our water heater was brand new. Yet, despite after only using it for 8 months, the heating element failed. When a plumber came out to look into the problem, he found the bottom heating element literally coated with minerals. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said. We bought a real water softener, which was installed 10 days after the water heater was fixed, then called Pelican to inquire about returning the useless salt-free water softener. “We need visual proof that it doesn’t work,” the representative said. This requires draining our 80 gallon water heater (the complete opposite of “environmentally friendly”, especially with water shortages happening everywhere) and hoping that ten days of element build-up will be enough “proof” for them to return this quack device. I’m guessing it won’t be. An affidavit from the plumber wasn’t enough, and we had already tossed the broken, mineral-coated heating element days before, so we can’t use that. Frankly, I am appalled at Pelican’s customer service, in addition to being appalled at their product. I’m guessing this review won’t be posted by the corporation, but I’ll cross-post it across as many sites as I can find to prevent other people from making the same thousand+ dollar mistake we did. I also notice I cannot post how many stars I give this product, yet when I look on the product’s page, every single review posted has five stars? How did they get those stars? Something smells fishy, Pelican.
We get letters and e-mails like this nearly every day.  We have a file that is full of this kind of thing.  We do carry a salt-free water conditioner that does a good job at preventing scale, but it's not a water softener and we don't feel comfortable in calling it anything of the kind.  It's called the Green Wave and it does what we say it will do, but it doesn't soften water by any stretch of the imagination. I applaud companies like next Scale Stop and Watts One Flow who have the same technology, but don't call them softeners.  There really is no regulation in the salt-free water treatment industry and if members of the water quality improvement industry don't clean up their act, the government will... and that usually isn't good! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Si5-hVVpzo
July 14, 2014
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