There are a lot of reasons people hesitate to buy a water softener, but perhaps the biggest is salt. Conventional water softeners need to be filled up with salt in order to work properly – and not just a little salt, but large, back-breaking bags of the stuff. Many homeowners balk at buying conventional, salt-using water softeners in hopes of finding something that provides soft water without salt.
It’s not just about convenience, either. Traditional softening means adding sodium to your home’s water. The amount is small, but don’t tell that to people who are on low sodium diets – or those who simply dislike the idea of making their tap water a little less healthy for people, plants, and pets.
The bad news is that, technically speaking, there’s no appliance you can buy that makes your water soft without using salt. Fortunately, there are alternatives designed to limit the effects of hard water while addressing the concerns people have about using salt. Here are three of them.
1. Saltless Water Conditioners
On this site, we write a lot about saltless water softeners, which are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners who don’t want a conventional softener for whatever reason. However, the term is a bit of a misnomer. These systems don’t technically give you soft water because they don’t remove the minerals that define what hard water and soft water are. What they’re designed to do is lessen the impact of those hard water minerals in your home’s water supply. These no salt systems come in a lot of different varieties – before buying one, we recommend doing plenty of research on this site and other places.
2. Potassium Chloride
Even if you have a conventional softener, or are planning to buy one, there’s a healthier alternative to using sodium chloride. You can find potassium chloride pellets that not only add less sodium to your water, but fortify it with potassium. Unfortunately, while potassium addresses the health concerns a lot of people have (while also being better for the environment), they don’t do anything for the convenience issue. Potassium pellets are often more expensive and harder to find, while being just as heavy.
3. Smarter Usage
They won’t get you soft water without salt, but there are some easy steps you can take to limit the amount of salt you use with a conventional softener, and the amount of sodium you add to your tap water. The most obvious one is to avoid over-softening your water by keeping it set to the lowest setting possible. If you’re shopping for a softener, you can also limit the amount of salt you have to purchase by getting a metered system that adjusts to your water use rather than one based on a timer. Finally, if you’re concerned about adding sodium to your tap water, you can simply have the softener bypass your kitchen tap (this will also save on salt, as there’s less water to treat).
Soft Water Without Salt – The Wave of the Future?
It seems likely that someday, saltless water softeners will be the norm. Given how technology has improved so many other home appliances, the conventional way of softening seems antiquated. For now, it’s still the most reliable way to deal with hard water. But whether an equally effective salt free method is yet to be invented, or just hasn’t gained widespread acceptance yet, it seems like just a matter of time. As long as people face the reality of lugging around huge bags of water softener salt, there’s going to be a lot of pressure to find an alternative.