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A Guide to Whole House Salt-Free Water Systems

The water in your home flows through almost every part of your life—it’s what you use to brush your teeth, fill your coffee pot, wash your hair, and clean your clothes. And the quality of that water can do incredible things for your day-to-day life.

From making it easier to wash dishes to extending the lifetime of your plumbing, softening the fresh water in your home is an essential upgrade. 

But once you’ve decided to make the change to a water softening system, you may be wondering about your options, including whole house saltless water softeners. In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • Hard Water vs. Soft Water
  • What is Water Softening?
  • Why Choose A Whole House Salt free water system?
  • Whole House Salt-Free Water System Options

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Understanding what makes water “hard” along with where your water falls under the hard water scale can help illuminate the methods that are used to “soften” it. Here’s what you need to know about a water softening system:

The fresh water you pour into a glass to drink or use to wash your hands before dinner takes a long journey before it reaches you. When groundwater percolates or passes through porous underground rock, it can pick up minerals and materials that are present there—most commonly calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.

The mineral level in the water determines a water’s softness or hardness, meaning:

  • Hard water has higher levels of dissolved calcium carbonate and/or magnesium carbonate.
  • Soft water has lower levels of dissolved calcium carbonate and/or magnesium carbonate.

But does water’s softness really impact your day-to-day life? Here are just some of the negative impacts of hard water:

  • Hard water can lead to increased mineral deposits known as “scales” on your water pipes. Scaling can degrade the integrity of the pipes over time. These mineral deposits can also impact water flow, creating costly inefficiencies.
  • Thanks to hard water, mineral deposits can be visible on faucets and dishes no matter how much you clean them.
  • Hard water can also make washing more difficult. Due to hard water’s mineral-heavy chemical composition, soap and detergent don’t easily bond with it. This can make it hard for you to rinse away soap from dishes, clothes, and even your skin and hair.
  • Additionally, hard water can leave a bad taste in your mouth—literally. Metallic-tasting water is often a symptom of hard water in your home. 

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What is Water Softening?

Water softening is the process of removing the elements that make the water hard—calcium and magnesium—from your water supply. This works by drawing out the mineral hardness ions present in the hard water and replacing them with sodium ions—AKA salt.

However, there are ways to soften water that doesn’t involve the use of sodium of any kind while still softening the water.

But why go salt-free in the first place?

Why Choose A Whole House  Salt Free Water System?

How you choose to soften your water may make a big difference in your home and your entire region. Here are just a few reasons to choose a Salt Free Water System:

  • Protecting natural life – The water we use in our homes washes away into nearby ecosystems like lakes, streams, and marshlands. When that water has an excess of salt content, it can negatively impact those ecosystems. In fact, it only takes one teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of fresh water.

    Salt is also known as sodium chloride, and when there’s too much chloride in a water system, fish and other aquatic life cannot survive in it, throwing the entire ecosystem out of balance.
  • Soil quality – Salt transferred by water runoff to soil can negatively impact agricultural areas. Salt in the soil will naturally draw water away from a plant’s roots, so if there’s a high level of salt in the soil, crops will struggle to obtain nourishing water and may wilt and die.
  • City ordinances – Sometimes, which water softener you use falls under your city’s jurisdiction. Just like some cities will limit fireworks during dry seasons to prevent wildfires, cities may stipulate that only salt-free water softeners can be used in an effort to preserve soil fertility and protect the area’s natural resources.1
  • Health – Additionally, those on low-sodium diets as directed by their doctor may be off-put by an increased amount of sodium in their drinking water. It may make sense for these individuals to prefer a salt free system.2 

Whole House Salt-Free Water System Options

Whether you’re choosing a   Salt Free water system to support your health or to support nearby agricultural development, you can still enjoy all the benefits of softened water without the use of a salt based water softener. In fact, a salt free water system can have the same impact as one that utilizes salt.

Companies like Rayne Water offer a few different sodium-free methods for softening your water. 

  • Potassium-based softening system A potassium-based softening system essentially functions the exact same as a sodium-based softener with one key change. Instead of removing calcium and magnesium from water using salt, a potassium-based softening system uses the same method but instead uses potassium ions.
  • Water Conditioner – There are multiple varieties of water conditioners that essentially work by either filtering out the unwanted minerals from the water or altering the chemical structure of the minerals in the water.
  • Reverse-Osmosis Filter Technically a filtration method rather than a softener or conditioner, this method pushes water through a semipermeable membrane in order to filter out impurities.

So how do salt free water softeners work? In the following section, we’ll go a little deeper into each method and weigh its pros and cons.

Potassium-Based Softeners

Potassium-based systems work almost the exact same way that sodium-based systems do, except instead of leaving trace amounts of sodium in the treated water, it leaves trace amounts of potassium. 

This product is commonly chosen because potassium brine, a byproduct of this softening method, is reputed to have a better effect when it comes to agriculture.3

However, it costs much more to purchase potassium chloride than sodium chloride for use in a water softener. This high cost is something to consider when deciding which salt-free water softening method you’re interested in. 

Water Conditioners

Water conditioners don’t actually “soften” water—however, they can significantly help eliminate the effects of hard water on the home. 

Water conditioners use a special kind of resin known as Template-Assisted Crystallization—or TAC—media in order to encourage the minerals to bond together. Minerals in the water passing through a conditioner form tiny crystals instead of ending up as scaling in pipes. These crystals are undetectable; they’re small enough that they can’t be felt while drinking or washing, but the water will have the same taste as before. 

Water treated through a water conditioner will still have the same levels of minerals in it, but with a significant decrease in scaling.

Conditioners also function as filters and can remove things like chlorine, chloramines, and even organic contaminants. 

If you want the best of both worlds, it’s possible to purchase hybrid softeners and conditioners, which will remove calcium and magnesium from your water supply while also filtering out these contaminants.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is more of a filtration method than a water softening or even conditioning method. Reverse osmosis purifies water by forcing it through a semipermeable membrane that only allows water molecules through. This leaves behind the minerals that cause water’s hardness.

For this reason, many people consider reverse osmosis a very efficient system that results in the purest-tasting water.

Most reverse osmosis systems are a Point Of Use or POU system. This means they’re installed near faucets and in places where the water is needed and don’t filter the rest of the home. These systems are usually pretty small and can be installed right under the sink if need be. 

However, there are Point of Entry or POE systems. These install at the point of entry for water in the home and filter the water for the entire location. Rayne Water offers POE reverse osmosis systems that can be installed in these locations. 

Find the Right Softener for You with Rayne Water

The water in your home is essential to your day-to-day life. And choosing the right water softener for you requires extensive expertise and the best in water technology. That’s why you should trust Rayne Water with your softening needs. 

Rayne Water will put you in contact with a water professional who will help you make the best decision for your home, whether you want your water softened with potassium, conditioned to prevent scale buildup, or completely filtered altogether. 

Experience better, softer water with Rayne Water today!

Find a location near you!

Sources:

  1. City of Dixon. Brine Discharging Water Softener Removal Program. www.ci.dixon.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/576/1011-bill-insert?bidId=
  2. Minnesota Department of Health. Home Water Softening: Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/factsheet/softening.html
  3. Center for Watershed Science and Education, University of Wisconsin. ​An Alternative to Softening with Sodium. https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/watershed/Pages/GWSoftAlt.aspx