Families who want a low-maintenance, space-saving, and cost-effective way to prevent limescale formation should consider getting the best salt free water softener. These products might not reduce hard minerals in the water, but they can extend the lifespan of plumbing systems and water appliances.
Salt-free water softeners (more appropriately called water descalers or conditioners) change hard mineral characteristics, preventing them from forming limescale on water fixture surfaces. These products have attributes that differentiate them from salt-based, ion-exchange water softeners.
Some qualities can help prospective buyers decide which water conditioner to get. We consider the three following factors as crucial in one’s buying decision.
- Type: Salt-free water softeners come in various kinds, underscoring their unique mechanisms of action. Some products magnetize the hard minerals to prevent them from sticking to surfaces, while others chelate the compounds to achieve the same results. Other water conditioners are components of water purification technologies.
- Size/Capacity: Like any water fixture, salt-free systems or descalers come in various capacities. Families should choose a product based on their water softening requirements, reflecting their hard water level and water consumption.
- Flow Rate: Some salt-free water softeners can impact flow rate, reducing the water volume and affecting a household’s water consumption. It will be ideal for people to get a salt-free conditioner that maintains a flow rate of 8-12 gallons per minute (GPM).
Other factors can also impact a buyer’s decision. We will discuss these attributes in the following reviews of top-rated salt-free water softeners and the subsequent buying guide.
Table of Contents
Top 11 Salt Free Water Softener Reviews
1. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Descaler System
The iSpring ED2000 enjoys an admirable rating among salt free water softener reviews, making it one of the most affordable water conditioners or descalers in the market. This product promotes DIY installation and zero maintenance while preventing limescale formation in the entire house.
I appreciate this water softener’s electromagnetic design, attracting carbonates to avoid surface adhesion in pipes, fixtures, and appliances. The product does not require that much electricity to run, emitting a faint pulse across a water pipe section to exert its descaling function.
Installation is as effortless as one can imagine. The box has a mountable design, and the flexible magnetic bands have a flat design for improved wounding stability over the water tube. One only needs to plug the device into an electrical outlet, and the system starts mitigating scale deposition.
I also like this device’s compatibility with other water filtration technologies. I can imagine a household installing this system before the water filter, ensuring safer and healthier drinking water for everyone.
Maintaining the device is never an issue. It is similar to plug-and-play devices where you can forget it once installed. Families never have to worry about buying regeneration salts, water softener resin, backwashing, and frequent regeneration again.
2. YARNA CWD24 Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler System
People who need a water conditioner that is effortless to install, requires no maintenance, and works like a charm should get the Yarna CWD24.
I like the idea of using capacitive electric fields in water conditioning. Calcium carbonates have metallic properties, allowing the technology to induce morphological changes. These modifications prevent hard minerals from sticking to surfaces and negate limescale formation.
This maintenance free water softener also works with all hard water levels. Households can have 1 GPG or 10 GPG of calcium carbonates, and this technology will work to prevent limescale buildup.
It also has an IP54 rating, making it suitable for families who want their water devices outside the home. Installing it is never a concern because it comes with a 5-foot power cord and a maximum electric field of five feet. One only needs to secure the device over the water pipe using zip ties, and wrap the magnetic pulse bands around the water tube.
This non salt water softener also requires virtually no maintenance. Once plugged into an electrical outlet, it will work without frequent checkups.
3. Aquasana EQ-1000-AST Whole House Water Filter System
The Aquasana EQ-100-AST has an excellent water filtration technology that combines a water filter and salt free water softener in one convenient setup. Families will no longer worry about limescale formation. They also do not have to fret about other contaminants in their water.
This water filter and salt free water softener system comes with a sediment pre-filter, an activated carbon filter, a KDF filtration unit, and a post-filter, making it one of the most comprehensive water treatment products in the market.
I love its kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) filter technology. Not only does it remove limescale-forming calcium carbonates, but also chlorine, lead, mercury, chromium, magnesium, hydrogen sulfide, iron, chloramine, VOCs, and more.
I also like its 1,000,000-gallon capacity. A household that consumes 100,000 gallons of water annually can expect this system to last them a decade or so. That is why this product comes with a 10-year guarantee. People can also extend this system’s lifespan by adhering to a meticulous maintenance regimen.
It also has an admirable flow rate of 7 GPM, enough to keep everyone in the household happy. It should be sufficient for a family of four.
Its ingenious dual-tank design with an upflow mechanism is also noteworthy. It promotes a longer contact time between the hard water and the filter media, removing more contaminants than other systems.
4. AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR Whole House Salt Free Water Descaler
Households with existing water filtration systems should consider installing the AO Smith AO-WH-DSCLR to protect water appliances and plumbing fixtures from limescale formation. This no salt water softener features one of the latest innovations in descaling, empowering families to extend their plumbing system’s lifespan.
I love this product’s new template-assisted crystallization (TAC) technology. It transforms free-floating calcium and magnesium carbonates into insoluble microcrystal complexes. The morphological change prevents the adhesion of hard minerals on plumbing surfaces, saving families from limescale formation.
Although the product is pricey, I think it is an excellent buy. People will never worry about backwashing and regenerating the system every few months or so. There is also no need for frequent replacements of the scale control media because AO Smith formulated it to handle 600,000 gallons of water.
Folks who are doubtful about this water descaler’s performance will be glad to learn it comes with a limited six-year warranty. One can also install it effortlessly by threading pipe adapters into the tank’s inlet and outlet ports. It works with PEX, copper, steel, PVC, or CPVC plumbing materials.
Families living in the countryside can also use this salt free water softener for well water. They can say goodbye to limescale from their showerheads, faucets, pipes, hot water heater, sinks, and other water fixtures.
5. Aquios AQFS220 Full House Salt Free Water Softener and Filter
With an ingenious mechanism, the Aquios AQFS220 is a worthy salt-free water softener system for four-member families. Not only does it mitigate limescale formation, but it also improves the water’s aesthetic characteristics.
I am amazed at this product’s water conditioning technology. Unlike electromagnetic saltless water softeners, this system uses a Siliphos polyphosphate additive to prevent hard mineral adhesion in plumbing surfaces. It does not remove heavy metals but makes them incapable of sticking to surfaces and form limescale or corrosion.
I also like the solid carbon block filter, improving the water’s taste and smell characteristics. Family members will never complain of unpleasant chlorine scent or taste in the water or food.
I commend the company for designing a water treatment system that does not impact flow rate. This product has a maximum flow rate of 14 GPM, enabling everyone in a small house to use water as much and as often as they want. It can also handle hard water levels up to 22 GPG.
6. Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Salt Free Water System
If people can forgive its ridiculous price tag, the Watts Premier OFPSYS OneFlow saltless water softener is a wonderful product to buy. It is space-efficient, prevents limescale formation, and delivers water with exceptional taste and smell.
Like other salt-free water softeners, I like this product’s template-assisted technology that alters the surface-adhesion properties of hard minerals. I am not only talking about calcium carbonates here. This system also impacts ferrous iron, chlorine, copper, and manganese characteristics. Families will have a more pleasant time enjoying their water.
Surprisingly, this salt-free water softener can accommodate a maximum calcium carbonate level of 75 grains per gallon. I find this incredible, knowing most households in the US only contend with a hard water level of 10 to 15 GPG. Other brands with TAC technology can only handle a maximum of 25 GPG.
Installing this water conditioner is never an issue because it only weighs 15 pounds and occupies a floor space of only 9.2 x 9.2 inches. While its 19.3-inch height might be a concern for some people, I still find it compact to fit in almost any space.
This water softener without salt also comes with a Water Quality Association certification, giving peace of mind to people doubtful of its quality design and construction.
7. YARNA CWD30 Capacitive Water Descaler System
The Yarna CWD30 tankless water softener is similar to the Yarna CWD25, except it has a slightly longer power cord (6.5 feet vs. 5 feet) and a carbon fiber enclosure (vs. ABS plastic). These improvements are sufficient to make this product the water descaler of choice of many households.
Like the CWD25, this product delivers a current to the water to alter the behavior of heavy metals and hard minerals. The electric field the system generates transforms calcium carbonate molecules into vaterite crystals, making them incapable of sticking to surfaces.
It does not matter if the hard mineral concentration in the water is 1 GPG or 50 GPG. This water descaler can mitigate limescale formation by preventing mineral surface adhesion.
People will find its installation and maintenance a breeze. They can tie it on the water pipe or mount the device on a wall before winding the flat electric bands around the tubing. It also exerts its capacitive effects on 2-inch-diameter water pipes of varying materials.
I like this technology because it does not impact water flow. Families retain their water consumption levels, ensuring everyone has access to an adequate water supply. I also love its carbon fiber enclosure, making it ideal for outdoor applications. Its IP55 rating is also better than the CWD25’s IP54.
8. Tier1 Eco Series Salt Free Water Softener
The Tier1 Eco-Series is another reliable alternative to traditional water softening systems. It is a water filtration system that incorporates four mechanisms to remove water contaminants and keep water fixtures and appliances free from limescale and corrosion.
I like this product’s combination of TAC technology, sediment pre-filter, activated carbon, and KDF filtration. Not only does it neutralize calcium carbonates to prevent limescale formation. This product also reduces chlorine, copper, iron, and magnesium levels to provide families with better all-around water treatment.
Unlike other products, this water conditioner does not limit its water softening capabilities to 20 GPG. Households with 75 GPG water hardness levels can expect this system to address their limescale and corrosion problems.
The scale-prevention media can last up to five years, although some people might observe a shorter lifespan of three years. Everything depends on the water hardness level. The harder the water is, the faster the product loses its limescale-prevention capabilities.
An ANSI/NSF 61 certification offers peace of mind related to the product’s quality construction. At least, I know I am using a water conditioner that will not fail.
9. APEC Water Systems FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt Free Water Conditioner
Families who want a different water softening technology should consider the APEC Water Systems FUTURA-15 Whole House Salt Free Water Conditioner. This product does not use electromagnets, capacitive technology, polyphosphates, or TAC mechanisms. Instead, it relies on a revolutionary ceramic material to showcase its scale-prevention capabilities.
While I am uncertain about its precise mechanism of action, I can only say the ceramic technology works, based on the positive reviews. The ceramic media induce calcium carbonate crystallization, making it almost similar to a water softener with a TAC technology.
This product’s scale-prevention capabilities translate to optimally-functioning water appliances, whether I use a water heater and dishwasher. The kitchen and bathroom sinks will look sparkling clean because there will not be scale formation on the faucets and other metallic components.
I am also glad this product does not affect water flow, enabling families to enjoy up to 15 gallons per minute. Its 24 maximum GPG rating is also commendable, considering most American households have a water hardness level of 10 to 20 GPG.
Installation is straightforward because it already comes with all the materials one needs. It is also noteworthy that the company offers lifetime expert support and a limited 10-year warranty for this salt-free water softener.
10. Filtersmart Whole House Water Filter & Salt Free Water Softener Combo
The Filtersmart Whole House Water Softener no salt model looks like a twin-tank salt-based water softener system. However, as its name suggests, this product does not use salt to soften the water. Instead, it relies on an eco-friendly granulated coconut shell carbon media to remove water contaminants.
I am uncertain how the mechanism works because it does not include electromagnetism, ceramic, or KDF filtration. I can only say my water has become clearer and more pleasant to drink, so the product’s performance speaks for itself.
The carbon filter improves the water’s aesthetic qualities by reducing chlorine smell and taste. It can also help lower the levels of other water contaminants, including pesticides, SOCs, chloramine, and other hard minerals.
I love this water softener’s 1,000,000-gallon capacity, translating to at least five years of continuous use. A small to medium-sized household will not have issues with this product because it will last them up to a decade, given proper maintenance and care. Maintaining it is a cinch because one only needs to replace the carbon filter.
It also has NSF certification for people who want quality above everything else. Such a certification provides assurance in terms of product construction, so I don’t have to worry about the conditioner breaking any time soon.
11. SpringWell FutureSoft Salt Free Water Softener
This Futuresoft Salt-free Water Softener is one of the best in the market, especially for families who do not mind paying a four-digit price tag. It looks like a conventional salt-based water softener but incorporates a unique technology for maximizing contact time between hard water and the scale-prevention media.
This product comes with the ActivFlo system that extends hard water contact time with the media. That is why this water conditioner has a 99.6% scale prevention capability. This information is surprising, considering the size of the product.
Astonishingly, this product also has a KDF filter and a catalytic coconut shell carbon filter. These components remove chlorine, mercury, magnesium, iron, chloramine, VOCs, and more. These filtration mechanisms are present within the same tank, complementing the sediment pre-filter.
It is easy to think the many filtration mechanisms in one tank can reduce the water flow rate, but this is not the case here. While other products can only offer 15 GPM, this product delivers 17 GPM. A large family will not have problems using water simultaneously.
This product requires very little maintenance. There are no salt bags to worry about, no periodic regenerations, no complicated procedures, and no messy backwashing.
What to Look for When Buying Salt Free Water Softeners
Choosing the right salt-free water softener requires an understanding of its unique attributes. It would also help if one understands how a salt water softener system works, including the pros and cons of salt-free water softeners.
A salt-based softener adheres to a process called ion exchange. The ion exchange process replaces hard minerals with salts, softening water. That is why many experts believe only salt-based systems can effectively soften water.
On the other hand, a salt-free softening system does not remove the minerals that harden water. Instead, salt-free technology alters the behavior or action of minerals. As water flows through the plumbing system, a salt-free conditioning system prevents mineral adhesion on surfaces, eliminating scale buildup.
The following attributes are essential when buying water softeners that don’t use salt.
Saltless water softening systems come in at least four types. Although they differ in mechanism, these technologies produce the same result.
- Template-assisted Crystallization (TAC)
This innovative technology transforms free magnesium and calcium ions into large, insoluble microcrystals. The change in form prevents mineral deposition and scale buildup.
- Electromagnetic Systems
These saltless water conditioners transmit electromagnetic waves through the water tubing, altering the morphology of calcium and magnesium carbonates. It is similar to using a magnet to attract metallic particles in the sand on a piece of paper. These soft water systems modify the minerals’ ability to stick to surfaces.
Some saltless water softeners work by capacitive technology. This works like electromagnetic systems, except it delivers an electric field to change the minerals’ morphology.
- Water Filters with KDF Filter
Some saltless water softeners are a component of a whole house water filter. These salt-free softeners use kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) technology to promote their water softening process. KDF filters remove heavy metals and other water contaminants, mimicking soft water while improving water quality.
These saltless water softeners often include a radial-flow carbon filter to eliminate other water contaminants.
- Polyphosphate-embedded Filters
Some salt-free softeners use polyphosphates, such as Siliphos. While the water softening system is different, the result is the same. These non-traditional water softeners alter the characteristics of calcium and magnesium, preventing their adhesion to surfaces.
It would be best to get a saltless water softener that can provide the family with an adequate water supply. For example, a 1,000,000-gallon unit is preferable to a 50,000-gallon salt-free water softening system. It allows the family to enjoy an unmatched soft water supply for many years before replacing the water softening system.
On the other hand, an electromagnetic saltless water softener does not have any sizing.
A filtration unit with an integrated salt-free water softener system can impact water flow and water supply. The water flow rate decreases as the water passes through the water softening system’s filtration and scale-prevention media.
That is why one must check the salt-free conditioner’s flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM). Most salt-free softeners have a flow rate between 5 GPM and 20 GPM. It would be best to get a product that mimics the household’s average water flow rate.
If one is concerned about the water supply, electromagnetic salt-free systems offer the best chances of getting unrestricted water flow. These salt-free water softening systems not only soften water, but also do not impact water pressure and flow. Families will have unrestricted access to soft drinking water.
Salt-free softeners have varying installation requirements. For example, an electromagnetic water softening system is a breeze to set up. It only requires wrapping the electromagnetic induction bands around the water tubing, and one can start softening water.
On the other hand, filter-based salt-free softeners might require connections to the house’s existing plumbing. Some salt-free softeners might call for a professional plumber.
Although not a must, it would still make sense to look for a salt-free conditioner with reputable third-party certifications. One can look for seals of excellence coming from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), and the Water Quality Association (WQA).
It would be wise to acknowledge that some certification standards guarantee the salt-free conditioner’s quality construction and safety, while others test water quality or device performance.
Manufacturers stand by their product’s quality and performance by offering a warranty period. In general, the longer the warranty, the better the water conditioner.
For example, suppose one product has a 10-year warranty while another offers a 5-year guarantee. It would make sense to choose the former because no company will want to stand by its product for that long if it does not believe it will last a decade.
Do Salt-free Water Softeners Really Work
It would be wise to understand what makes water hard. Experts define water hardness as a reflection of the water’s hard mineral content, especially calcium carbonate. The more hard minerals present in the water, the ‘harder’ the water is.
In the US, hard water contains at least 3.5 grains of calcium carbonate per gallon (GPG) of water or equivalent to 60 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm).
In the UK, the range for hard water is 101 to over 300 mg/L, with 101 mg/L being the lowest measurement for hard water. Households in Walton-on-Thames have hard water by UK standards (238 mg/L), but according to US standards, this number is very hard water.
It is safe to assume that salt-free water softeners work by preventing limescale formation. However, if one expects to reduce mineral levels that cause hard water, salt-free water softeners are not the best products on the market.
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims of salt-free water softener manufacturers. Only salt-based water softeners have the backing of the scientific community.
What Is the Difference Between Salt and Salt-free Water Softener
According to Consumer Reports, salt water softeners use ion-exchange technology to replace hardness minerals with sodium chloride or potassium chloride salts. In other words, traditional water softeners or salt-based softeners remove hard minerals to prevent limescale formation.
Meanwhile, salt-free water softeners do not eliminate hard minerals, although they can prevent limescale formation. On a positive note, salt-free water conditioners retain essential minerals. A more appropriate term for them is water conditioners.
Do Salt-free Water Softeners Work on Well Water
Yes, some salt-free water softeners work on well water by chelating the hard minerals or clumping them into large crystals to prevent scale buildup.
However, hardness minerals are not the only things families should consider when using well water. The water might also have sediment, silt, dirt, debris, pesticides, VOCs, and other substances. That is why it is always a good practice to install a water filtration system alongside the water conditioner.
How Long Does a Salt-free Water Softener Last
A salt-free water softener’s service lifespan depends on its design. For example, products with integrated water softeners can last anywhere between five and ten years.
On the other hand, electromagnetic conditioners can last up to four decades because the system’s elements do not contact the hard water. This technology only requires wrapping electro-conductive wires over the water pipe.
Chelating salt-free systems might last six to eight years, depending on their rating. Manufacturers rate their water softeners relative to their water capacity. For example, some products can accommodate up to a million gallons of water before requiring a replacement.
Choosing the best salt free water softener for the home is a straightforward process. One must pick the type that delivers the best water conditioning performance without affecting water pressure and flow. It must be effortless to install, hassle-free to maintain, cost-effective, and space-saving. The high-quality product also protects water fixtures and appliances against limescale, extending their lifespan for many years.
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