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Salt-Based vs Salt-Free Water Softeners

One of the most popular questions I come across is whether or not it’s a good idea to have a salt based or salt free water softener, so I really couldn’t leave this informational page out of my website. There is actually a lot of technical information that goes along with how both types of these water softeners work, but I’m not going to bore you with that. After all, you need to know which one will suit your needs best.

So, below you’ll find some straight forward information that will hopefully help you make a decision. Or, alternatively, if you already know what type of softener you would like, you can jump straight to my best picks by clicking your preferred choice.

SALT Water SoftenersSALT-FREE Water Softeners

Salt Based Water Softeners

The Pros

Salt BasedWater Softeners
  • A salt based softener will make sure that minerals like calcium and magnesium will be completely removed before you even turn on your faucet.
  • This will stop you from having to deal with those annoying lime-scale build-ups that seem to stick to everything like glue.
  • The water based appliances in your home will last longer, and your plumbing will thank you for it too.
  • A salt based water softener will give your water a more “slick” feel (for want of a better word), and you won’t find it too hard to work up those bubbles when you’re in the shower.

The Cons

  • A salt based softener can be more expensive.
  • This type of system will also need more maintenance simply because of the way it works.
  • You will also find there will be added expenses when you’re using this type of softener because you will have to buy salt.

You can check this page for my reviews on salt-based water softeners.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt BasedWater Softeners

First of all, some people don’t even consider these systems to be real water softener because they don’t reduce the hardness of water to less than 1 grain per gallon, the official standard as set by WQA). That’s why these systems are also called water conditioners or descalers.

Personally though, I only care about the results, so let’s get on with the comparison…

The Pros

  • They are generally less expensive to buy than their salt based counterparts.
  • If you don’t like the idea of using chemicals to soften the water in your home, a salt free conditioner can be the answer you’re looking for.
  • This type of softener will neutralize contaminants like calcium and magnesium so they don’t stick to surfaces instead of removing them from your water. You may be wondering why I have added this as a pro. Well, that’s because both of these minerals do have their health benefits if you’re exposed to them in moderation.
  • They are incredibly easy to install. In fact, some models I have included simply need to have the wires wrapped around your pipes, be secured and you’re ready to plug it in. One great example of this is the Clearwave CW-125 Electronic Water Conditioner.
  • Maintenance costs are next to zero with salt free systems that utilize electricity or magnets when softening your water (other types of system may need replacement of cartridges or other parts)

The Cons

  • For some, these systems are not considered to be as effective as salt based because you still have the elements that cause lime-scale build-up in your water which means your body is still exposed to them.
  • Salt based systems often show much quicker results because filtration starts at the source the minute you begin using it. Because salt free conditioners use electricity, it can take longer for results to show (keep that in mind when buying one!)

Here is my page with reviews on salt-free water softeners.


The decision is yours really. Both salt based and salt free water softeners have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m not here to tell you which one to choose, I just wanted to give you some honest information so you can now head off to the right place on my website.

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