The Truth About Salt-Free Water Softeners

The Truth About Salt-Free Water Softeners

If you’re in the market for a salt-free water softener, unfortunately, you are out of luck. A salt-free water softener does not exist. The ion exchange process used by water softeners doesn’t work without the sodium ions displacing the calcium and magnesium ions that create water hardness. A more accurate description of units commonly marketed as salt-free water softeners would be a salt-free water conditioner or scale inhibitor. Join John Woodard, Master Water Specialist, as we debunk salt-free softeners and explore water softener alternatives.

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  1. Douglas Klimbal on June 9, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Hi John

    I’m learning a lot from your videos! Thank you for that. I’m curious: would you ever considering a micropore-size spin down filter or other fine filter in-line between a water conditioning unit and a water heater? Would such a practice remove those hardness microcrystals so that you can reap the anti-scaling and detergent-improving rewards of water softening with less need for softening salt?


  2. Manoj Calvin on June 9, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Salt free conditioners is one which creates structured water?

  3. kandydavins on June 9, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you!, Dont buy RainSoft, they use hard push sales tactics and rip you off with their proprietary BS

  4. Tech for Daddy on June 9, 2020 at 4:44 pm
  5. mikes5637 on June 9, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    As someone who has had a water softener for over 20 years as a solution to chronic excema I want to clear up a myth that everyone seems to misunderstand. The water in your system does NOT become salt water. The salt solution is used to clean the resin beads which collect the limescale when it regenerates. It is kept separate from your water and heating system and is flushed down the drain. If you can taste salt from your tap then your resin tank has a leak, which should not happen. You will not end up with salt water rusting your radiators and pipes.

  6. RvBadlands2015 on June 9, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Will it take the iron out. I have a septic and the salt is killing it.

  7. Igor Kostirev on June 9, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the good info. Please turn off the music!!!

  8. Mark P. on June 9, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    You did a great job explaining fairly the differences. My advice would be when talking to your local dealer if they call the salt free systems water softeners then run the other direction.

  9. My Celebration on June 9, 2020 at 4:51 pm


  10. icecoldusa on June 9, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Buying soap is cheaper than maintaining and buying salt for that system.

  11. Aaron Hankins on June 9, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    Great video! I do have a question about the salt free water conditioner. So there’s no scale buildup in pipes but no benefit for clothes due to the crystals getting stuck on fibers. What about dishes/glasses and more importantly, the glass shower door? Is there a benefit for those? Or do you need a true water softener for that?

  12. PunyaShloka Mall on June 9, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    I already have a conditioner that was "advertised" as "reducing" the hardness of the water. This is a very helpful video and it helped me get a correct assessment of choices available in the market.

  13. Melvin Contreras on June 9, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    What will be the best water softener for a 4 full bathrooms 5 ppl, well water, hard water. If you can give me at least The brand, you help will be always welcome

  14. Tyson b on June 9, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    That was a great video thank you

  15. Lisa b on June 9, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    I love this video. However, it would appear as said that this system "Scale Inhibitor" does not work or work well when there is Iron Bacteria and Manganese in the water. There are however, very good "Water Conditioning Systems" that work to control, prevent and remove scale and do very well at controlling and removing Iron bacteria and manganese from the plumbing!

    So, 1) This Scale Inhibitor system while good, is not that good. 2) I fully agree with the statement…. No such thing as a "salt free water softener" in the terms as we know it!

  16. John King on June 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    How about elaborating on how this works? The scientists say it cant work.

  17. Craig Scroggins on June 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    Is there any system or a good way to remove sulfur smell from a well water system?

  18. steven wentling on June 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    Don’t use a salt free unit if you have an RO unit, the crystals will plug it up.

  19. Alberto Mota on June 9, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Absolutely educational; thank you sir!!!!

  20. reflectionsdetail on June 9, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    soft water still has minerals…..a water softener just exchanges Ca++/Mg++ ions for Na+ ions, and Na (sodium) is still as mineral

  21. francisco gonzalez on June 9, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    I have a salt water softener and we love it

  22. Peter McLaughlin on June 9, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Excellent explanation and unbiased. I have been looking and looking for a comparison review of whole house water conditioning systems. What are differences in technologies or "proprietary blends" of media that some of the companies claim. Pelican, RainSoft, LifeSource, RayneWater, Kinetico … the list is endless. Donating to Consumer Reports today and hope they conduct a review.

  23. Serge R on June 9, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    If minerals get chrystalized would they get trapped by filter? Does itmake any sense to install filter after descaler?

  24. YK Chan on June 9, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    OK I’m interested. So where is the best location the salt free conditioner be installed?
    By : house inlet, hot tank inlet / outlet ?

  25. FUNDRAISINGCUP. ORG on June 9, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Yes Great Info Thank you

  26. scrippslarry on June 9, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Very well explained – thanks!

  27. Geeman Funman on June 9, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Too many issues

  28. Nora Nelson on June 9, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Very informative! Thank you.

  29. 00HiGhGuY00 on June 9, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    You said a water softener completely removes the minerals, which is untrue.  It simply replaces some minerals (calcium & magnesium) with a different mineral (sodium chloride or potassium chloride).  You also said salt free water softeners don’t exist, which is wrong.  Both distillers and reverse osmosis filtration systems ARE salt free water softeners.  They remove the hard water minerals without adding ANY minerals back to the water.

  30. Rohit Ravish on June 9, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for the nice explanation. Both systems avoid scale buildup which is very important. The information which I’m not able to get from any of such review videos is about the health pros/cons of both the systems. I’m holding onto buying either of the systems because I’m still looking for the answers to the following questions. Could you please help?

    1. Does Softener adds very little amount of salt to the home water? Is this good for health?
    2. Conditioner keeps all the minerals within the home water. Is this good for health?
    2. I read in manuals that Softener are not good for the in-house water Filtration systems and water Heaters(which u explain here though). Is this true? or which one is better for the specified appliances?

  31. David AE Levy on June 9, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Can you combine the two? Salt-based softener in line before a salt-free softener?

  32. Andrew Denis on June 9, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Do they have whole house softeners available yet that don’t waste a lot of water?

  33. ricky becklund on June 9, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Ive put in 200 or so kast year non salt 15 year warranty non salt systems that descales the vortex does grest job cleaning media bed..only wastes 20 gallons a week …can make spots wipe up not stick to appliances etc

  34. ARK rain FLOOD on June 9, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    do the electronic water conditioners work? they supposedly work using pulses

  35. Ryan Lewis on June 9, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Brine is only used to backfkush the media in a softner.

  36. Kmart on June 9, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Great, easy to understand explanation. Thank you! We are on fairly hard well water so I’ll be looking for an upgraded softener.

  37. Tom Clok on June 9, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    What about filtration / softners for Commercial Ice Machines, coffee makers etc? Mix/match, use just regular filters etc?

  38. Syed Sidhiq on June 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Music sucks

  39. Margarita Zapata on June 9, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    I would like to know if the crystals formed would clogged a carbon filter used to purify the drinking water. I dont want to end up eating crystals.

  40. Yellowspace on June 9, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    A clear concise explanation about salt free water conditioners, thanks!

  41. Tom Clok on June 9, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I see these adds for showers that remove chlorine, anything available to remove both chlorine AND fluoride? I’ll buy it today from you if there is something.

  42. Ryan Snodgrass on June 9, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Great video and explanation. One question not answered is often softened water is plumbed to NOT run to ice makers and the kitchen. How is this decision made between conditioned (descaled) vs softened water?

  43. Kathryn Derezinski on June 9, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Very helpful. I live in Arizona where the water is very hard. I have a tankless water heater in my condo and just had a Pelican Water conditioner installed. I also had an RO filter installed in the kitchen and to the ice maker. WOW! My dishes aren’t spotted, my shower is clear and my ice cubes are like diamonds!

  44. David Smith on June 9, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks for clearing this up.

  45. John Gilmer on June 9, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Well, you CAN deionize water without salt.

  46. Justin Allen on June 9, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Wow I have been all over you tube and this is the only one just educating me on the different options. Seems like all the others are trying to sell me on a specific brand. This is by far the best water cond/soft I have seen so far.

  47. xuscbs on June 9, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    What I like about this video is it’s unbiased and objective. Thumbs up!

  48. icecoldusa on June 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Salt system are a expense you never get out of it, I converted multiple houses to salt free, never had a problem.

  49. steven abell on June 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Fantastic video. Great job.

  50. myorson1 on June 9, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Inacurate. Potassium chloride is used in traditional water softeners instead of salt. I use it in mine.

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