Have you seen chalky and flaky layers on various metal parts in your house? These are common in your bathroom ware, kettles, boilers, stainless-steel utensils and other hard materials which require water. The water is the culprit for this structural damage.
Yes, you heard it right. If the water in your area consists of high amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium (more than 60%), it is known as hard water. Hard water harms not only your household parts but also your skin and hair.
Over some time, prolonged use of hard water can cause dryness of the skin. It also causes hair problems too. To get the best results from the water you need a best water softener.
Types of Hardness
As you have understood that minerals in the water are caused due to minerals, not all of them are too bad. Some minerals cause temporary hardness while some cause permanent hardness.
The temporary hardness of water is caused because of the bicarbonates (HCO3) of calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg). The bicarbonates on heating will dissociate into hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
If your water contains bicarbonates of calcium and magnesium, simple boiling will remove the hardness. It is a natural step.
Permanent hardness of water is due to the presence of sulfates (SO2-) and Chlorides (Cl-) of calcium and magnesium. You cannot remove these minerals by heating. They do not precipitate with increased temperature.
To remove permanent hardness, you need individual devices that are explicitly designed to perform this task.
Need to make a quick decision? Here's my top 4 best water softeners picks:
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Why You Need A Water Softener?
There are a plethora of reasons why you require a water softener especially if you are living in a hard water infested area. Some people think it is an unnecessary commodity, but for many, it is a must needed device.
No matter how many times your municipal water is filtered, they cannot remove full hardness of the water. You will still find the signs of hard water everywhere in your home.
The soap will not form proper lather with hard water. It creates a white slimy precipitate known as ‘soap scum.’ Over some time, the soap scum hardens and corrodes the materials.
The minerals in the hard water chemically react with surfactant present in the soap and form a chalky layer also known as lime soap. For most users, the primary reason to buy a water softener is soap scum.
Damage to household appliances
The household pipes and other instruments which handle water regularly will deteriorate because of hard water. There will be scale buildup on most of your devices. The tubes, water hoses, and showers will get clogged over a period which requires regular repairs.
Certain metals such as copper and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can tolerate the ill effects of hard water. As the pipes have a smaller diameter, there will be immense pressure on the walls and the scale buildup will take place at a rapid pace.
Damage to skin
As stated earlier, hard water is not good for your skin too. Your skin will become dry and itchy. Certain extreme situations will lead to the shedding of flakes of skin. Your soaps, shampoos, and shower gels will not solve this problem. The minerals in the water will form a residue on the skin and make it rough and dry.
The minerals in the hard water will block the pores of the skin adding to the inflammatory response from the skin. It makes the skin more dry and itchy.
Graying or Fading of Cloth color
Another reason which most of people fail to notice is the fading of the clothes. Most of them blame their detergent or washing machine, but they fail to identify the real culprit. Hard water causes fading of your clothes. It also removes the coloring of clothes after prolonged periods.
You will see characteristic yellowish to brown stains in sinks and bathtubs of your home. It is formed by because of the residual calcium and magnesium in the hard water. Sometimes you will also notice plaster like deposits in certain areas, especially in bathtubs.
These are the primary reasons why you should have a water softener at your home. Other noticeable hard water issues can be fragile glassware and increased electricity bill.
The sulfates and chlorides of the water render the glass brittle, and they are prone to break easily. It can be excruciating if the predominant item of use in your home is the glass.
Some people notice a high electricity bill regularly. It is because your motor pumps have to work hard to push the water from the clogged pipes. Since the flowing water space is reduced in the tubes, it requires more energy to compensate for the optimal output of the water by the motor.
A water softener comes handy to obliterate the apparent ill effects of the hard water.
Though it is a onetime investment, consider the long-term expenses. Certain costs such as repairs of equipment, replacing certain devices such as pipes, boilers, and kettles, for multiple times will cost more bucks than getting a water softener.
Our Best Water Softener Reviews
Now that you have understood the purpose of the water softener, it is time for you to check in the best products available out there in the market. This comprehensive product review guide will help you in selecting the product suitable for your needs.
1. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener
Making it to the top in our list of best water softener reviews is the Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 grain water softener. It is one of the popular brands available out there in the market. With its vast customer base, it is undoubtedly one of the top-notch quality products.
The device is made with premium quality materials which will last for years. It is made of 2.5T Poly Glass (PG) which is highly durable. Hence the water head has five years, and the tank has ten years manufacturer warranty.
The paddle wheel meter of the tank will help you to control the usage and regeneration of water. It also reduces the excess usage of salt and minimizes water loss.
This device softens the water based on the salt-water based action. Hence it contains a resin tank and a brine tank. Both the tanks together work flawlessly to remove the excess minerals from the water. A high-efficiency valve with an LCD is installed on the tank. It will save the salt while softening the water.
The easy touchpad controls enable the user to monitor the system status and errors. It makes the operation easy even for the beginners. Installing the device is also very simple. The bypass valve which has one-inch yoke makes the connection very easy.
With detailed instructions and setup guide, many homeowners can install this water softener without any professional help, thanks to Fleck for providing step by step guide.
Other significant features include 10-inch X 54-inch water tank with a maximum capacity of 48,000 liters, 15-inch X 33-inch brine tank, and 8% resin in 1.5 cubic feet.
Some users may find it little tricky in taking out the resin, but if you follow the instructions correctly, everything works flawlessly. Without a doubt, it is worth the investment you make.
2. Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
If you are looking for a water softener that does not have any mumbo jumbo gimmicks and which is cost efficient, then Eddy electronic water descaler is for you.
The name itself suggests that it is an electronic device which descales the household pipes and other appliances. This device does not require any resin or brine to do its job.
The Eddy electronic water descaler has two coils which are installed around the pipe of incoming water. From these coils, a series of complex electromagnetic waves are produced. A series of changing magnetic fields will act on the water which permanently changes the adhesive properties of the limescale.
By this mechanism, the hard water will find itself to be challenging to produce limescale that clogs or block the pipes in your house. Note that this mechanism does not alter any chemical properties of the water.
All the healthy minerals are retained without any structural damage and alteration. This property helps preserve beneficial health salts such as calcium. This mineral is beneficial in reducing the incidence of heart attacks.
Because of these properties, Eddy electronic water descaler has been used in many domestic and commercial purposes for more than 15 years. It is also eco-friendly since it does not use any salt-based activities.
Since it destabilizes the adhesive property of the limescale, you can still see it in certain areas. Note that, it does not prevent the formation of limescale; it just prevents it from clogging your pipes. Since the lime cannot stick to the surfaces, cleaning will be effortless for you.
The installation is straightforward as it does not require any plumbing work. One of the attractive features of this device is that the company provides 12-month 100% money back guarantee as well as lifetime replacement and repair warranty. This option is not available even in premium and high-cost products.
3. Pentair WS48-56SXT10 Fleck Water Softener Reviews
A premium ranged device with a lesser price is an excellent buying option for any user. Pentair is one such device which has all the premium grade features you are looking for.
Similar to Fleck water softener, which is the top product in our list, it is also a salt-based water softener that uses brine and resin. It is made of premium grade materials which last long. The durable poly glass used in the construction of the tank makes the device sturdy and functional in any condition.
The Pentair water softener uses an upgraded 1.5 cubic feet 10% resin matrix for efficient softening of the water. It's on demand metered system uses a flow meter which measures the water usage and regenerates as needed. This feature reduces the excess use of salt and prolongs the longevity of the device.
The LCD digital display along with the simple touchpad controls helps you to monitor the device carefully. Its touchpad enables you to use the quick controls for the features and settings.
The installation is also straightforward. It has a bypass valve with a yoke connection which makes the plumbing an easy task. The yoke has 1-inch threads which can be fitted to most of your household pipes. If you want to change, you can switch to 3/4inch yoke too.
For beginners, Pentair provides written instructions as well as a complete video guide in a USB drive contained within the package. Other add-ons include lubricant for the installation rings, a test strip with which you can set the hardness of the water according to your choice, and sanitizer pack to clean or disinfect the entire system and the resin.
This is a complete system for everyone who prefers to use it for domestic and commercial purposes. Its brine tank system comes in a standard size which is durable as well. It includes a safety float and well for brine making one of the perfect water softeners available out there in the market.
4. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler and Water Conditioner
Another device on our list which does not alter the chemicals present in the water is the iSpring ED2000 whole house electronic descaler and water conditioner. This device is quite similar to Eddy water descaler in its function.
The device does not use any salt, resin, and chemicals to soften the water. It uses its coils which are wound around the inlet pipe of the house to descale the water. The coils produce a series of electromagnetic waves which destabilize the adhesive nature of the limescale.
The iSpring water descaler does not remove any minerals from the water. It is useful for people who have cardiovascular problems. The calcium present in the water reduces the risk of myocardial infarction. Since this device does not remove any minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the water, heart patients will benefit from it.
The descaler not only removes the adhesive properties of the limescale but also breaks the existing limescale deposits present in the pipes. This feature makes utilization of water more efficiently, and the clogging problem will be eliminated at its best.
iSpring descaler will help in reducing the energy consumption at one-year payback on average. It is designed for areas which have an excessive concentration of minerals in the water making very hard (10-19 grains).
If your water has high iron content (>0.3 ppm), the descaler might not work alone. You must buy an additional iron filter to remove the excess iron and make this device to work efficiently.
Since it does not require any plumbing or hardcore machinery, it is effortless to install this device without any need for professional help. There is a detailed step by step instructions guide which will help the installation process easy.
Note that if the water travels for a long distance (more than 50 foot) after descaling, the minerals will regain their adhesive properties, and limescale buildup will occur. For larger houses, you must install two descalers to prevent the formation of limescale in the pipes and other appliances.
5. Aquasana 10-year 1,000,000 Gallon Whole House Water Filter
For many, water softeners is a high investment commodity. They look for a device which will serve them for years. Aquasana will fulfill your requirements in terms of duration as well as quality service.
This water softener is designed to function ten years with an equivalent capacity of one million gallons. With this unit, you will get ultra-delicious water that is clean and tasty. Its smarter design will remove 97% of chlorine from the water which exceeds the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Not only chlorine, but it also filters other heavy metal contaminants such as lead and mercury. You need not worry about other predominant organic chemicals such as pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), herbicides, industrial contaminants and much more.
The dual filtration system will work flawlessly and is designed to make water healthy that comes from every tap in your house. Its unique up-flow double tank design will increase the contact time of water with the filters and prevents the clogging of the tubes.
Your skin will love the water that passes through Aquasana’s whole house water filter system. Since it removes excess chlorine and other chemicals, there is little to no exposure of the skin to these harsh chemicals.
Aquasana uses salt-free SCM technology which prevents the formation of scales thereby protecting the household tubes and plumbing. Note that it won’t demineralize your water and it also does not add any salts or chemicals to the water.
The 20-inch pre-filter lasts 20 times more than the standard filter. It also has Sub-Micron post filter to add an extra layer of protection from the organic pollutants and the cysts of microorganisms.
The brass fittings make a straightforward installation process. Its bend supports and shut off valves is designed to fit bypass loops so that if you want to change the filters in future, it will be effortless.
6. Fleck Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener Iron Filter
When a product delivers extra options along with their fundamental purpose, it always attracts a lot of customers especially when this so-called additional feature increases the basic functionality. Fleck Iron Pro 2 is one such device which has these added features.
We all know that if the iron content in the water is more than 0.3 ppm, the descalers and water softeners fail to function. You have to buy an additional iron filter so that your water softeners perform their function efficiently.
Fleck has lessened the burden of buying additional equipment by adding the iron filter in their water softener. This will save a buck for many users. The device will also remove the minerals that cause permanent hardness to the water, i.e., calcium and magnesium.
It is a dream machine for many household and commercial users. You will get the best filtration system along with hardness removal. It removes hardness up to 50 grains per gallon (GPG) and iron up to 10 ppm. Not only these, but it also removes other metals such as manganese up to 6 ppm along with other sediments such as sand and rust.
Its 5600SXT digital metered valve is designed for efficient and easy handling. The best part is that this valve has five years manufacturer warranty.
The unit has 18-inches X 33-inches brine tank which is entirely made in the USA and has ten years warranty. Its resin is made in the form of a unique mesh which functions even in the presence of iron.
Since it completely softens the water, you will not have the trouble of limescale building up in the pipes and other appliances. Manganese is known to cause black slimy stains in bathtubs, kettles, and boilers. This trouble is also eliminated because the Fleck Iron Pro 2 efficiently filters manganese.
The metered base regeneration system will measure the water you have used and regenerates accordingly. This system will reduce the wastage of salt and also saves water.
7. iSpring 5-Stage Prestige Under Sink Drinking Water Filter System
To experience cleaner, safer and tasty water, you need an efficient water cleaner that removes not only the harmful organisms but also the mineral contaminants. iSPring is designed exactly for this purpose.
Its sturdy and superior reverse osmosis (RO) system along with the water softener mounted under the sink will remove 99% of the known contaminants. Over 1,000 known contaminants which include lead, arsenic, chlorine, fluorine, asbestos, calcium, and magnesium are filtered in the process.
It also removes harmful bacteria and viruses to make the water healthy. Because of all these features, the iSpring water filter is gold certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA).
The water is processed through five stages of filtration with which you will get clearer, pure, and excellent tasting water. It has three pre-filters namely Polypropylene (PP) sediment filter, Carbon Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) filter which is Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), and a carbon block.
These three pre-filters will remove all the sediments and contaminants from the water which protects the RO membrane from chemical damage. Elements such as chlorine will damage RO and hence requires pre-filtration.
In the 4th stage, the water undergoes purification through the 0.0001-micron hole sized RO membrane. This stage allows only small water molecules to pass through the layer. The final step consists of polishing the water with a GAC filter.
After the five stages of filtration, the water will not be hard and is purified. The unit can filter 75 gallons of water per day with the help of 3.2-gallon pressurized tank.
The installation of the tank is straightforward. You can take the professional help if you want by contacting the customer support, who respond quickly. It can be installed under any standard kitchen. The package contains the setup instructions in a manual, and they also provide videos for the same.
Finally, you will get a one-year warranty manufacturer warranty, one-year money back policy, and lifetime technical support.
8. Aquabliss High Output Universal Shower Filter
If you want to have a filter system confined only to your bathroom, Aquabliss is for you. Some people wish to just their shower water to be clean so that they can prevent unnecessary hair and skin diseases.
It is also suitable for those who are unwilling to buy a costly water softening system for the whole house. The Aquabliss is a portable water purification system that can be installed on your shower.
Its high output filtration system is removable and can be replaced whenever you want. This filter is not just a single filter; it is multi-layered. It will effectively remove chlorine, heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic along with harmful microorganisms.
One of the best features of this filter is it prevents the growth of algae and fungi within the water thereby reducing the incidence of various skin diseases such as eczema, itchy skin, rashes, and acne.
Aquabliss shower filter has a superior filter which consists of redox media, KDF 55 calcium sulfite along with activated carbon. KDF 55 purifies water at higher temperature, activated carbon will remove chlorine from water at lower temperatures, and the calcium sulfite will remove chlorine from hot and cold water. You can filter both hard and soft water in a bliss.
The filter which is present in a cartridge will filter neatly 12000 gallons of water. It is easily replaceable, and you can change it approximately after 6 to 8 months.
The installation of this device is very simple. All you need to do is remove (unscrew) your existing shower head and screw Aquabliss shower water filter and you are done.
With the help of Aquabliss, you will see great results, especially with your skin and hair. You can notice reduced hair fall and reduction on dry skin issues. The water will feel softer, and there will be a good lather generation from shampoos, shower gels, and soaps.
9. APEC 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System
Another unit in our list that softens and filters the water is the APEC top tier 5-stage RO drinking water filter. It is similar to the iSpring in its action. It will remove the minerals that cause hardness to the water and also removes harmful pathogens thereby making it safe for drinking.
With APEC water filter system, the water is not only useable for household chores but also safe to drink. It removes 99% of the contaminants such as chlorides, fluorides, heavy metals, and disease-causing microorganisms. The unit can filter up to 50 gallons per day.
The primary advantage of this filter is it can filter municipal water and bore water. You will get taste and purity superior to boiled water. The water undergoes five stages of the purification process to deliver you crisp and pure water.
It has two large carbon blocks with which the contact time and surface increased. This mechanism will eliminate most of the contaminants present in the water, thanks to its ROES-50 reverse osmosis system.
There is not an issue of leakage from the unit. The leak-proof O rings along with the stainless-steel teethed fittings provide excellent protection against unwanted leaks. You won’t need any additional fitting parts.
The unit is very easy to install. There are DIY videos provided by the company with which you can install the filter without the need for any professional help. You will also get detailed instructions and maintenance manual.
After registering the product with the company, you will get an extended two years manufacturer warranty. With nearly 20-years of experience, APEC will provide an outstanding performance along with a superior quality of customer support. It is not as expensive as other premium range models who offer similar features.
The APEC water filter system is undoubtedly a must buy product for those who seek dual action, water softening and purifying.
10. Iron Pro 48K Contamination Water Softener & Iron Filter
You already know that water softeners will fail to function if the iron levels in the water exceed 0.3 ppm. It is inevitable to buy an additional device that filters the iron if your water has iron more than permissible levels.
To eliminate this trouble, Iron Pro provides iron filter within along with water softener. This means you don’t need to buy any additional iron filter. It is a buying factor for most of the users.
The unit consists of a meter-based regeneration fleck. Its 5600SXT metered bypass valve is highly durable. Although the company provides five years warranty on this valve, it will last as long as 27 years. The tank has ten years manufactures warranty.
The device has an LCD unit and touchpad controls for easily accessing and monitoring. It also has an internal power backup system which will last for 48 hours. The meter-based regeneration system will help you to save the salt as well as the water.
It has a fine mesh with a 48,000-grain capacity to remove higher quantities of iron than the conventional water softeners.
The device can remove 6 to 8 ppm of iron and manganese, sediment, rust, and all other impurities present in the water. Its 10X54 fiberglass mineral tank and 14X34 brine tank are 100% manufactured in the USA.
Note that this device can effectively remove the ferrous iron and little ferric iron. The installation of the unit is straight-forward with the help of the DIY videos. It can be installed in a couple of hours without any troubles.
It is a perfect unit for small family. The unit prevents the limescale buildup in the plumbing and also eliminates the red stains caused by the iron in the water.
11. Watts Flow-Pur RV-Pro Water Softener
Not every house is suitable for the vast water softening device setups. Some require portable or smaller units. For those who seek for such devices, Watts Flow-Pur RV-Pro water softener is the best choice.
This unit is also suitable for those who want to perform this task at camping or hiking trips. The device comes at an extremely reasonable price, and it also has low maintenance costs.
Since this is a portable device, do not expect all premium features to be included. It lacks certain features which are present in bigger units such as auto-regeneration. But it has built-in flow restrictor which helps in regeneration, and thereby it increases the capacity by 55%.
Its custom designed valves allow the regeneration and eliminate the step of connecting and disconnecting the device from the plumbing. There is no display or touch controls on this device.
All you need to do is check the filter regularly and replace it whenever needed. It costs very less when compared to other premium filters.
Don’t get fooled by its low price and low maintenance costs regarding its performance. The device softens the water at its best and has excellent quality output.
It has a very high flow rate (4 Gallons Per Minute) which is acceptable for portable devices. The RV-PRO 10,000 filter system is the most eco-friendly filter system available out there in the market. The device uses common salt to remove the hardness from the water. So, it will not render the water drinkable.
Since it uses a common salt filter, replacing it very cost effective. With this device, you can effectively remove the minerals such as calcium, magnesium and fewer amounts of iron. It will preserve the life of all the appliances in your home by preventing the limescale buildup. You will get a 10-years manufacturer warranty with the purchase.
12. On The Go Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener
Another portable water softener on our list is the On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 grain RV water softener. This device is suitable for small apartments and for those who want a portable system.
Out of all compact and portable water softeners, this device will produce double the gallons of soft water. It also has the most significant water tank capacity compared to other mobile units.
Its 16,000 grain RV water softener will deliver 40% extra soft water than any other unit. Only two boxes of table salt are required for regeneration. Its high-grade premium resin matrix will remove all salts and minerals that cause hardness to the water.
The device can soften approximately 1600 gallons of water which is equivalent to 40 days of water conditioning.
The device is so compact that you can install it in the tightest spaces you can find. Even at the lowest pressure drop, the device will allow high-pressure flow.
The unit has a handle which makes it easy to carry along with you. No electricity is required to run this water softener. It has 360 degrees rotating swivel with which you can connect the inlet hose in any direction. A cap and plug option are available to prevent the leakage especially when you are traveling.
The inlet valve has a shut-off mode which increases the time of contact with the filter system thereby producing good quality of water.
On the go portable water softener has a quick regeneration system which is lacking in most of the portable units. This device is undoubtedly one of the best portable water softeners available out there in the market.
Although it lacks some premium features which are present in the top-end units, it is still worth a buck. The device is compact, can be installed and stored at almost all convenient places.
13. ABCwaters 48,000 5600SXT Resin Water Softener
A premium grade product with a compact space saving design is a definite plus point. ABCwaters proves such features in its product which has all premium range of features and also has a compact design.
The softener consists of superior 10% resin matrix that performs the ion exchange process efficiently. It also has longer life-span than other resins present in conventional water softeners. The resin removes minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are the significant causes of hardness.
The ABCwaters uses a digital flex 5600SXT digital metered valve. It is one of the most advanced valves that is made of high-quality materials. It is rumored that the valve will last much longer than the water softener itself.
The brine tank is made of durable materials and is entirely manufactured in the USA. Unlike conventional water softeners which use 8% resin, the upgraded 10% resin of this device will give superior performance.
The softener uses less salt which makes it an eco-friendlier device. This water softener has the Water Quality Association (WQA) gold certification, and it exceeds the standards of ANSI.
One of the best features of this ABCwaters is they pre-load the resin in the mineral tank. Most conventional water softeners will ask the users to load the resins by themselves. Some users find it difficult to load the resin, and ABCwaters eliminate this trouble.
The entire unit is pre-assembled, and all you need to do is the plumbing the unit to your water inlet source which is an easy process. It has an installation kit that includes everything you need. The installation videos will help you to finish the task.
If you are not familiar with the installation, you can call customer support for the same. The technical team supports FaceTime (iPhone video calling app) to guide you regarding proper installation.
14. 3M Aqua Pure House Water Filtration System
The water purifier from 3M Aqua has a massive water capacity system which helps in removing the sediments to produce brighter and cleaner water. Its tank is made of non-corrosive stainless steel.
This 3M Aqua pure house water filtration system is designed for a domestic and commercial purpose. It removes all the suspended particles and rust thus making it a suitable device for well water.
It produces a consistently superior quality of water to the entire household. The device has a Sanitary Quick Change (SQC) design with which you can change the filter cartridge with ease. You do not require any filter wrench to remove and replace the cartridge, they twist-off themselves for replacement, thanks to the SQC design.
The carbon filter removes 99% of the chlorine and odor from the water. Its high flow rate at the rate of 20 gallons (75.7 liters) per minute is aptly suitable for household use.
All the parts of this filtration system are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) CFR-21 compliant.
Note that this device reduces particulate matter and chlorine from the water. Though it does not entirely remove the hardness from the water, it is best suitable for a small house which has well water as their primary water source.
It produces tastier water which is suitable for a family comprising of members from 2 to 5.
The installation is also pretty straightforward. Its 304 stainless steel head make the installation process super easy. The corrosion resistant steel of the tank makes this device last longer for years.
The 3M Aqua pure water filter system comes at an affordable price. It provides premium ranged features which many products in this price range fail to do so.
15. ClearlyC Shower Filter & Hard Water Softener
The final product in our list is a portable device that is designed to soften and filter the shower water. The ClearlyC shower filter and hard water softener is designed for domestic purposes for those who seek to improve the quality of their shower water.
The filter effectively removes the chlorine from the water. You will immediately notice that the chlorine smell from the water is reduced. This feature is suitable for infants since inhalation of the chlorine will cause various respiratory problems.
The filter removes heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and nickel from the water. It is excellent in reducing various diseases such as eczema, dry skin, dandruff and thereby improves the condition of your skin and hair.
The company provides an extra filtration cartridge for free along with the purchase. Both the cartridges can filter and soften 20,000 gallons of water, or they work for one year.
You can easily install this filter without any professional help. Unscrew the head of the shower and install this filter. No additional tools or wrenches required. The package consists of O rings and Teflon tape. The filter is designed to fit on most of the handheld and head showers if they ½ inch threaded connections.
If you are not satisfied with the product, the company offers 45-days money back guarantee policy without any further questions.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Water Softener
Now you know that the hardness of the water is caused by sulfites and chlorides of calcium and magnesium. A water softener will remove these molecules rendering the water soft. They prevent the limescale buildup and clogging of the tubes in your house.
These uses are already mentioned, but there are certain things you must consider before buying a water softener. We will walk you through certain points which must be analyzed before you buy the product.
Test Your Water
The first thing you must consider is to know whether your water is hard or not. If your water does not permanent hardness causing molecules, then it is no use in buying a water softener.
The temporary hardness of water can be removed by simple boiling, and it does not require costly equipment. The permanent hardness of the water is measured in terms of grains per gallon which is expressed as milligrams of calcium per liter or parts per million.
This means if the water has 30 ppm hardness, it has 30 milligrams of calcium per liter. You can check the following chart to understand the degree of hardness in your water:
Degree of Hardness in Water
Grains Per Gallon
Parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per Liter (mg/L)
Less than 1.0 gpg
Less than 17
Slightly Hard Water
Gpg between 1 to 3.5
17.1 to 60 ppm
Mildly or moderately hard
Gpg between 3.5 to 7
60 to 120 ppm
Gpg between 7 to10.5
120 to 180 ppm
Gpg greater than 10.5
More than 180 ppm
You can get the statistics of mineral content in your water from your local water board association. There are specific simple DIY water hardness testing methods which can be executed at your home. You can also buy water hardness testing kits which give you the best results.
Once you assess the severity of hardness in your water, then you can buy the water softener if required.
Type of Water Softener
The second thing you need to consider is the type of water softener. There are two types of water softeners which are widely used for domestic purposes:
The salt-free water softeners do not use any chemicals to remove the water hardness causing molecules. The primary advantage of this system is it will not alter the taste of the water.
Since the salt-free water softeners do not use any ions, it is best suitable for small houses. Although most consumers prefer the salt-free water system, it is not recommended if the water is very hard.
Salt-based (Ion exchange)
These water softeners use ions such as sodium and potassium which will exchange their place with hardness causing minerals thereby permanently removing the hardness from the water.
There will difference in the taste because of added sodium or potassium to the water.
Another water softener used for household purposes is Reverse Osmosis (RO) based water softeners and purifiers. These devices remove hardness from water with the help of a semi-permeable membrane.
RO based water purifiers also remove harmful pathogens and filters out the suspended particles. These units are suitable for drinking water filtration and not for softening water on a large scale.
It is always good to buy products that are made of the durable quality of materials. Such units will serve better and last for years. Since water softeners are a huge investment for many users, it is wise to get a quality product.
A water softener which has a poor quality of components require frequent repairs and replacements which will cost you more on a longer run. Make sure that the device meets FDA and ANSI standards in terms of the quality of materials used.
Not all water softeners are designed for everyone. Some are suitable to soften the water on a larger scale while some are suitable for small families. Larger water softeners require more space because of their size. They also need sophisticated maintenance steps for their efficient functioning.
Smaller units are suitable for those who have limited space or live in apartments. They are also perfect for filtering the water for a family comprising of 2 to 5 members.
Nowadays there are portable water softeners which can be used at any place according to your convenience. They are suitable if you want to use these softeners when you are on vacation or a field trip.
Water softeners are a heavy investment process. Consider your budget before buying them. Since they are designed to last for years, of course, they are worth the buck. If you are low on budget, you can buy certain products which offer premium range features at a lower price.
These cost-effective water softeners are suitable for small houses and apartments. Most of the water softeners which offer almost all features are priced between $300 to $2000. Depending on your requirements you can omit some features such as iron filtering ability. Not everyone requires this feature.
The cost varies depending on the features and the brand of the company. You can select accordingly.
As stated above, the price of the product varies depending on the brand. Certain brands are priced more than $2500 while some of them are less than $500. There are a wide variety of brands available out there in the market which provide all the features you seek for.
Certain brands such as Fleck, Aqua pure, iSpring, and Aquasana provide excellent products along with all premium features.
While most of these products can be installed by yourself, it is better if the company provides appropriate customer support. Make sure that the customer support is not limited to installation only.
They must provide proper support to post the installation such as maintenance, regular services, and repairs if needed. You can ask the customer properly and get all these details.
Water softeners are expensive, especially if you are buying a premium product from a reputed brand. There must be a proper warranty along with money back policy if you are not satisfied with the product.
Most of these companies provide warranty ranging from 1 to 10 years along with lifetime replacement of damaged parts. Go through the company’s official website and read their terms and conditions thoroughly.
Why Do You Need Water Softener in First Place?
A water softener is an essential commodity if you are living in a hard water infested area. The minerals, heavy metals, and other disease-causing pathogens must be filtered out to avoid complications.
One of the primary reasons to have water softener is to prevent the clogging of the plumbing. The hard water will result in limescale build-up and obstructs the pipes in your house. The water softener will help in avoiding this phenomenon thereby eliminating the tedious maintenance and repair costs.
Another reason to have water softener is that they will improve our health. Water in certain areas contains a high amount of heavy metals, pesticides, rust, suspended particulates, and disease-causing pathogens.
Water softeners remove all these contaminants, and your skin will feel the breeze of the softened water. They will help in reducing the itchy skin, dry skin, eczema, dandruff, and various skin and hair issues.
For infants, the inhalation of chlorine causes various respiratory problems. There are plenty of water softeners which remove 99% of chlorine. You can also observe that the smell of the chlorine will be no more in your water.
Few other minerals such as iron and manganese cause staining of household appliances. You can see black or red stains in bathtubs, kettles, boilers, and other devices which handle water.
With the help of water softener, you can prevent the staining and prolong the life and looks of all these appliances.
The Most Popular Types of Water Softeners
There are mainly four popular types of water softeners:
- 1Salt-based or ion exchange system
- 2Salt-free system
- 3Reverse Osmosis based systems
Salt-Based or Ion Exchange System
It is the most popular and one of the most widely used systems in the water softening process. The ion-exchange system will replace the ions present in the water (Ca2+ and Mg2+) with sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), or hydrogen (H+). One of the most popular ion exchange systems used in water softeners is the common table salt.
The ion-exchange system consists of two tanks, i.e., resin tank and brine tank. In the first step, the water passes through the resin bed where the mineral exchange takes place.
After absorbing all the minerals from the hard water (saturation), the water flushes the brine from the resin matrix (regeneration). The exchange of ions takes place during this flushing process. The hardness causing minerals which are filtered are then drained out.
One of the major concerns with this system is the increased sodium levels in the water. If you are a low-sodium diet, this system isn’t for you. It is also not that eco-friendly because the high sodium and potassium containing water are released out.
The salt-free systems don’t use any salts or chemicals to soften the water. They use a unique technology which changes the molecular structure of the minerals that cause hardness to the water.
These water softeners don't require any form of the resin matrix, and hence there will be no need of replacing the filters. It also does not require any regeneration system and the best part is they don’t require any form of electricity to operate.
The salt-free water softeners will not cause any health problems and are highly eco-friendly.
The reverse osmosis is a unique system that removes the hardness causing minerals and also purifies the water. They will use a unique membrane which filters the heavy metals, harmful pathogens, and other suspended particles.
Reverse osmosis (RO) based water purifiers are primarily used to purify the drinking water and not to soften (condition) the water on a larger scale.
These type of water softeners are new to the market. They are tiny in their size and are the cheapest compared to the other three types of water softeners. The electromagnetic water softeners do not remove any minerals from the water.
They consist of a series of wires (mostly copper) wound around the inlet water pipe of your house. When the device is turned on with electricity, the coils produce a series of electromagnetic waves which alter the molecular structure of the minerals that cause permanent hardness.
These electromagnetic water filters effectively prevent the limescale build up and also prevent the clogging of the plumbing. They do not remove any mineral, and you may still feel the smell of chlorine.
What are the Best Water Softener Brands in The Market?
A good brand is always reliable in terms of quality and customer support. Some people even prefer to buy products based on the reputation of the company. There are some decent brands available out there in the market from which you can buy a water softener without a doubt.
Fleck is perhaps the oldest company in water conditioning and filtering business. With over 50 years in the industry, they offer quality products with a great set of features.
They provide advanced technologies in their devices, and you will feel satisfied with their products.
For users who do not require costly and large equipment look for simple devices for conditioning the water. iSpring is one such company that offers smaller unique devices.
These devices use electromagnetic waves to alter the molecular structure of the hardness causing minerals. This company provides excellent customer support, and on top of that, you will get the full money back guarantee.
Aquasana quickly garnered a huge fan base because of their premium ranged features an eco-friendly design. All the water softeners made by Aquasana are designed to minimize the use of salt and wastage of water.
Aquasana's wide range of water conditioning and purification products can be used for faucets and showers.
The DuraWater is perhaps one of the few companies that care about their water softening devices more closely than others. Since higher iron levels will render the water softeners ineffective, DuraWater provides a built-in iron filter in their devices.
If you are residing in places where the iron content is high in the water, DuraWater is your best choice.
Another favorite brand amongst water softeners is the Pentair. It is one of the respected brands that deliver quality products. All the products from Pentair extremely well-constructed parts that will last for years.The best part is that the water softeners from Pentair come at affordable price compared to others.
Water Softeners Comparison Chart
Here is a quick comparison of water softeners from our product review list.
Fleck 5600SXT Water softener
12 GPM (28 GPM peak)
Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
Pentair Fleck Water Softener
iSpring Water Descaler and Conditioner
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter
Fleck IronPro 2 Combination Water Softener and Iron filter
iSpring 5-Stage RO Drinking Water Filter System
Reverse Osmosis (RO)
AquaBliss Universal Shower Water Filter
APEC 5-stage Drinking Water RO Water Filter
Reverse Osmosis (RO)
Iron Pro 48K Water Softener & Iron Filter
Watts Water Flow-Pur RV-Pro Water Softener
On The Go Portable RV Water Softener
ABC 10% Resin Water Softener
3M Aqua Pure Whole House Water Filtration System
ClearlyC Shower Filter and Hard Water Softener
How to Find Out How Hard the Water is?
While there are many hardness determination tests, some of them can be performed without any need for professional help. While these DIY tests do not accurately determine the hardness, it will give you a rough idea about how hard your water is.
A simple soap water test will help you determine the hardness of the water. To perform the analysis, follow these steps:
20 drops of liquid soap
30 drops of liquid soap
40 drops of liquid soap
More than 50 drops
Although this process gives you a rough estimate about the hardness, it is an easy and DIY step, and it will let you decide whether to buy a water softener or not.
Apart from this test, if you want to know certain levels of hardness, seek professional help. There are specific kits available out there in the market with instructions to determine the hardness of the water.
There are few testing strips which are ideal for determining the hardness of water at home. You can use them too if needed.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
The water softener will work based on its build mechanism. Most of these work by a mechanism is known as an ion-exchange process. The ion-exchange type of water softeners is also known as salt-based water softeners.
The core mechanism of these salt-based water softeners is the replacement of calcium and magnesium present in the hard water with sodium or potassium.
Salt-Based Water Softening
The ion-exchange water softener contains two important units, i.e., resin tank and brine tank. The unconditioned (hard) water first passes through the resin tank during the process.
The resin tank consists of beads of resin arranged in columns known as resin beds. These resin beds are usually made of divinyl-benzene or styrene. The resin heads have a negative charge (anionic) on it.
The calcium and magnesium from the hard water are attracted by the resin beads and are replaced by sodium or potassium. This process makes the water soft since there is no hardness causing minerals.
Once the conditioning is done, the resin bed must be renewed to function again. This step is known as regeneration. The most commonly used brine solution is sodium chloride or common table salt.
To replace the calcium or magnesium with the sodium, the resin needs sodium ions. These sodium ions are supplied by the brine solution present in the brine tank.
The brine is flushed into the resin tank which has softened the water in the previous step. Now the resin matrix which already has the calcium and magnesium ions on it are flushed along with brine solution through a drainage outlet.
During this process, the sodium from the brine solution is to replace the calcium and magnesium that are filtered by the resin.
The cycle of recharging or the resin is known as regeneration. Modern water softeners have automatic regeneration process, and you need not do anything.
Salt-Free Water Conditioning
As you can see the statement – ‘salt-free water conditioning,’ it is a conditioning process not softening. Why is it not called a softening process? It is because water softening definition means removal of calcium and magnesium ions.
Salt-free water conditioners alter the chemical structure of hardness causing minerals and prevent the clogging of the plumbing. Since water softening defines the removal of calcium and magnesium from the water and as there is no removal in this method, it is called as water conditioning.
Installation Guide of Water Softener for Biginners
Most of the water softener companies provide detailed instructions for the installation in the form of a manual or even videos. Although there are detailed instructions, the difficulty of installation varies depending on the type of water softener and the place you want to install it.
There are certain points to consider before installing water softeners:
If you or any of your family member are on low sodium diet, you must avoid drinking the water that is softened by the salt-based systems. Since they release sodium ions into the water, it may result in health issues.
There are no restrictions or health concerns about salt-free water softeners. But these devices do not remove or add any minerals. They only condition the water to prevent the limescale buildup.
They are the most comfortable units to install and it advisable to place them near the primary water inlet source. The electromagnetic systems also do not pose any health issues because they don’t add or remove minerals from the water.
Reverse Osmosis Systems
These water purifiers are generally used for filtering the drinking water. They remove all the impurities, contaminants, and hardness causing minerals. The installation requires professional help. They can be used for filtering entire household water, but it will become costly.
Steps for Installing Salt or Ion-Exchange based Water Softeners
The following instructions are meant for installing these softeners for the whole house. Make sure you abide by the building code as the installation requires to shut off the valve.
There are some units which have a bypass valve that make the installation process easy.
- 1The first step is to shut off the main water inlet valve of the water source. After shutting off, release the remaining water present in the pipes.
- 2Identify the area of your choice that you want to install the water softener. Make sure that this location is before the line is supplied with hot water.
- 3Cut the main pipe with a cutter and fit an elbow pipe to the same. The elbow pipe will allow the hard water in to the water softener and also will help you to install the bypass valve.
- 4Make necessary changes to the tubes that need a connection for bypass valve. Cut and solder them if needed.
- 5Now attach these pipes on to the water softener with compression fittings.
- 6Attach the draining pipe to water softener with the help of clamps.
- 7Connect the tube that is meant to be connected to the brine tank. You can see the manufacturers instructions for the same.
- 8Now turn on the bypass valve to remove all the sediments and debris.
- 9Turn on the unit and slowly release the valve so that it will remove the remaining debris and air bubbles.
Note: Make sure you turn off the power of hot water supply and turn off all the faucets in your home during the installation.
Steps for Installing Salt-Free Water Systems
Salt-free water systems have a pretty straightforward installation. Since they don’t use any salt, they do not need any regeneration. They don’t require electricity for their functioning.
- 1After determining the location of the installation, turn off the main water inlet valve. Release the excess water that is present in the pipe after turning off the valve.
- 2Cut the primary water inlet and install the shut-off valve depending upon the build material. Glue it if it is a PVC or solder it if it is made of copper.
- 3Install to the pipe the first carbon pre-filter posterior to the shut-off valve and add another shut-off valve posterior to the pre-filter.
- 4Now attach the pipe to the head of the filter system with the help of the compression fittings.
- 5Attach the downflow outlet of the softener which makes the water to flow in and out of the system.
- 6After closing both shut-off valves, turn on the main water supply valve. Carefully release the shut-off valve one after the other and check if there are any leaks.
Now that you have finished the installation of the salt-free systems make sure to seek professional help if you find any difficulties post to setup.
Installing the reverse osmosis-based water softeners requires 100% professional help as they are quite complicated. It is always advised to seek the help of the technician rather than installing on your own to avoid unnecessary damage or issues.
Steps for Installing Electromagnetic Water Conditioner
The electromagnetic water conditioner or descaler is extremely easy to install. You need a couple of wrenches (or one) and a screwdriver to install this device.
Some of these devices do not have any wiring to generate electromagnetic waves. In such devices, the entire device can be clamped to the pipe with the help of the magnets and screws present on the box.
If the device has tubes or wires (copper) that should be wound around the wire, make sure you position the wires appropriately. One cable must be to the main inlet water pipe and the other to the tube through which the water comes to the house.
There will be proper instructions in the manual with which you can install the device without any troubles. Make sure you position the box appropriately before winding the wires (or tubes) to the plumbing.
How to Maintain Your Water Softener?
Most water softeners do not require extensive maintenance steps. The electromagnetic and salt-free water softeners require little to no maintenance. All you need to do is check the carbon filters regularly for the salt-free water softeners.
When they (carbon filters) become inefficient, just replace the cartridge whereas the electromagnetic water descalers require no maintenance at all. Just make sure the box works appropriately with a proper power supply.
The salt-based water softeners will require certain maintenance and through checkups so that it will function efficiently. To function efficiently, the brine tank must be checked regularly. If the brine solution has depleted levels of salt, you must replace accordingly.
Make sure you replace the salt according to manufacturers instructions. The most common element used in the brine tank is the common table salt. Usually, 2/3rd of brine tank must be filled with a salt solution.
Inspect the brine tank for any salt mushing. It will create blockage if there is any excess mushing by the salt. If you find any, you can broom it off. You can add hot water to the brine tank to eliminate salt mushing.
Apart from these tips, clean the resin and brine tank whenever needed.
Also read : Benefits of Using A Water Softener.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What is the difference between water softener and water conditioner?
Water softeners will remove the hardness causing calcium and magnesium sulfites and chlorides. These devices are called as salt-based or ion-exchange systems.
On the other hand, the water conditions do not remove any minerals from the water. They alter the molecular structure of the crystals that cause hardness so that they do not precipitate into limescale.
Q. How do I know if the water is hard or not?
A simple soap water test will give you a rough idea about the hardness of the water. Apart from that, some professionals do this for you, or you can buy hardness testing kits and test the hardness according to the instructions.
Q. How to install water softener?
The company from which you bought the device will provide detailed instructions for the installation. You can follow their instructions manual. Few companies offer instruction videos for better understanding. If you don’t understand, you can always seek professional help.
Q. How to maintain water softener?
Check for the resin and brine regularly. Make sure you replace the salt in the brine whenever required. Clean the resin tank and brine tank whenever time permits.
Q. How to select the good water softener?
It always depends on the requirements and the options available in the water softener. If you are using it for a large house or a house who use water frequently, select a water softener that has large tank capacity, high flow-rate, and made of durable materials.
If you require to use the device for drinking water, it is better to buy reverse osmosis (RO) based water softener and purifier. People with low sodium diet must select an electromagnetic descaler or salt-free water softeners.
Water softeners are increasing in popularity because day by day the underground and fresh water sources are getting contaminated. Certain areas require these devices to protect the plumbing and household devices.
Our comprehensive guide of best water softeners will help you to buy the perfect device suitable according to your requirement. Just make sure you understand the needs and buy the product accordingly.