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Comparing Water Softeners: Which One is Right for Me?


You may have noticed some strange happenings with your water lately: Laundry doesn’t clean as thoroughly, washed dishes have spots, there’s soap scum in the shower, and certain appliances—such as the water heater—may not be functioning properly. Don’t blame your appliances—it’s not their fault. The real issue here is hard water.

water softeners compared

The good news is a water softening system can save the day. These highly advanced water treatment systems use different methods to mitigate the hard water minerals that lead to scale build-up. But which water softener is right for your home?

There are two basic types of water softening to consider.

Salt-Free Water Softening

A salt-free water softening system reduces the effects of the hardness minerals, but interestingly, does not actually remove them from the water. Rather, their form is changed so they will not adhere to any surfaces. This process works without any chemicals, unlike salt-based water softening systems. A salt-free softener removes minerals via precipitation while also lowering the surface tension of the water.

These systems also utilize special carbonate crystal structures. They attract dissolved calcium and magnesium, then remove the mineral particles from the water by integrating them into the crystals during filtration.

These carbonate crystals travel all through your plumbing system. They are suspended, and essentially act as seed crystals. They buffer the effects of scaling in water pipes by absorbing excess minerals into their structure.

Salt-free systems also do not require backwashing, which is a water-wasting requirement of salt-based systems. Therefore, these systems produce no harmful salt brine discharge, which can be a source of pollution to local water supplies.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of soft water without the use of salt, we highly recommend our Pelican NaturSoft Salt-Free Water Softener System. Pelican Water is the market leader in salt-free water softening systems, so you can trust that our products will produce cleaner, purer water for your home.

Salt Softening

The other option to soften your water is a traditional salt-based water softener system, which is probably more familiar to most people.

Salt-based systems use an electric, metered valve on top of a resin tank that meters water per gallon. It runs a cleaning cycle when the ion resin bed is fully saturated. Water goes through the mineral tank, and the calcium and magnesium ions are lost to plastic beads with a negative charge. The brine tank has a saltwater solution that flushes out the mineral tank and replaces the mineral ions with sodium ions. The result is ‘soft’ water for your whole home.

If you want a traditional salt-based system, considera Pelican Advantage Series Salt Water Softener. Our system features high capacity resin tanks, and a full five-year warranty on the electronic head. It also features a high flow rate, and a standard bypass is included. Our salt-based water softener system sets the standard for softeners on the US market.

The system is metered and only backwashes when needed, which greatly reduces water waste. So, our Pelican salt-based system is a great choice for water softening with minimal environmental impact.

Which Is Better?

Both systems have advantages. A salt-based system gives the water a slicker feeling and your bath soap will create more bubbles. You also will notice your clothes are brighter and those spots on the shower walls will be long gone.

With salt-free systems, you will see less scale build up, less soap usage, and possibly brighter laundry. The big plus is that there is no maintenance needed with a salt-free system, and you will not cause any of the potential environmental harm that is associated with brine discharge from salt-based softeners. This is the reason that a few localities particularly in California have issued outright bans of salt-based water softeners. Check with your local water company regarding regulations in your area.

The bottom line: Which is ‘better’ really depends upon your priorities. If you prefer convenience and environmental protection (or are not allowed to have a salt-based system in your area), then the salt-free option is probably a better fit. For complete mineral removal and extremely soft water, the salt-based system may be the better choice. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality system from Pelican Water.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter