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Update: The California Ban on Salt-Based Water Softeners


Homeowners have long chosen salt-based water softeners to rid their homes of frustrating hard water. However, the water waste that those systems produce, not to mention the salty wastewater that harms the environment, has caused some localities in California to ban them completely. These restrictions started about five years ago and have increased in recent months.

ban salt based softeners pelican water

Who Has Banned Them?

Some of the localities that led the charge in banning salt-based water softeners include the town of Dixon and Santa Clara County in California.
As of August 2014, more than 25 communities in the state have banned or greatly restricted the use of these water softeners. These areas include:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Orange
  • San Bernardino
  • Riverside
  • Ventura
  • Santa Barbara
  • San Marco
  • Tulare

Other communities in California are also mulling the ban of salt-based water softeners.

Why the Ban?

Due to a serious ongoing drought, California is particularly sensitive to water waste. Salt brine discharge from salt-based softeners can have a serious effect on the quality of water supplies that are needed for use in the home and agriculture. Further, the salty discharge cannot be easily filtered out with standard water treatment. This is because the softeners exchange sodium for the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium mostly) at a rate of 2:1, which is simply too much to be filtered out with conventional systems.

The only way to deal with the excess salt is to build an expensive wastewater treatment plant that uses reverse osmosis, which is beyond the means of most areas in the budget-strapped state.

These communities hope that they will be able to preserve their freshwater supplies as much as possible, and even reuse certain wastewater now that salt brine is being reduced. This water can often be reused to subsidize the existing supply in a town or city.

Reducing the use of salt-based softeners is an eco-friendly move for California and other states – such as Texas – that are concerned about long-term water resources during a major drought period.

How You Can Help

Using a salt-based system that dumps salt brine into dwindling freshwater supplies seems especially unnecessary when you consider the available alternatives such as the Pelican NaturSoft Salt Free Water Softener. The system is certified for 99.6% scale prevention, and softens water without using salt. Our salt-free system never wastes water and does not require any electricity for use. It also saves owners money over time because no salt replacement packets are required. Also consider that, due to salt-based softener bans in many areas, a salt-free system is the safer long-term investment.

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