Updated: June 10, 2021 by Zac Harding
Depending on where you live, hard water can be a big nuisance in your household. Hard water contains minerals that cause scale buildup in your plumbing fixtures and appliances. The usual solution is a salt-based water softener.
But what if you have medical problems related to sodium intake? What if you’re not fond of water that’s too soft, the usual end-product of salt-based systems? Thankfully, you have the choice to use a salt-free water softener as an alternative.
Unlike a traditional salt-based system, a no-salt system is more of a water descaler or a water conditioner. We say this because it alters the molecular structure of the hard minerals to reduce hardness, but it doesn’t remove them from the water. Minerals are an essential part of a healthy diet. If you are against the notion of eliminating essential minerals in water, then a salt-less water softening system is the right choice for you.
With so many products available on the market, it’s hard to know for sure which is the best salt free water softener for your home. That is unless you do massive research. We have taken the time to do the research on your behalf and found nine top models you can buy today.
Yarna CWD48 Capacitive Water Descaler System is our top pick. This salt-free system installs easily on pipes of up to four inches in diameter and works with different types of pipes like PEX, PVC, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and more. It does a great job of reducing the effects of magnesium and calcium in hard water.
The Best Salt Free Water Softeners Are:
1. Yarna CWD48 Capacitive Water Descaler System — Best Overall
Are you looking for the best salt free water conditioner that is engineered to reduce scale and rust buildup in plumbing fixtures and fittings? This capacitive water descaler system from Yarna is your best bet.
This system uses copper impulse bands that are made to firmly attach to the pipe. The water that flows through the pipe is treated via signal frequencies that change the crystallization of the minerals. Simply put, the process eliminates the adhesive capability of limescale. In the process, the limescale gets flushed with water. It also dissolves any present limescale buildup in your pipes.
- 2×50-inch impulse cable length
- 0.5-inch impulse cable width
- 4-inch maximum pipe diameter
- Easy to use command unit
- 60-inch power cord length
- 10-year warranty
- Mounts easily to any plumbing pipes or wall
- Does not have a hardness limit level
- Modifies hard minerals crystallization to remove adhesive power of limescale
- Dissolves existing scale buildups in the pipes
- Great choice for a family on a low-sodium diet
- It is only ideal for a small household
- Can take a while to see significant difference
Although it may take some time, around ninety days, to see incredible changes in your plumbing faucets and fittings, the Yarna CWD48 has proven to be a reliable option for small households in the long run.
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0
2. AO Smith Whole House Salt-Free Water Descaler — Best Template Assisted Crystallization
You are on your way to clean plumbing pipes and longer-lasting appliances throughout your entire home with this great water descaler from AO Smith.
This high-performing descaler comes highly recommended for a household of four people. It is uniquely engineered to reduce limescale buildup for up to six hundred thousand gallons of water. With this system managing your water supply, whether from the well or city, the lifespan of your appliances (dishwasher, water heater, washing machine, and more) will increase significantly. It is a salt-free system, which means no electricity and no maintenance cost.
The downside is that the descaler may take longer in some households to show significant improvement in water quality.
- Up to 600,000 gallons
- Works with well or city water
- Salt-free regeneration
- No backwashing
- Shut-off feature
- Hose adapter included
- Limited six-year warranty
- It doesn’t introduce sodium ions into your home
- No electricity, backwashing, or draining lines are needed
- Reduce limescale and other deposit buildups
- It works effectively with both well and municipal water
- Engineered to soften up to 600,000 gallons
- The system may take longer to improve water softness and quality
Ther AO Smith Whole House Salt-Free Water Descaler will let you experience the many benefits of salt-free water softening. However, don’t expect the system to work overnight. You might have to give it some time to deliver the best results.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
3. NuvoH2O Manor Salt-Free Water Softener — Best Chelation Process
This uniquely designed combination water system not only reduces the buildup of limescale in your pipes but also delivers good-tasting drinking water for the whole family.
This system features a scientific process that is popularly known as chelation. Hard minerals like magnesium and calcium are bound to the collating agent included in the cartridge, which needs replacement after every 50,000 gallons. Apart from managing hard minerals, this system also reduces the effects of chlorine and other contaminants to improve the quality of water.
The system is compact enough to fit into tight spaces and it is incredibly easy to install.
- Uses chelation process
- 10-micron carbon filter
- No electricity is needed
- Removes hard water scale buildup
- Quick and easy installation
- Chelation is a healthy alternative to sodium ion exchange
- The high-quality carbon filter improves taste and quality
- It is very effective at reducing hardness and scale buildup
- Does not take long to improve softness, taste, and quality
- The system is compact and fits easily into tight spaces
- May not be the best choice for a private well
- You may need to change the cartridges frequently, depending on your usage
This water softener and filtration system has proven to be a reliable choice for reducing water hardness and improving taste and quality.
Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5.0
4. Hansing Whole House Water Softener — Best High Flow Design
Improve the condition of your water without using salt with this great whole house water softener from Hansing.
With this system, you don’t have to worry about salting, fouling, programming a digital meter valve, backwashing flow rate, or incurring added electricity costs. The water softener is equipped with a descaler system made of coconut-activated carbon and polysaccharide.
The descaler will help change the molecular structure of hardness minerals to ensure that they don’t stick on your plumbing and appliances. It removes up to 95% of chlorine and bad odors.
You will need to give this water softener at least a couple of days or so before you start seeing real change in your plumbing faucets and laundry among other things.
- Up to 280,000 gallons
- 2 to 12 GPM initial flow rate
- 20 to 100 psi of applicable water pressure
- For water hardness of less than 23 GPG
- Unique high flow design
- No salt or potassium
- No salt or potassium means it is environmentally friendly
- The descaler element is very effective at reducing hardness
- The housing of the system is resistant to corrosion and temperature
- Reduces energy loss and improves lifespan of appliances
- Tested to remove lead
- Easy to install
- May take up to three days to improve the condition of your water
- Cartridge deteriorates with increased water usage and hardness
No need to be skeptical about buying this product as it has been proven to reduce hardness. All you have to do is give it time to work.
Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
5. HQUA 5000E Electronic Water Descaler — Best Quality Antenna Bands
Hard water in your home does more than just form scale buildup in your plumbing. It can cause your hair to entangle and even cause skin problems. You can improve the quality of your water with this great salt-free electronic water descaler from HQUA.
This salt-less water softening system comes with two antenna bands, which attach easily to your water supply. The bands introduce electromagnetic waves into the water, which change the molecular structure of calcium and magnesium to prevent them from sticking to your pipes and appliances.
Apart from preventing limescale buildup, the system ensures that any existing scales break down.
This system is designed to work with pipes of up to 1-1/2-inch in size and is capable of removing hardness of up to twenty-five grains per gallon.
- Antenna bands
- Maximum pipe size of 1-1/2-inch
- Maximum hardness of 25 GPG
- Regulated power supply
- One year money back guarantee
- Installs easily on pipes of up to 1-1/2 inches
- Prevents as well as eliminates scale buildup in water pipes
- Help reduce the blockage of showerhead and sink
- Improves the condition of your hair and laundry
- The salt-free design doesn’t need regular maintenance
- Not suitable for hardness levels of more than 25 grains per gallon
- Does not completely remove hardness minerals from the water
This model is one of the best salt free water softener systems for a small household with water hardness that doesn’t exceed 25 GPG.
Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5.0
6. iSpring ED2000 Water Descaler System — Best for Any Pipe Size
Reduce hard water problems without using salt, chemicals, or cartridges and prevent scale buildup in your pipes with the iSpring ED2000.
It is considered one of the best salt free water softeners for removing hardness of up to 19 GPG. It comes equipped with two-color coded bands, which makes installation extremely easy.
Unlike conventional electronic water descalers, this system can be installed on a wide range of pipe sizes. This system emits electromagnetic waves, which force hard minerals to break down into smaller molecules that get suspended in the water without clogging on pipes.
- Color-coded bands
- Regulated power supply
- Works with any pipe
- PEX and PVC compatible
- 10 to 19 GPG
- One-year money back guarantee
- The red and blue bands are easy to identify and install
- No need for plumbing modifications during installation
- Can work with any types of pipes (PVC, PEX, metal)
- Very effective in reducing clogging properties of hard minerals
- Uniquely designed to reduce energy consumption
- It will help improve the lifespan of appliances in the long run
- Constant power supply is needed for this system
This electronic water descaler is super easy to install even on PVC and PEX. It does a good job of reducing hardness.
Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5.0
7. Eddy ED6002P-US Electronic Water Descaler — Most Versatile Electronic Design
Eddy ED6002P-US is one of the best salt free water softener systems. It doesn’t use any salt or chemicals, making it environmentally friendly.
This UK-made electronic descaling device comes with color-coded antenna bands, red for output 1 and yellow for output 2. The bands mount easily on pipes of different sizes. The system generates a complex electromagnetic wave, which subjects your water to an ever-changing magnetic field. This activity reduces the adhesion or clogging properties of hard minerals and any limescale present in the water.
- No plumbing modifications
- No salt, chemicals, or cartridge
- Color-coded antenna bands
- Deals with hardness of up to 20 GPG
- Breaks down limescale
- Installs easily on most plastic or metal pipes
- Easy to identify output 1 and output 2 with color-coded bands
- Suitable for water hardness of up to 20 grains per gallon
- The salt-free system is highly environmentally friendly
- Reduces adhesion properties of magnesium and calcium
- May not be compatible with PVC or PEX water lines
- It may take a while to see significant changes in your plumbing fixtures
This uniquely designed electronic water descaler from Eddy works. But you will have to give it time to see a significant reduction in hardness and scale buildup.
Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5.0
8. APEC FUTURA-15 Salt-Free Water Softener — Best for 3 to 6 Bathrooms
This is a no salt water conditioner that can reduce your hard water limescale buildup without the use of unhealthy common table salt used by conventional water softeners.
This system uses a highly advanced ceramic media to catalytically convert the hard water properties of magnesium and calcium. This reduces the ability of the hard minerals to form scale and makes cleanup much easier for your showers, sinks, and washing machine, among other appliances. This water softener alternative is eco-friendly and suitable for households with children.
You have to be a bit patient, however, because this water softener alternative may take some time to reduce scale buildup on your sinks, showerheads, and appliances.
- Salt-free and chemical-free system
- Unique upflow design
- Advanced ceramic media
- 3 to 6 bathrooms
- 15 gallons per minute flow rate
- Neutralizes hardness up to 25 GPG
- Ten-year limited warranty
- The salt-free and chemical-free system is eco-friendly
- The advanced media works effectively to crystallize hard minerals
- Installs easily without the need for tech support
- Can remove the hardness of up to 25 grains per gallon
- The system is simply maintenance-free
- It may take time to see changes in hardness in some households
The FUTURA-15 from APEC is the best salt free water conditioner for a household with three to six bathrooms and water hardness of up to 25 GPG. You will have to wait as it may take some time to see changes in scale buildup.
Overall Rating: 4.1
9. Aquasana Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative — Best Multi-Flow Technology
Healthy living starts with healthy water, which is possible with this great salt-free water softener alternative from Aquasana.
What truly makes this system stand out is its multi-flow technology. This technology involves a three-stage multiple tank process that does a good job of controlling the direction and speed of your water flow. So, the system can control the amount of time your water is in contact with the media to prevent channeling.
- 500,000-gallon capacity
- Salt-free system
- Pre and post-filters
- Brass fittings (1” or 3/4″)
- Shut-off valves
- The multi-flow design minimizes channeling or mixing
- Designed to reduce hardness and filter out contaminants
- It is capable of delivering up to five years of hardness-free water
- The salt-free technology is eco-friendly and environmentally friendly
- Reduces the concentration of chlorine to improve the taste
- DIY installation may be confusing for some people
- Considerably expensive choice for a salt-free water softener alternative
If you have been looking for a no-salt whole house water system, then this Aquasana model is a good deal. Apart from reducing the hardness of your water, it also reduces chloramines and chlorine to improve the taste and quality.
Overall Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Things to Consider When Looking for the Best Salt Free Water Softener
If you think that salt-free water softening is the best for you, then you could get lost as to how to choose the ideal unit for your hard water problem. Take into consideration the following factors when searching for the top no-salt water softener.
Types of Salt Free Water Softeners
The best salt free water softeners can either be an electronic water descaler or a non-electronic water descaler.
Electronic Water Descaler
An electronic water descaler is made up of a main unit and two antenna bands: output 1 and output 2. The bands of the system may be color-coded for easy identification, or they may be of the same color. The bands are usually attached to the waterline. The systemis electronically controlled and can be installed on any type of plumbing pipe.
The electronic system introduces a high-frequency electromagnetic waveform into the flowing water through the antenna bands. The introduced waveform neutralizes the adhesion properties of hardness minerals like magnesium and calcium. This happens as the electromagnetic field agitates molecules of different sizes to break down any clogging between the water and the molecules. Thus, large mineral crystals are effectively converted into tiny molecules that have weaker bonding ability. Instead of clogging onto plumbing fixtures, the tiny minerals are suspended in the water and passed out of the system when you are using the water.
The electronic water descaling process also forces existing scales in the water to break down into tiny particles and then flushed out of the system.
- Installs easily on pipes of different sizes
- The system does not need chemicals, salt, or cartridge media to work
- Hard minerals and scales are broken down into tiny particles
- After installing, the descaler is maintenance-free
- The flow rate of the water and mains pressure are not affected
- Electronic water descalers are space-saving
- The system is highly energy efficient
- No backwashing or waster of water
- Electronic water descalers need a permanent source of power
- They don’t remove hardness minerals from the water
- Some models may not work with PVC or PEX water lines
Non-Electronic Water Descaler
Some of the best salt free water softener systems are not electronic, but they use cartridge media to reduce hardness in water. The media doesn’t remove hard minerals like magnesium and calcium out of your city or well water. However, it transforms the hard minerals into microcrystals, preventing them from sticking onto your plumbing.
The process that a non-electronic water descaler uses is referred to as template-assisted crystallization (TAC). Here is how the TAC process works. Instead of extracting minerals causing hardness in your water, the system turns the hard water minerals into low-energy microcrystals that have weakened adhesion property.
- This system does not need electricity to work
- Doesn’t need chemicals or salt
- It crystallizes hard minerals to weaken their adhesion property
- Reduce scale buildup in plumbing pipes, sinks, showerheads, and appliances
- Some models are uniquely designed to remove chlorine and improve the taste of the water
- Some models may not be certified to standards
What Size Is Ideal for My Home?
Unlike salt-based water softeners that have a defined water softener sizing chart, water descalers or conditioners come with a maximum rated capacity. Most models are rated in terms of the number of bathrooms they can effectively supply water. This can be one to three or three to six bathrooms. More advanced systems are rated in terms of the gallons that the cartridge or media can provide before replacement is necessary. This can be 500,000; 600,000; or even 1,000,000 gallons. Every 100,000 gallons is equivalent to one year. So, a 500,000-gallon capacity will last you about five years.
How Hard Is the Water to Be Treated?
This is another important factor to consider when looking for the best salt free water conditioner. Most non-electronic no-salt water softener alternatives are rated to emulate softening hardness in water in the range of 10 to 25 grains per gallon.
If you are using city water, you can always find out the hardness of the water from your municipality. Otherwise, you will need a water hardness kit to measure the hardness of the water, especially if you are groundwater such as well water. A typical kit is made of test strips and a total hardness chart. The test strips provide water hardness levels in parts per million or grains per gallon.
To test, dip a strip into the water for one second and shake off excess water. Hold the strip level and allow the color to form and then compare the test pad to the color chart to determine the hardness level.
What Is the Maximum Water Hardness for an Electronic Water Descaler?
Electronic water descalers don’t have a limit to what water hardness level they can handle. What you should be more concerned about is whether or not the system you are planning to buy will be compatible with your pipe size. Most models will install easily on 1-inch to 1-1/2-inch pipes.
What Do Non-Electronic Salt-Free Water Softeners Use to Soften Water?
Most water softener alternatives use advanced ceramic or activated carbon media to crystallize hard minerals in the water. What is good about this system is that the media material doesn’t use salt or chemicals, making it highly eco-friendly. The lack of salt makes this type of water softener ideal for people who are on a low-sodium diet.
Does a Water Descaler Completely Remove Hard Minerals from the Water?
No. Water descalers alter the molecular structure of the hard minerals to effectively reduce their bonding properties. But the minerals will still be present in the water.
When Should I Change the Cartridge in a Non-Electronic No-Salt Water Descaler?
The life of your cartridge depends on the hardness of your water and usage of water. You can always consult the brand’s tech support when you are not sure. Alternatively, you can heat a pot of water and observe any hot water sediments. If they appear, then the cartridge needs to be replaced.
Can I Use a Salt-Free Water Softener for Well Water?
It will do a decent job of preventing scale buildup in your plumbing, but it is not usually the most recommended choice.
For this roundup, the winner is Yarna CWD48 Capacitive Water Descaler System. Two important features make this model the overall best salt free water softener on the market. First, it can be installed on pipes ranging in diameter from one inch to four inches and works with pipes of any type (PEX, PVC, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and iron). Second, the digital display indicates that it is working.
The fact that it uses an electromagnetic waveform to change the molecular structure of hard minerals means that you don’t have to worry about replacement costs for salt, chemicals, or even cartridges. This system works with any hardness levels as long as you can successfully install it on your pipes.