Updated: June 10, 2021 by Zac Harding
Iron, magnesium, and calcium are among the most common elements that make well water hard. Hard water can cause problems at home—it leaves soap scum and scale buildup on your plumbing fixtures, bathroom fittings, and appliances. Plus, it can dry up your skin and hair.
Don’t let the hard well water issues overwhelm you because you can get rid of them with the right water softening system.
Choosing the best water softener for well water should not be a hassle if you know exactly what to look for. We have conducted detailed research and found nine products that are uniquely designed to soften well water.
Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener is our top choice for this review roundup. This is a combination system designed to remove hardness minerals like magnesium and calcium. It is also rated to remove up to 6-8 ppm of iron, making it our overall best water softener for well water with iron.
The Best Water Softener for Well Water Reviews Are:
1. Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener — Best Overall
Water obtained from a well can leave scale buildup in your plumbing faucets and fixtures. To cure this problem, install the Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener from AFWFilters near the spot where well water enters your home.
The most impressive feature of this system is its dual functionality, acting as both a water softener and iron filter. We rate it as the best water softener for well water with iron because it is capable of removing 6 to 8 ppm of iron, up to 75 gpg of hardness, and up to 6 ppm of manganese. The system is incredibly easy to install in your plumbing, thanks to its bypass and one-inch connection.
The digital metered regeneration ensures that the system only regenerates when it is necessary, so you conserve water if you consume less. If water consumption goes up, then the water softener regenerates more frequently to meet the demand.
- Digital-metered regeneration
- High-performing iron filter
- 64,000-grain capacity
- Plastic bypass
- One-inch male yoke
- Round brine tank
- Fine mesh resin
- Installation instructions included
- High grain capacity of up to 64,000
- Eliminates hardness of up to 75 GPG
- Filters iron levels of up to 6-8 PPM
- Easy installation with bypass valve and one-inch connection
- The digital metered valve is easy to program
- Programmed data is lost when the power goes out
- Some models may arrive in a damaged box
When compared to the competition, the Iron Pro 2 emerges as the overall best water softener system for well water. Its dual function makes it stand out.
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
2. On The Go OTG4-VM-DBLSOFT Water Softener — Best Portable Design
You could end up using well water while traveling in your RV. In such a case, you would want a system with a compact design and will fit in tight spots in your mobile home.
This great model from On The Go is what you should be looking for.
This single-tank water softening system is capable of regenerating in under 30 minutes and providing up to 1,600 gallons of soft water or a supply of up to approximately 40 days. The compact design is a space-saver, making it a great choice for a smaller household. This unique system uses common salt, which is good because this type of salt is cheap and goes easy on the maintenance cost.
You will appreciate the large mouth of the water softener, considering how easy it is to add salt. You’ve got a convenient carry handle at the top for lifting the system from one place to another.
- Up to 1,600 gallons
- Works with common salt
- Compact, portable design
- Back-flush adapter
- Standard hose connection
- The compact design is portable and space-saving
- No electricity needed, cutting down on maintenance cost
- Easy to configure a reverse connection with the included back-flush adapter
- Uses common salt, reducing maintenance cost
- Inexpensive price tag that fits most budgets
- No digital meter for smart monitoring and control
- Some models may not work with a standard hose
If you travel a lot in your RV, this space-saving and budget friendly unit can help you reduce the hardness of well water you may encounter on your trips.
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0
3. Pentair WS48 Water Softener — Best Resin Quality
The calcium, manganese, and iron in your well water can damage your home appliances and also affect your skin and hair. These are problems you can solve with the Pentair WS48.
This model comes equipped with a 10% crosslink resin, which is great because it does a good job of removing magnesium and calcium ions as well as small amounts of iron. The 10% crosslinked resin is more durable and usually lasts two to three years longer compared to the conventional 8% crosslinked resin. The resin also comes pre-filled, which means less maintenance and more water regeneration.
It is a meter-based system that regenerates when needed to reduce water waste.
- 48,000-grain capacity
- A flow rate of 14 GPM
- Digital meter regeneration
- Backlit LCD
- 10 percent crosslink resin
- 14 by 33 brine tank
- Bypass and adapter included
- Only regenerates when needed
- Backlit display and touchpad buttons are easy to navigate
- Removes magnesium and calcium ions effectively
- Resin lasts longer
- Prefilled resin reduces maintenance cost and time
- Could come with important missing parts or accessories
The Pentair WS48 ticks all the boxes in terms of ease in installation, superior softness and flavor, durability, good tech support, and value for money. However, look out for missing parts with some models.
Overall Rating: 4.6
4. iSpring RCC7 Water Softener — Best for Removing Sediments From Well Water
It is unbelievably easy to reduce the hardness of your well water and get rid of sediments and other contaminants with the iSpring RCC7.
At first glance, this system may appear complicated because of the many parts that come with it, but it can be one of the easiest do-it-yourself projects. It should take you roughly two hours to complete the installation with the help of your user manual, a video tutorial, and even tech support via phone.
The water softener part of this system is innovatively designed to remove up to 99% of calcium, magnesium, and other hard minerals from your well water. As an added advantage, the filter helps remove other contaminants from your well water.
- Up to 75 gallons per day
- Multi-layered filter
- High-performing drain saddle
- High-quality water detector
- Feed-water adapter
- Works for up to 75 GPM in one day
- Removes up to 99 percent of magnesium and calcium
- High-quality leak-free system
- Offers reliable expert tech support
- Removes sediments and other contaminants
- Many parts may make installation confusing for some people
This whole-house system is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty and a one-year money-back guarantee. It is also one of the best systems in the industry for softening water and removing sediments and contaminants.
Overall Rating: 4.6
5. Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener — Best DIY Instructions
Have you been looking for a compact water softener for your well water supply that is super easy to install? Look no further than this unit from Fleck.
This system needs a separate brine tank, which is used to occasionally flush out the main filter. The digital meter efficiently measures your water usage, so it only regenerates when needed. This high-performing technology saves on salt and water consumption. You’ve got a prefilled resin tank, which reduces maintenance.
- 32,000-grain capacity
- Preloaded resin tank
- Digital meter valve
- Float feature in the brine tank
- Touchpad controls
- Metered on-demand valve is easy and quick to program
- The included float feature does a good job of controlling brine levels
- The system monitors water usage and regenerates when needed
- The bypass and one-inch yoke add versatility when installing the system
- It is very effective at removing hardness minerals
- Supply lines for this water softener are not included in the package
This is a great water softener for private well water. It is also a great choice for homeowners who are planning to upgrade their water systems. The downside is that you may have to incur additional costs for supply lines.
Overall Rating: 4.6
6. Premier Well Water Softener — Best Combo Design
If you’re looking for a combo water system that is uniquely designed to remove hardness and filter iron from well water, then the Premier Well Water Softener fits the description.
Unlike conventional water systems, this model comes equipped with a fine mesh resin, which is great because it has proven to be very effective at reducing hardness minerals and iron from your well water. The resin is rated to remove up to 50 GPG of hardness and up to 6 ppm of iron levels. You’ve got a KDF Process Media that does a great job of controlling scale, fungi, algae, and bacteria buildup.
- Fine mesh resin
- Hardness of up to 50 GPG
- Iron levels of up to 6 ppm
- KDF Process Media
- Digital meter valve
- Durable 12 by 52 mineral tank
- Has an incredibly high hardness removal rate of 50 GPG
- Removes iron levels up to 6 ppm
- One-inch bypass improves versatility
- Does a great job of filtering debris from your well water
- Helps prevent the buildup of scale, fungi, algae, and bacteria
- DIY installation may prove challenging for some people
Although installing this system may be a headache for some people, once it is installed it does a wonderful job of reducing hardness and iron levels from your well water.
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0
7. Tier1 WS-165-150 Water Softener — Best 3/4-Inch Connection
Get the Tier1 WS-165-150 Water Softener, and it will help you evict hard water minerals like manganese and calcium. This system will do more than protect your plumbing fixtures and appliances. It will also help reduce soap consumption and improve the lifespan of your appliances.
You’ve got a digital meter control at the top of the resin tank, which is good because you can program the system to regenerate only when necessary. This water softener features upflow regeneration. So, it drives the magnesium and calcium ions upwards via the already depleted beads and out through the drain. This means you will be saving a lot on salt as well as unused resin.
- 48,000-grain capacity
- A flow rate of 11.2 GPM
- Digital meter valve
- Manual bypass valve
- 3/4-inch connection
- Quick connections
- Fully adjustable cycle times
- The system is precise, reliable, and easy to operate
- Allows for fully adjustable cycle times
- Very effective in removing hardness minerals
- Protects plumbing faucets and appliances from scale buildup
- Helps extend the life of your laundry
- The system does not come with a low salt indicator
This good-quality water softener is a great choice for homeowners running well water. It can also be used with either sodium chloride or potassium chloride, depending on your preference and budget.
Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5.0
8. Hansing Whole House Water Softener — Best Salt-Free Model
If you have problems with salt-based water softeners, you could use this water softener alternative from Hansing.
It is recommended for well water with a hardness of less than 23 GPG. What makes this system special is the cartridge, which is made up of polysaccharides and activated carbon. Apart from reducing water hardness, the cartridge does a great job of extracting odors and bad taste from your well water. We truly appreciate the radial flow design of this system, which improves anti-clogging ability.
This system, however, doesn’t change the hardness of the water over one night. You will have to give it a few days. Finding aftermarket or replacement cartridges may be challenging.
- Salt-free design
- 280,000-grain capacity
- Polysaccharide and activated carbon cartridge
- 304 stainless steel housing
- Mounting brackets and screws included
- It does not use potassium or sodium to reduce hardness
- Does not produce wastewater and does need backwashing
- Reduces hardness and removes bad odors
- Improves well water anti-clogging ability up to seven times
- Has a considerably high grain capacity
- It may take a while to see convincing results on your plumbing fixtures
- Finding the ideal cartridge replacement can be challenging
This system is a great option for people who don’t want to use salt. It is designed to reduce hardness, eliminate bad odors, and improve the taste of the water.
Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
9. Aquasana EQ-WELL-UV-PRO-AST Well Water Softener — Best for Contaminant Reduction
Get great-tasting, clean well water flowing out of every tap in your home with this amazing water softener from Aquasana.
What we truly appreciate about this system is the unique multi-flow technology. Unlike conventional water softeners out there, this model from Aquasana uses a three-stage multiple tank process to control the direction as well as the speed of water flow. This helps optimize the amount of time your well water is in contact with the softening media. The technology also prevents channeling, clumping, or mixing.
- Salt-free system
- A capacity of 500,000 gallons
- Multi-flow design
- Unique upflow
- Sediment filter and activated carbon filter
- Multi-flow design controls direction and speed of flow
- Prevents channeling, mixing, or clumping
- Increases water contact time and prevents clogging
- Has a considerably high capacity of up to 500,000 gallons
- Long-lasting and cost-efficient option
- It is not designed to remove total dissolved solids
- Do-it-yourself installation may be a problem for some people
This amazing Aquasana water system will help protect your plumbing fixtures and home appliances from hard mineral buildup. Take note that it is not designed to remove total dissolved solids.
Overall Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Things to Look for in the Best Water Softener System for Well Water
Buying the best water softener for well water can be a challenging task, especially if it is your first time. How do you intelligently choose among the wide array of products on the market today?
The following factors will help you find the best water softener system for well water.
Types of Water Softeners for Well Water
There are three popular types of water softening systems: salt-based water softener, salt-free water softener, and electronic water descaler.
Salt-Based Water Softener
A salt-based system is made up of a brine tank and a resin tank with a control valve. All the water in your house passes through the media/resin tank and passes over the resin/beads.
Ion exchange occurs in the media tank. The hardness minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and traces of iron are replaced with sodium ions and passed out of the system. You’ve got a meter inside the valve that measures the number of gallons that go through the system. When you get close to exceeding the capacity of the resin to soften any more water, the resin will be regenerated and the tank needs to be cleaned out.
There are two types of salt-based water softeners you can use with well water: upflow and downflow systems.
Upflow Vs Downflow
This is an important factor to look at when you consider water and brine efficiency. Brine efficiency (grain per pound) refers to how much salt the system uses to extract hardness minerals and iron from your well water. Water efficiency (gallons per regeneration), on the other hand, refers to how much water the softener uses during the regeneration process.
In a downflow system, the brine flows through the water softener in the co-current direction. In an upflow system, the brine goes through the water softener in the countercurrent direction.
This feature makes an upflow system more brine and water-efficient compared to a downflow system. An upflow water softener will only recharge the resin that is depleted and pushes the hardness away from the resin.
Salt-Free Water Softener
Salt-free water softener systems use template-assisted crystallization to reduce hardness in well water without the use of salt. This type of water system sends water through a fluidized bed of millions of tiny beads.
Hard minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron interact with the bead surfaces and create soft scale microcrystals. The microcrystals rapidly break off due to the flow of moving water and are released as inert particles. These microcrystals continue to snowball through the water softener, picking up other hard minerals. The restructured molecular makeup of the microcrystals does not form destructive hard scale buildup on plumbing fixtures.
The biggest problem with this system is that it doesn’t remove the hard minerals from the well water. All the calcium, magnesium, iron, and other elements will be present in the water in the form of microcrystals. This explains why the water is never truly soft.
Electronic Water Descaler
An electronic descaler doesn’t use template-assisted crystallization or ion exchange to crystalize or remove hard minerals from well water. Instead, it introduces an electromagnetic field into the water that restructures the properties of magnesium, calcium, and iron. This ensures that the deposits pass through your plumbing fixtures without sticking on the surfaces. Like a salt-free water softener, this system doesn’t remove hard minerals and iron from your well water.
Sodium Vs Potassium Resin
Salt-based water softeners, which come highly recommended for well water, can use either sodium or potassium. Both do the same thing of replacing hard minerals during ion exchange. Potassium chloride replaces magnesium, calcium, and iron with potassium ions, while sodium chloride replaces calcium, magnesium, and iron with sodium ions. But you will certainly use more bags of potassium chloride as compared to sodium chloride. Potassium resins are more expensive but septic-friendly.
How to Size a Water Softener
As an example, we will work through the sizing calculation for a typical family of four. Apart from the number of people in the household, you also need the number of gallons each person uses per day, the hardness of the well water, and the iron levels of the water.
You can determine the hardness of your well water with a water kit and iron levels with an iron test kit. On average, a single person can use roughly 75 gallons per day. Let’s estimate the hardness of the water to be 20 grains per gallon (GPG) and the hardness of iron to be 5 GPG. The daily grain of hardness to be removed will be 4*75*(20+5), which is 7,500 grains per day.
The best water softener for well water will regenerate once every week. So, if we multiply this value by 7, we will get 52,500 grains. To find the best water softener for well water with iron for this example, we have to match the 52,500 grains to the most ideal capacity on the sizing chart. This family of four will get the most effective results with a 64,000-grain system.
Can a Water Softener Remove Total Dissolved Solids From Well Water?
A water softener is not engineered to remove total dissolved solids or TDS from your well water. However, it will remove minerals causing hardness in your well water like magnesium and calcium through a process called ion exchange.
Do Water Softeners Remove High Levels of Iron From Well Water?
Generally, water softeners are designed to remove a certain amount of iron from your well water. This can be six to eight parts per million. So, if your well water has too much iron in it, then you will be better off with city water or water from a different private well with less iron content.
Are Salt-Free Water Softeners Ideal for Well Water?
You can choose to use a salt-based or salt-free water softener system with your well water. However, remember that salt-free systems don’t remove the hard minerals from the water. So, you will not get truly soft water as you would with a system that uses salt.
How Long Does Water Regeneration Take?
A water softener usually takes about two hours to regenerate. The water service is normally interrupted when the system is regenerating. Most systems are programmed to regenerate at around 2 to 4 am when everyone is asleep.
When Is the Right Time to Change the Cartridge in a Salt-Free Water Softener?
It depends on your usage and water hardness. You can physically observe the cartridge for significant changes. Alternatively, you can boil a small amount of water obtained from the system. If you see any sediments, then it is time to replace the cartridge.
For this roundup, the winner is Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener. It is our overall best water softener system for well water because of its ability to remove the hardness of up to 75 GPG and iron levels of up to 8 ppm. The system is also capable of removing sand and sediment from your well water.
This is a salt-based water system. So, it is very effective in removing magnesium and calcium ions by replacing them with sodium. It has a considerably large capacity of 64,000 grains, making it a great choice for well water with hardness ranging from 41 to 75 grains per gallon.