Updated: April 7, 2021 by Zac Harding
If you have hard water in your area, you know the irritation that it can bring. Mineral deposits and limescale build-up on your faucets and showerheads, impacting the water flow. No one wants a weak and drizzly shower!
If you do not use water softeners or something similar to treat your hard water, it can lead to serious problems with your plumbing systems in the future.
You’ve done some research into water softeners, and you’re just not convinced. They are pricey, can be damaging to the environment, and they’re very high maintenance. They might even be banned in some states.
So you don’t want a water softener, but you equally cannot do without. Is there an alternative to water softeners? We are here to help walk you through your other choices and find a solution that works for you and your family.
What Can Happen If You Do Not Soften Your Water?
The most likely thing to occur is that your water pipes will become clogged. The minerals in the water will begin to build up on the interior of your pipes, reducing and eventually blocking the flow of water. This is similar to the manner in which plaque builds up inside your arteries.
In a similar vein, these mineral deposits can also impede the functionality of your home appliances that use water. These could include your dishwasher and garbage disposal among other things.
Hard water will not only negatively affect your house, but it can cause humans to have adverse reactions too. Common issues caused by hard water are dry skin and frizzy, dry hair. This is because the minerals draw water out of your skin when allowed to settle there, like when you are showering.
Is There an Alternative to Water Softeners?
Electrochemical Water Treatment
This is also known as continuous electrolytic deionization, electrically regenerated ion exchange, or capacitive deionization. This system uses electrical currents to dissolve minerals and other contaminants that can be found in your water supply.
A cathode (negatively charged electrode) is introduced to the water system. This will cause all of the cations (positively charged ions) in the water to move to the cathode.
Electromagnetic Water Treatment
These systems do not create any waste products, which is great if environmental factors are at the forefront of your mind. They are very quiet when in operation and do not require much maintenance.
They remove limescale from your home’s pipes and make it near impossible for it to re-form. There is no salt involved, reducing running costs further. They can easily handle large systems, meaning that they are suitable for sprawling mansions as well as teeny cottages. They are very fast to install and get running.
If you have a lot of electrical systems near to this water treatment it can become less effective. This is because the electrical charges will affect the magnets within the system.
The water that has been treated by the system must be used within 48 hours. This is because it is not held in contact with the magnets, which is what softens the water. If it is stored for longer than 48 hours, the water returns to its natural state of hardness.
Electronic Water Conditioner
These tend to consist of a box with 2 protruding wires. It is installed close to the location of the water line point of entry, often above the water pipe. The wires are wrapped numerous times around the water pipe to resemble coils.
The box will then send an electrical current through the wires around the pipes. This creates a magnetic field around the water supply. This is said to remove scaling from your pipes. It is hard to verify as not much scientific research has been done into these types of water softening systems.
Reverse Osmosis System
These systems can remove up to 99% of the solids that have been dissolved in your water supply. It cleans and purifies the water brilliantly, making it perfectly safe to consume.
Not only does it trap the solids in the water, but it can also remove impurities. These can include chlorine and fluoride which are commonly found in water. This makes your tap water as safe to consume as bottled water.
No energy is required to run this system meaning that your electricity bills will not go up, and the system will still work in the event of a power outage. They are very simple to maintain, only really needing filter replacements twice a year and membrane replacement every 2 to 3 years.
The downsides to this system are that it can be slow to filter your water, meaning that once the golding tank has been drained you must wait for it to refill. If your water supply contains high concentrations of chlorine this can cause problems with the internal components of the system.
The entire system must be cleaned and sterilized at least once per year.
Salt-Free Water Softener
Salt-free softeners are also referred to as magnetic water conditioners or physical water conditioners.
They run the water through a tank of either water or a catalytic substance. This forces the hard ions to cluster and prevents them from attaching to the sides of the water pipes.
Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC)
These systems do not need electricity, salt, or maintenance. No chemicals must be added and cleaning is not required regularly. The system softens the water through the use of ceramic-polymer beads.
The resin transforms minerals inside the water to crystalline forms instead of ionic forms. This allows them to be carried away in the water supply instead of building up on the interior of pipes.
Calcium and magnesium, 2 beneficial minerals, are left within your water supply. It is a environmentally friendly option and there is no backwashing, meaning that the system does not need to be connected to your drain. They have a very long lifespan.
We recommended adding a carbon filter to the system to remove chlorine before it enters the system. This will help to extend the lifespan of your system as a whole. It is also a good idea to help protect your system against iron particles.