Using a water softener system is one of the most efficient ways to eliminate hard water.
However, the problem with traditional salt water softener is that they require maintenance (addition of salt) every few months, which may not be the ideal setup for most people.
In that case, you can opt for a water softener alternative that is equally as efficient as a standard water softener.
1. Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process that removes most contaminants found water.
In addition to removing contaminants, it can also eliminate minerals and other impurities that causes hard water. You can purchase reverse osmosis units for your entire home or individual units such as countertop or kitchen sink.
The reverse osmosis process is straight forward. Once the system is installed, water flows from an outlet in your home into a semi-permeable membrane. This membrane is designed to filter out contaminants and impurities. The outcome of RO process is clean, healthy drinking water.
The main difference between reverse osmosis and traditional water softening is that reverse osmosis filters water. On the other hand, salt-based water softeners use ionization to replace hard water minerals.
Reverse osmosis systems requires minimal maintenance, which makes them an excellent alternative to water softeners. You only have to replace the filter and membrane once in a while, but not often enough to make it a chore.
2. Electromagnetic Water Conditioning
Electromagnetic water conditioners use a magnetic field to eliminate minerals and impurities from water. They’re also called electromagnetic descalers or electronic water softeners.
An electromagnetic water conditioner works by using a metal coil to wrap around the main water line. The electricity in the control box then uses that coil to generate a magnetic field that prevents calcium and magnesium ions from sticking to the water pipes.
The main benefits of this system are that it is quiet, easy to install, easy to maintain, and doesn’t require any added chemicals. There are no filters to change or salt to refill.
However, one downside to note is that there aren’t many studies to show they’re as efficient as other methods.
3. Template Assisted Crystallization
Template-assisted crystallization (TAC) water conditioning unit uses a catalyst to turn hard water minerals into microscopic crystals that can’t bond to water pipes and other surfaces. This method is commonly used in salt free water softeners.
Once the crystals grow to a specific size, they break off and enter water before eventually flushing down the drain. They don’t build up as limescale
Template-assisted crystallization is a preferred alternative to salt softeners because it is compact, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly.
Studies have also shown that template-assisted crystallization units can be nearly 90% as effective as traditional water softeners.
Chelation is a method of water conditioning that changes hard mineral ions to prevent them from attaching to water pipes.
The main difference between chleation and other water softening methods is that it doesn’t remove the hard water minerals. Instead, it simply makes them less reactive.
A chelation conditioner can isolate some of the worst limescale causing minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Changing their ionic charge prevents those minerals from bonding to other chemicals that lead to mineral build-up.
Chelation methods have been popular on a commercial scale for a long time. It is cost effective and requires minimal maintenance. In recent years, chelation has become more popular for residential use. However, it’s still one of the least popular methods for hard water treatment.
5. Potassium Chloride
Potassium chloride is just as effective at softening water as regular sodium chloride water softener salt. However, you’ll need to use significantly more of it to get the same benefits. This makes it an expensive water softener alternative.
A benefit to potassium chloride is that it’s healthier than sodium chloride. In large amounts, sodium can be harmful to your health. On the other hand, potassium is considered an essential mineral.
Another benefit is that potassium chloride is more environmentally friendly than sodium chloride. High amounts of salt can be harmful to the groundwater. In contrast, plants can use potassium chloride as a type of fertilizer.
Is There an Alternative to Salt for Water Softener?
Yes. Using potassium chloride is one of the most common ways to replace salt in traditional salt-based water softeners.