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Citric Acid Water Softener Guide: How Do They Work?

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

Citric acid water softeners are an eco-friendly solution for homes experiencing difficulty with hard water issues and mineral deposits.

By using the natural power of citrus instead of salt, agents bind to the metals and minerals present in water, preventing the problems coming from the accumulation and scaling of hard water.

What Is a Citric Acid Water Softener?

A citric acid water softener is a salt-free solution for treating hard water to remove excessive mineral deposits on your surfaces, dishes, appliances, and pipes.

Citric acid water softener

In the United States, 85% of homes have hard water, putting your plumbing, dishes, and even your skin at risk of problems caused by high mineral content.

If allowed to persist, the minerals build up in scale deposits.

These can lower your water pressure and leave behind unwanted stains on your laundry and household surfaces. It can also cause your appliances to overwork and burn out faster.

Your health is at risk with hard water as well. It can contribute to dry skin and hair and may change your skin’s ability to protect against harmful bacteria and infections by changing the pH balance of your skin.

Using this type of softener reduces the number of minerals left behind by hard water, resulting in cleaner pipes, longer-lasting appliances, easy-to-clean surfaces, and healthier skin.

How Do Citric Acid Water Softeners Work?

Citric acid water softeners work by slowly releasing small amounts of citric acid into your water supply. It binds to the mineral ions and flushes them away, avoiding the harmful buildup.

Traditional water softeners rely on salt to treat water systems.

These systems often require an electrical supply and a wastewater drain to work properly. The result is soft water that may have a salty flavor.

In comparison, using a citric acid water softener is effortless and requires little maintenance. After a quick installation, the removable cartridge will slowly add citric acid to your water.

When a citric acid cartridge is depleted, you swap out the easy-to-replace cartridge and continue using your water as normal. Some systems are designed to go six months on one cartridge.

Once installed, the softener requires little maintenance and is an effortless solution to hard water. You can forget about regularly adding salt or dealing with heavy bags while trying to maintain your softening system.

Pros & Cons of Citric Acid Water Conditioner

There are many pros and cons to using this type of water conditioner, but overall, it’s an excellent option that you’ll likely benefit from.

  • Get rid of hard water and scale deposits on pipes, dishes, and your skin
  • No electricity is required, and no wastewater is produced, making these water conditioners an eco-friendly solution
  • The easy to replace cartridges simplify maintenance
  • No need for bulky bags of salt which add an undesirable taste to your water supply
  • While not required, most people have their water conditioner installed by a professional
  • Existing mineral deposits might break up and flush through the system

Will Citric Acid Remove Hard Water?

Citric acid water conditioners do not remove hard water in the same way that salt-based water softeners do. Instead, by using a process known as chelation, the citric acid binds to the minerals and changes them so they won’t build up on your surfaces or in your pipes.

The result is water that behaves like softer water. It leaves your surfaces, appliances, and skin free from undesirable scale buildup and mineral deposits.

Some organizations define water hardness as the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. If viewed from this technical definition, these water conditioners do not truly remove hard water as they simply bind to it so it does not stick to surfaces.

For most people, the water treated with citric acid water softeners feels great. It won’t stick to your skin or surfaces, and scale buildup doesn’t happen inside your pipes and appliances.

How Much Citric Acid Do You Put in a Water Softener?

There is no need to add citric acid to your water supply. After the water conditioner is installed, you can be carefree and go about your day, using your water supply as usual.

The amount of citric acid put in a water softener is minimal and is based on the size of the softener system used. The cartridge automatically releases an appropriate amount of citric acid into the water over time, resulting in softer water.

The only thing you need to do is to replace the citric acid cartridge. The best systems use a cartridge that is designed to last six months and is easy for anyone to replace.

There’s no need to call a plumber, get large bags of salt, or do anything besides swap out refill cartridges.

Best Citric Acid Water Softener: NuvoH2O Review

The NuvoH2O Home Water Softener System is an ideal solution for homes dealing with hard water issues. It receives rave reviews from people who have installed the system due to its eco-friendly design and easy maintenance.

Nuvo H20 Citric Acid Water Softener
Nuvo H20 Citric Acid Water Softener

You can select from many different NuvoH2O citric acid water softener systems. If you have hard water, getting a system that treats the entire water supply is the best route to take.

There are multiple options for this brand of softener, so you can find a model that suits your budget and household needs.


NuvoH2O offers two different household treatment systems.

The NuvoH2O Home Water Softener system is the cheapest and costs upwards of $800. The system made for larger households, called the Manor Water Softener, currently costs around $1,200.

If you’d like to add a filter that will help correct the taste of your water supply, NuvoH2O has you covered there too. The Home Duo Water Softener with Taste Filter costs just over $1000, while the Manor Duo Water Softener with Taste Filter costs around $1,600.

NuvoH2O also has point-of-use systems if you don’t need a whole-house solution. These include more-affordable options for your dishwasher and water heater. The Nuvo Dishwasher System costs about $100. The Hot Water Heater System costs approximately $75.

These are an excellent way to preserve your appliances. They keep hard water deposits and scale buildup off of your dishes and skin.

Installation of the household systems can usually be taken care of in less than an hour by a qualified plumber, making the installation cost cheap compared to other systems which might require electricity and wastewater drainage.

To get a precise idea of how much it costs to install a NuvoH2O water softener, head over to the NuvoH2O Installer Locator website and call one of the recommended installers.

Maintenance & Use

NuvoH2O water softeners are low-maintenance, which is another reason they are a top choice.

The cartridges last approximately six months in the system, as long as they’re the appropriate size for the household. This timeframe for how often you need to change the filter depends on the actual water usage and might be shorter or longer than the estimate provided.

If you have well water, NuvoH2O is an ideal solution to help remove scale and mineral buildup. Some well water systems deal with other issues which may impact the taste or other mineral problems which the citric acid water softener does not deal with.

If that’s the case, then make sure to check out the Home Duo and Manor Duo systems. They include taste filters to help remove the hard water taste present in well water systems.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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