Both these types of water softeners remove hard water minerals from the water. However one type is salt based, while the other does not use salt during the process.
Salt-based water softener
This type of water softener removes hard minerals from the water through a process called "ion exchange." During the water softening, magnesium and calcium minerals will be eliminated and replaced with sodium, also known as salt.
- This type of water softening will eliminate calcium and magnesium minerals from the water.
- A salt-based water softener will prevent limescale build-up on the surfaces, appliances, machines at home.
- With a water softening system, there will be less plumbing problems due to the prevention of mineral accumulation in the pipes, the appliances that use water will last longer.
Salt-free water softener
This type of water softener does not remove hard minerals from the drinking water system but stops the process of their accumulation in the pipes. The hard minerals become "crystallized" and can no longer attach themselves to any of the surfaces, including, the pipes, dishwashers, washing machines, sinks, and any other kind of surfaces around the house.
- Usually, costs less than salt-based water softeners.
- This method is suitable for users who are skeptical about using chemicals to soften the water.
- A salt-free water softener does not eliminate magnesium and calcium from the water but neutralizes it. This is an advantage, a limited amount, of minerals are beneficial for human health.
- This type of water softener is easier to install than the salt-based one.
- The maintenance costs of this appliance are much lower than the expense of the salt-based water softener.
- This system does not remove hard water chemicals from the water, which builds limescale in pipes, washing machines, dishwashers, various surfaces around the home, and affects the efficiency of the house appliances.
- Salt-free water softeners use electricity for the softening process, and it takes longer for the result to show, while the salt-based water softeners show much faster results, since the filtration process begins right away. (R)
Both salt-based water softener and salt-free water softener have advantages and disadvantages to them. We reviewed both kinds in our latest article Best Water Softener Reviews – Comparison of the Top Rated Systems! For those who prefer not having any calcium and magnesium in their water and wish to eliminate the development of limescale around their home, the salt-based softener is preferred. A salt-free water softener is suitable for users who are watching their sodium levels, would like to still have calcium and magnesium in their water for health purposes, and are looking for an easier installation of the appliance procedure.