Drinking salt-based water. You might be wondering, why would I do that? Are there benefits? How does a salt-free water softener work?
All living things need water to survive, but if you don’t know much about water other than what comes from the tap or bottle, odds are you’ve never heard of a salt-based water softener.
There is a lot of information about drinking water. But let’s get one thing clear about salt-based water, it’s different than a salt-free water softener.
Here’s a little background information.
Water softeners create a brine solution that flushes the water of calcium ions or chalk. When a softener is providing water, the chalk is removed by ion exchange and replaces the calcium for sodium. Hard water flows through the softener and this process is repeated over and over again.
Once it’s softened to its furthest point, regeneration beings and the sodium is exchanged for calcium again. This leaves behind small, safe traces of sodium in the water. There are other alternatives than salt in water softeners.
So where does the battle of salt vs salt-free water softener begin and end? Let’s find out through these seven facts about salt vs salt-free water softener.
1. Salt-Free Water Softeners Don’t Soften Water
It’s right in the title. Let’s get off to a hot start.
Salt-free water softeners don’t actually soften water. They are water conditioners and don’t go through the hard water reduction process. Hard water is the result of excess mineral content in the water.
These minerals are calcium and magnesium. A salt-based water softener will remove those minerals, unlike the salt-free system that crystalizes the calcium.
2. There Is Salt in Tap Water Mains
Across the United Kingdom, mains water contains sodium. This is all regulated by the Drinking Water Inspectorate that has determined a maximum of 200 mg of sodium is allowed.
During the softening process, 46 mg of sodium is added to water. Depending on location, more sodium will be existent in the water.
3. Taste Depends on the Individual
Noticing a difference between salt vs salt-free water softeners is the in taste buds of the drinker.
Everyone has a different perception of taste. The existence of chalk in water has become second nature to most individuals. They believe it’s the way hard water should taste.
As far as softened water, mentions of boiled or flat water, metallic taste and no difference have been noted. Many individuals also claim that softened water tastes “clean and fresh”.
Generally speaking, if you don’t know the difference between salt-based and salt-free water softeners, you might never know from a taste test alone. It’s a lot less glaring than the name gives off.
4. Salt-Based Water Softeners Use Three Types
If you’re using a salt-based water softener, odds are you’ll be using one of these three types of salts.
Salt pellets are the most common type of softener salt and the cheapest. These pellets are added to the tanks of water softeners and help in facilitating the water softening.
Salt crystals are most common in home water softening systems. They are smaller in size but seem to act the same as pellets without much difference.
Finally, the last option is block salt. This type of salt is hardly used in the softener process. In fact, its never recommended to be used. The only time block salt is used is when the brine tank can operate under maximum saturation.
There are also a few different pellets including evaporated, solar, and rock salts. All of these salts range in purity levels and of course price. Choosing the best salt for your salt-based softener is up to the user entirely.
5. Salt Purity Makes a Difference
By far the single most important factor in the water softening game is salt purity.
The purity for salt-based water softeners sets the salt vs salt-free water softener conversation up for failure. In a salt-based softener, if the purity isn’t focused on, there’s no competition.
The higher the purity levels, the more water water-soluble each salt variation is. It makes sense that pure salt will reduce the formation of masses of salt and will work to prevent the build-up of sludge in the tank.
As for the purity of the salt itself, consider this when adding. Your softener will perform light years better when you take into account the need or lack of need for more or less salt. Use less salt when it has a high level of purity, and by doing so, you’ll find that there is also less maintenance involved.
6. Salt-Free System Lacks Benefits
Not only do salt-free systems not soften water properly, they’re not certified to standards set by the National Science Foundation (NSF) standards set by the Department of Public Health.
The main process reduces the scale of the salt, but not much more. Unlike salt-based softens that bring the other effects of the water, salt-free softeners can’t meet the expectations.
7. Salt vs Salt-Free Water Softener Benefits
Unlike salt-free water softeners, salt-based water softeners come with a list of benefits.
Salt-based water softeners:
- Limits scale buildup
- Provides healthier, softer hair
- Leaves no stains on dishes/laundry
- Reduces the need for cleaning products
- Increases appliance efficiency
In the long run, it’s obvious salt vs salt-free water softeners is a one-sided argument. From saving you more money and providing pleasant water, the two systems aren’t comparable.
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