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Best Water Softeners of 2021 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

With a hot summer right around the corner, now is the time solve your hard water problems.

One would think the only time water is hard is when it’s in a solid state as ice. But, a little research, or perhaps a basic knowledge of water chemistry would reveal that water doesn’t need to be ‘hard’ to be hard. Calcium and magnesium are the two most common minerals that result in the hardness of the water.

How do they get into the water in the first place? Well, when water moves through soil and rocks, it dissolves small amounts of minerals, which then becomes part of the solution. Contaminants can also be absorbed in this process.

But, with regards to hardness, the concentration of water hardening minerals Is directly proportional to the water hardness level. It means that the higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium in a water supply system/sample, the higher the degree of hardness.

A process known as water softening has been devised to reverse the hardness of water and make it soft, just as it should be. The best Water softener machines have been created for the specific purpose of softening water. It does this by eliminating these minerals mentioned earlier.

It also gets rid of Iron ions because why take the chance of leaving elements of a hard element in something very liquid. It just doesn’t add up. And oh, just in case you’re still wondering why we have taken serious measures to eliminate hardness in water, stick around, and read the water softener reviews before buying one for yourself.

Why Do You Need a Water Softener?

It’s hard having to deal with the effects of hard water in your home. Now, while these minerals may not be toxic, they can be quite a pain to deal with. After all, it’s better to ingest your minerals from actual food.  So, why do we still want to get rid of the hardness in water?

Well, for one, we don’t want everything that water touches in your home to look like it came from the trash. We also don’t want your shower to look like it hasn’t been cleaned for quite some time.

The first sign, or symptom if you may, of hard water is that you notice your hands still feel slimy after washing with soap and water.

It shouldn’t be long until you notice the other symptoms. You start to notice water spots on the sink. Glass cups used in drinking appear cloudy, sometimes even after washing. Showerheads start to look rusty. Water hardness really takes things personally, attacking your coffee pots, leaving white deposits. What’s that about? And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hard water reduces the lathering of detergents during laundry and makes the detergent a lot harder to rinse off from the clothes. It’s like the hardness makes it reject everything it would otherwise embrace. White clothes can look much duller after being washed in calcium and magnesium concentrated water.

Deposits of these minerals may seem harmless at first, but it ravages your entire plumbing system over time. Accumulation of these minerals causes clogging in your plumbing channels (taps and pipes). After a while, it puts pressure on your plumbing system as a whole.

Now, just in case you don’t care about your plumbing, and maybe you could easily change your appliances, we have to mention one more thing. Soap and shampoo don’t lather up well with hard water, and so bathing with hard water leaves your skin feeling like you’ve been on a month-long vacation in a desert and your hair is more like a lion’s mane.

That’s a lot of dryness from something that is supposed to produce the exact opposite result. Earlier, we mentioned that hard water isn’t toxic; that’s not always the case. Hard water apparently has no regard for boundaries. Your body and hair aren’t replaceable. So, if you live in a place where the water is hard, maybe you will care enough about your skin to get yourself a water softener.

When you drink hard water over a long period, an accumulation of these minerals happens in your system. Recent research has found a link between some diseases and drinking hard water.

Mortal cardiovascular diseases, growth retardation, bone mineral deficiency, kidney stones, diabetes, constipation, cardiac arrhythmia, and even reproductive failure can all be linked to hard water consumption to some degree. You can read more information about this here.

If you were to choose between living with contaminated water and hard water or soft water, you might want to gather more information to make a decision. Even then, it still would not be an easy decision.

So, what do you do when you’ve decided you’re tired of those water stains everywhere? These water softeners, as you will learn, can help improve the quality of your water and remove those unwanted minerals.

5 Best Water Softeners 

#1 FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Softener

Courtesy of Clean Water Pros

Traditionally, water softeners are salt-based systems. The first benefit of FutureSoft water softeners is found in the product’s name itself: Salt-Free Water Softener. Futuresoft doesn’t leave salt brine after filtration. It is a dual-purpose system that filters and softens hard water.

Futuresoft comes with a pre-filter that removes dirt, dust, and other large particles. It also comes with high-quality KDF media to treat contaminants like chlorine, pesticides, chloramine, herbicides, sulfur, PFOA, PFAS, herbicides, heavy metals, and other industrial solvents. Also, it treats the filtered water that leaves you with healthy, great-tasting water.

Salt-free water softeners like Futuresoft use a physical process known as Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). This method crystallizes hard water minerals making them unable to stick, bond, or etch on your plumbing or appliances. In other words, Supersoft media used in the TAC process converts the hardness in the water to calcite crystals, which will not stick to anything even under extreme temperatures.

Pros

  • The company has a 6-month money-back guarantee for products.
  • Lifetime warranty on tanks and valves.
  • Softening is done without chemicals and salts.
  • The system does not waste time or discharge salt into the environment.
  • Prevents and cleans existing scales.
  • Reverses the damaging effect of corrosion and extends the life of your household appliances.
  • It does not require electricity.
  • The system can filter up to 1 million gallons of water.
  • It comes with ActivFlo Technology, which allows the system to operate at all flow rates.
  • Custom-built systems to match the water pressure demand in your home.
  • It ensures zero drops in water pressure.
  • Fast and free shipping.

Cons

  • Not ideal for small spaces or condos.
  • It does not come with a replacement filter.

Final Verdict

SpringWell has the most advanced technology in water filtration. Although the cost is relatively higher than other products, it has almost zero maintenance fee, and the cost of the missing replacement filter is negligible.

The most unique thing about SpringWell is that the filtration system is salt-free and thus environmentally friendly. Spring well is a recommended choice for many obvious reasons.

#2 SoftPro Elite Water Softener

Courtesy of Clean Water Pros

The SoftPro water filters have impressive features and satisfactory benefits. If you live in a hard water area and are looking to install a water softener, this is another one with high recommendations.

These filters are designed to drive the minerals that cause hardness of the water up through the already depleted resin and out to drain. This, in turn, saves both salt and the unused portion of the resin for future use. Talk about being efficient! Traditional ‘downflow’ softeners waste more resin.

SoftPro Elite Water Filters do something known as ‘Precision Brining’ Unlike SpringWell softeners, SoftPro does use chemicals and salt for its processes. Precision brining saves salt by pre-making only 70% of the brine just before regeneration. The system calculates the precise amount of brine that needs to be topped up to regenerate only the depleted resin. This process saves up to 30% more salt!

The SoftPro Elite conserves tank capacity and keeps your brine tank cleaner by adding only treated soft water to the brine tank rather than raw untreated hard water. Cleanliness is taken a step further by SoftPro. It refreshes your tank to prevent bacterial growth. The system uses a KDF55 Media guard filter that removes up to 99% of the heavy metals found in water, also chlorine, and bacteria.

Pros

  • SoftPro unit has a lifetime warranty.
  • There is a vacation mode.
  • It has a modern flow technology that saves salt and your money.
  • You only have to load the softener a couple of times a year.
  • It has a brine tank guard.
  • The work process is quiet.
  • Compatible with other home appliances.
  • SoftPro offers a one-year warranty period and up to ten years on the control valve.
  • Easy installation and operation.
  • Backwash frequency saves up to 2000 gallons of water.
  • SoftPro Elite filter doesn’t waste water and salt.
  • Friendly customer service.

Cons

  • You may require the help of a plumber for installation.

Final Verdict

SoftPro water filters might be hard to install, but the performance is outstanding. You can easily hire a plumber for the installation if you cannot do it yourself. But if you would like to eliminate stubborn water hardening minerals, SoftPro water filters will be the right choice for you.

#3 SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener

Courtesy of Clean Water Pros

Another product from SpringWell filtration systems, this time a salt-based softener, is the most reliable ion-exchange softeners on the market today. It is the best you can buy. The features and benefits of this product are exceptional all the way through. It softens your water, extending your appliances’ life and making you use 40% less detergent.

As stated before, the SpringWell salt-based softener softens water through a process known as ion exchange. Spring well is a company certified for the use of premium certified components in the manufacturing of their filtration system. This guarantees not just durability but optimum performance.

Hard water often occurs as a result of mineral build-up. It becomes quite a problem when it comes to your home’s plumbing and appliances. Using the SpringWell Salt Based Water Softener System will extend your household appliances’ lives by reversing the damaging effects of corrosion.

With breakthrough innovative technology, the SpringWell salt-based softening system head gives you complete control over your system. This system is equipped with Bluetooth technology accessible from your phone. As far as water softening systems go, this is a pacesetter in water softening and filtration technology as we know it.

Pros

  • The budget-friendly multi-cycle meter system.
  • Intuitive digital interface with Bluetooth.
  • Zero effect on water pressure.
  • Easy bathroom-based sizing.
  • 6-month money-back satisfaction guarantee.
  • User friendly.
  • Innovative Bluetooth making for easy control.
  • It can be upgraded to a whole house filtration system.

Cons

  • More expensive than other water softeners.

Final Verdict

First use and experience with SpringWell water softener reveal how this softener stands out from other cheaper softeners. Tanks are built with rugged polypropylene, and their sturdy feel is outstanding.

Brine tanks can hold more than 200 pounds of salt. The wide-mouth design makes loading the solutions very easy. The introduction of Bluetooth control is unmatched innovation and makes it both easy and convenient to operate.

For salt-based systems, SpringWell is like the iOS in operating systems. Definitely more expensive, but the performance speaks for itself. If you need to get rid of stubborn water hardening minerals once and for all. Then SpringWell salt-based water softener system Is your best bet to put your money on.

#4 Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener System

Courtesy of Clean Water Pros

The Fleck 5600 SXT is efficient to adapt to your daily needs of water usage. In the event of higher water demand, Fleck 5600 increases regeneration frequency to ensure that you get treated water.

The Fleck 5600 is an upgrade of previous models with impressive updates, which include an easy-to-use electronic interface panel with advanced programming features and diagnostic features.

The Fleck 5600 also uses the ion-exchange process to eliminate calcium and magnesium, which are the water hardening minerals. The SXT Fleck 6500 digital controller is integrated into the main valve.

You can set various parameters into a very precise unit to reduce water consumption. The Fleck 5600 can digitally calculate how much water has been used and regenerates only when it needs to.

Pros

  • A 10-year guarantee upon purchase of a unit.
  • Whole House Upflow Catalytic Carbon Filter.
  • Reverse Osmosis with Advanced Alkalizer Filter.
  • Large backlit LCD screen display.
  • Affordable price with the same quality.
  • The Fleck 5600 can be installed easily.
  • It can be installed even in small spaces.
  • Simple, easy to operate design.
  • Large 48,000 grain capacity for whole-home use.
  • Processes a safety float to minimize water usage.

Cons

  • It only comes in black color.
  • It requires occasional maintenance.

Final Verdict

The Fleck 6500 is a top sell water softener, and that is for a reason. Although affordable, the features are impressive, and so is the efficiency. The warranty is a big plus too, considering just how much you will be getting and at that price too. Fleck 5600 SXT is a water softener that is one hundred percent those we recommend.

This system walks the talk and stands out among its competitors. The Fleck does its job, and it does it well. The list of benefits is endless, but rest assured your plumbing and appliances will remain intact and even last longer. And you don’t have to worry another day about dry hair and skin caused by hard water.

#5 Pelican Advantage Series Salt Water Softener

Courtesy of Clean Water Pros

The Pelican Advantage Series Saltwater Softener provides softened water using salt or potassium. Three phases are involved in this process: The Backwashing phase, the Regeneration phase, and the Rinse phase.

Backwashing is the step where dirt is removed from the water. Although acknowledged as a phase of its own, it is a part of the regeneration process.

The regeneration phase involves the introduction of Sodium to displace calcium and magnesium, causing the hardness of the water. The water from the regeneration phase is then filtered of dirt in a process called Backwashing.

The GPM rate of the pelican is significantly better than some other water softeners in that same class. This is why it is a preference for many.  The pelican had a universal tank. It means that you can either use salt or potassium to soften your water.

Pros

  • The process can be automated. It runs smoothly and relatively quiet.
  • Has battery backup that can work for up to 8 hours in the case of a power outage.
  • Easy to install.
  • Has easy to master electronic buttons.
  • Generates zero wastewater
  • Affordable conditioner refills

Cons

  • The warranty is only for 12 years, and 7 years for the electronic head.
  • They can be quite expensive.

Final Verdict

With Pelican Advantage Series Saltwater Softener, the list of benefits is endless. This water softener will help keep plumbing and cooking appliances intact and they will last you longer. This one can be costly but totally worth the money.

Types of Water Softeners

Water softeners have 2 different variants: salt-free and salt-based softeners. There are four types of water softeners, namely Ion exchange, salt-free, reverse osmosis, and magnetic. Some are salt-based, some others are salt-free.

In this article, we’ve seen systems that use Ion exchange and are salt-free in the softening in water. In this session, we will explore these types, their similarities, their differences, and everything in between. Each system has some distinctions, which one should consider before buying.

Salt-Free Softeners

Salt-free water softeners are consumers’ favorite for a few reasons. Primarily because it is a chemical-free water softener. Salt-free water softeners use a filter, so no chemicals, salt, or potassium are required. It means that the minerals in the water are not altered.

The discrepancy between salt-free softeners and salt-based softeners is that salt-free doesn’t actually ‘soften’ water; it conditions it. It doesn’t remove the water hardening minerals but rather transforms them, making them unable to stick to surfaces. It does this in a process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC).

The simple advantage is that it does not require chemicals or salt to soften water. They are also cheaper and easier to maintain than their salt-based counterparts. However, the downside is that they are not recommended for very hard water and may not be efficient in eliminating other water contaminants like chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Salt-based water softeners are equipped with polymer resin beds. This is what attracts hard water minerals and replaces them with sodium ions. It is this removal of magnesium (Mg2+) and calcium (Ca2+) is what is known as “water softening.” A process known as backwashing involves the filtering of the water.

The resin bed comes to play again during a phase known as ‘regeneration.’ When sodium is introduced into the softening system, the displacement of calcium and magnesium is initiated. These hard water minerals now trapped in the resin bed are replaced by positively charged sodium ions.

Ion Exchange Softeners

Also called Cation Exchange Water Softeners, this type uses a simple exchange process. It exchanges the ions in the water with sodium or potassium ions. This removes the ions that cause the hardness in water. There is chemistry behind this. Minerals are ionic, which means that they possess an electric charge.

The possibility of ion exchange is based on the principle that opposite charges repel and like charges attract. As water passes through the system, the resin bed attracts the calcium and magnesium ions because they have a stronger positive charge than sodium. This is another mechanism that makes ion exchange possible.

During this ion exchange process, sodium ions produce a coating effect on the exchange medium in the softener. This exchange happens between the hardening minerals (calcium and magnesium) and the sodium ions as hard water is passed through a softener.

An advantage is that it reverses the effect of hard water by eliminating these hardness ions. This, in turn, prolongs the life of your appliances, including your washing machine and dishwasher, coffee pot too.

Reverse Osmosis Softeners (RO)

Reverse osmosis softeners use pressure to remove impurities through a semi-permeable membrane. Reverse osmosis removes Fluoride, Salt, Sediment, Chlorine, Arsenic, VOC, Herbicides and pesticide, and any other contaminants, up to 98% of impurities. It includes dissolved solids.

Reverse osmosis softeners have been said to be more efficient than water distillers in the elimination of water contaminants. Although RO doesn’t remove viruses and bacteria, the filtration process produces water that is healthy enough to drink.

Other advantages of reverse osmosis softeners are the reduction of sodium, bad tastes, and odors. RO is more environmentally friendly than bottled water. It’s simple to install and maintain and even fits under the kitchen sink.

RO systems have designated streams and taps. One stream carries the filtered water to a designated tap, and the other stream carries waste products to the drain. The brine or “wastewater” then carries rejected contaminants from a reverse osmosis system to the drain. It is an efficiency that can rarely be found in any other water softening system.

Reverse osmosis also has the added benefit of perpetually producing highly purified water in your home. With a reverse osmosis system, you can get bottled water quality hydration right at the comfort of your home. It saves you a trip to the mall and the cost of purchasing bottled water. You can bottle your water and store them in the refrigerator.

Maintenance of RO systems requires the replacement of filters once every 6 months to 1 year. The system itself can last up to 10 to 12 years. RO can also be used with other water softening systems. While the softener system ‘softens’ the water, the reverse osmosis system can rid your water from other contaminants.

Magnetic Softeners

The magnetic device is often used in the absence of the more common resin-based, non-electric ion exchange water softener. Magnetic water softeners are a water treatment system that claims to decrease water’s hardness by passing it through a magnetic field.

Since a magnet has both positive and negative charges, the idea of this system is to install a powerful magnet on the outside of your pipe; the magnet will pull or alter the ions found in your water before it enters your home’s plumbing system. This system is more effective on flowing water. And as a disadvantage, it doesn’t work on static water, like water sitting in a tank.

How to Choose your Water Softener?

If you live in a hard water area and are looking to purchase a water softener for your household, there are some factors to put into consideration.

Factors such as the level of water hardness in your home, the average water usage of your household, your budget, and also the technical functionality of specific water softener systems.

Considering these factors will give you a clear understanding of your needs and enable you to make informed decisions.

Do I Need a Water Softener?

First, you need to find out if the water in your home is hard. Check the water hardness map to get an idea of water hardness levels in your area. Just like many abnormalities, there are symptoms. The same is true for water hardness. So, before you decide on what system to install, ensure it can treat your specific symptoms of water hardness.

It becomes obvious when you notice deposits stocking in your plumbing appliances like your washing machine, dishwasher, or showerhead.

Bathing with hard water will also leave you itchy and irritated with dry skin. You also notice the insufficient formation of lather with detergents when doing your laundry or with soap and shampoo when in the shower.

Household Water Usage

Size is one of the most important factors to consider in choosing a water softening system. Water softeners come in different sizes and capacities. The SpringWell Futuresoft can process as much as 1 million gallons of water every year.

Some others can do less. Installing a large tank for a small household is just as inappropriate as installing a small one for a larger household. So, before you make a purchase, consider your options and see that you choose a system that will optimally serve your household’s water usage.

A family of five will generally consume a lesser amount of water than a family with extended members living in the house. Perhaps there is a member of your family that just won’t get out of the shower; that should be put into account as well.

Take an average of your water bill for the last 3 months. Take an average of the water consumption value, divide by 3, then by 4, then by 7, and there you have an estimate of your daily water consumption.

Water Hardness Value

It’s important to know the level of hardness in your water because then you can know how much mineral content you need to be removed from the water.  You can purchase a water quality test kit to check your water quality. Alternatively, you can send a water sample to the lab to get tested.

For some automated salt-based softeners, your water hardness value will be required when setting up your system. Softeners are rated by their total daily grain capacity or size in grains per gallon (GBG).

For example, there are 18,000 grain, 23,700, 34,900-grain, 900-grain capacity water softeners. You need to also put into consideration the regeneration frequency of the water softener. Household water softeners are usually rated by the number of hardness grains they can remove and the amount of salt they require for regeneration.

Another factor that can be considered in choosing a water softening system is the price. The best kind of investment you can make in this regard is to find an affordable product that has the right features to satisfy the needs of your household water supply.

Consider the cost of maintenance as well; the duration of the warranty is always a plus. Ensure you make your purchase from a reputable dealer.

How to Install a Water Softener?

Wikihow.com gives a complete outline of the installation procedure for a water softening system. So, you’ve put the necessary factors into consideration, you’ve made a choice, and you’ve put your money on a particular product.

Now you have to set it up in your home, a turn that dry skin around, regains the feeling of foaming up your game with shampoo.

Most products come with a manual, water softeners do too. An excellent place to start would be to read the user manual. Having a knack or skill for plumbing or household repairs would come in handy for installing a water softening system.

But no matter the system you opted for, the installation system would be the same or similar to the steps listed below. Before you start, endure that you have all the tools ready.

  • Since you just spent some amount of money purchasing this thing, you should at least take a look at the manual. Looking at the manual is the first step, which gives you written and possibly doctoral directions in the next steps to take.
  • You will need to drain the water lines by turning on all the faucets, taps, or outside hoses before you put water into the softener. And turn off the power and water heater too. Safety is a priority.
  • Next, you need to find a flat platform to place your water conditioner. The platform has to be level and dry. Sometimes your water softener comes with two tanks. You will need to place them side by side during installation.
  • Measure the length between the cold-water line and the bypass ports on the tank. This stage of the installation may require some soldering.
  • Next, you have to locate the head of the water softener and attach the discharge tube following instructions from the manual.
  • Using a screwdriver, place a bypass valve on the water conditioner’s head and adjust the screws.
  • A copper tubing comes with a water softening system, which carries water to the bypass valve. You will need to connect this tube to the water lines.
  • Water softener installation requires setting up the brine tank as well. Here, you will need to add about 40 pounds of salt to the chlorine unit.
  • Put your power back on and your conditioner into the backwash stage and set the service position’s bypass valve.
  • When a steady stream of water begins to appear on the drain, you can turn on the water valve.

When installing the system, allow the conditioner to run through the backwash cycle. Ensure your screws and nuts are tight. And finally, check the installation for leaks. You can find an installation video here.

But if all these still sound stressful to you, then kindly employ a plumber to help you out. Additionally, it’s best to add your system very close to the entry point of your home plumbing.

Conclusion: Which Water softener is The Best?

Water is essential for hydration and, therefore, for life. Water has a wide range of uses, probably more than any element in existence. Water is important in food preparation and cooking, sanitation, and hygiene, just to mention the basics.

Life as we know it would not be the same and possibly not exist without water. But as important as water is, it’s not without its fair share of problems. The wrong elements in water can reverse their life given benefits to just about the opposite.

Millions of people in history have died from water-borne diseases such as cholera. For our planet’s ideal survival and its occupants, plants, and animals alike, a healthy water supply is essential. ‘Soft’ water is healthy water.

However, some natural elements, calcium, and magnesium can find their way into a water source and ‘harden’ it. And hard water is toxic, uncomfortable, and, most importantly, unhealthy.

Living with a supply of hard water is uncomfortable in many ways, negatively affecting everything from your plumbing to your appliances and even causing dryness in your hair and skin.

To reverse the hardening of calcium and magnesium, a process known as ‘water softening’ has been developed, and specific systems have been created for it.

Beyond the reversal of water hardness, the process of reverse osmosis also eliminates up to 98% of other water contaminants in the form of dissolved metals, etc. Standard household water softeners will remove nearly all the calcium and magnesium from the raw water during the softening process.

If you live in a hard water area, it would be wise to have a water softener installed in your home. Every softener reviewed in this article has specific features, with prices ranging from affordable to expensive. From small sizes for small households to larger ones suitable for high water usage.

From salt-free to salt-based systems. From electrical-powered to battery-powered softeners in the absence of electricity. From digital, user-friendly interfaces to one that grants you control of your water softening system on your phone using Bluetooth technology.

These water softening systems will solve your hard water problems and provide you with great tasting healthy water that preserves and even extends your appliances’ lifespan. And these services are available 24/7, talk about reliability.

The reverse osmosis system is special for its ability to produce bottled water quality of drinkable water at the comfort of your kitchen—Digital user-friendly interfaces.

There’s got to be one that suits your needs and your budget. Just in case you need extra motivation, here are a few advantages of having soft, healthy water instead of the disadvantages of hard water mentioned earlier.

  • Protect for your plumbing
  • Easier cleaning – no more hard water stains on fixtures, appliances, or clothing
  • Fewer detergents and soaps are required, which saves you money over time
  • Increased longevity of water-using appliances (no mineral buildup on their insides!)
  • Softer skin and hair
  • Cleaner, spotless dishes, and cutlery

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