Defining Salt-Free Water Conditioners and salt-based water softeners will be the first step in your journey into the research and understanding between these products. Conventional water softener salespeople absolutely hate it when someone calls a salt-free conditioner a “Water Softener” and when you really understand how a salt-free conditioner works compared to a salt-based softener, you will understand why they hate it. To make matters worse, salt-free conditioners are not widely accepted in the water treatment industry yet, even though this is slowly changing as new open-minded people that actually understand the technology enter this industry and older people leave this industry. The historical definition of “Soften” water means to actually “Remove” calcium in the water. Salt-based water softeners (also known as Ion Exchange Softeners) do this through what is called an ion exchange process, where they exchange ions of sodium for ions of calcium. The calcium is attracted in the resin that has a sodium coating, then expelled down the drain in the regeneration process. Salt-Free Water Conditioners do not “Remove” the calcium from the water, they don’t remove anything from your water, and they don’t add anything to your water. They “Condition” the water using one of several processes, depending on which system you purchase. This conditioning process converts the calcium into a softer form of calcium known as “Aragonite” that will not build up on surfaces or corrode fixtures as un-treated limescale will. So in conclusion, Water Softeners “Remove Calcium” from your water and Salt-Free Water Conditioners “Condition Calcium” and leave it in your water. What's more, is that the Aragonite will begin actually coating the inside of your pipes and this coating helps in the build-up of limescale. As you begin your research into Defining Salt-Free Water Conditioners and start to shop for a salt-free water conditioner, the better you understand the verbiage the better off you will be when talking to different companies. Know What’s In Your Water Before You Start The Research: Knowing exactly what’s in your water means that you know the exact total water hardness and iron content before you start your research. I cannot begin to tell you how many calls I receive from potential customers that want to purchase a salt-free conditioner and when I ask them how hard the water is, their answer is “It's really hard”. What is “really hard”? Hard water is defined as water more than three grains hard. While most well water and municipal water will test between ten grains and twenty-five grains, some water will test much higher, as much as ninety grains, and even higher. While I hate to admit it, there are applications where salt-free water conditioners are not a good fit. These applications are usually where water exceeds thirty-five grains per gallon, and where sulfates are extremely high. High levels of iron can also be an issue. Nearly every call I receive from customers who have already purchased a conditioner from another company and are not happy with its performance was never asked what their water hardness was. How could that salesperson know which conditioner would treat that customer's water if they did not know how hard the water was? The answer to that question is this; not everyone qualifies as a good fit for a salt-free water conditioner, and not all salt-free water conditioners are the same. This is why we offer several different conditioners, some treat harder water than others, and all have different features including cost, performance, and installation differences. And as I pointed out earlier, there are some applications where the water is just too hard to use a salt-free water conditioner in. In these cases, I have to tell the customer that they need a conventional salt-based water softener. But I would rather be honest than deal with a customer that is not happy with the product they purchased from me. So before you begin, find out your water hardness. This can be done in several ways without spending too much money. If you need to, you can mail us a sample and we test water for free at our office. Details are on our website.