For about the last ten years salt-free water softeners have become the dream of many marketing companies. It’s not like they haven’t always been out there – I’ve been in the water treatment business for 42 years and I have seen plenty of these types of companies come and go – but they are now here en mass.
I have often wondered why it seems that there are so many of these companies that have popped up lately. It seems to me that it started with Easy Water, who at one time called their system a saltfree softener but later had the conscience to change the name to a salt free conditioner. However, today if you Google Salt Free Softeners, you will come up with the following:
- Pelican Water Systems – America’s #1 Salt-Free Softeners
- Aquasana – SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener
- EvoClear – EvoClear Salt Free Softener
- NuvoH2O – Get Softer Better Water – Guaranteed
There are also many other companies selling what are purported to be “salt-free water softeners” but these are the ones that consumers ask us about the most. To be clear, the problem I have with these companies that they call their products “Salt-Free Water Softeners” when the definition of “Soft Water” is this:
Hard water is water that has high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water”). – Wikipedia
Water that does not contain high levels of dissolved solids such as minerals that make it hard to lather. Soft water lathers easily. – Black’s Law Dictionary
Water containing little or no dissolved salts of calcium or magnesium, especially water containing less than about 85 parts per million of calcium carbonate. – Your Dictionary
Water that is free of magnesium or calcium salts. – Engineering Dictionary
Water that is not hard (does not contain salts that interfere with the formation of lather with soap). – Webster’s Dictionary
Water lacking those ions, such as Mg2+ and Ca2+, that form insoluble salts with fatty acids, so that ordinary soap will lather easily in it. – MediLexicon
Softened water is “any water which has been processed in some manner to reduce the total hardness to 17.1 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm) (1.0 grain per gallon) or less expressed as calcium carbonate equivalent.” – Water Quality Association
So, it is widely established by multiple sources that “soft water” is water that is low on dissolved minerals. Yet, none of the above-mentioned companies remove the minerals. Let’s read what they say about the minerals:
- Pelican – “Leaves in beneficial minerals”
- Aquasana – “prevents minerals from binding and forming scale”
- EvoClear – “Hard water (calcium and magnesium) is transformed into microscopic nano crystals that are suspended in the process. When the calcium and magnesium become suspended, the hard water is unable to form scale or lime scale deposits while it travels through your home.”
- Futura – “When water comes into contact with the catalytic surface of the media, hard water agents calcium (CaCO3) and magnesium become attached to the ceramic granules and are instantly converted into a scale resistant crystalline form.”
- NuvoH2O – “Our CitraCharge formula stops the mineral ions from causing hard water problems by making the typically troublesome minerals stay apart in the water, so instead of attaching to the metal in the pipes the water passes through. Since they’re bound, those minerals also freely wash away from your body, hair, dishes, pipes, fixtures, and appliances.“
It is surprising to me that they call it softened water but then admit they don’t take out the calcium and magnesium? How can it be softened water when the minerals are not removed? Some companies call it “Naturally softened water” which is pure unadulterated sales hyperbole which has no basis in fact. Naturally softened water falls from the sky and is called RAIN! Try a soap test with any of them and compare it to soft water – you will see the suds form and stay in soft water but not in the salt-free systems.
We get dozens of calls everyday asking us about this. We also have a salt-free system, called the LimeBlaster, but we call it a conditioner, not a softener because it does not soften water. It does condition it, but most of the benefits that you get with softened water are not benefits you will get with a salt-free system. Things like spot-free glasses and dishes, whiter, brighter and softer clothes, and reduced soap usage are not benefits you receive with salt-free systems. The main benefit is the reduction of scale. W also have a full line of salt-free system that use no energy and waster no water while removing dramatic amounts of contaminants, called Pulsar Water Systems.
So the question is, why do these companies persist in calling these “salt-free water softeners?” Let me attempt to answer this. The “baby boomers” are getting up in years and don’t like carrying salt, and it has become en vogue to ban softeners in some areas. This is America – the land of opportunity and marketers see an opportunity to sell a salt-free softener, but if they called it a conditioner, would it be as easy to sell? I doubt it! In my opinion, the use of the word softener instead of conditioner is an attempt to deceive the consumer. At the very least, it confuses them.
Earlier, I mentioned that these companies are “Marketing Companies.” Do they have any Certified Water Specialists on staff? Usually not. Their focus is on salt-free systems. Whatever you problem, a salt-free softener is your solution. On the other hand, US Water System is a Water Treatment Company – we have nearly 10,000 products because no one product is the solution to everything. If it filters, we call it a filter. If it produces ozone, we call it an ozonator. If it softens, we call it a softener and if it conditions, we call it a conditioner. We don’t call a squirrel an elephant. We call them what they are.
We are not a marketing company – we are a full service water treatment company with a dozen Certified Water Specialists on staff, the least of whom has at least seven years experience. We have sales and tech support seven days a week and we are all about finding the right solution for your water, whether it be salt-free or not. The fact is, a salt-free conditioner may or may not be right for you, but we can help you decide. However, a salt-free softener is never right for you… because it doesn’t exist!
Personally, I think it’s time for the US Justice Department and State Attorneys General to investigate these claims and put a stop to them if they are deemed deceptive! I had someone ask me last week “What company are you so worried about?” I’m not worried about any company in particular. I am worried about the consumers being mislead!