“But Does it Really Soften The Water?”

That’s the question you need to ask if you are considering the purchase of a “salt-free water softener.” Don’t beat around the bush, pick up the phone and call whatever company is saying that they sell a salt-free water softener and just ask them:

“But does it really soften the water?”

If they say yes, then I will call them and buy it for you.  I’ll pay for it! It’s on me!  I guess you must think that I am just some really nice guy because I am going to give you a salt-free water softener for FREE!  WOW!  Isn’t that great?  Well, I am not going to be spending a dime of my own money because, there really is no such thing as a salt-free water softener.  It only exists in the minds of unscrupulous marketers who want to deceive you into buying their salt-free softener… that doesn’t actually soften the water.

Here’s an actual conversation I had with one of those companies.

Me: … so does it actually soften the water?

CSR: Yes it does.

Me: So if I use a hardness test kit and test the water out of your system, it will test at Zero Hardness?

CSR: Yes, absolutely.

Me: Can I speak to your supervisor?

CSR: Why, I can answer your questions?

Me: I don’t believe you are telling me the truth.  I want to speak to your supervisor.

(after a considerable wait)

Supervisor:  How can I help you?

Me: Your rep was telling me that you system actually softens the water and that if I test it with a hardness test kit it will be Zero.  Is that true?

Supervisor:  Well, it doesn’t actually soften the water and it will not test zero, but it does put the hardess minerals in a state whereby they react like soft water.

Me:  But it doesn’t actually soften the water does it?

Supervisor:  I notice you are in the 317 area code.  Would this happen to be Mark Timmons?

Me:  Yes, it is.


I don’t understand why they don’t like me.  All I want is for them to tell the truth.  They don’t have a salt-free water softener because IT DOES NOT SOFTEN THE WATER!  It is a salt-free “CONDITIONER” but you can’t call it a softener if it does not soften the water.  One of these companies did say “Well, it doesn’t ACTUALLY soften the water…”  OK, so why persist in calling something a water softener when it does not, in fact, soften the water?  The answer is simple: Because a lot fewer people would buy their products if they did not call them a salt-free water softener.

Salt-Free Water Softeners are like unicorns.  You can talk about them all you want , but no one has ever seen one.  They are PURELY fiction, just like salt-free water softeners are fiction. The fact that companies in the water treatment industry are claiming they have salt-free water softeners, when they really don’t, gives our whole industry a black eye. It is simply false and misleading advertising designed to trick consumers into buying a product.

The Water Quality Association (www.WQA.org) has a Code of Ethics that this form of deceptive advertising violates in  many ways. I have discussed this deception in previous blogs, like THIS.  The WQA has indicated that they intend to “crack down” on these deceptive practices, but to date I see nothing that leads me to believe they will do anything… especially in light of recent corporate acquisitions in the water treatment industry.  It seems like many people just want to talk about it, but no one wants to do anything.  I am not sitting this one out!  I intend to do something about the deception involving salt-free softeners.

Have you ever bought a unicorn?  I think not… and you can’t buy a salt-free water softener either.

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This article has 4 Comments

  1. I’ve read a few of your articles about the misleading marketing claims. It seems your beef is just what they’re calling these systems, right? If they just called the system a conditioner, or a water filtration system, you’d have no beef?

    I personally know reputable people and companies that sell salt-free filtration units and have more satisfied customers than I can count. They would never say they’re softening the water … Because they’re not softening the water and never claim to. That doesn’t take away from the fact that their filtration unit provides real value.

    Do you agree that beneficial systems exist out there like this? Or, do you feel that salt is needed to truly provide clean, filtered water to a home?

  2. Appreciate the quick response Mark! Do you have any experience with no-salt systems? Systems that run through a carbon and magnetic de-scaler? Any thoughts or concerns with those types of units? Do you see a bigger demand for these in the future?

  3. The carbon has lots of merit. It does a lot to remove chemicals and “condition” the water. For over 40 years, I have tested every magnetic or electronic device I can get my hands on and will continue to do do. We are testing one now. However, I currently see no merit in their use. We currently use this:


    While it does not soften the water, it does a very good job at preventing limescale.

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