Salt-Free Water Conditioners versus Salt Water Softeners

A water softener that uses salt or a salt-free conditioner - What is better for me?

There is no simple answer to that question – much of it depends upon where you live and your lifestyle. For example, some counties (especially in California) have banned water softeners, so you are limited to a salt-free conditioner, even if you don’t want one. However, in most parts of the country you are free to choose what you want. The answer to that question depends upon you. We would caution you that when deciding which one is right for you, you should deal with a water treatment company that sells more than just one type of product. At US Water, we sell salt-free conditioner and salt-based water softeners because there is not just ONE solution.

Some people are appalled that a water softener puts small amounts of sodium and chloride back into the environment, while failing to understand that if you don’t have a water softener (in a hard water area), you will put copious amounts soaps, detergents, phosphates, chemicals, lime removers and the like back into the environment.

Additionally, a water softener is proven to save tremendous amounts of energy each year for the average homeowner. Battelle Memorial Institute recently published this long-term study on the effects of soft water:

You can only get soft water two ways:

1. A salt-regenerated ion-exchange water softener or

2. A whole-house reverse osmosis system

Here is a side by side comparison of the pros and cons of both a saltless conditioner and a water softener:

Comparison of Salt-Regenerated Water Softeners and Salt-Free Water Conditioners (no matter what brand) – Estimate Based Upon Average Family of Four with Water of 15 to 20 GPG

Feature or Benefit

Salt-Regenerated Water Softener

Salt-Free Water Conditioner

Is this a Salt-Free Water Softener?

It is a salt-based water softener

It does not soften water

Scale Prevention Efficiency

99+% Efficient

41% to 96% Efficient
Depending upon the Method Used*

Electricity Used per Year

$1.00 to $3.00

$0 to $25.00
Depending upon the Method Used

Water Efficiency

 96+% Efficient
Wastes Approx 40 Gallons Per 1,000 Gallons Used

100% Efficient
No Wasted Water

Operating Cost Per Year

$60.00 to $80.00
Salt, Electricity and Water

$25.00 to $225.00
Depending upon the Method Used

Soap Savings

Less soap, shampoo, detergent


Whiter Whites, Brighter Colors?

Clothes are not yellow and colors are vivid

Stiff, Hard Laundry

Slick Feeling in Shower?

Can be adjusted if necessary


Impact on Skin

Eliminates calcium and magnesium which forms curd and clogs pores of the skin

Calcium and magnesium reacts with soap to form curd, not suds, which is irritating to skin

Spots on Dishwasher Dishes?

Also uses about 50% less dishwasher soap

Must use extra additives to eliminate spots

Yearly Energy Savings

$200.00 to $300.00
Saves on the cost of heating water (study by Battelle)**

Not Clear
no detailed testing has been done by any credible organization

Removes Chlorine & Chemicals?

Selected Ones Can
Often called “Hybrids”

Other equipment can be added to do so

Environmental Impact

Some sodium and chloride are added to the environment, but chemicals, phosphates, soaps, cleansers, lime removers and detergents are reduced by 50%+

No sodium or chlorides are put back into the environment, but added chemicals, phosphates, soaps, cleansers, lime removers and detergents are added in significant amounts

The long and the short of it is that a water softener offers the most benefits and is probably the only appliance you can put in your home that actually saves more than it costs (soap savings, energy savings, plumbing & appliance savings and clothing savings) and makes life much better. Which is right for you?

Water Softeners OR Salt Free Water Conditioners