People living in certain geographic areas utilize water softeners on a regular basis to eliminate hard water from their homes. This is accomplished by changing the minerals in hard water to salt. Some people prefer not to have salt added to their water. They may opt for a salt free water softener instead. Also known as a descaler, a salt free water softener prevents hard water damage under certain conditions.
Hard water is full of either magnesium or calcium, which can create problems. These minerals can cause clogs to form in water pipes. They can also cling to tea kettles, water heaters and other household items that contain water. Hard water can also cause soap scum, which can be a home maintenance annoyance, as well as limiting the ability of soap to lather.
To treat hard water, the water can either be filtered through a distillation system, or softened by a water softener. The softener accomplishes this by removing the mineral deposits from the water, replacing their ions with sodium ions. Since salt does not react with soap, or cause the clogging problems that calcium and magnesium perpetuate, its presence is largely considered to be a lesser concern.
For times when salt does become a concern, a salt free water softener is an option. A plug-in magnetic water softener, or electric water softener, may be used. This instrument works by attaching to incoming pipes and distributing a magnetic field. Though unable to actually remove the minerals themselves, manufacturers claim that these devices can prevent or eliminate their effects. The field changes the minerals' electromagnetic properties, forcing them to be repelled by the pipe itself, as well as by other minerals in the water.
Some studies have suggested that a salt free water softener may not offer the same benefits as a traditional water softener. When tested together in clinical trials, the salt free water softener was found to have little to no bearing on the chemical and physical composition of the resulting water. It also may not fully reduce the mineral formations within the water pipes.
Salt free water softeners have been shown to reduce the amount of hard water damage normally caused in washing machines, dishwashers, and other water-based appliances. As long as the water is in motion, a salt free water softener can be of use; however, once the water is sitting stagnantly, the scale, or mineral deposits, will still be able to form and accumulate over time.