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If you’re tired of dealing with hard water problems, you are probably researching available treatment options. Two of the most common hard water treatment systems are water softeners and salt-free systems. There are a lot of wild and crazy claims out there, and it can be confusing to hone in on exactly how they are different and determine which one is best for you. To make your decision a little easier, here’s a simple breakdown of the differences between them and which one may benefit you the most!


What is a Water Softener?

A water softener is an appliance that is installed to treat hard water problems by removing the calcium and magnesium hardness minerals from your water. If the appliance doesn’t remove the hardness, then it is not a softener.
Removal of these havoc-wreaking minerals from your water provides you with a variety of benefits from scale prevention to soap efficiency improvements. Click here to learn more about how water softeners work.

What is a Salt-Free System?
Salt-free systems are water treatment systems that condition your water to help alleviate some hard water symptoms–particularly hard water scale that forms on appliances, faucets, and fixtures. They do this by chemically altering the hard water mineral compounds in your water in order to reduce the likelihood of them from sticking to everything. Since hardness minerals are not removed with a salt-free system, you’ll still have to deal with certain hard water problems like negative soap interactions. Some salt-free systems (like Active Armour) will also protect your plumbing, water heater, and other metallic components from corrosion while controlling hard water scale formation.

Do Salt-Free Systems do the same job as a Water Softener?
No. Salt-free systems do not soften water. They are only designed to control hard water scale. In contrast, water softeners physically remove the hardness minerals from your water, which allows for other major benefits like soap-efficiency improvements and softer skin.

Which System is best for you?
Determining which system is right for you will depend on what you want your water to do for you:

Reasons to choose a Water Softener: 

1. You want to rid yourself of hard water problems once and for all. Hard water problems are caused by calcium and magnesium, and the only way to prevent them entirely is to remove these minerals from your water, which is what water softeners do. Complete removal of these minerals provides you with a variety of benefits that salt-free systems cannot.

Soft Water Benefits include:
Scale Control
Soap Efficiency
Dishwasher Protection
Water Heater Protection
Plumbing Protection
Labor Savings
Laundry Protection

2. You want soap-efficiency improvements. Soap-usage improvements are only recognized when you remove hardness minerals from your water. Salt-free systems do not improve soap-usage efficiency.

Reasons to choose a Salt-Free System:
1. You want a passive, low-maintenance system. Unlike water softeners, most salt-free systems are passive and don’t require maintenance except to periodically replace the cartridges or replenish the other chemical/s. Residential salt-free systems like Crusader Active Armour don’t require additional electricity, generate discharge water, or require salt.

2. You’re on a tight budget. While salt-free systems don’t offer all of the benefits that a water softener would, it’s a good option if you want to treat your hard water without breaking the bank. Having some kind of hard water treatment is definitely better than no treatment at all.

3. You don’t care about “Soap-related” benefits. With a salt-free system, you won’t use less soap or benefit from brighter laundry like you would with soft water. The primary benefits you’ll see from using a salt-free system are less hard water scale and lime buildup, less staining, reduced corrosion, and reduced discoloration.

4. You don’t like Soft WaterIf you don’t like Soft Water, but still want to protect your appliances, plumbing, faucets, and fixtures, then a Salt-Free System like Active Armour is the perfect choice!

Salt-Free System Benefits include:
Scale Control
Water Heater Protection
Plumbing Protection
Labor Savings

If you’re still unsure of which system to choose, the best way to find out is to consult a nationally certified expert who understands Utah’s unique water-quality challenges, and we can help you with that!

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