The idea of an electronic water softener, or one that does not use salt of other chemicals has been around for along time. The different number of brands available for these is now a growing market. However, we need to know why this is a growing market. Plus, how or what do these things actually do?
Those of us who use a water softener know how much fun it is getting the 50lb bags of salt from our vehicle to wherever our machine is plumbed in. We know the dust that flies back into our faces when dumping that enormous bag into the system, and the result in our homes if we forget to pick up the salt while we were at the store. Then we hear about the electronic water softener and the fact that it will keep you from ever having to carry a bag of salt again. How great would that be, no heavy lifting, no dusty mess, no maintenance and I can free up that space where the water softener sets. This little electronic box that weighs only a couple of pounds and mounts on the wall sounds like a pleasure to own as compared to something that needs constant attention.
Lets look at why people buy softeners in the first place. A big reason is the mess hard water can cause, and how hard it is to clean it up. No one likes to see filmy dishes, white crusty stuff on the ends of our faucets, or soap that does not lather properly. A water softener can take care of all these issues. Plus, we did not even discuss the hard water problems that can come to our appliances like the dishwasher and water heater without some sort of protection. The cost of not treating your hard water can be steep over the life of your home and harm your water using equipment. A water softener takes care of these problems by removing calcium and magnesium from your water and replacing it with sodium. The ability for your body to absorb this type of sodium has been hotly debated, so I am not going to touch that side of this discussion.
We now know what a water softener can help with and that it is a system that requires occasional attention by adding salt. How about an electronic device, does it actual soften the water? The answer is unfortunately, No. To soften water you need to remove the hardness minerals out of it. The electronic device leaves the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) in the water, yet it claims to physically alter them. These devices use some type of electronic wave or frequency to eliminate the ability of these minerals to build up . It claims that it forces the minerals to stay in the water and just travel thru your home and keep the bad side effects at bay. However, many of the benefits that you see in soft water are simply not there. The existence of film on shower doors and spotting on your dishes and flatware are easily noticeable. A small difference is that they may be easier to clean. You will not notice a rich lather with your soaps or be able to cut back on detergent usage. However, on the positive side you will not have to carry any bags of salt again. There is also one other thing that these machines are very good for. They do descale your existing appliances and plumbing of any existing built up hard water deposits. If you have ever had the ability to look in your water heater or in any old plumbing of a home with hard water you can easily see the build up. The electronic units will remove that build up over time, hopefully allowing the appliances and plumbing to last longer
So which is best for your home? It is really up to you and what you want from your water situation. Are you worried about the rich lather and lack of spots on your dishes? Do you want to maintain a spotless shower and toilet with little effort? If this is the case the salt consuming water softener is for you. If you want to have a system that is no maintenance required, but cannot give you the cosmetic benefits then you may consider an electronic descaling device. However, you decide which is best. It is recommended that you have some sort of protection against hard water in your home.