What is Salt-Free Water Conditioning?

Salt-free water conditioning can be a great alternative to traditional water softening. Because it also offers a long list of benefits for your home.

salt-free water
Salt-free water conditioning offers multiple benefits. It can be a great alternative to traditional water softening if you live in a brine-restricted area, or want to explore different treatment solutions.
But how does a salt-free water conditioner work? And how is it different from a water softener?
To answer these questions, let's first discuss what we mean by salt-free water conditioning.

How Does a Salt-Free Water Conditioner Work?

A salt-free water conditioner is an alternative technology to traditional i on-exchange water softeners that use salt. Which means unlike water softeners, salt-free conditioners will not remove hardness minerals from the water.
Instead, a salt-free conditioner transforms the magnesium and calcium chemically, so that they do not cling to surfaces.
Because the hard water minerals are not actually captured by a salt-free water system, there is no need for salt or a regeneration cycle to purge the minerals.
Ultimately, salt-free water softeners are not actually softening water. Rather, they are conditioning it.
Now that we have a better understanding of how salt-free water conditioning works. Let's talk about the benefits a salt-free water conditioner will bring to your home.

Benefits of a Salt-Free Water Conditioner

The Culligan Salt-Free Water Conditioner can improve your home's water in a variety of ways. With a salt-free water conditioner you can:
  • Enjoy cost-savings on hot water bills and repairs. With this low-maintenance system, you will also eliminate the need to purchase salt, schedule repairs or use additional electricity.
  • Use less electricity and water. By neutralizing contaminants, rather than removing them, you won't have any wastewater. Therefore, it reduces your carbon footprint.
  • Reduce limescale to help your water-using appliances run more efficiently. It additionally makes for more effortless cleaning.
  • When combined with a carbon filter, give better-tasting drinking water to your whole family by reducing unpleasant odors and tastes associated with excess chlorine.
Some of these salt-free benefits may resemble the benefits of water softening. However, these water treatment solutions are not equal. Let's breakdown how a traditional water softener works to further illustrate their differences.

How Does a Water Softener Work?

In contrast to salt-free water conditioning, water softening involves a process called ion exchange. Which removes dissolved minerals that a filter won't catch. Basically, hard ions like calcium and magnesium exchange with sodium or potassium (salt) ions.
Water softeners use a resin tank where water runs through a bed of beads covered with sodium or potassium ions. As the water flows through the beads, the hard ions trade places with the softer ones, eliminating impurities in the water.
As water continues to undergo softening, the resin beads become exhausted over time. Therefore requiring regeneration. To regenerate or recharge the resin beads, you need to add salt to the brine tank.
Next, the calcium and magnesium are again swapped with sodium and potassium. And sediments are flushed from the beads into the wastewater drain. Finally, the tank is rinsed with fresh water and the system begins the water softening process all over again.

Benefits of a Water Softener

Regardless of which water softener you choose, the benefits of soft water are numerous. By reducing the hardness of your water, you can:
  • Use less soap when bathing, laundering and cleaning, since soft water increases soap lather.
  • Reduce sticky soap residue and film on skin, hair, clothes and dishes.
  • Significantly decrease scale buildup in plumbing and appliances, ensuring efficient operation and increasing their lifespans.
  • Lower energy consumption and costs by improving water flow in your pipes and reducing scale buildup in water heaters.
  • Eliminate mineral-derived odors in your home.
  • Make household cleaning and maintenance easier and more cost-effective.

Should You Choose a Salt-Free Conditioner or a Water Softener?

After reading through both lists of benefits, you may be wondering which system is right for you. Here are a few additional things to consider.

Choose a Salt-Free Conditioner if...

If you're interested in the benefits above or live in a brine-restricted area. Like communities in California, for example. Then a salt-free conditioner could be the best option for your water needs.
But what is a brine-restriction and why could it impact your choice between a salt-free conditioning system and a water softening system?

What is a Brine-Restriction?

Drought and climate change are reducing water supplies throughout the Southwest. And because California is particularly sensitive to droughts, wastewater has become a problem in recent years.
Salt brine discharge from salt-based softeners can impact the quality of water supplies that are needed for home and agriculture use. Water supplies across the state are under pressure to "recycle" sewage and runoff that they once used to dispose. The sanitized wastewater can be used for irrigation, groundwater recharge and even drinking water if the sewage is thoroughly cleaned.
However, it's difficult for most public standard water treatment facilities to filter out salt discharge. The only way to deal with the excess salt is to use filtering processes like reverse osmosis. Which is beyond the means of most community water suppliers.
Because of this, California communities have the ability to limit or restrict the types of water softeners used.

Choose a Water Softener if…

However, if you don't live in an area that restricts the use of water softeners, you have a wider range of treatment options to choose from.
So if you also want cleaner dishes, softer laundry, silkier hair and a longer lifespan for your appliances, a water softener might be the better choice for your home.
But if you're still torn between the two, your Culligan water expert can test your water and work with you to find the system that best matches your unique water needs.


To summarize, salt-free water conditioning and water softening systems offer many benefits. Contact your local Culligan water expert to find out which option is right for you and get started enjoying the benefits today.