Role of Salt-Free Water Softeners in Wastewater Management

If you use hard water in your home, you might’ve noticed that your soap doesn’t lather properly and that there are scales and deposits in your pipes and appliances. This happens because hard water contains excess calcium and magnesium ions. These hardness-causing ions are responsible for the poor soap lathering, your dry skin, and scales forming in your pipes.

Water softeners remedy this by softening water and making it easier to use. There are two types of water softeners; salt-based water softeners and salt-free water softeners. How both types work and why salt-free softeners are critical for wastewater management is the topic of this article.

Why Salt-Free Water Softeners Are Critical for Wastewater Management

How Salt-Based Water Softeners Work

Salt-based water softeners have resin tanks that contain thousands of tiny, negatively charged resin beads.

Hard water contains positively charged magnesium and calcium ions. When it passes through the water softener unit, the resin beads attract the magnesium and calcium so they stick to them. Calcium and magnesium ions are then exchanged for sodium ions. The resin beads eventually become saturated with calcium and magnesium, and they have to be rinsed off with saltwater in a process called regeneration.

Regeneration usually happens in the middle of the night. The process is simple – water softeners have a salt storage tank where brine forms. During regeneration, the sodium ions in the saltwater solution replace the magnesium and calcium ions until the resin bed is fully covered with new sodium. Afterward, the saltwater solution and hardness minerals are washed and flushed down the drain, and the water softener continues its normal operation.


If you use a salt-based water softener, you have to add a bag of sodium chloride to the salt storage tank every once in a while.

Also, salt-based water softeners consume a lot of water during regeneration. The saltwater rinse-off procedure can waste up to 100 gallons per cycle, depending on the individual water hardness.

Besides consuming some electricity and wasting gallons of water, salt-based water softeners also pollute the environment. The extra sodium may get into the soil and cause stunted growth in plants or finds its way into freshwater. The excess chloride in softened water can harm freshwater plants and organisms by affecting their reproductive patterns and destroying their entire ecosystem.

Overall, salt-based water softeners are an issue for the environment and for plants, which is why several farming cities in southern California have banned or severely restricted their usage.

How Salt-Free Water Softeners Work

Salt-free water softeners are also called water conditioners or descalers. They help stop the effects of hard water, although they operate differently from salt-based water softeners. Salt-free water softeners do not undergo the ion exchange or regeneration process.

In place of ion exchange, salt-free water softeners use various technologies, Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) being one of the, where hardness minerals are transformed into micro-crystals. In this system, the hard water flows through a “nucleation site” full of TAC media. The nucleation site is where the micro-crystals are formed. As hard water comes in contact with the TAC media, magnesium and calcium ions are attracted and get stuck. More calcium and magnesium ions build up in the nucleation sites, forming small micro-crystals. When the crystals reach a certain size, they break off the TAC media and are released back into the water. The micro-crystals will remain crystalline as they flow through your home plumbing. These crystals will not cause scales to form in your pipes or give you any of the typical hard water problems.

In summary, salt-free water softeners do not remove hardness minerals; they only neutralize them and keep them in harmless forms.

Using a salt-free water softener is an excellent way to eliminate water hardness without all the wastewater and environmental hazards caused by salt-based water softeners. Salt-free softeners also increase your drinking water’s nutritional value because it doesn’t lack minerals beneficial to your body.


Other Reasons to Pick Salt-Free Water Softeners

Here are some more reasons salt-free water softeners are an excellent choice and to be preferred over salt-based systems.

Low Energy Consumption

Salt-free water softeners do not require electricity to work. Using a salt-free water softener means you’ll save on your electricity bill, compared to if you were using a salt-based water softener.

Easy to Maintain

Salt-free water softeners are very easy to maintain and install. The systems use either a single tank or cartridge. They don’t need to go through the regeneration process or saltwater rinse off, which means they don’t need drain connections. If you’re thinking about getting a salt-free water softener, you can check out Nuvo water softeners. There are different versions and sizes you could choose from.


Salt-free water softeners are critical to wastewater management because they do not need to go through regeneration, so they don’t produce wastewater. With salt-free water softeners, the processed water goes directly into your house or your water heater. If you live in an area where salt-based water softeners are banned, you can always try using a salt-free water softener. You should also consider getting a salt-free water softener if you run a farm or own a small garden.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Water Softener for Your Home

Tap water that we use for in our daily purpose contains minerals like calcium, lime, chalk, and magnesium. The increased levels of these minerals in water make it hard. Hard water is unhealthy for consumption and for domestic use. Although many people use mineral water for drinking, excessive use of mineral water can result in health and domestic hazards. It’s essential to remove excess levels of minerals from water to make it suitable for drinking as well as for domestic use like bathing, washing, cleaning, etc. Water softeners are filters that convert hard water into softer water by filtering out the minerals.

Below are few important reasons why you should install a water softener in your home:

1. Easier Cleaning

When you wash dishes and clothes in hard water, they may end up with white spots, streaks, and soapy residue. Soft water helps to rinse off the soap residue more thoroughly, leaving your dishes and clothes cleaner. Moreover, water softening also reduce the amount you use for detergent or soap you need for cleaning, which helps to save your expenses for these products.

You will notice that house water softeners prevent the detergent curd and soap film buildup in bathtubs, showers, sinks, and other cleaning devices, and they stay cleaner and efficient.

2. Keep Your Skin Smooth and Well-Nourished

The calcium and magnesium present in hard water mix with anions in soaps resulting in soap scum on your body or sticky skin. This film does not dissolve even with rinsing and stays on your skin causing clogged pores, skin irritation, and dry or itchy skin.

Moreover, using dry water on the skin can also lead to acne. Therefore, install water softener in your home because bathing with soft water is better for your skin.

3. Extended Water Appliance Life

Minerals of hard water can buildup in washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers and other water appliances. This can result in clogging of minerals within these devices which can cause them to burn out. It’s better to invest in a water softener that will prevent the minerals from building up within these appliances.

Therefore, use of soft water helps to extend the life of water appliances. You will end up saving money because these devices will last longer, and you will be replacing them less frequently.

4. Faster Heating of Water

Your water heaters can quickly heat soft water, while heating hard water requires comparatively more time. It is estimated that water softeners can improve the efficiency of electric water heaters by 22 percent and that of gas water heaters by 29 percent. If you are using a walk in tub, it will help in faster heating of water for bathing.

Hard water can also cause mineral buildup in the water heaters, decreasing their efficiency to heat water. Water softeners improve the efficiency of water heaters resulting in lower utility bills.

5. Reduce Pipe and Faucet Damage

Hard water causes scaly deposits in pipes and faucets. Your home plumbing system is severely affected as these deposits buildup over time, resulting in clogs and corrosion.

Moreover, hard water can also clog your showerheads and valves. Water softeners eliminate the mineral buildup in your plumbing system, extending its life and helping your fixtures to operate effectively.

Water Heater Maintenance for Efficiency and Savings

Proper maintenance of your water heater can optimize its energy efficiency and make it work perfectly for a decade or two. The three major aspects of water heater maintenance are initial thermostat setting, regular maintenance and knowing the softness of incoming water. Read on to know more about water heater repair and maintenance:

1. Initial thermostat setting

The daily rituals of bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes do not need superheated water.  Adjusting the thermostats properly can save you money.

maintenance of water heater

Most water heater manufacturers suggest thermostat setting on your water heater to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51 C). This temperature by itself is enough to cause injury to your skin. Besides, when you run your bath water, you will bend in the amount of cold to make the output “just right”. So why would you raise the temperature if you are cooling it off?

Your water heater is one of if not the highest consumer of electricity in your home.  Best to set to the manufactures recommend level.

It’s the same theory for both gas-fueled and tankless. Why raise something if you are going to cool it off….

Conclusion:  take the time to verify that your unit’s thermostat is not overworking. Go for the 125 degrees F.  Save the money

I met one plumber that said he did not run hot water to his dishwasher.  He said the machine heated the water itself.

2. Regular Maintenance

Your manufacturer manual most likely suggests periodic inspection and/or maintenance. You can do this, or you can have a water heater plumbing contractor perform this. Every six months for mine. It’s not that big of a deal to do it.

Stop right here:  Turn off the electrical breaker before touching any electrical wiring.   Close the valve to your gas supply. No casual handling here.

Your unit, if it is a tank type, will have both heating elements and an anode rod.

Hard water allows the accumulation of lime or scale on the element. The speed of this process depends on the level of hardness of your water.

The submerged anode rod is sacrificial. It is added to attract water ions that would otherwise damage your tank.  The anode rod requires replacing every year or two.  A water heater contractor can be a good choice in this matter. It’s not that hard, but it is a process. Your elements are replaceable.  Cleaning them takes time and a little creativity. Go ahead and replace them.

Suggestion: tape a gallon size zip lock bag to your water heater tank. This is where you keep your manual and completed (dated) maintenance schedule.

3. Understanding the “softness” of water

Hard water causes heating elements to foul quicker.  When the elements begin “hissing”, it is a sign they are being fouled by being covered with lime.  They continue to heat, but not as efficiently.  Their ability to heat water will gradually diminish. Don’t wait for the “hissing” sound, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.

disadvantages of hard water

Your manual states that using a water softener may cause the anode rod to deteriorate quicker.  You may enjoy the soft water, but your water heater will need more attention.


  • Save your money by managing your thermostat setting.
  • Regular maintenance and attention will protect your heater and extend its lifecycle.
  • Knowing the softness of your incoming water will help manage your maintenance schedule.
  • All this will extend your family budget.
  • For more information about your water heater reach out to your local plumbing company