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Top 6 Questions Answered about Salt-Free Water “Softeners”

Can I replace a traditional water softener system with one of those Salt-free Water softeners and what difference in performance should I see between the two systems?

Pictured: Scale Stopper (front)

There is no such thing as salt-free water softeners as salt-free systems don't soften the water or remove the hardness minerals.  It is best to refer to them as salt-free water conditioners as they condition the water to not scale up pipes or fixtures.

Yes, a water conditioner system can replace a traditional water softener. A big difference will be how the water feels. Traditional softeners often leave the water too soft, causing it to feel slippery and slimy. Conditioners do not remove the hardness but rather crystallize it.

The scale will also not build up on fixtures and pipes. Previous sodium and/or calcium buildup in the pipes from your old traditional water softener will actually disappear as well within a few days of conditioning treatment.

For this reason, in the first few days of conditioning treatment, the water may taste slightly salty because it is cleaning out the scale buildup in the pipes. After a few days, however, this will go away!

Why is the Scale Stopper system in an up-flow configuration? Why is it not downflow?

The Scale Stopper media is not a traditional downflow filter system. It does not trap the hardness nor does it exchange anything for the hardness like a traditional water softener.

The media works as a catalytic media by causing the crystallization of ions on the surface of the media while the water is in continual upflow.

The inlet water flow in a water conditioning system is always in UPWARD motion from the bottom up in the filter housing. The media in the system always stays in a fluid state when the water is run through.

The Scale Stopper does not filter particles out of the water but rather pulls the hardness out of the solution. This hardness that is pulled out forms crystals on the surface as they interact with the media.

The crystals grow on the media until they are large enough to break free and flow into the water stream. These new crystals physically cannot attach to material, resulting in scale prevention.

Will I see any change in the laundry with “salt-free water softeners”?

Your laundry likely will come out cleaner and last longer. Your appliances also likely will have a longer lifespan using the newly conditioned water.

Why does the Scale Stopper media not need to be backwashed? What keeps the media bed from getting fouled?

This is a crucial piece of the Scale Stopper system's method of conditioning. There is no actual filtration happening without media. Rather, we are continuously upflow backwashing. We do not filter out anything from the water.

So we have no accumulation of anything in the suspended bed of media. The media works as a catalyst only to kickstart a reaction that allows crystallization to occur


salt-free water softeners
Pictured: Scale Stopper (side)

How can I test the Media to make sure my system is working?

An easy, at-home way to test your system's effectiveness is to use two saucepans and your stove. Fill one of the saucepans with untreated water and the other with water treated by the water conditioner.

Turn on the stove and bring to a boil. The untreated, unconditioned water will leave a hard, crusty scum on the side of the pan as it boils away. The conditioned water, when working effectively, will not leave that scum.

In the treated water, you will see circulating hardness crystals on the bottom of the pan right before the water boils away. This residue can be easily wiped off once the water has boiled off.

Another simple method is to examine heating equipment and appliances that used to be covered in scale. The water conditioner system when working effectively will have broken down that scale build up within a few days of running. No new scale will appear after installation.

Our customers have observed their coffee machines and appliances start to clean up from years of scale build-up.


Has the media been tested for health effects?

The treated water that comes out of the Scale Stopper system is in compliance of NSF 61 standards, an independent test standard for health effects created by the Water Quality Association (WQA).

Authoritative Resources on Hard Water Understanding and Management

Straight Truths About Soft Water


  1. United States Geological Survey (USGS) – Water Hardness and Alkalinity: The USGS provides comprehensive information on water hardness, including its causes, measurement, and geographical distribution across the United States.
  2. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Water Softening: The EPA offers guidance on water softening and provides information on the different types of water softening processes, which can be useful for understanding the context of salt-free water softeners.
  3. National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program: This program provides information on water-quality conditions, including water hardness, and how water quality varies across the country.
  4. Water Quality Association (WQA) – Water Hardness: The WQA is a not-for-profit association for the residential commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. Their site offers resources on understanding water hardness and the effectiveness of different treatment methods.
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  • Clean Water Systems & Stores, Inc., Water Treatment Equipment,Service & Supplies, Santa Cruz, CA

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