Best Water Softener for Well Water of 2022 (The Only List You Need)

We’ve been testing water softening systems for nearly a decade. In this guide you’ll find our top picks for use with private well water, based on technology, efficiency, flow rate, and of course, affordability.

If you source your drinking water from a private well, you probably know all about well water filters. But you might also be on the market for a well water softener.

Just like city water, some sources of well water are harder or have a higher iron content than others. High levels of hardness and iron can cause a number of practical problems around the home, and a well water softener can improve your water taste, help you save money, and increase the lifespan of your plumbing and appliances.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through the ins and outs of softening your well water, and recommend some of the current best water softening systems for private wells in the US.

🤝 Why You Should Trust Us

Our product recommendations are trusted by more than 150,000 monthly readers, and that’s because we provide a level of detail in our guides and reviews that you won’t find elsewhere.

We don’t just rewrite information you could find on the manufacturer’s website – we actually test the products that are featured in our reviews, speaking to manufacturers directly to provide you with details that aren’t shared online.

We’ve been featured in publications including WWD Magazine, HowStuffWorks, and Simply Recipes, sharing our knowledge on the water filter industry with the world. We consider ourselves subject matter experts – but that doesn’t mean we know everything.

That’s why a good portion of our reviews focus on how a product lives up to professional standards, based on testing and certifications. This involves examining public databases to check the accuracy of a manufacturer’s claims for contaminant removal.

We chose the best water softener systems in this list because they offer superior value for money compared to similar systems on the market.

🥇 Best Water Softeners for Well Water

If you’re looking for a well water softener that offers a highly reliable ion exchange performance, the Springwell Salt Based Softener is, based on our research, the best whole-house solution. This neoprene-wrapped water softener provides the highest level of water treatment for your home at a competitive price. It has a lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind.

The Springwell Salt Based softening system uses the common and effective ion exchange process to soften water, replacing water hardness ions with sodium ions. With this being a smart softening system, you can save money by using less salt per regeneration cycle.

The SpringWell WSSS Filter & Softener Combo combines SpringWell’s popular SS salt-based water softener with the brand’s whole home well water filter system. This system doesn’t only soften your hard water supply; it also removes up to 7 PPM iron (ferrous and ferric), up to 8 PPM hydrogen sulfide, and up to 1 PPM manganese.

There are three system sizes to choose from: one for 1-3 bathrooms, one for 4-6 bathrooms, and a 7+ bathroom model with a flow rate of up to 20 GPM. The softener tank uses ion exchange, replacing magnesium and calcium carbonate with sodium ions, while the filter tank uses air injection to oxidize and remove iron.

The SoftPro Elite is a salt-based softener that boasts a whole host of features that make it one of the best softening systems for well water with iron. The system is available in sizes up to an 80,000 grain capacity, and is highly efficient, using minimal salt and water to reduce iron up to 3 PPM. On the surface, the SoftPro Elite functions like a typical salt-based softener. But it packs in a whole host of features that make it smarter, more efficient, and simply more useful than most water softeners.

The Springwell Futuresoft Water Softener is a high-tech saltless water softening system that offers 99.6% scale prevention without the use of salt. This model conditions gallons of water without causing a drop in water pressure in your home, and produces no waste, making it one of the best environmentally friendly options available on the market. The Futuresoft uses TAC (or Template Assisted Crystallization) to crystallize hardness minerals, which prevents them from sticking to any surfaces.

For a hard well water supply with tannin contamination, the SpringWell Tannin Softener System is the best dedicated system you’ll find. This softener reduces hardness minerals and produces drinking water that looks and tastes more appealing – all within a single system. You can buy the SpringWell Tannin Softener System in two sizes, with flow rates of up to 15 GPM. The system backwashes and regenerates automatically, requiring less work from you.

The Yarna is the most affordable water softening solution on this list – although it isn’t technically a water softener; it’s an electronic descaler. This unit requires virtually no installation (it takes just 15 minutes to install yourself) and no maintenance, and reduces scale buildup with a changing field of electricity, which converts calcium and magnesium into crystal form. The Yarna doesn’t waste water or require salt, a resin, or a media to operate, but it does use power, so you’ll need a power outlet near the install location.

Quick Comparison Chart

SystemSpringWell SS
SpringWell SS salt based water softener system
SpringWell WSSS
SpringWell WSSS combo system
SoftPro Elite
SoftPro Elite well water softener
Springwell Futuresoft
SpringWell futuresoft
Springwell Tannin Softener System
Springwell Tannin Softener System
Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler
Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler
Ranking1st2nd3rd4th5th6th
Ratings5/55/54.5/55/54.5/54/5
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$
ProcessIon ExchangeIon ExchangeIon ExchangeTACIon ExchangeElectronic Descaler
Flow RateUp to 20 GPMUp to 20 GPMUp to 23 GPMUp to 20 GPMUp to 15 GPMn/a
Grain CapacityUp to 80KUp to 80KUp to 80KUp to 81 GPG30K or 45Kn/a
Max Iron3 PPM7 PPM3 PPMRequires pre-treatment3 PPMn/a

🕵️Our Research

This section of the guide will help you to know whether a well water softener is for you, how we chose the best well water softener systems in this list, and how we tested and compared the softeners.

🚰 Do I Need a Water Softener for Well Water?

We can’t give a definite yes or no answer as to whether you need a water softener for well water. Water hardness isn’t regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency because a high concentration of calcium and magnesium minerals isn’t harmful to health (although that’s not to say that these contaminants won’t damage your home).

Your exact water hardness depends on where in the United States you live, and your local geology. You can view a water hardness map below to get a better idea of the concentration of hardness minerals in your water based on where you live. However, only through independent testing will you learn exactly how hard your water is.

Water Hardness Map
Source: USGS

You might already know that your water is relatively hard based on the effects of hard water you’ve noticed in your home, including:

  • Limescale deposits in your sinks and bathtubs, on your shower screen and faucets, and in your pipes and appliances
  • Dry skin and hair after showering or bathing in hard water
  • White, milky spotting on glassware and dishes
  • Trouble lathering with soap, and more soap required to create a proper lather

Testing your water will tell you exactly how hard it is. Water hardness levels can be divided into five categories:

HardnessGrains per Gallon (GPG)Parts per Million (PPM) & mg/L
Soft<1 0 – 17
Slightly Hard1.5 – 517 – 60
Moderately Hard3.5 – 7 60 – 120
Hard7 – 10120 – 180
Very Hard>10>180

Compare your test results to these categories to determine whether your water is soft, hard, or very hard, and whether you’d benefit from using a water softening system for your well water supply.

🙋‍♀️ Who This Guide is For

This guide is for well owners who are experiencing hard water issues around their home. Let’s take a quick look at when a water softening system is the best choice for your family:

You Have Higher than Average Levels of Hardness

Well water softener systems are the most powerful softeners on the market, designed to tackle high hardness levels.

Well water is typically harder than city water because well water comes from aquifers underground, which are surrounded by layers of mineral-rich rocks and soils. If your water is moderately hard to very hard, a well water softener will resolve the problem.

You Have the Budget for a Whole Home System

Water softeners are intended for use at your home’s point of entry, before your hot water heater, allowing them to prevent scale buildup around your home. There are no point of use water softeners available because the whole purpose of a water softener is to protect your whole home. You’ll need a budget of between $1,000 and $2,000.

You Potentially Have an Iron Issue Too

What makes water softeners for well water unique is that many of them don’t only target calcium and magnesium minerals – they can also tackle low levels of iron. Iron is the second-most abundant metal in the earth, and one of the most common water quality issues in wells. If you’re dealing with both iron and water hardness, you can use a well water softener to manage both of these issues.

You’re Looking for a Long-Term Solution

Water softeners for well water are designed to last for more than a decade, with a softening resin that lasts for between 6 and 12 years. If you’re looking for a softening solution that will pay for itself over its years of operation, a whole home well water softener is a good choice. Depending on the system you choose, you may need to prepare to carry out monthly maintenance, too.

📊 How We Chose

This guide is aimed at well owners looking for a water softener, so we looked solely at water softeners for well water in our research.

There are hundreds of well water softeners available today, and choosing the best handful of softeners to review required extensive research, testing, and comparison.

We chose the water softeners on this list based on their scale prevention capabilities, whether they were certified for their performance, the maintenance and costs involved in owning the softeners, and the quality and durability of their components.

Scale Prevention Capabilities

The more effective a system at scale prevention, the less damage your well water will do to your home.

Most water softeners provide more than 99% scale prevention. Some softeners are better-performing than others, but the best water softening systems on this list make it easy for you to get the most out of the system – by allowing you to program the system’s settings to ensure optimal softening is provided for your water usage and hardness.

When researching well water softeners, we discovered a selection of water softeners that offered extensive, thorough, and reliable water softening. Once we found these systems, we focused on these, ignoring the softeners that provided a less desirable end result.

The best water softener for well water on this list, the Springwell SS Salt Based Water Softening System, eliminates scale buildup, which is as impressive as it gets for a water softener. The other filters on this list can either greatly reduce or prevent scale, offering a reliable performance that not all manufacturers provide.

Salt-based water softeners aren’t the only systems that can put a stop to scale. I’ve featured several saltless softening systems that offer up to 99% scale prevention with their own effective conditioning techniques.

Additional Contaminant Reduction

While our most important focus in researching products was scale reduction, we also considered a water’s softeners ability to reduce additional common well water contaminants.

For serious contamination issues, you’ll need a separate water filtration system. However, for minor contamination, an ion exchange water softener may be all you need.

Aside from tackling hardness minerals, ion exchange is used to reduce or remove arsenic, nitrates, perchlorate, and hexavalent chromium. The process can also be used to reduce heavy metals and radionuclides in water.

Some water softeners are designed for iron removal. Not everyone needs iron removal, but for people who do, buying a softener that can remove iron is a two-in-one bonus.

While softening is the main purpose of a water softener, we considered these additional contaminant removal capabilities, and the perks they provide, when deciding which water softeners would make this list.

Some water softener units also come in a package with a whole-home water filter, making it easy to benefit from filtration and softening in one.

Testing & Certifications

To know whether a water softener system is truly reliable, we looked for proof of official certifications. The most widely used certification organization in the US is NSF International, a non-profit testing body that provides testing protocols and standards for water treatment systems.

Manufacturers must offer an outstanding product if they hope to achieve an NSF certification, as certifications are notoriously difficult to achieve, involving rigorous testing with complex water samples.

Several water softeners on this list don’t have an official NSF certification. However, most of those without official certification have third-party testing to NSF Standards, which is second-best to being actually certified.

Achieving an NSF certification invokes the highest level of trust, but it’s also incredibly expensive. We didn’t want to exclude up-and-coming brands with strong third-party data to support their exciting capabilities, that may be unable to afford to be certified at the moment.

When looking for water softener testing and certifications, we focused on the following certification:

NSF/ ANSI 44

NSF/ANSI 44 is a certification that is awarded to cation exchange water softeners that use sodium or potassium to remove hardness minerals from water. Any system that regenerates and uses a resin bed can apply to be certified to NSF Standard 44.

The scope of NSF/ANSI 44 includes material safety, structural integrity, reduction of hardness contaminants, softening capacity, rinse effectiveness, accuracy of information provided to the user, and accuracy of brine solution.

If a softener for well water has an official NSF 44 certification, you know that the system has met the NSF’s extremely high demands for a cation exchange water softener performance.

Component & Resin Quality

The quality of the components in a well water softener affects its ease of use and durability, and the costs involved in operating the system.

The type and quality of the resin bed used in the softener can also have an impact on performance and longevity.

Components-wise, we’ve favored systems that use durable materials, like metal – which is essential for a whole home system like a water softener. While plastic can be used for smaller applications, some plastics aren’t ideal for point of entry systems that need to be able to handle high water pressure and regular use.

All the ion exchange water softeners in this review use a minimum 8% crosslink resin with a lifespan of at least 8-10 years. This means you can get around a decade out of your resin before you need to pay to replace it.

Costs Involved

Water softeners are a big investment, and our research into costs aimed to highlight the systems that provided the best value for money.

The water softeners for well water in this guide cost around $1300 to $2500, depending on the size of the system, the quality of the resin, and the popularity of the brand.

You don’t have to spend upward of $2,000 for the best system for well water. Our top pick, the SpringWell SS, costs around $1,300, which is a fantastic value for money.

To calculate the running costs involved in owning the water softeners on this list, we looked at system capacities and resin/media lifespans. We then worked out the cost of salt top-ups, resin or media replacements, backwashing, electricity use, and pre-filter changes.

The average annual operation cost for a well water softener system is $50-$400. The reason why this cost is so varied is that some types of softeners, such as conditioners, require much less maintenance than others, which brings the total costs down.

Other Considerations

Several other considerations we made were:

  • System control and efficiency. We favored the water softeners that were the easiest to operate. Most of the best water softeners for well water come with digital touchscreen control heads, and some even come with a Bluetooth app for convenient operation.
  • Grain capacity options. A water softener’s grain capacity refers to how much softened water can be produced before the system needs to perform a regeneration cycle. Grain capacity is important to make sure you always have enough soft water. Most systems on this list have a minimum 64,000 grain capacity, with larger 80,000 grain systems or higher for bigger families.

Customer Reviews & Feedback

We personally tested all the water softeners for well water in this guide. However, we know that we’re only a small group of people, and our experience may be better (or worse!) than the overall customer experience with a certain product.

You can learn a lot about a water softener’s ease of use, installation difficulty, and long-term durability from reading customer reviews. Our research involved sifting through customer reviews and making notes of the important pieces of feedback, especially feedback that was repeated by several users.

Helpfully, some customers return to their reviews to offer an update after several months or years of using a product. This additional information provided by the customer gives an insight into how the system is performing now that it isn’t brand-new.

We used customer feedback to get a better understanding of the effectiveness and durability of the softener for well water systems featured on this list.

🧪 How We Tested

When testing the products in this review, we combined our at-home real-world testing with an assessment of the softener system’s professional test results.

In the past, we’ve used Tap Score testing to determine the effectiveness of a water softener, but we quickly realized that our testing is limited because our own water source is nowhere near as potent as the very hard water sources used for professional testing.

Third-party testing data gives a much better overview of a water softener’s capabilities when it is pushed to its limits in a professional testing environment.

At home, rather than assessing the quality of water softening, we focus on the user-friendliness of a system, looking at the pros and cons of using the system every day. To know whether a system lives up to a manufacturer’s claims, you have to test it yourself.

1️⃣ Our Top Pick: SpringWell SS Salt Based Water Softener System

Our top pick is the SpringWell SS Salt Based Water Softener System. This system comes in two sizes depending on the number of bathrooms in your home

  • 1-3 bathrooms (the SS1)
  • 4-6 bathrooms (the SS4)

We’ll be focusing this review on the SpringWell SS1, with this being the softener that suits the majority of people.

The SS1 has a 32,000-grain resin for traditional ion exchange, with a service flow rate of 11 gallons of soft water per minute. This provides a fast water flow even at peak times of water usage. This softening system uses a 10% crosslink resin, which is higher-quality and lasts longer than 8% crosslink resin.

You can use the SpringWell SS’s smart control head to program everything: the amount of salt used, when the system regenerates, the timings and lengths of backwash cycles, and more.

The control head can be connected to a Bluetooth app, which is a real standout feature – it means you can control and configure the softener without having to touch the system. The app lets you view your water usage information, too, so you can adjust the system’s settings for the most efficient performance. You don’t have to use the app if you’re less technically inclined.

springwell water softener electronic conrol head and bluetooth app

With environmentally-friendly metered regeneration that measures how much water is used by the gallon, the SpringWell SS holds off on regeneration cycles until they’re absolutely needed, helping you to save money, salt, and water. To add to this already efficient operation, the resin tank contains a Vortech plate, which further reduces salt and water usage by providing 30% more efficient backwashing.

The SpringWell SS provides focused hardness removal with its targeted ion exchange performance. This salt-based water softener doesn’t just reduce scale buildup; it prevents it entirely. With the SS, you can extend the lifespan of your appliances, use 40% less detergent, reduce spotting on dishes and cutlery, and enjoy healthier hair and skin.

Although the SS’s softening process isn’t certified to NSF standards, all its components are NSF certified to ensure durability and quality performance.

Springwell SS Included NSF certified Components

If you need proof that the SpringWell team believes in their products, you’ll find it in the 6-month money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty. You have 6 months to trial the system, with no obligation to keep it – and if any faults develop throughout the system’s lifespan, you’ll be able to arrange for replacement parts free of charge (terms and conditions apply).

The tanks are made from polypropylene, a tough, rigid material that has good weldability and chemical resistance, which makes it a great option for a variety of industries, including the furniture and automotive markets.

Springwell SS Polypropylene tanks

Included with the SpringWell SS are a resin and brine tank, a 50-inch drain line, an electronic head unit, a hose clamp, and two MNTP fittings. Installing this SpringWell system is possible to do yourself, with many customers praising installation for being “straightforward”. The user manual (view it here) is easy to follow, but if you do need any help, SpringWell’s customer service team is on hand to provide support.

Customers who reached out to customer service were really pleased with the quality of support they received.

Springwell SS water softener customer reviews

Costing just over $1,300 upfront, the SpringWell S1 is one of the best value-for-money salt-based water softeners on this list.

With its efficient performance and 10% crosslink resin, the system requires less frequent maintenance than other water softener systems. Depending on your water usage, a 40 lb bag of salt (costing around $6) should last for between 1 and 2 months. Most people need to add around 6-8 40 lb bags of salt to their SS softener per year.

SpringWell SS Pros

  • The SpringWell SS offers one of the most efficient money-saving, water-saving and salt-saving performances of all salt-based water softeners for well water.
  • This well water softener is a fantastic value for money, with affordable upfront and maintenance costs.
  • The system is designed using durable, NSF-certified materials and provides highly effective scale prevention.
  • You’re backed by a 6-month satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime warranty when you buy this product.

SpringWell SS Cons

  • As a salt-based system with a brine tank, the SpringWell SS requires salt top-ups, so it’s not quite as convenient as the salt-free softening systems on this list.

Read the full review: Springwell SS Review

2️⃣ Best for Well Water with Iron >3 PPM: SpringWell WSSS Filter & Softener Combo

If your water contains iron and you have a bigger budget to spend upfront, consider our top pick for the best iron removal and softening system combo: the SpringWell WSSS Filter & Softener Combo.

You can buy the system in two sizes:

  • 1-3 bathrooms
  • 4-6 bathrooms

The systems offer the exact same softening and contaminant removal processes – the only difference is the media/resin capacity and the amount of filtered and softened water each system can provide per minute. The 1-3 bathroom system has a 12 GPM flow rate, while the 4-6 bathroom system delivers a flow rate of up to 20 GPM.

The SpringWell WSSS combines the salt-based water softener system reviewed above and SpringWell’s whole house well water filter system, which targets up to 7 PPM iron (ferrous and ferric), up to 8 PPM hydrogen sulfide, and up to 1 PPM manganese. The system comes with two electronic control heads, a 50-inch drain line, a hose clamp, a bypass valve, a filter tank, brine tank, and resin tank, and MNPT fittings.

The separate filtration and softening processes take place in their own dedicated tanks. Before softening, water enters the air injection filtration tank, where it flows through a pocket of compressed air. The air oxidizes the iron, manganese, and sulfur in the water.

When the water passes through the greensand media, the oxidized minerals are trapped in the media. The air pocket resets about once per day and the media is backwashed once weekly to replenish the oxygen and flush away the accumulated contaminants.

By combining both air injection and greensand filtration, the SpringWell WSSS can remove more iron than well water filter systems that use either one or the other.

The filtering and softening tanks are independently programmed by their own digital control heads. The water filtration system requires similar programming to the softener. Initial programming involves inputting the time and frequency of backwashing, and setting the filter values according to the instructions in the user manual.

Once you’ve set the system, that’s it – it’ll remember the programming and you won’t need to touch it again. The brine tank connects to the softening tank and doesn’t require its own head.

You’ll pay more for the SpringWell WSSS because you’re buying a softening system and water filter system combined. The unit costs just over $3,000.

The good news is that maintenance is minimal, so ongoing costs are manageable. For the water softener, you’ll need to top up the salt tank with around 6-8 40 lb bags of salt (costing about $6), and replace the resin after about 8-10 years. The water filter tank is virtually maintenance-free because the manganese greensand media has a lifespan of 18 to 25 years.

SpringWell WSSS Pros

  • The SpringWell WSSS is the ideal solution for people looking to improve their drinking water quality with filtration and softening.
  • You get twice the benefits with a water treatment system that can soften and filter water in one process
  • The system comes with a 6-month satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime warranty when you buy this product.

SpringWell WSSS Cons

  • You’ll need a lot of money upfront to afford this water treatment system. While the value is there, the initial price might be out of some people’s budgets.

3️⃣ Budget Pick: SoftPro Elite Water Softener for Well Water

The SoftPro Elite is the best affordable water softener on the market that uses ion exchange to soften a water supply and remove up to 3 PPM of iron. The system costs just over $1,000, but you can rest assured that you still get the most impressive features of a water softener – and more – with this system.

The SoftPro Elite comes in eight different grain capacities, from 24,000 to 110,000, so you can size this system to your home accurately.

Like the majority of salt-based softeners, the SoftPro Elite features a brine tank and a resin tank, which holds the resin bed, and uses ion exchange to soften water by swapping calcium and magnesium ions for sodium. The SoftPro Elite’s unique features make it a standout from other water softener units available today.

If the total capacity of the tank ever falls below 3%, the system will undergo a 15-minute recharge to add additional capacity to ensure it can continue to soften water until it’s set to regenerate.

The Precision Brining feature also saves salt by making only 70% of brine. Before the system performs a regeneration cycle, it calculates exactly how much brine you’ll need to regenerate the resin, preventing water and salt waste and helping you to save money. The system will even perform an automatic refresh if it hasn’t been used for seven days, helping to prevent bacteria growth in the brine tank.

The system’s digital control valve offers simple control – you simply use the touchpad controls to activate your desired setting. With automatic backwashes, you’ll have minimal contact with the control valve unless you simply want to check up on the system’s status.

The brine tank and resin tank included are wide-mouthed and high-capacity, so fewer regenerations are needed and you can spend less time with salt top-ups. The brine tank has a grid lining that stops salt bridges from forming where they shouldn’t.

There’s also an included safety float, an essential component that prevents the tank from overflowing in the instance of a malfunction.

The tanks are covered by neoprene jackets, which provide insulation and prevent both condensation and freezing, helping to keep the tank safe. The mesh resin for this water softener comes pre-loaded, making installation that little bit easier.

SoftPro Elite Pros

  • The SoftPro Elite is an affordable option for iron removal and water softening, thanks to its ability to reduce up to 3 PPM of iron.
  • There are eight different grain capacities to choose from with this system, with the lowest grain capacity starting at just $1,000.
  • This water softener is backed by a lifetime warranty, so you’re covered throughout the system’s lifespan.

SoftPro Elite Cons

  • The SoftPro Elite takes up quite a lot of space compared to other water softener units. Installing this system is also fairly tricky as the instructions aren’t as clear as they could be.

4️⃣ Best Salt-Free: SpringWell Futuresoft Salt-free Water Softener

The SpringWell Futuresoft is another exceptional SpringWell softening option, with a difference – instead of the ion exchange process, the Futuresoft uses a water conditioning method known as template-assisted crystallization (TAC).

There are three sizes and flow rates available for the SpringWell Futuresoft:

  • 1-3 bathrooms, 12 GPM (FS1)
  • 4-6 bathrooms, 15 GPM (FS4)
  • 7+ bathrooms, 20 GPM (FS+)

How is the Futuresoft unique from the salt-based SpringWell SS? The key difference is performance. The SpringWell Futuresoft is a salt-free water softener that conditions water. Rather than exchanging water hardness minerals with sodium ions to produce softened water, this system crystallizes calcium carbonate and magnesium minerals.

In their new, altered form, the hardness minerals are unable to stick to surfaces and form scale, but they’re still present in your water supply, so you can enjoy great-tasting mineral drinking water.

The Futuresoft is around $100 more expensive than the SS, most likely due to the fact that the TAC process requires no salt and therefore very little maintenance, so you’re paying for the hassle-free softening alternative.

This salt-free water conditioner costs around $1,400, and this price includes the conditioning tank (pre-loaded with the conditioning media), a bypass valve and mounting bracket, a gasket and tube, two 1-inch MNPT fittings, hose bib assembly, a sediment pre-filter with housing and an o-ring, and a spanner wrench for installation.

The only two maintenance jobs required for this system are changing the sediment filter and replacing the media. The sediment filter needs replacing every 6 to 9 months, while the Futuresoft media lasts up to 1 million gallons, or approximately 6 years.

Salt-free water softeners tend to be slightly less effective at scale reduction than water softeners, but the Futuresoft offers a performance that rivals the ion exchange process.

Many customers commented that they saw a near-instant reduction in deposits on glass shower screens and showerheads after installing this salt-free water softener.

SpringWell Futuresoft Pros

  • It’s much cheaper to run the SpringWell Futuresoft than to run a salt-based water softener. The Futuresoft requires minimal maintenance and no salt top-ups.
  • If you’re on a low-sodium diet or you just don’t want to consume excess salt, the Futuresoft is an effective alternative to consider.
  • The Futuresoft doesn’t actually remove water hardness minerals, so you can still benefit from these minerals in your water.

SpringWell Futuresoft Cons

  • Because the Futuresoft doesn’t eliminate water hardness, you may still have some scale issues in your water supply.
  • Water with high iron content will require pre-treatment

Read the full review: Springwell Futuresoft Review

5️⃣ Best for Well Water with Tannins: Springwell Tannin Softener System

Tackling well water tannins usually requires a dedicated filtration system. The SpringWell Tannin Softener System is one of the few combined water softeners and tannin removal filters to exist today. Like most of SpringWell’s other products, the Tannin Softener System comes in two sizes:

  • 1-3 bathrooms, 12 GPM(STR 1)
  • 4-6 bathrooms, 15 GPM (STR 4)

The Tannin Softener System is one of SpringWell’s newer offerings, featuring an innovative design that sets it apart from its competitors.

The unit consists of two tanks: a tannin removal tank and a brine tank. The tannin removal tank also acts as the resin tank, softening water with ion exchange while also removing tannins.

Tannins, like magnesium and calcium ions, have a negative charge. This means that they’re attracted to the resin inside the resin tank, and are exchanged for sodium. The Tannin Softener System is designed to handle water containing hardness minerals and tannins, and requires more frequent regenerations to prevent organic fouling of the inner resin beads.

Included with the Tannin Softener System, aside from the two tanks, is an electronic head, a 50-inch drain line, a spanner wrench for installation, two MNPT fittings, a bypass valve, a mounting bracket, a hose valve, and a gasket and lube.

There’s also a sediment filter to protect the water softener resin from potentially damaging particles, helping to extend its lifespan. If you’re competent with DIY, you’ll be able to install the softener yourself using the installation guide or YouTube video, which is particularly helpful.

The Tannin Softener System is manufactured using certified components, so you can be certain the system is well designed for its intended purpose.

Plus, the brine tank and tannin removal tank come with a lifetime warranty, so you’re covered throughout the lifetime of the system. SpringWell also offers a 6-month money-back guarantee, allowing you to try the system at no financial risk.

Priced at around $2,500, the Tannin Softener System is on the expensive side. But if you’re dealing with a tannin issue that you need to resolve alongside your drinking water hardness, the Tannin Softener System is cheaper and more convenient to install than two separate systems.

The Tannin Softener System can completely remove tannins, so you shouldn’t need to reinforce the system with a separate filter. Additionally, the sediment filter will remove larger sediment that may also contribute to the appearance of your water.

SpringWell Tannin Softener System Pros

  • The SpringWell Tannin Softener System is ideal for anyone looking to remove tannins and water hardness with a traditional salt-based water softener.
  • The system is offered by SpringWell, one of the most trusted manufacturers – so even though the concept is unique to the market, you can trust SpringWell to provide the intended results.
  • This water softener is backed by a lifetime warranty and a 6-month money-back guarantee.

SpringWell Tannin Softener System Cons

  • The SpringWell Tannin Softener System is almost double the price of SpringWell’s salt-based softener, so it’s not great for small budgets.

6️⃣ Best Electronic Descaler – Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler

The Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler isn’t like your typical water softener. This unit features no brine tank or resin tank, and doesn’t need salt or regeneration to operate.

Unlike other salt-free water conditioners, the Yarna Capacitive descaler doesn’t even need media or a control valve. Instead, the system attaches onto your existing pipe – without needing to cut into the pipe or divert the water – to provide electromagnetic descaling.

The Yarna Capacitive descaler comes in just one size that suits the majority of customers, fitting pipes up to 1 inch thick. The system sends electric pulses through a coil that wraps around the water pipe, preventing hardness minerals from causing scale buildup inside your pipes.

This scale-prevention process doesn’t intercept your water and should have no impact on your water pressure or water flow whatsoever. There’s no salt or media to change and no control valve to set, so you can own this system completely maintenance-free.

We were keen to include this salt-free water conditioner on the list because electronic descalers are gradually becoming more popular, thanks to their affordable price, low-hassle installation, and no maintenance requirements.

The Yarna was our top choice because the overwhelming majority of customers agreed that the system provides impressive scale removal. However, it’s worth noting that electronic descaling is a relatively new conditioning method that isn’t (so far) backed by studies that give clear evidence that the process works.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for further research into this potentially game-changing scale-prevention technique.

Costing just under $300, the Yarna Capacitive is one of the most affordable water descalers available. You’d expect a smaller warranty for a more affordable system, but the Yarna Capacitive has an impressive 365-day money-back guarantee and an even more impressive 10-year warranty.

If you’re sceptical about electronic descalers or you have a a “see it, believe it” mindset, you can try the Yarna Capacitive descaler at virtually no risk. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work for you, you can simply return it for a refund.

Yarna Capacitive Pros

  • If you don’t want a whole house water softener that you’ll have to put effort into looking after, the Yarna Capacitive is a great choice. It doesn’t have a brine tank or a resin tank, and you don’t even need to program it with a control valve.
  • This salt-free water conditioner is ideal for smaller budgets, costing hundreds, not thousands, of dollars.
  • The Yarna Capacitive doesn’t waste water or use salt, so it’s cost-effective to run – and it comes with a 10-year warranty for your peace of mind.

Yarna Capacitive Con

  • The Yarna Capacitive uses a water conditioning method that isn’t backed by much scientific proof. You may be hesitant to invest in a method that we don’t know much about.

📝 Others That Didn’t Make the Cut

The AquaOx WS is one of the more popular salt-based systems that nearly made this list. However, this softener doesn’t offer the best value for money, with prices starting around $1,700.

Another popular choice is the Pentair Water Softening System. While this softener offers a reliable performance, it’s another more expensive option, costing around $1,600.

The Fleck Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener Iron Filter has a clear selling point: it tackles water hardness and iron. However, this softener is bulky and challenging to install.

While the Tier1 Everyday Series is a fantastic budget water softening option, we found that because of its low price, some of the system’s features were lacking.

The Crystal Quest Whole House Water Softener is an exciting offering, with pre- and post-filtration, but we couldn’t find enough customer reviews to get an understanding of how this system lives up to user expectations.

Filtersmart is a popular brand, and the Filtersmart Salt-Free Water Softener Alternative System we one of our considerations. However, this salt-free water softening system is also lacking reviews from customers.

Another offering from a reliable brand, the Aquasana Salt-Free Water Conditioner seemed a worthy contender. However, customers complained that the system didn’t actually solve their scale issues.

The US Water Systems GreenWave Salt-free Water Conditioner is a promising water conditioner that we’ll be keeping an eye on, but we didn’t know enough about the real-world experience with this system to include it in our list.

Althouth the Pelican NaturSoft Water Softener Alternative offers a high-quality softening performance, the system is expensive, costing around $2,000 for 1-3 bathrooms.

The Eddy Water Descaler Electronic Water Softener is a great low-budget softening alternative, but we found there was too much conflicting evidence about whether this system actually worked.

Finally, the Nuvo H20 DPHB Home Salt Water Softener System uses a unique salt-free softening process that intrigued us, but too many customers complained that the softener didn’t work – and some said that it tinted their water supply blue.

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve read about softener capacity, but I don’t understand what it means. Is it the lifespan of the product?

Actually, no. A softener’s capacity is a measure of how much soft water can be produced before a softener needs to regenerate. This depends on how much resin the softener can hold and the hardness of your water (and potentially the amount of water iron content you have).

If you have a big family with lots of water-based appliances, it makes sense to look at salt-based systems with a bigger capacity to provide you with a greater amount of soft water before it needs to regenerate.

Why do I need to install a water softener in a specific location?

Manufacturers recommend that you install a water softener as close as possible to the place where your water line enters your home. This is because you want your whole home to benefit from soft water, including your water heater.

If you were to install a water softener underneath your kitchen sink, for example, only the kitchen sink would benefit from soft water, and not any of the other faucets or water-based appliances in your home.

Do water softeners use a lot of electricity?

It depends on the quality of the softener you go for, but generally, no. Even high-capacity softeners use about as much electricity as an electric alarm to produce softened water. They won’t contribute noticeably to your electricity bills in the way that a TV or a computer would.

Do I need a separate iron filter to remove iron and manganese?

Usually, no. Many softening systems don’t require an iron filter because they remove iron themselves in the softening process. You can assume that iron & manganese removal is included in a water softening device designed for wells, but if you have high levels of iron and manganese, you may want to look into an iron filter and softener combo.