Best Water Softeners to Tame Hard Water (Reviews and Buyers Guide)

If you’ve ever been frustrated by your inability to get the shampoo to form a lather or scrub the limescale buildup in a tea kettle - then you know something about the problems of hard water.

“Hard water” is any water that has an unusually high mineral content, mostly consisting of the minerals calcium and magnesium.

This is why you’ll need to know about the best water softeners!

In this article, you can find water softener reviews for the most efficient and popular products.

Read on to learn more!

Best Water Softeners: First Look





SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener


Best Overall; Uses Bluetooth Technology


Springwell FutureSoft


Provides 99.6% Scale Prevention


SoftPro Elite


Comes With a Life-Time Warranty

  • High-grain capacity
  • Reverse osmosis system
  • Chlorine filter


Pelican Advantage

Most Versatile Water Softener


Fleck 5600 SXT

Top User-Friendly Water Softener


1. SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener

Quick Look:

The SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener is considered one of the best saltwater softeners on the market, and for good reason.

SpringWell has over twenty years of experience in improving water quality, and all its components are premium certified. They consistently produce reliable and effective products.

As mentioned previously, salt-based water softeners require regular salt replenishment. With inefficient systems, the costs can add up quickly.

The SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener, however, is designed to maximize efficient use of salt. You can expect to need only one 40 pound bag of salt every 1 to 2 months, making the system virtually maintenance-free.

Water Pressure

Some water-softening systems lower the water pressure. The repeated flushing out of hardening minerals can cause pressure to drop unexpectedly, which is a major inconvenience.

Luckily, you won’t have to worry about loss of water pressure with SpringWell’s product. They customize their water softener systems based on the number of bathrooms in a household. This allows for an accurate prediction of average water usage, which in turn means you get the best water softener for your home.

Bluetooth Technology

SpringWell has innovated water softening by equipping its system with Bluetooth technology that connects to users’ phones.

Using the Bluetooth app, you can view all settings on your electronic water softener. You can check the valves, start backwash cycles, and adjust settings as needed. The app provides an easy way to keep track of things like when it’s time to add more salt and how much water you’re using.

2. SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Softener

Quick Look:

  • Salt-free
  • Filters and softens water
  • Six-month money-back guarantee
  • Includes a bypass valve

The SpringWell FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Softener, as its name indicates, is an example of a salt-free softener.

The FutureSoft Salt-Free Water Conditioner includes both filtering and softening elements.

The filter removes large particles, like dirt and dust while retaining the beneficial minerals in your plumbing system. Then, the softener neutralizes the calcium and magnesium particles.

The FutureSoft company has a six-month money-back guarantee on all products, so if you’re not satisfied with their salt-free water softener, you can always return it.

Admittedly, this water conditioner is more expensive than similar salt-free systems, such as the Nuvo H20 DPHB.

However, the price is a fair deal, given the many features that are included. If you have the money to spend on a high-quality product, this is the best home water softener for you.

Bypass Valve

The FutureSoft water softener also includes a bypass valve.

The bypass valve can be used to turn off the softener. Why would you want to turn it off? Well, if you were watering your lawn or garden, you wouldn't want to use softened water. Too much salt is bad for plants. A bypass valve is a helpful way of saving salt for when it's needed, saving you money.

3. SoftPro Elite Water Softener

Quick Look:

  • Salt-based
  • Precision brining
  • Conserves water

The SoftPro Elite Water Softener is a traditional salt-based softener that comes with a lifetime warranty.

The installation process is easy, but if you do need help, SoftPro provides live customer support. You can either buy the whole system up-front or pay for it with four interest-free payments.

Brine Tank

You might expect that salt-based softeners would include only salt, but in fact, most are dual tank water softeners. These salt-based systems use two tanks, one full of fine mesh resin beads and another with a salty brine solution, to soften water.

The tank with the brine is called a brine tank, salt tank, or mineral tank.

Ion Exchange

Inside the salt tank, sodium ions are exchanged with the calcium and magnesium ions in hard water. When the ion exchange process is complete, the calcium and magnesium are rinsed out. This carries away the unwanted minerals, sending them down the drain and out of your water for good.

Pros and Cons

The good news is that this kind of ion exchange system is reliable and effective.

The bad news is that water softener salt must be regularly replaced, and the amount of water spent flushing away the minerals can drive up your water bill.

Precision Brining

The SoftPro Elite Water Softener solves these problems with a process called “precision brining.”

The name is self-explanatory: the technology automatically calculates how much brine is needed to top up the salt tank. It then creates precisely the amount of brine needed, no more.

This means that instead of using a full mineral tank on each rinse, it uses only the amount of water necessary, saving both water and salt. In fact, this dual tank water softener can save as much as 30% more salt compared to other ion exchange softeners.

The salt still needs to be replenished, but only a few times a year. Plus, efficient water usage can save you up to 2000 gallons of water.

To keep the brine tank clean, the SoftPro Elite refills the tank with treated softened water, not untreated hard water. In addition, it filters the water using a KDF55 media guard filter.

This filter is capable of removing chlorine, bacteria, and heavy metals like lead and mercury.

4. Pelican Advantage Series Salt Water Softener

Quick Look:

  • Compatible with salt and potassium chloride
  • Large tank size
  • Removes iron
  • Programmable electronic head

Among salt-based water softeners, the Pelican Advantage Series Salt Water Softener is unique because it doesn’t require salt. It can operate using either salt or potassium chloride.

Potassium chloride is slightly more expensive, but if you’re trying to limit the sodium in your diet, it’s a worthwhile expense. By using potassium chloride instead, you get all the benefits of softened water without the extra sodium.

This water softening system has a large tank size, which means it doesn’t need to be refilled as frequently as systems with small tanks do.

Its resin bed is “high capacity,” meaning the fine mesh resin can absorb a lot of water-hardening minerals before needing to be replaced.

The grain capacity varies depending on the model. For a family with 2-3 bathrooms, a Pelican softener with a grain capacity of 32,000 is recommended.

Iron Removal

The Pelican Advantage Series Softener is also capable of iron removal.

Although iron is not a health hazard, it turns the water an unpleasant orange color. Additionally, it can damage the resin beads found in water softeners. To prevent this damage, Pelican’s water softener system filters iron out of the water.

Electronic Head

An increasing number of water softeners are incorporating technology in innovative ways, and the Pelican Advantage Series Salt Water Softener is no exception. It has a programmable electronic head that acts as a microprocessor for the whole system.

The electronic head features front panel settings that are easy to understand and navigate. Using the electronic head, you can choose any regeneration cycle from the 36 pre-programmed regeneration cycle options, depending on which one fits your typical water usage.

Operation data is stored in non-volatile memory. The backup battery can keep the system running for up to 8 hours.

Plus, if you ever need to change any of the settings, just program your changes into the electronic head.


Although it is generally preferable to install water softeners inside, this water softener can be installed outdoors. Whether it is advisable to do this depends on the weather in your area.

In places where water freezes during the winter, water softeners should not be installed outside. Freezing will render the system inoperable.

However, in more temperate climates, outdoor installation is fine. Just set up an outside cover to keep all components protected from extreme weather, and make sure the electronic head is protected from water.

5. Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener System

Quick Look:

  • Smart Regeneration to conserve water
  • High grain capacity
  • Reverse osmosis system
  • Chlorine filter

Like the SpringWell Salt-Based Water Softener, the Fleck 5600 SXT Water Softener System comes with an easy-to-navigate electronic interface. The interface includes both programming features and diagnostic tools. This allows you to control settings like Smart Regeneration.

Smart Regeneration

Smart Regeneration, true to its name, is a smart technology feature that controls the regeneration of the water softener. Regeneration is the process of dual tank softeners replenishing their resin beads and brine tanks.

Letting the regeneration proceed automatically is convenient, but if the system doesn’t adjust based on your water usage, you may end up using more salt than necessary, or even worse, running out of treated water.

‌Fortunately, smart regeneration solves these issues. When your water consumption goes up, so does the rate of regeneration. This ensures that your water is always fully treated, even if you're running multiple loads in a dishwasher or washing machine.

When your usage goes back down, the regeneration rate drops accordingly. Smart regeneration technology only operates when it’s needed. Its automatic adjustments keep your water flow consistent and make sure that you’re using salt as efficiently as possible.

Grain Capacity

The Fleck Water Softener is a 48,000 grain water softener.

Grain capacity, also called grains per gallon, refers to the number of grains of water hardness that a softener can remove per cycle. For example, "48,000 grain water softener" means that it can remove about 48,000 grains of hardening minerals.

Optional add-on features include a reverse osmosis system and a chlorine+ filter. The reverse osmosis system has an advanced water alkalizer that efficiently filters drinking water.

The chlorine+ filter removes chlorine, chloramine, and other contaminants. With these two products combined, your water will be as safe and pure as any bottled water.

Any purchase of the Fleck 5600SXT Water Softener unit comes with a 10 year guarantee. It’s easy to install, even in small spaces.

At under $700, it’s considerably cheaper than similar models. Plus, you can pay for it on an installment plan, with monthly fees starting as low as $63.

Best Water Softeners: Other Products

Now you know about all the best water softener machines. But protecting your water supply doesn’t stop at your house’s water softening system.

There are many other tools and technologies designed to keep water safe and usable, so let’s talk about two other products that you can use to improve your home’s water supply.

Sediment Filter Canister + 5 Micron Filter

Sediment filters are the initial layer of protection between your water supply and harmful contaminants. They filter out large particles like dirt, pebbles, and other types of sediment.

It’s recommended that you install a sediment filter in front of your filtration system. That way, all sediment particles will be safely filtered out before they reach your water softener.

‌Dirt and rocks can easily clog equipment. If too much sediment accumulates in your water softening system, it can cause problems. By installing the Sediment Filter Canister +5 Micron Filter in front of your water softener, you will keep your softening system working longer and more efficiently.

UV Water Purification

For even better water quality, or as a water softener alternative, you can add SpringWell’s UV water purification system to your water softener.

UV technology makes your water safer to drink by killing harmful microorganisms. It is effective against bacteria and viruses, including E.coli, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia lamblia. In fact, it kills 99.9% of bacteria.

The UV purifier comes with an electronic monitor, allowing you to check the system’s diagnostics and confirm that everything is working perfectly.

Best Water Softeners: What You Need to Know

Water Hardness

The first sign of water hardness is difficulty getting soap to lather.

Typically, rubbing soap into a substance is enough to make thick bubbles form, but when soap comes into contact with hard water - it loses this ability.

If you try to wash a plate in hard water, the dish soap will not form a lather, and the plate will stay dirty. Many people who try to shower using hard water find that their hair remains greasy, and any soap they use leaves a white “soap scum” on their skin.

‌Problems With Water Hardness

The problems caused by water hardness aren’t limited to interfering with showers. Hard water leaves mineral deposits on everything it touches. That’s where the hard white layers inside your teakettle come from.

Although these mineral deposits are invisible at first, they build up over time to form white crystalline layers. Left long enough, this mineral buildup clogs pipes and damages plumbing. In particularly severe cases, hard water deposits can even cause your water heater to malfunction.

Soft Water

Soft water, as you might have guessed, is the opposite of hard water. "Soft water" has either been stripped of calcium and magnesium or been treated in a way that renders these minerals harmless.

These days, there are plenty of water softeners available to neutralize the effects of water hardness. However, all of these systems come with their own quirks and special features.

‌Some are very water-efficient, some provide high-tech filtration, and others incorporate electronics to monitor functionality.

With so much variety, it can be difficult to figure out what the best water softeners are.

Salt-Free Softeners

The process of softening water usually involves using salt to bind to the minerals. Salt-free softeners, on the other hand, use a process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to produce soft water.

‌In TAC, water is passed through a tank containing seed crystals. Excess minerals bind to these seed crystals. The minerals are not removed from the water supply, but the binding process renders them unable to form deposits. Sometimes, softeners that use this process are called water conditioners.

Although salt-based water softening systems are effective, they have the downside of adding a small amount of sodium to the water. For those trying to limit their sodium intake, salt-free water conditioners like the FutureSoft Salt-Free system are a perfect alternative.

Best Water Softener: The Takeaway

Ultimately, what constitutes the best whole house water softener system will vary depending on your personal preferences and home situation.

If you’re a tech wizard, the Bluetooth app that’s built into SpringWell’s Salt-Based Softener will appeal to you.

On the other hand, if you're worried about too much salt in your diet, the Pelican Advantage Series Salt Water Softener is a great bet since its brine tank can function with potassium instead of salt.

‌If you'd prefer a water softener alternative, you can boost your water quality by using SpringWell’s Sediment Filter Canister or UV Water Purification. These products keep your water system working smoothly, and they help protect you from harmful pathogens.

Now that you’re read these water softener reviews, you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need to evaluate and buy the best water softener systems.

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