6 Different Types of Water Softeners

Hard water, if not treated, is problematic. Water softeners eliminate the problem by giving you soft water. Water softeners remove the hard mineral content from your water, supplying you with softer water.

Although water softeners take care of hard water and its consequences, there are multiple options to choose from.

One of the 6 different types of water softeners-Softpro Elite

The benefits of a water softener system are countless! To determine which water softener would be the optimal choice for you, we’ve discussed each water softener’s pros and cons below.

Just keep on reading and you’ll figure out which water softener suits your needs the best!

Ion exchange (Salt-Based Water Softeners)

Ion exchange-based water softeners are the most common. This system uses a process called ion exchange. This uses the positive charge of sodium ions to attract hard water minerals and drain them out.

Hard water consists of calcium and magnesium ions. Ion exchange water softeners use sodium in the form of salt to attract these ions.

Water softener salt is poured over a resin bed in resin tanks where hard water minerals are attracted. Once the resin depletes, that is once it runs out of salt, the regeneration cycle starts. You can regenerate by pouring salt inside the brine tank.


This requires regular maintenance since salt-based water softening systems on average need to be refilled with salt at least once a week.

Ion exchange water softeners efficiently remove all hard water content from your water but don’t promise to do anything else. You’ll be responsible for the softener’s brine tank upkeep and salt refilling.

The resin, however, lasts for several years before you need to replace it. The resin tanks need salt for consistent regeneration cycles.

+ Lasts longer
+ Efficiently removes hard water minerals
+ Affordable price options
+ Most commonly used
Requires consistent upkeep
May cause salt bridging and salt mushing
Refilling salt means regular salt costs

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt-free systems don’t require any regeneration or upkeep since they don’t have brine tanks and they don’t need salt!

Salt-free softeners do not swap hardness ions for sodium ions, but instead use a TAC technology. This technology neutralizes hard minerals while retaining calcium and magnesium minerals.

Salt-free softener systems give healthy drinking water since they neutralize the effect that hard water minerals have. In this way, a salt-free water softener eliminates the problems hard water causes altogether.

One of the 6 different types of water softeners-Softpro Elite

The neutralization stops hard minerals from clumping together, therefore, preventing scale deposits from adhering to the surface.

Salt-free softeners are smaller in size and take up less space. Additionally, since there’s no brine or resin involved, there’s almost no maintenance.

You save on annual salt costs and consistent upkeep. Although salt-free softeners are small in stature, they come with different options for multi-filtration water filters. In addition, to softening water, these water systems remove impurities and bacteria.

This is why salt-free softeners are known as a water softener alternative since they get the softening job done with additional features.

+ Almost no maintenance required
+ Sodium-free soft water
+ Safe and healthy drinking water
On the pricier end
Hard minerals aren’t removed
Safe and healthy drinking water

To learn more, check out how water softener vs water conditioner.

Electronic Descalers

Electronic descalers are a new type of water softener. They’re also known as a softener system alternative since they soften your water without removing hard minerals.

Like salt-free water softeners, these magnetic water softeners use electricity to create a magnetic field that neutralizes hard minerals.

The magnetic field keeps these minerals from bonding thus making them insoluble to avoid mineral build-up. Through these systems, you get water softener features but at a much more reasonable price.

One of the 6 different types of water softeners-Electronic Descalers

With magnetic water softeners, the installation is easy too. All you need to do is wrap your pipes around your water supply pipes and the magnetic field will take care of the rest!

Do keep in mind the additional increase in electricity usage you’ll have from using an electronic descaler!

+ Affordable
+ Easy DIY installations
+ No upkeep required
+ Only needs electricity
Increased electricity usage will increase bill costs
Doesn’t remove hard minerals\

Reverse Osmosis Water Softeners

Reverse osmosis systems aren’t considered water softeners but can be used as an alternative.

Reverse osmosis systems clear any impurity your water may have, including hard minerals, thus making it eligible for water softening.

Reverse Osmosis systems have various filter options that can remove dissolved solids, hard minerals, salt, carbon, and chlorine. These systems already include carbon and sediment filters to remove unpleasant tastes, smells, dirt, and chlorine from your water.

One of the 6 different types of water softeners-reverse osmosis

These systems have an RO Membrane that forces minute and microscopic particles and impurities out.

These systems are generally built for an under-sink installation focusing on a specific water point.

They’re easily maintained since you only need to change the carbon and sediment filter from time to time.

+ Provides extremely clean and healthy water
+ Removes bad tastes and odor
+ You can have an unlimited reverse osmosis water supply for your tap installation
Quite expensive
Filter maintenance annual costs need to be kept in mind

Portable Water Softeners

If you’re someone who’s on the road mostly, these types of water softeners are the option for you!

Portable water softeners are perfect for travelers or if you have an RV home! These water softener systems don’t need electricity or rigorous upkeep.

If you’re worried about the regeneration cycle, these water softeners require regeneration after several weeks. Even then so, you don’t need to worry about getting a water softener salt. Portable water softeners can use food-grade salt(table salt).

portable water softener

Obviously, according to their size and use these water softeners don’t promise the same flow rate as a full-sized water softener.

However, these systems can easily supply soft water for several people and at least one working bathroom.

Portable water softeners cannot be salt-free or electric, they’re only available as saltwater softeners.

+ Small size
+ Best for any traveler
+ Optimal quality soft water
Can’t provide soft water for a large number of people

Showerhead Water Softeners

Different types of water softeners are costly! If you can’t afford one for your whole house, showerhead softeners are affordable.

Showerhead water softeners give you hydrated and healthy hair and skin. Hard water can strip your skin of its natural moisture, and soft water remedies that. You won’t have to scrub any buildup or soap scum on your tubs or sinks.

One of the 6 different types of water softeners-Aquabliss

Some showerhead filters also have options that add vitamins to your water supply for the natural nourishment of your skin.

You can install showerhead filters by unscrewing your old showerhead and replacing it with a softener filter. These filters need replacements every 2 months at least!

+ Affordable
+ Easily installed
+ Available with vitamin option filters
Provides treated water only for your shower


Mentioned above are 6 types of water softeners that solve hard water problems! If you’re looking to remove rust stains, mineral buildups, or prevent your clothes from losing their color, any choice will work!

Although some water conditioners may work for your whole house or just a part of your house, they’ll complete the job nonetheless!