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Water Filter and Softener

Best water softener for hard water in 2023

Jacky Chou

Are you experiencing constant side effects of drinking hard water? Then, it is probably time to get a water softener. As a newcomer in the industry, it can be a challenge to find the best water softener in the market. This is why we are here to help.

What is a water softener? A typical water softener is a tall, narrow tank, and a short, wide brine tank. It is filled with resin beads, which are permanently sealed inside the tank. The softener tank is connected to your home’s water supply line.

Water softeners come in different types, with each type working differently to produce soft water. To help you make the right decision, we have a list of the best water softener system in the market today. Not only will you get the water softener reviews you will also learn more about water softeners from the buyer’s guide below.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Water Softener for Your Home | BioEnergy Consult

5 Best water softeners

1. AFWFilters IRON Pro 2 Combination water softener- Our Top pick

AFWFilters AFW Filters IRON Pro 2 Combination water softener iron filter Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve for whole house (64,000 Grains, Black)
  • Ships Pre Loaded Water softener, iron filter, all in one! high flow for whole house use!
  • Comes with AFW Filters install kit with sanitizer, lubricant, and instructions
  • Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve for efficiency and ease of use, 5 year ! Removes hardness up to 70 gpg, iron up to 4-7 ppm range, manganese up to 6 ppm, sediment, sand, rust
  • Comes with the standard brine tank and bypass valve -

If you have a large household or high level of hard water, then AFWFilters IRON Pro 2 Combination water softener should be on your top list. This is because it has a large grain capacity of 64000. It uses a combination of a water softener and an iron filter to remove impurities.

Weighing at 120 pounds, this softener is not small. It is one of the best salt-based water softeners. The impurities are filtered out using a mesh resin filter. It also includes a device that tests the iron content in your water.

While gardening, the bypass valve isolates the water softener while the metered regeneration helps in maintaining the production of softened water. If you struggle with slimy black stains in your bathtub or shower, this softener can easily fix it.


  • Digital version Fleck 5600SXT
  • Turbine-Electronic Flow Meter
  • Four Modes of Operation: Immediate meter, Delayed meter, Delayed time clock regeneration, Day of the week regeneration
  • LCD Display with backlight
  • 48-hour Memory Backup
  • 64,000 Grain Capacity
  • Fine Mesh Resin
  • Double backwash
  • Safety Float System


  • Serves a large family
  • Has a brine tank overflow control system that protects floors from spills
  • Its metered regeneration saves cost
  • Combined iron removal and water softening;
  • Great performance and efficient regeneration
  • Convenient due to programmable settings
  • Saves settings so they are not lost if the power is cut


  • It is large and might require a lot of space for installation

2. Fleck 5600SXT 64,000 Grain Water Softener

The Fleck 5600SXT is a 180 pound, 64000 grain, and salt-based softener. It uses a metered regeneration system that can be programmed to suit your needs, without having to worry about either adding too much or too little salt.

It comes with the Pentair Scan and Service App, which provides you with detailed information on configuration and spare parts, a full troubleshooting manual, and technical documentation. It is ideal for large homes.

This device effectively softens water by removing calcium and magnesium. However, it is unable to remove iron from the water.


  • Top-class technology -An upgraded paddle wheel meter and the Fleck 5600sxt Digital
  • It has 4 modes of operation: immediate meter, Delayed meter, Delayed time clock, and Day of week regeneration
  • The LCD has 3 buttons and an intuitive interface
  • A digital monitor has the reserve power to deal with blackouts
  • A capacity of 64,000 grains
  • Built-in capacitor for 48-hour memory backup


  • Long warranty –5 years for the valve and 10 years for the tanks
  • A great value of money
  • Huge grain capacity
  • Metered control
  • Easy to install
  • Salt and water-saving technology
  • Pre-loaded resin


  • 8 % resin which isn’t the best.
  • Low iron level removal
  • Quite expensive

3. DuraWater 64k-56sxt-10al 64,000 grain water softener

Fleck 5600 SXT Meter Demand Water Softener Grain Capacity 10% Commercial Grade Cation Resin (64,000, Almond)
  • Ships with resin pre-loaded for easier installation
  • Ships complete and ready for easyinstallation
  • USA Made !!! - Great DYI instructions

Despite its high price, the DuraWater 64k-56sxt-10al 64,000 grain water softener is an excellent investment for a large household with its 64,000, grain capacity. It removes calcium, magnesium, and iron protecting your pipes, clothing, skin, and hair from hard water.

It weighs 140 pounds and includes a digital LCD monitor screen with a touchpad that controls the softener. This allows you to customize the metered regeneration system to suit your needs. The Durawater features an easy DIY installation process, although it is advisable to have basic plumbing knowledge.


  • A Fleck 5600SXT digital control valve
  • Effectively removes iron, sulfur, and Manganese
  • Provides oxidation and filtration of water effective on well water
  • Has a bypass valve
  • An installation tutorial for DIYers
  • Upgraded 10% cross-linked water softener resin.


  • Effortless installation
  • Simple design
  • High quality and durable
  • Preloaded resin
  • Great softener for well water
  • Oxidizes and filters water


  • Softening capabilities are not the best

4. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler

iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Descaler, Alternative Electronic Salt-Free Hard Water Conditioner, Reduces Limescale Prevent Deposits Build-up, Different from a Water Softener
  • [Improve Water Quality] Solves hard water problems without the need for chemicals, salt, or maintenance, while keeping healthy minerals in the water by preventing scale deposits from forming and allowing existing scale to break down.
  • [Reliable Descaler] Descales your entire water system and prevents scale buildup in pipes. Reduces energy consumption with an average one year payback period. Great for your home and the environment, individuals on salt-restricted diets, and those looking for healthier skin and hair.
  • [Environmental Friendly] Designed for very hard water areas (10-19 grains per gallon). Saves energy and extends the life of your appliances.
  • [Easy Installation] No plumbing modifications required. Maintenance-free. Works on any pipe, even PEX and PVC. 1-year money-back and lifetime tech support from iSpring.
  • [No change on Chemistry of Water] Unlike salt water softeners, ED2000 does not change the chemistry of water.

This is a 2-pound softener that is easy to install on all types of pipes. It is installed by wrapping the two antenna cables from the softener around the water pipe and then plugging the unit into a power outlet.

The iSpring ED2000 Magnetic Softener is an affordable option for treating build-up in appliances, on faucets, and showerheads. However, like most magnetic softeners, it lacks the capability of removing heavy materials from water.

Installation requires no plumbing know-how since it has simple coils that are charged with electricity. It is a great alternative for ecologically sensitive areas where salt-based softeners are prohibited.


  • Two thin coils, which wrap around the main water pipe.
  • Connecting lines for plugging into a power source.
  • Free lifetime technical support
  • A 12-month money-back guarantee for twelve months.


  • Cost-effective
  • Perfect for low sodium diets
  • Free maintenance costs
  • Leaves healthy minerals in the water and it retains a natural feel
  • Environmental friendly
  • No plumbing knowledge required
  • Doesn’t take up much space


  • Some minerals aren’t removed, which means hard water issues like dry skin or fading clothes can’t be fixed.

5. Watts Premier 7100638 Salt-Free Water Softener

Watts OFPSYS OneFlow Plus Whole House Water Filter System & Water Softener, System + Carbon Water Filter + Scale Reduction Cartridge, 3 Piece Set
  • Chemical-free scale reduction and protection converts hard minerals into soft particles preventing build up inside pipes and does not add or remove anything from water, allowing useful minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium to remain
  • High-capacity, 20-micron water filter removes chlorine taste and odor while reducing sediment without chemicals or salt which is better for the environment leaving nothing but quality drinking water
  • Virtually maintenance free, no electricity, wastewater, control valve and includes 1 carbon block good for up to 50,000 gallons, 1 scale reduction cartridge good for up to 250,000 gallons or 3 years, and multi-function tool for cartridge change-outs
  • Improves efficiency of all water heating devices and downstream plumbing components, improves equipment life, reduces energy consumption and is a great alternative to standard water softener or other whole house water filter systems
  • Easily installed to the floor or wall using included mounting bracket; connect the system to the main water supply pipe before the water heater and do not expose the system to freezing temperatures

The Watts Premier 7100638 Salt-Free Water Softener is one of the best salt-free water softeners in the market today. It is a 15-pound water softening system that doesn’t use electricity or salt. Due to this, it might require a cartridge replacement once every three years to keep working effectively.

It neutralizes hard water using a TAC system that attracts heavy minerals. The heavy minerals are turned into harmless, inactive particles in water, which reduces limescale on fixtures. It also helps in preventing future scale build-up.

While it is highly-priced, it is also maintenance-free and so you don’t have to worry about monitoring the salt levels.


  • Effective template-assisted crystallization (TAC) technology prevents mineral buildup
  • 20-micron radial flow carbon block cartridge
  • Last up to 3 years
  • 1-inch NPT inlet/outlet adapters
  • No backwashing or regeneration required, with zero wastewater to drain
  • Can handle up to 75 grains per gallon of hardness


  • Easy to install
  • No maintenance required
  • Environmental friendly with no water wastage
  • Reduce chlorine levels for healthy and great tasting
  • Prevents limescale development and retains beneficial minerals


  • Not the best for a big family
  • It is expensive
  • Requires skilled professional during installation

Buyers Guide for water softeners

It is important to know what works for your home and for you. The following are things you need to consider before buying a water softener:

Water softeners

1. Capacity

The water softeners in the market vary in capacity, meaning that some water softening systems are able to produce soft water more steadily and for a long time than others do. Depending on the size of the household, choose a softener with a capacity that won’t be strenuous.

The average family is said to be around 3, 000 grains per day. It is recommended that a large household should have a softener with a capacity of 64,000 grains and above. If you have a smaller household, then, you can choose those with 64000 grains and below. Check out the capacity of the water softener system before buying.

2. Space Availability

Due to the different capacities, it is obvious that the softeners will vary in size. Ensure you determine the location for your softener, carefully measure and ensure the water softener you’re buying fits that space.

3. Types of water softeners

There are a few common types of softeners;

  1. Salt-free- They don’t use salt to remove the minerals. They have a system called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) that crystallizes the minerals, then detaches the crystals, making them unbondable to anything.
  2. Salt-based(ion exchange)- They are the most common. They use an ion exchange system where the minerals are drawn into the resin and are exchanged for sodium ions (salt).
  3. Magnetic- Uses magnets in water pipes so that the magnets will purify the water. They are technically not water softeners because they do not remove the minerals. Rather, they neutralize them such that they cannot bond with each other and become soluble in water.
  4. Reverse osmosis- They remove the dissolved minerals and contaminants in your water by forcing them through a filter.

4. Regeneration cycles

Salt-based water softeners need to be regenerated when the salt content runs out. There are two types of regeneration cycles. They include;

  • Metered water softeners- Automatically regenerate the salt when necessary.
  • Timed water softeners- Automatically regenerate the salt at a designated time.

5. Bypass valve

A bypass valve controls the water flow by switching off the water supply to your water softener, while still allowing the flow of water to your home. While you’re doing maintenance on your softener, a bypass valve will help you cut off the water flow. It’s also useful during the regeneration cycle to manually divert water away.

Some people find this feature not important. However, it is important since it can save you money and time. How? This valve can prevent you from using excess energy and salt to soften the water used for things like watering the lawn etc.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) on water softeners

1. What brand of water softener is best?

Fleck is a brand of Pentair, is the best brand of softeners in the market today. This company was founded over 50 years ago in Minnesota and it is one of the oldest in the industry. It is also one of the leading water treatment brands in the US.

It focuses on making high performance softening products. They have effective salt-based water softeners that are fairly priced, depending on the features. The features vary greatly in capacity. You can never go wrong with Fleck products.

Other great brands in the market include; Whirlpool, GE, Pelican, Aquasana, Culligan, and Kinetico.

2. How do I know which water softener to buy?

If you need a water softener and wondering which one to get, then this is for you. There are several things you need to consider before buying a water softener. They include;

  • Look for recommendations from plumbing professional
  • For speedy pours, look for softeners that have 4 GPM or higher
  • Grain capacities of 64,000 or higher, for larger families
  • Check out trusted brands like Fleck, Pelican, and Aquasana
  • Look out for extra features
  • Check the reviews
  • Know the size of where you want to place it
  • Understand the difference between a salt-free softener and salt-based water softening
  • Find your hard water level

3. Is it safe to drink water from a water softener?

It is only safe to drink water from a water softener if the only contaminants are hardening minerals like calcium and magnesium. The softeners will eliminate the minerals from the water. However, it may not remove other harmful particles because it is not meant to purify the water. A water softener is definitely not a water filter.

4. How do you clean a water softener?

The following are steps you should follow when cleaning a water softener;

  1. Dispose of all the salt and water in the tank.
  2. Remove the brine grid from the base of the tank
  3. Use warm water, soap, and a long-handled brush to scrub the tank’s interior
  4. Rinse with clean water.
  5. Fill the tank with water.
  6. Add a 1/4-cup household bleach in the water.
  7. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes to kill the microorganisms.
  8. Rinse the tank once more
  9. Replace the brine grid
  10. Refill with water, and replenish it with salt.

The steps may make it look like it is difficult but I can assure you it is not.

Jacky Chou