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Alternatives to salt-based water softening (and no monthly charges)

SterlingwaterI don’t want to make anyone feel bad who uses a salt-based water softening system, but you know all that salt being released into our environment as a result of your system? Not good. That’s why they are banned in some areas. For me, I don’t like the slimy feeling of water softened with salt.

I came across a system by Sterling Water at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference that uses an electrical current to “condition” the water. Water conditioning is the alternative to water softening. The latter takes the minerals out of the water, while the former leaves the minerals in the water but prevents them from crystallizing into the scale that harms plumbing, fixtures and appliances.

MagneticThe Sterling device is small and operates inline, with unconditioned water coming in one end, and conditioned water coming out the other. It costs about $1,500 and the only maintenance it requires is an annual flushing with vinegar.

At my house, we use magnetic water conditioning. It’s basically the same idea as the Sterling system, but instead of electrical current causing the mineral atoms to repel each other and not form colonies to attach to pipes, the same effect is caused by strong magnets clamped onto the main pipe coming into the house. They cost about $900 for a typical house that uses one 40-gallon water heater. You can find a few brands here and here.

How about you? Do you still use a salt-based softening system? Would you switch to a more environmentally friendly system if you could?

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