Best Water Softener Reviews 2016 – Which is the Best?

Most residential locations suffer from some degree of hard water. Many people find themselves scrubbing accumulated grit from the edge of their bathtubs or their sinks, though how often they need to do so will vary depending upon their location and the density of their hard water. While small or intermittent quantities of hard water aren’t a particularly terrible problem, more mineral-dense hard water… along with types of hard water incorporating unusual, potentially toxic minerals and other substances… can, over time, cause serious problems with the function of a building’s plumbing and water-based appliances, as well as potentially accumulating harmful amounts of minerals within the human body. This is where a water softener can come in handy, and using this buying guide and reviews you will be able to pick the best one for your home.

Our Pick of the Best 5 Water Softeners

ProductCapacityFlow RateLimescale RemovalWarrantyRatingPrice
WATER2BUY Water Softeners Built for UK Households1660 litres118 litres100%7 years


Monarch Midi Metered Water Softener Ultimate Series?78 litres0%7 years


WATER2BUY Water Softeners Built for UK Households W2B8003680 litres118 litres100%7 years


Water Softener Alternative System, Proven 99.6% effective Scale Preventionn/an/a99.6%3 years


Scalewatcher Limescale Control 2 starn/an/a98%?


What Is Hard Water?

hard-water“Hard” water is the common descriptor of water which has filtered through certain types of sedimentary formations, most notably large deposits of limestone, before reaching the level of the local water table. It is particularly common in areas which boast large limestone and other sedimentary rock formations close to the surface of the Earth. As a result, the water which is drawn upon for drinking and other everyday household and commercial purposes winds up picking up unusually large quantities of minerals which, while ordinarily present in common tap water to some extent, wind up being left behind as a residue which accumulates over time – whether on the surface of a sink or a bathtub, within pipes and hoses which convey water throughout the house, or even within the human body: limited amounts of hard water exposure with small amounts of minerals actually have some measure of health benefit to a person, but excessive consumption of certain minerals can lead to a variety of health problems, along with hard accumulations within the body’s filter organs (notably the kidneys).

Limescale in a pipeThe most common minerals to be found in water which is hard enough to cause a problem include calcium, magnesium, and manganese. These can cause a variety of problems due to excessive accumulation. They leave a gritty film on dishes, glasses, and other tableware which are washed using hard water, whether by hand or in a dishwasher; this is the same kind of film that may be left upon sinks and bathtubs after prolonged exposure to hard water. It is difficult and time-consuming to scrub free, and it often requires the purchasing of special cleaning agents in order to do so. The effects of hard water are not limited to the visual and tactile experience of stains, either; hard water produces a gradual build-up of chalky, gritty residue within pipes and hoses which convey water and sewage into and out of your house, as well as transporting water to all of the various outlets and appliances through which it is dispensed. Much as with the build-up of plaque in an unhealthy person’s arteries, this can lead to catastrophic failure in a house’s water distribution. It can damage the more delicate components of a washing machine or a dishwasher directly.

In addition to the effects of any hard mineral accumulating within the human body, as were already mentioned, some hard water includes other, less healthy ingredients. One of the more common of these is tiny rust particles, but hard water sources near an industrial or commercial area may also include trace amounts of arsenic – as well as other toxic compounds.

Why We’re Here

Water softening filters, along with the ingredients that make them work, function to remove the majority of the “hard” particles from chronically hard water, resulting in fresh, “softened” water (generally referred to simply as “water”). This is an efficient and easy-to-manage way to deal with the otherwise chronic problems that result from ongoing exposure to, and use of, hard water… but, there are a wide variety of water softening devices available on the market today. In addition to that, these devices require the use of specially formulated water softening salts; these come in a variety of forms, ranging from small cakes to individual salt crystals, and may be specially formulated to deal with specific types or concentrations of minerals that are found in hard water depending upon the local geology of an area.

This article is intended to help you find the best water softening devices available, by introducing you to trustworthy brands, explaining how the devices work, and detailing which products are needed to deal with what minerals – as well as how to determine mineral content, and where to access existing determinations of mineral content for the water table in your local area. In addition, water softener reviews are available. Many such products may have nuances or quirks which would not be evident to someone who hasn’t experienced their use directly; there are few more reliable sources to determine whether or not a purchase is worth making, than an existing customer. These reviews, coupled with the information presented elsewhere on the Site, comprise a collective body of information which can be used to make an informed and educated decision about which water softening product best fits your needs.

How a Water Softener Works

The minerals which are suspended within the solution that is commonly known as “hard water” have already passed through an extensive, natural filtration system, as well as various filters in place within the local water supply system. They are extremely fine particles individually, which cannot be reliably filtered out by a simple screen. Instead, additional ingredients are needed to enable to filtration process to work, by means of a chemical property called “ionization.”

A water softener filter includes a tank, which is filled with thousands of tiny resin beads. These beads are extremely small, but they’re much larger than the individual mineral particles which the filter seeks to trap: specifically, they are large enough to be caught within a standard water filter. When a specially formulated salt is added to the water softener filter tank, it reacts with the resin beads, and creates electrically charged ions. The salt particles bond with the resin beads, and because they are electrically charged, they interact with the minerals suspended in hard water when it enters the tank – resulting in those minerals attaching themselves to the salt particles, and in turn to the resin beads. When the beads are caught by the filters in the hard water filtration system, the minerals are trapped as well, and “softened” water comes out the other end. 

Benefits of Using a Water Softener

A water softening system of some kind is often needed in areas where there is a substantial hard water problem, because the problem itself is the result of natural sedimentary deposits and rock formations within the area. When there is hard water, it exists because those formations lie above the local water table – the level from which water may be reliably drawn to provide drinking water, as well as to meet the many other functions for which we use water every day, from keeping our homes clean to keeping ourselves hygienic. This isn’t the result of a simple rock or a boulder which might be removed and relocated elsewhere; these are substantial rock formations. While they are relatively close to the surface, as compared to those found in areas without a substantial hard water problem, they may still be hundreds of feet below the ground, and they are expansive – they may be hundreds of meters across, and way millions of tonnes each. They are simply beyond the direct reach of modern engineering methods. It is much easier to deal with the problem by attacking its symptoms, as one would attempt to treat a cold – or some other condition for which we possess no direct cure. 

Without a water softening device, the accumulation of hard water over time would cause profound health problems in many cases – where the influx of minerals is far beyond what is needed for the daily human requirement. It would also clog plumbing pipes, hoses, and other means by which water is conveyed across the water system, and through individual homes and businesses. Where it emerges, it would cause a gradual buildup of a hard, gritty residue that is difficult, painstaking, and often expensive to clean. The best water softeners deal with this problem with amazing efficiency, reducing the buildup of grit by as much as 99%, and making hard water far less of a problem to those afflicted with copious amounts of mineral content in their local water supplies.

While common household hard water filters aren’t applicable in such situations, it is worth noting that business and industrial sectors also have to deal with the problem of hard water. Here, we can see the effects of hard water on a much larger scale, as copious amounts of water must be moved on a daily basis to service a wide variety of industrial needs. Water is moved to provide power, to power hydraulic equipment, and to provide coolant, as well as kept stored to provide everything from emergency drinking water to water for fire sprinklers. Over time, hard water will corrode the moving parts of such technology, rendering it inoperable. Even large pipes, given the amount of water they must move to meet the demands imposed upon the systems of which they are a part, can gradually become clogged with accumulated sediment, necessitating massive and expensive repair work. In short, even the commercial and industrial sectors must deal with the problems posed by hard water; some even go so far as to bypass the problem entirely, by piping in water from less saturated water tables located some distance away. 

Points to Consider When Purchasing a Water Softener

  • Salt: As was previously mentioned, most water softening systems operate via the use of water softener salts. These are specially formulated salts which serve to remove minerals from hard water based upon its composition. If there is a known hard water problem in your place of residence, there should be information available as to the nature of the mineral presence in your water; if there is not, there are ways to have it tested. Once you have the results, you can purchase the variety of water softening salts which are formatted specifically to extract the minerals, and the amounts thereof, which are present in your local water table. Water softener salts normally come in crystalline form, or in small salt “cakes;” some filters are only designed to handle one variety of salt or the other. In general, cakes are recommended, but they may not always be a practical solution – depending upon the mineral content of your hard water. 
  • Capacity: This ties into efficiency, below, but – generally speaking – it’s worth mentioning that a larger tank, with larger filters, will last longer without maintenance than a smaller tank will. This correlates directly to an increase in the expense, not only of the filtration device but also of the filters themselves. That being said, for a substantial hard water problem, the additional cost may be worth it, to cut down on ongoing maintenance and the number of replacement filters which must be purchased.
  • Efficiency: You must bear in mind the efficiency of whatever device you purchase in order to produce a water softening effect. Take into account the size of its reservoir, the amount of water softening salt it can contain, and the resulting estimate of how long each supply of salt will last before needing to be replenished (as well as how often the filters within the device will need to be changed). One of the best ways to gauge efficiency, and ensure that you buy the best water softener for your hard water problem, is to look over some of the water softener reviews available on this Website. This is a good way of seeing what kind of effect the water softener which you are considering purchasing has had on the hard water problems of other residents – particularly those within your local area. It may turn out that a more expensive water softener will work better for you than one which appears, on the surface, to be more affordable – but which is going to require a greater investment over time to achieve the same level of efficiency as the more expensive model.

Reviews of the Top 5

WATER2BUY Water Softeners Built for UK Households

WATER2BUY WATER SOFTENERS BUILT FOR UK HOUSEHOLDSThis is the best value meter controlled water softener you will find available on the market and by far the most popular. Chances are this is the one you will buy as it is just so common and highly rated. It is suitable for the vast majority of UK households, offering pure water for up to 5 people, delivering up to 1660 litres of water each day.

If you’re not happy you can return the product no questions asked within 30 days, not only that but you get a whopping 7 year warranty if anything should go wrong. It will remove hard calcium and magnesium ions leaving you with the lovely soft water you want, which is better for your plumbing. Like all water softeners like this, it requires salt and this model will need a 25kg bag every 2 months. Overall if you want something reliable, trusted and well know then this is the water softener for you.

Monarch Midi Metered Water Softener Ultimate Series

Monarch Midi Metered Water Softener Ultimate SeriesA solid but less used alternative to the Water2Buy model is the Monarch Midi Ultimate Series. It’s also pretty popular but a bit harder to source these days, it costs a little more but does have a high rating. This one is suitable for families of 4-7 people, with 160 litres per person per day, which works out just sort of the Water2Buy version but it does have the highest water flow rate than any in the UK.

This one also comes with a 7 year warranty and a 2 year labour guarantee to make it a wise purchase.

WATER2BUY Water Softeners Built for UK Households W2B800

WATER2BUY WATER SOFTENERS BUILT FOR UK HOUSEHOLDS W2B800Another offering from Water2Buy and it’s kind of like the bigger brother of the first model, offering water softening to households of up to 10 people with ease. It can produce a whopping 3680 litres per day, so if you have a bigger family then this is the one to go for. It doesn’t even cost much more than the smaller version.

It works the same way and even looks pretty similar to the other model and as you would expect, it also comes with the 7 year warranty and a 30 day returns guarantee. Overall this is a great water softener and a no brainer for those extra large households.

Water Softener Alternative System, Proven 99.6% effective Scale Prevention

Water Softener Alternative SystemThis is a clever little machine as it offers a salt free water softener alternative, though it offers less than 100% limescale removal, at 99.6%…not really a problem though you would think. It works differently as you isn’t a separate machine as such but a smaller device which you connect with your cold mains water tap. It won’t affect the water pressure and works fine with electric showers and combi boilers.

Once installed this baby will descale your existing pipework using it’s advanced technology without adding any salt or chemicals to the water. It uses Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) which in leymans terms means it converts the hardness in the water into microscopic crystals. It also comes with a 7 year warranty and is a fantastic alternative that will save your money compared to the other softeners which require salt.

Scalewatcher Limescale Control 2 star

Scalewatcher Limescale Control 2 starDesigned to last for 20 years and offer 98% effectiveness, this is another solid alternative to a traditional water softener. With over 100,000 sold this home limescale solution is well used and reviewed. The Scalewatcher device works in a similar way to the previous product in that you cannot it to your mains water supply and it starts working from day 1 in descaling your existing plumbing and preventing more from forming. Tested by Which? which shows you really cannot go wrong here. It uses a patented system and is made of the highest quality components and what’s more is it’s the cheapest water softening solution reviewed here.

Decision Time

Now you’ve read our water softener reviews and seen the top 5 it’s time to make a decision based on the needs of your home. You will find all the solutions discussed here will have a great impact and we have only reviewed the most trusted and highly rated devices, allowing you to find the best water softener.

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