Q:

What water softeners have received high ratings from Consumer Reports?

A:

Quick Answer

Consumer Reports does not test or rate whole-house water softeners. However, the magazine has published a guide offering general suggestions regarding what to consider when buying a water softener.

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Full Answer

According to Consumer Reports, the most common type of water softener uses an ion exchange system. In these water softeners, sodium ions replace harder minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which may be present in hard water. These systems leave a negligible amount of sodium chloride in the water. Consumer Reports advises homeowners who are concerned about sodium levels to consider instead using a water softener which uses potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. However, they warn that potassium chloride is significantly more expensive than sodium chloride.

No-salt water softeners use magnetic force to change the molecular structure of hard minerals. Consumer Reports interviewed water softener manufacturers Culligan and Kinetico, and both companies said that magnetic softeners are not yet as effective as ion exchangers.

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