Water hardness is a ubiquitous problem in the UK and many homeowners have a water softener system installed to prevent lime-scale build-ups in home appliances and on bathroom sanitary ware.

Hard water is not recognisable to the naked eye; however, its signs are simply hard to ignore – water high in minerals (e.g. calcium and magnesium) will leave its mark on just about anything it comes into contact with, leaving a chalky white (sometimes yellowish) deposit on bathroom and kitchen faucets, showerheads, and other surfaces.

Lime-scale build-ups will clog almost any kitchen or bathroom appliance, be it a water heater or coffeemaker, leading to costly repair works or replacements. Lime-scale can leave spots on glass, the surface of your taps, porcelain, etc.

Water softeners work through a process called ion exchange, which replaces water hardness causing calcium and magnesium ions into sodium ions. Water softener systems contain resin or zeolite beads, which are responsible for carrying out the ion exchange process.

Why do you need to soften water?

Although not linked to any health problems, hard water is a serious concern when it comes to the health of your home appliances that run with water. But appliances are not the only ones at risk – your plumbing system may suffer damages too.

If lime-scale forms in your plumbing system, it can reduce water flow to your taps. Apart from this, hard water also reduces the efficiency of soaps and detergents, preventing them to dissolve completely.

Undissolved soap attaches to minerals and forms what is known as scum, which can damage the fabric of your clothes. As less soap and detergent is dissolved, you’ll need to add more of it.

If left unchecked, lime-scale deposits have the potential to wreak havoc in all your appliances.

Preventing lime-scale build-up is definitely easier than dealing with its consequences. A water softener system can treat the hard water problem at its root by turning hard water into non-scaling soft water.

What are the benefits of a water softener system?

Once you install a water softener system in your home, you’ll be able to keep hard water problems under control, an aspect which translates into the following benefits:

  • Increase in detergent and soap efficiency: hard water inhibits soap and detergents from doing their job, thus, in the absence of a water softener system, you’ll be using more soap and detergent. A water softener can increase the efficiency of soap and detergents;
  • Service life of appliances is prolonged: Installing a water softener system is especially important if you own expensive appliances. Lime-scale can damage appliances, which can lead to costly repair works;
  • Reduction in energy inefficiency: appliances with lime-scale build-up may start to consume more power and become inefficient, eventually breaking down;
  • Softer and cleaner clothes, hair and skin: Soft water is gentle on your skin and hair, and protective of the fabric of your clothes. With the efficiency of your detergents increased, your clothes will be cleaner and brighter.
  • Glossy, stain-free surfaces: If hard water was staining glass, porcelain or chrome surfaces in your home, making your cleaning efforts be in vain, soft water will eliminate these issues, making it easier to clean your home.

To benefit from all these advantages of a water softener system, you need to find out what type of water softener system will best meet your needs.

What type of water softener systems are there?

The water softener industry usually makes a distinction between salt-based water softeners and non-salt water softeners, only one of which is a water softener in the true sense of the word.

Salt-based water softeners are the only ones that actually soften the water, non-salt water softeners and other lime-scale inhibitors only change the crystal structure or lime-scale forming minerals and prevent particles from attaching to surfaces.

Salt water softeners need salt in the regeneration process to flush the water softening resin beads with a brine solution in order to clean them from minerals, which are then sent down the drain. Depending on the way water softeners regenerate, we can distinguish between time clock water softeners and metered water softeners.

The distinction between these two salt water softener subgroups lies in the way they regenerate. Time clock water softeners are pre-programed to regenerate at certain intervals, while metered water softeners take water consumption into account and regenerate only if and when necessary.

There are pros and cons to each type of water softener or water conditioner, and ultimately your choice will fall on the one that can best address your scale treatment needs.

Which water softener system is best for you?

To help you decide on the best scale treatment solution for you, here are some of the pros and cons of each type of scale treatment solution:

Salt water softeners vs non-salt water conditioners

Salt water softeners have the following advantages and disadvantages:

P Produce soft water

P Act by turning water hardness minerals into sodium minerals

P Reduce soap and detergent usage

P Soft water leaves your hair and skin softer

X Need maintenance (salt changes)

X Waste water

Non-salt water softeners come with the following benefits and drawbacks:

P Low-maintenance systems

P Don’t waste water

P Compact and space-saving solution (no brine tank)

P More economical

X Don’t remove hardness minerals, only prevent them from sticking to surfaces

X Don’t reduce soap or detergent usage

A scale control system or non-salt water softener will save you time on maintenance and, in some cases, may even cost less than a full-blown water softener system; however, with a scale control system you won’t be able to enjoy all the benefits provided by soft water.

Time clock water softeners vs Metered water softeners

Because metered water softeners regenerate only when necessary, they use less salt and consume less water, which makes them more economical. However, they do tend to cost more than time clock water softeners.

Water softener systems and water conditioners recommended by WaterFilterShop.co.uk

Here are some examples of state-of-the-art water softeners systems you can find in our webshop:

Scalemaster Softline 450 Non-electric Metered Water Softener

This Scalemaster Softline 450 water softener system brings a new approach to water softening eliminating the need to connect your system to a source of electricity, allowing it to work even during blackouts or power cuts.

As a metered water softener, the Scalemaster uses less water (18 litres of water for every regeneration) and less salt (330 g of salt for every regeneration), which positions it as one of the most environmentally friendly water softener systems on the market.

The system is easy to install, requires minimal programming, and provides high flow rates (max. peak 50 l/min).

EcoSoft Premier-Lux 20 litre Cabinet Time Clock Water Softener System

This time clock water softener system has a built-in power-cell battery backup to ensure continuous service during power cuts. The system regenerates when it’s programmed to do so, and has a double backwash system too for less sodium residual.

The self-diagnosing feature makes it easy to service and clean, while its water pattern usage analysis tool helps adjust proper usage of salt.

With the EcoSoft Premier-Lux, you can enjoy luxuriously silky water and softer skin, hair and clothes.

Watts OneFlow 8 x 18 inch Scale Net Whole House Scale Control System

The WATTS®Anti-Scale system employed by the Watts OneFlow scale control system modifies the calcium ions in water turning them into calcium crystals that are unable to attach to surfaces. These calcium crystals are so small that they are easily washed away by water flow.

The Watts OneFlow doesn’t use any electricity, salt, and doesn’t have a brine tank or backwash system. It also aids in removing existing scale, and prevents further scale build-up in your appliances.

If you don’t like the idea of maintaining a salt-based water softener system, the Watts OneFlow can be a good alternative to prevent damages caused by lime-scale deposits.

For more water softener and scale-prevention systems, please visit our Water Softeners section in our Products menu.

You’ll find all types of water softener and scale inhibiting systems that include salt-based water softeners, liquid water softeners, lime-scale water filters, non-salt softeners, and scale control systems from brands like Ecosoft, Scalemaster, Watts, Aqua Brevetti, and Purolite.

It’s important to note that water softeners don’t remove contaminants from your tap water; therefore, if you want to target tap water contaminants as well, you must either install a water filter system in addition to a water softener, or look for a water filter system with scale inhibiting properties.

This will ensure that your tap water is safe to drink and non-scaling at the same time.


If you live in an area with hard water problems, some sort of lime-scale control solution can solve most issues caused by hard water. Depending on your budget and particular requirements, you can opt for classic salt-based systems or lime-scale inhibiting solutions that don’t use salt.

Here at WaterFilterShop.co.uk, we strive to bring you a wide selection of water softening systems, so you can choose the one that will best address your hard water problems.