I hate the slippery feeling I get with soft water.

That slippery feeling is not soap, it’s your own natural body oils. It means you are clean. The same film you see on the shower walls is all over you too. That’s why you are not slippery with hard water. You can prove this to yourself with a little test. When you take a shower and hard water you feel like all soap is off your skin.
Simply lick your skin. You’ll almost gag from all the soap left on your skin. Now take a shower in soft water and when you’re rinsing and rinsing and it seems like you never get the soap off, lick your skin again. You won’t taste any soap. The film that is left on your skin with hard water can cause dry skin requiring skin lotions to remedy the problem.

Why do I have to use salt when there are salt free water softener is available?

There’s a big difference between salt free systems and the standard salt system. Basically a water softener that uses salt removes calcium from your water where as a salt free system does not. In order to understand the differences we will need to understand a little bit about how a softener softens water.
Hard water is basically water that contains calcium and magnesium. Magnesium is not that big of a deal, there is close to none in a municipal water supply. Our main focus is on the calcium. Salt free water softeners use different methods to try to keep the calcium in your water from sticking to everything that you see like the dishes in your dishwasher or on the shower walls. They are better described as scale reduction systems rather than softeners. They don't take the calcium out of your water they simply try to manipulate it so it doesn't stick to anything when it comes through your faucets.
Different systems have varying results but we have had many customers request that we replace of their new salt free system with a standard salt softener. If you are used to a salt style water softener you will most likely not be satisfied with the salt free one. The water will not feel like soft water because the calcium is still present in the water.
Don’t be fooled when they say “our system leaves in all those minerals your body needs”. All those minerals is calcium – that’s it! Your body does need calcium but our bodies get enough calcium from plenty of other food sources.

A water softener that uses salt actually removes the calcium from your water. In a process called ion exchange. Resin inside your water softener attracts the calcium and releases sodium ions as it grabs the calcium ions. The resin then holds onto the calcium until the next regeneration cycle. When it regenerates it washes the calcium ions down the drain and replaces them with more sodium ions from your salt tank. It is a self-cleaning system that can keep collecting calcium for years and years. The big companies tell you about “all that salt you ingest from a softener”, it’s a scare tactic! Salt style softeners do add sodium to your water, but the amount is so minimal that you can’t consider it a source of sodium in your diet.

Which is better to use regular salt or potassium chloride?

Regular salt is sodium chloride and is a lot less expensive than potassium chloride. Using potassium chloride reduces the capacity of the unit and can become gummy and plug the injector assembly inside the control head. All in all however it does accomplish the same goal. Let’s put the salt myth to bed. We tested a customer’s water for sodium before and after their softener. The test showed that amount of sodium before the softener was at 110 ppm (parts per million). Their softened water tested at 200 ppm. Then we tested their 1% milk in the fridge, it tested at 500 ppm of sodium. So if you are worried about your sodium intake from your softener you better stop drinking milk!

How often should my water softener regenerate?

Most water softeners these days now count the gallons that you use in your home. The softener knows how many gallons of water it can soften before it needs to regenerate (clean itself). So usually it is dependent upon your usage rather than a certain amount of days.

What is the difference between a whole house filter and a standard salt water softener?

There is a lot of hype these days about whole house systems from big water treatment companies out there. Basically what these “whole house” systems come down to is anti-scale systems coupled with some type of carbon filtration for your entire house. If they don’t require salt then they don’t remove calcium from your water. If they promise the best tasting water at every faucet, they use carbon in their “amazing” system. If their “amazing” system takes out chlorine and contaminants, they use carbon in their “amazing” system.
Their systems are packaged and presented in ways that make them look very unique so that companies can charge much more for something not that complex. If you really want to know the specific differences between systems you would have to research each individual system. Everyone will promise something else, something a little bit different than the other guys when a high-quality system only needs to do two things, remove calcium and remove impurities and chlorine from the water.

What is reverse osmosis?

It is defined as forcing water under pressure through a semi permeable membrane. That sounds really technical so let's explain it a different way. It forces your water through a very fine screen that will only allow hydrogen and oxygen through, leaving everything else behind. The system produces clean water very slowly so it must store it in advance. This is where the tank comes into play. Once the water is filtered it is then stored in that big round tank under your sink that takes up all of the room. When you call for water at the faucet above the sink, it draws water from that tank.

How often should I change my reverse osmosis filters?

A good rule of thumb is to change them every year. In areas where the tap water gets hot during the summer months you should consider changing them every six months, spring and fall usually or just in the fall for winter visitors. The reason for this is that 84°F is the ideal temperature for bacteria growth.
In a perfect world, the city water should have chlorine in it that kills this bacteria. In areas like Las Vegas or Phoenix the tap water reaches the mid 80°F temperature all summer long. This recommendation is based on having relatively clean city water supply. If you have a private well, you may have a dirtier water supply and this may plug the settlement pre-filter requiring it to be changed more frequently.

How does a reverse osmosis system work?

The system is a combination of different filters doing specific jobs. The first filter in the system is a 5 micron sediment filter. To put 5 microns into perspective, a human hair is about 50 microns thick. The human eye cannot see anything smaller than 30 microns. The next filter or two (depending on your system) is some type of carbon filter. It can be a granular activated carbon (GAC), a carbon block filter (CBC), or some combination thereof. These filters remove all of the chlorine and organic contaminants. After that, the water moves on to the membrane.
The membrane is the heart of the system. It is what does the really fine filtering. It can’t handle large amounts of either the chlorine or organic contaminants so it is the job of the carbon to remove them. The water goes through the membrane (which was explained above) and then into the storage tank where it waits until you need a drink! When you call for water, it leaves the tank and goes through a post or polishing filter. This filter’;s job is to catch any objectionable taste and odor that it may have picked up from being in the tank. Then the water comes out of the faucet above the sink and into your glass!

I own a TDS meter and test my own water. How do I know when to change the filters?

A TDS meter will not tell you when to change filters. This is a common misconception. If your TDS meter is reading high, then your membrane is bad. The purpose of the filters is to take things out of the water that will hurt the membrane, the membrane then cleans the water so to speak.

If you were to check the TDS of the water going into the RO system is will probably read anywhere from 450 to 850 ppm. Then if you were to test the water again after it went through all of your pre filters (sediment and 1 or 2 carbon filters), it would test only around 100 ppm lower than your tap water. Then it goes through the membrane and the membrane is what brings the TDS ppm down to as low as 10 or 20 ppm (we usually tell people that 75 ppm or less is good).