The 5 Best Water Softener Systems in Canada in 2024

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Hard water is a problem that plagues many households across Canada. Maintaining a house with hard water can be exhausting. Not only do you have to work harder to keep your home clean, but your appliances also take a hit. Not to mention, no one likes washing their hands with that slimy water. 

Hard water can be dealt with in a few ways, but installing a water-softening system is the only way to truly fix the problem. While they’re relatively expensive to buy and install, your appliances will last longer, and you’ll be able to reduce your home maintenance costs.

Keep reading to learn more about hard water and how to soften your home’s water supply. I’ll also highlight some of the best water softener systems you can buy in Canada this year. 

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that’s high in dissolved minerals, most commonly calcium and magnesium. The level of hardness in water is typically measured in terms of its calcium carbonate concentration. According to Health Canada guidelines, water with a calcium carbonate concentration of less than 60 mg/L is considered soft, while anything over 120 mg/L is considered hard.   

While hard water is generally not a health concern, it can be damaging to appliances and corrosive to pipes. It also interferes with soap, requiring you to use more soap to produce a lather. Not to mention, the unsightly appearance of mineral depots that form on your appliances and tiles.

The 5 Best Water Softeners in Canada

I’ve analyzed dozens of water softening systems in Canada to provide you with a selection of the best options to fix your home’s hard water problem. Here they are:

Whirlpool WHES30E Water Softener System

Certified by the NSF, the Whirlpool WHES30E is one of the best salt-based water softeners for your entire home. With a 30,000 grain capacity, it’s suitable for households of up to 4 people. With sensors inside the tank, the system monitors your water usage and lets you know when it’s time to replenish it with salt.  That said, the WHES30E will help significantly reduce your salt and water usage. Costing just over $1000, the WHES30E is overall an excellent value. 

In addition to softening water, the Whirlpool softener removes up to 8 ppm of ferrous iron. It will not affect ferric iron, bacterial iron, or organic iron. 

The Whirlpool water softener is easy to use, thanks to its programmable digital control panel. The panel will conveniently let you know when salt levels are low, and it’s time to regenerate the system. In case of a power outage, the system will remember all of your previous settings.

While the system is relatively easy to install with its provided instructions, the process is a bit lengthy. However, asides from regenerating the system every two weeks or so, there is not much maintenance required once it’s up and running.  

Why it’s great

  • Excellent value 
  • High 30,000-grain capacity
  • Regenerates automatically, only when necessary 
  • Salt level indicator light
  • Also removes iron

What can be improved

  • More extensive installation required 
  • Users have reported bypass valve leaking

EcoPure EP31 Whole House Water Softener

Certified by the NSF, the EcoPure EP31 is another excellent whole water softener system. It has a capacity of 31,000 grains per 12.9 lbs of salt, making it suitable for urban and rural households of between 1 and 4 people. In addition to regenerating soft water, the system also removes up to 8 ppm of ferrous iron from your water. With its compact design, the EcoPure won’t take up much space in your home. 

One of the best parts about the EcoPure is its salt-level auto-sensing technology. The tank has a flashing indicator light and an inside sensor that will let you know when the tank’s salt level is too low. This means you won’t waste water and salt by regenerating the system prematurely. The system is also designed to only use the amount of salt and water that’s needed to regenerate. 

Also, since it’s certified by the NSF, the EcoPure EP31 has been third-party tested and guaranteed to reduce the side effects of hard water in your home.  

In terms of maintenance, EcoPure recommends cleaning the EP31 once every four months to ensure the optimal operation and lifespan of the water softener. To make this easy for you, it comes with a bottle of EcoPure EPCL cleaner and instructions on how to use it.  

Why it’s great

  • Suitable for family households  (4+ people)
  • Lets you know when regeneration is needed 
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty
  • Also removes iron

What can be improved

  • Heavy, weighing around 82 lbs 

DuraWater Iron Pro Whole-House Water Softener

If you’re looking for a customizable whole-house water softener system, the DuraWater Iron Pro 48k is for you. Not only does it soften your water, but it filters out iron, manganese, sediment, sand, and rust. With its 48,000-grain capacity, the Iron Pro is suitable for homes with up to 5 people. 

What’s also great about the Iron Pro is its digital control valve. The system comes with a digital metered Fleck SXT control valve that can be customized to suit your home’s needs. This will help ensure that it’s operating efficiently and will save you water in the long run. 

In terms of filtration, the Iron Pro system uses fine mesh resin to remove up to 8 ppm of ferrous iron from your water. It can also remove up to 6 ppm of manganese. For water sources with higher iron content, I recommend the DuraWater Iron Eater

It should be noted that in order to install the water softener, you’ll need to purchase a drain line and connection hose separately. While there are a few steps involved in the installation process, a YouTube video will guide you through the process.

Why it’s great

  • Softens water and removes iron 
  • High 48,000-grain capacity
  • Includes a programmable LED fleck control valve 
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty

What can be improved

  • Not suitable for water with very high amounts of iron

On The Go Portable Water Softener

While camping is great, the water supply often isn’t. If you’re looking for a portable water softener for an RV or a boat, the On The Go 16,000 Grain Water Softener may be for you. It provides up to 1,600 gallons of soft water, so you won’t have to worry about taking bottled water with you on your camping trip. You also won’t have to worry about corroded pipes or damaged appliances. 

Measuring just 9.5 inches in diameter and 22 inches in height, the On The Go water softener is compact. This means it can conveniently be installed in tight spaces of your RV. Not to mention, it weighs just 32 pounds. 

It should be noted that the capacity of this water softener really depends on the hardness level of your water source. Water with a very high hardness level will give you a much lower capacity. However, regenerating the water softener is quite easy and inexpensive. You simply have to add two boxes of table salt.

Why it’s great

  • Easy to regenerate with table salt
  • Highly efficient for its size
  • Compact size fits in small spaces
  • Inexpensive to maintain

What can be improved

  • Plastic shut-off valve is prone to leaking

SparkPod Water Softener Shower Head

Showering with hard water can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. For that reason, opting for a showerhead water softener is a popular choice. With its 12-stage filtration system, the SparkPod shower head is one of the best in its class. The shower head is easy to install and is compatible with most types of showers.

What’s particularly great about the SparkPod shower head is that it does more than just soften your water. It also removes chemicals, bacteria, odours, and impurities from your water and adds a boost of vitamin C. Indeed, it even includes a vitamin C filter to improve the health of your skin and hair. 

While shower head water softeners are known for reducing water pressure, the SparkPod won’t impact your shower’s water pressure or flow. The shower head also has 3 pressure spray settings that can be selected by twisting the head. 

Depending on shower habits, the filter cartridge will have to be replaced every 3 to 3 months. This is more frequent than other models.

Why it’s great

  • Affordable
  • Universally compatible & easy to install 
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty
  • Filters water and eliminates hard water

What can be improved

  • Only fixes hard water in your shower 
  • Must replace cartridge frequently

How Do Water Softeners Work?

There are three main types of home water softeners and they each work in different ways. Here is an overview of how the most common water softeners work:

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

Ion exchange water softeners, also referred to as salt-based water softeners, are the most popular home water softening systems. They work by exchanging the ions that cause hardness in the water with sodium or potassium ions. This type of water softening system is great since it doesn’t require any filter. Instead, the system typically has to be regenerated every week or so using table salt. 

While some people worry about the added sodium in salt-based water softeners, the amount is minimal. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can expect about 12.5 mg of sodium in an 8-ounce glass of softened water.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Salt-free water softeners, also referred to as salt-free water conditioners or scale inhibitors, are another popular type of water softener system. Instead of adding chemicals and minerals to the water, they use a filter. Salt-free water softeners are best for water with a low to medium hardness level.

Magnetic Water Softeners

As the name implies, magnetic water softeners use magnets to alter the water. The magnets get installed inside or around your water pipes. Magnetic softeners are great since they’re easy to install and inexpensive to buy, however, they won’t permanently alter the hardness of your water. 

Water Descaler vs. Water Softener: What’s The Difference? 

When shopping around for a water softener system, you may come across water descaler systems. While both systems are designed to deal with hard water, they tackle the problem in different ways.  

A water softener eliminates hardness in your water, while a water descaler prevents the consequences of hard water on your home. For example, with a water descaler, you won’t have to worry about mineral buildup in your shower, but you’ll still have to worry about damage to your appliances caused by hard water. A water softener, on the other hand, removes the minerals from your water, altering its taste and eliminating all the consequences of hard water in your home. 

The choice between a water softener and a descaler system really depends on your needs. If you have very hard water (over 180 mg/L), your only choice may be a whole-house water softener system. However, if you have moderately hard water and simply want to prevent mineral deposits in your home, a descaler system might be enough for you. 

What Size Water Softener Do I Need?

The size of a water softener is measured in terms of grains. A water softener that’s too small for your home will not be able to keep up with your water usage. At the same time, a water softener with a capacity that’s too big for your home will end up costing you more than necessary.

In order to know what size water softener you need for your home, you’ll need to know two things:

  1. Your Water Hardness Level: Water hardness is typically measured in terms of grains per gallon (GPG). For example, 10 grains per gallon. You can figure this out by testing your water with a Water Hardness Test Kit. 
  2. Your Household’s Daily Water Usage: You’ll also need to have an idea of your home’s daily water usage, in gallons. For example, the average person in Quebec uses about 105 gallons of water per day

Next, multiply these two numbers by each other. Ex: 10 grains per gallon x 105 gallons per day. 

This gives you a water softener capacity of 1,050 grains per day. Most water softeners regenerate about once a week. For that reason, a water softener’s capacity will be based on 7-day usage. In that case, a single-person household in Quebec would need a water softener with a capacity of about 7,500 grains (1,050 grains multiplied by 7 days a week).

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