Citric acid water softeners come as an alternative to conventional, salt-based water softeners. They work by binding water hardening ions to a small amount of citric acid.

Due to the different technology, citric acid water softeners have some advantages over the conventional type. But are they worth it? And what is the best citric acid water softener?

Read on to find out the answer to these questions and our opinion on the NuvoH2O citric acid water softener.

Do Citric Acid Water Softeners Work?

Yes, citric acid water softeners work. However, they use a different technology than salt-based softeners. Instead of softening the water, saltless softeners “condition” it. That’s why citric acid water softeners are often called water conditioners.

nuvo water softener reviews

To understand the main difference between the two kinds of systems, let’s see how each of them works.

Conventional, salt-based water softeners use ion-exchange technology to remove hardening agents from water. The resin beds in these systems trap harmful mineral ions and store them until they’re eliminated during the regeneration cycle.

This method effectively removes water hardening agents, but the systems clog easily and require frequent maintenance.

Citric acid water conditioners use a chemical process called chelation to stop the harmful action of hardening agents. Chelating agents bind with the metal ions in hard water and neutralize them. This chemical transformation prevents calcium and magnesium in water from clinging to surfaces and precipitating into scale.

Since there is no resin bed involved, citric acid water conditioners require less maintenance and come with additional benefits. Let’s have a look at them.

Citric Acid Water Softener Benefits

Effective Limescale Removal

Unlike salt-based softeners that only remove hardening agents in water, citric acid water softeners can also remove precipitated agents (aka limescale from your plumbing and fixtures).

Effective Limescale

In many cases, this type of water conditioner can help you fix clogged pipes and faucets. By effectively removing limescale, citric acid water softeners will also help prolong the lifespan of your appliances and make it easier to clean your sinks and bathtub.

Less Maintenance

Salt-based water softeners require a lot of attention and maintenance. You’ll have to schedule regeneration cycles and make sure everything runs smoothly to prevent clogging. Depending on the water hardness, you will also have to replace the salt periodically and change the resin bed whenever needed.

Citric acid water softeners have a simple filtering system you’ll have to replace twice a year. That’s it. No salt to replace, no regeneration to schedule, and no headaches.

Higher Water Flow

While salt-based water softeners do an excellent job removing hardening agents from water, they reduce water flow drastically. Saltless water conditioners maintain a high flow and produce no wastewater.

Citric Acid is an Excellent Softening Agent

Citric acid water softeners may not be as famous as their salt-based counterpart, but the softening agent has been around for decades.

You’ve likely used it already – or still use it – to clean limescale, and hard water stains from your fixtures, dishes, and even appliances, since most household cleaning products contain citric acid.

Cheaper and Easy to Install

Another essential advantage of citric acid water softeners is the more affordable upfront and running cost and the easy installation.

Often, you’ll even be able to install the system yourself. Salt-based water softeners generally require qualified personnel to install them.

Citric Acid Water Softening Drawbacks

The main drawback of citric acid water softeners is that they are not as effective as salt-based systems when softening severely contaminated water.

Heavy metals (such as lead and mercury) and pharmaceuticals can bond to the chelating agents, preventing them from bonding with the calcium and magnesium ions.

Thus, a citric acid water conditioner is excellent for softening city water or uncontaminated well water. However, if your well water is contaminated, you should install a filtering system to remove contaminants before softening it or opt for a salt-based system.

NuvoH20 Citric Acid Water Softener Review


NuvoH2O is one of the most popular citric acid water softeners. As explained above, these systems don’t “soften” water in the word’s true meaning but condition it.

best citric acid water softener

Like all water softeners using citric acid, NuvoH2O uses a chemical reaction called chelation to bind the hardness ions and prevent them from clinging onto surfaces.

Nuvo System Types

There are three types of Nuvo systems, one designed for homes and two for manors. They all work similarly, the main difference being the volume of water they can soften.

  • NuvoH2O Home Water Softener System is designed for houses up to 1,500 square feet. The system has a compact design that fits anywhere – an excellent solution for condos and apartments.
  • NuvoH2O Manor Water Softener System is designed for houses larger than 1,500 square feet and has a cartridge lifespan of approximately 50,000 gallons. The design is very similar to the Home system, fitting easily in most spaces.
  • NuvoH2O Manor Duo Water Softener System is another system built for houses larger than 1,500 square feet. This system softens and filtrates water in two steps. It removes most impurities and chemicals, including volatile organic compounds and chlorine. This additional step helps improve the overall quality and taste of water.

How Does NuvoH20 Citric Water Softener Work?

All NuvoH2O water conditioners use chelation to lower the pH of water. The chelating agent binds with the calcium and magnesium ions, keeping them soluble and preventing limescale deposits.

These ions, however, are not removed from the water. Because calcium and magnesium are nutrients our bodies need, this softening process keeps water healthier.

Build Quality

NuvoH2O system boasts excellent build quality. The design is compact and easy to maintain. A compact dimension and no plumbing involved in the setup make this water softener a superb choice if you don’t want to spend on professional installation.


NuvoH2O systems use a chemical process called chelation to neutralize hard ions like calcium or magnesium, linking hardness ions to a small amount of citric acid. These systems prevent about 99% of scale build-up and also remove existing scale from plumbing and fixtures.

However, the system doesn’t remove the healthy minerals from water, maintaining the water’s nutritional properties.


Contaminants removed

A citrus water softener is not a filtration system. Thus, you can’t expect it to remove the same amount of contaminants as a water filter-pitcher or other type of water filter.

Nevertheless, NuvoH2O systems can effectively remove heavy metals from contaminated water. If you’re also concerned about chemicals or other contaminants, a water filter system could be a better choice.

Water Test

Independent water testing and tests performed by our team over several months showed a significant reduction of the existing scale deposits on pipes and fixtures.

No further deposits were observed, and the conditioned water had a great taste. Many Nuvo water softener reviews also support our results, with users declaring they’ve noticed a reduction of existing scale and no new deposits.

Nuvo Water Softener Installation and Maintenance

Nuvo citrus water softener is one of the easiest to install water conditioning systems. The compact device is installed directly on the main pipeline, and most handymen can do it without a plumber’s help. NuvoH2O doesn’t use salt. Thus the conditioned water it produces is safe to drink. The only thing to pay attention to is the position of the filter, which must be installed vertically.

Like most water filters and conditioners, NuvoH2O utilizes cartridges to soften water. Each cartridge has a lifespan between three and six months, depending on the amount of water used. Other than changing the cartridge regularly, the water softener requires no maintenance. NuvoH2O doesn’t use electricity and has no regeneration cycles you should worry about.

Complaints & Problems

Nuvo H2O reviews reveal a generally positive consensus. Most users declared this citric acid water softener works as expected. Another positive aspect is the lack of maintenance.

On the downside, the main NuvoH2O complaints regard the cartridge change. Some users claimed they didn’t get the expected three months of use. However, the lifespan depends on the amount of water used and the water hardness in your area. Very hard water may require more frequent cartridge replacements.

Another drawback is the system cost. Depending on the type of system you need, you can expect to spend between $600 and $1,500 for the initial purchase. Replacement cartridges are also relatively expensive.

Overall, however, the lack of maintenance and wastewater make this system the best choice from an economic standpoint.

NuvoH2O Water Softener FAQ

Can I use NuvoH2O for well water?

Yes, you can use NuvoH2O for well water. However, you should test your water before use. If your water also needs filtering, you should install a whole house water filtering system before the water softener on the water supply line or use the NuvoH2O Manor Duo.

Does NuvoH2O filter out iron from well water?

Yes. NuvoH2O can filter out iron and other heavy metals from well water. The system, however, won’t be able to remove existing iron stains from your fixtures, appliances, or clothes.

How much do the replacement filters cost?

You can expect to pay between $45 and $90 for a replacement cartridge, depending on the type of NuvoH2O system you use. On average, a cartridge has a lifespan of 20,000 gallons.

Can I place the NuvoH2O outdoors?

NuvoH2O should only be installed indoors or in a protected outdoor area. Installing the water conditioner system in direct sunlight or an unprotected area outside your home will void its warranty.

Our Verdict

NuvoH2O may be more expensive up front, but it’s worth every dime – and in the long run, it will help you save money.

The lack of salts delivers tasty and healthy drinking water – all beneficial minerals remain in the liquid. Still, they won’t be able to deposit on pipes and fixtures thanks to chelation.

At the same time, this water conditioner also does an excellent job of removing heavy metals from your drinking water. If you want to fix scale issues while keeping maintenance and water waste to a minimum, this system might be it.

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