Water Conditioner vs Water Softener

When deciding between the purchase of a water conditioner vs best water softener, the choice ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. Many factors may play a key role in this decision, such as health, cost, and convenience. In the end, it all boils down to what exactly you’re looking for.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both water conditioners and water softeners. A water softener effectively removes hard water while a water conditioner only neutralizes it. Hard water contains dissolved ions of calcium and magnesium. These are naturally occurring ions that form lime scale. People who use hard water to wash dishes may notice a white, film-like appearance on glassware. The minerals in hard water also inhibit the soap used in washing, so houses lacking a water softener will need to use more soap than others.
Water conditioners are salt-free systems that help reduce the buildup of chemicals from limestone in your water, but don’t actually remove the hard water. Conditioners just alter the chemical structure of water minerals so that solids are prevented from being deposited in pipes or other water-using fixtures. In places where water is at a stand-still, lime scale will form.


In appliances such as water heaters, mineral buildup is still quite possible. There are a variety of ways that water conditioners can work, ranging between ceramic media, electromagnetic waves, and carbon filtration to remove these particles. Chlorine is sometimes added to conditioned water to kill bacteria, and this added disinfectant may be beneficial to a person’s health. In addition, the cost of running a water conditioner is much lower than that of a water softener, and the maintenance is very limited. An especially lucrative factor for consumers is the fact that salt-free systems simply don’t waste anywhere near as much water as water softeners do.

A home water softener uses ionic exchange to swap out the hard-water minerals of calcium and magnesium with either sodium or potassium. Inside of the softener, water runs over millions of tiny beads of resin. These are coated with sodium or potassium ions, which will be picked up by the water when the calcium and magnesium is released. Softened water has a “slippery” feel that cannot be matched by conditioned water. This can extend the life of any water-based appliances, clothing, and plumbing in a home.

Water softeners that are salt-based leave low amounts of sodium in your water. For the average person this isn’t an issue, but if your doctor has recommended you a low sodium diet then you want to avoid drinking your softened water if you use salt in your brine tank. To counter-effect this negative point, reverse osmosis units can be installed in homes that use a salt-based water softener, to remove any salt from the drinking water. You can also substitute sodium for potassium though it does cost 3-4 times as much.

Hard water minerals not only create a film on dishware, but can coat the inside of pipes with sediments. When this thickens, the flow of water through the pipes can be restricted. In a heating unit, built up sediment can slow down the heating of water, as the sediment behaves like an insulator. Without the heat being able to dissipate into the water, overheating is often caused, leading to the heating unit malfunctioning. Because of these negative effects of hard water, water softeners often are able to help boilers and plumbing last longer.

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