Hard water is a common problem for homeowners throughout the United States. This water has higher concentrations of dissolved minerals that can create issues around the home, particularly calcium buildup in water using appliances. For this reason, many homeowners opt for a water conditioner, but there are actually a number of options with this type of technology.

Ion Exchange:

This is perhaps the most broadly accepted and established method to treat hard water. Ion exchange is considered to be the industry standard, and the process involves exchanging each ion of magnesium and calcium with sodium. This provides an effective method to condition water, and softened water will allow soaps and detergents to lather up more effectively. Unfortunately, this technology is restricted in some states as the process involves adding two sodium ions for every calcium or magnesium ion. This can be undesirable as excess sodium may be introduced into water that requires more expensive wastewater treatment. Additionally, wastewater from ion exchange may be difficult or even impossible to use for agricultural purposes because of the sodium content.

This type of water conditioner technology may also be inefficient for water use. Older water softeners use outdated timer valves that may use as much as 75 gallons per cycle. This could add up to a significant increase in water bills. Fortunately, modern technology ion exchange devices use significantly less water.


This type of water treatment involves heating water into a gas form. This purifies the water as contaminants are separated from the water. While this can be an effective method to remove minerals, bacteria, and viruses from water, chemicals, including pesticides and chlorine have lower boiling points compared to water, so they may evaporate into the atmosphere. Additionally, distillation is relatively impractical and uneconomical since large amounts of energy are needed to boil the water.

TIC or Template Induced Crystallization:

This type of water treatment technology involves a template used to form unique crystal structures. The ions in the crystal structure matrix integrate any dissolved minerals so they can be separated from the water. The crystals are suspended within the water and carried downstream in theory. This provides a water efficient method that can be used to remove any existing scale deposits inside the plumbing system. The risk of scale forming is significantly reduced to create softer water, but you may still experience water spotting. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of TIC technology has not been thoroughly evaluated for long term use.

Membrane Technology:

This type of technology includes reverse osmosis as water is filtered through a semi permeable membrane. Membrane technology can remove almost all types of dissolved solids, and residential systems often feature carbon filters to protect the membrane from harsher elements such as sediment or chlorine. This creates a remarkably effective water treatment system, but this also tends to be one of the most expensive.

With so many options, choosing the best system for your home can be a little challenging. Fortunately, with thorough water testing and professional insight, a WQA certified technician can guide you to the best option to suit your individual water treatment needs.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.