A Guide to Water Conditioner and Softening Technology


Hard water is a very common problem for homeowners in all of Nebraska. This type of problematic water has a higher concentration of dissolved minerals, particularly calcium, which can create a number of issues within the home, including calcium buildup in appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and water heaters.  Hard water can also create an unpalatable taste.  For this very reason, water conditioners are often employed throughout Nebraska to solve high water hardness problems.A Guide to Water Conditioner and Softening Technology

There are numerous water conditioner technology options available today to deal with our particular water issues throughout the state.


This form of water treatment uses heat to turn water into a gaseous form. This allows the water to be purified as the contaminants are separated out of the water, much like in nature with evaporation and rainfall. This is a very effective method of removing minerals, viruses and bacteria from the water. However, chemical contaminants such as chlorine and pesticides have a lower boiling point than water, which can cause them to evaporate into the atmosphere. It is also relatively impractical and not a very economical method since it requires a large amount of energy to boil the water to begin with. So from a cost-effectiveness perspective it has considerable limitations.

TIC- Template Induced Crystallization:

This method uses a template to form a unique structure of crystals. The ions from the crystal structure matrix integrate any and all dissolved minerals allowing them to be separated from the water. These crystals are suspended in the water and in theory carried downstream. Although the effectiveness of this technology has not been evaluated on a long-term basis, the system is very water efficient and may be used to remove existing deposits of scale within a plumbing system. The risk of scale formation is dramatically reduced leaving cleaner softer water. However, there is still a possibility of water spotting.

Ion Exchange: 

This is one of the most established and broadly accepted methodologies for treating hard water and considered the industry GOLD standard.

The process involves removing any particles of magnesium and calcium by exchanging each ion with sodium ions. This is a very effective and time tested proven method of water conditioning, with softer water allowing detergents and soap products to lather up far more effectively.

With modern and more sophisticated, computer based, technology available today, most newer units operate on a demand-regeneration process where the unit only regenerates when necessary, instead of the older method of fixed timer-set regeneration.  This not only reduces the amount of water usage, but the amount of wastewater generated as well.

Membrane Technology:

This form of water conditioner technology includes methods such as R.O. or reverse osmosis filtration to “sieve” the water by pushing it, at a high pressure, through a semi permeable membrane. This technology can remove almost all dissolved solids. Residential systems generally feature a carbon filter to minimize the risk of damage to the membrane by harsh elements such as chlorine. This makes the system remarkably effective (although not very efficient in terms of water consumption. For every gallon of “almost pure” drinkable R.O. water, about 3 or more need to be discarded.)   This said, membrane technology is used mainly as a means of filtration (low volume) rather than producing soft water for the entire home, so the waste is somewhat relative as it is primarily used for drinking and cooking only.

What is the best technology for you?

The technology that best suits you and your home can be determined by a thorough water test conducted by a water treatment professional who has an understanding of your unique Nebraskan hydrological dynamics in your area.  Consult ONLY a Water Quality Association certified representative to discuss your individual water treatment needs.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state, Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.

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