If you’re considering a water treatment system for your home, you are likely to have come across the terms water softener and water conditioner. Both these types of systems are used for water treatment, but they do create different results. So, here we’ll explore the differences between these systems to help you make an informed decision for your home.

The Water Softener Basics

As the name suggests, a water softener is designed to soften hard water. These devices use ion exchange to remove the dissolved calcium and magnesium ions in hard water, replacing them with sodium ions.

Water softeners have two tanks. The main tank has resin beads coated with sodium ions, while the second tank has a brine solution used to regenerate the resin. As the water passes through the resin bed, the mineral ions are attracted to the resin beads, displacing the sodium ions. These sodium ions bond to the water, allowing the molecules to maintain a balanced charge. Once the resin beads become filled with dissolved minerals, the system will regenerate, filling the resin tank with the salty water from the brine tank. This washes away the hard water mineral ions and recharges the resin with sodium ions.

Water softening is a time tested method for addressing hard water issues, providing consistent softened water with minimal maintenance.

The Water Conditioner Basics

Water conditioners are typically salt free systems that can remove unwanted substances in the water including chlorine, organic gasses and VOCs. A water conditioner can also remove any lead in your water supply.

The actual process for a water conditioner will depend on the type of device. Some conditioners use a filtration system, while others use a specialized TAC media to alter the structure of the minerals in the water.

Water conditioners can be a highly effective way to improve your water quality, particularly if you have more extensive water quality issues.

Which is Best For Your Home?

So, which is best for your home, a water softener or water conditioner? This will depend on your water quality issues. Water softeners can remove hard water minerals from the water, but the softened water will contain traces of sodium and you will need to periodically add salt to the system.

On the other hand, water conditioners can remove VOCs, chlorine and other contaminants that can alter the taste and smell of your water. This is an energy efficient treatment method that doesn’t require salt or brine. Some conditioners can also alter hard water minerals, so you can minimize scaling around your home.

Another consideration for choosing between the two types of system is your local regulations. Some regions and cities have laws that limit water softener use. These brine restrictions do not allow systems that flush brine down into the drain, as the wastewater treatment facilities cannot treat for salt. So, you will need to double check this does not apply in your area.

If you’re struggling to decide the appropriate water treatment system for your home, be sure to speak to your local water treatment specialist. An experienced technician can assess your water quality and guide you through the treatment options that are best suited to your water conditions.

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