Water is life. However, in most instances, water doesn’t come to our homes when clean. For this reason, this water has to go through many different stages of treatment before it gets us for consumption. You may think that water from your municipal or city is already treated, but it may not be in the condition for whole-house use. In this post, we compare Water Conditioner vs Water Softener.
To make it safe for use in your home, you need an effective water filtration or conditioning system to make your drinking water safer. A water conditioner and (or) water softener will be useful in this course. Water conditioning focuses on solving major water problems that include limescale, algae, and bacteria. These problems may lead to different issues in water equipment such as pipes, heat exchanges, water heaters, water appliances, and fixtures among others.
If you are looking to keep water from endangering your health, keep your plumbing system in good condition and increase the efficiency of your water appliances on top, you need to get the best water treatment option for your home. For this reason, we focus on two types of water treatment systems; water softeners and water conditioners. Often, these terms have been used interchangeably and clarification of their differences and explanation of how they work is important.
FAQ: Read about our favorite water softener in our Best Salt-free water softener Guide
What is a Water Conditioner?
If you wonder what water conditioner is and how it works, well, it is a type of water filter that works to improve the quality of water for whole-house use. Even though it doesn’t remove the water hardness, it alters the composition of water to prevent crystals from scaling your plumbing systems and other home fixtures. There are different types of water conditioners that you can consider installing for water treatment:
- Carbon Filtration Water Conditioners – These types contain activated carbon that is responsible for the absorption of different chemicals contained in water. The carbon filters work great in removing organic compounds like chlorine and sulfur from groundwater. It can also remove odor and foul taste from water to make it safe for drinking and cooking.
- Electromagnetic Water Conditioner – These use a wire wrapped around the pipes or magnets strategically placed on plumbing tubes to produce molecular agitation in water which breaks and blends the particles of carbonate salts to reduce the concentration of magnesium and calcium ions in the water. As such, these types of water conditioners eliminate scaling though they don’t soften the water. They can also purify your water by removing most of the chemical contaminants.
- Catalytic Media Water Conditioner – Also known as salt-free water softeners, these water filters utilize template-assisted crystallization (TAC) to render adherence of calcium and magnesium minerals to surfaces. These types represent excellent water conditioning system but they don’t reduce the real hardness of the water.
- Do not wastewater
- Reduce scaling in plumbing equipment
- Require low maintenance
- Reduce spotting around faucets and drains
- Affordable cost of installation
- Don’t eliminate water hardness
FAQ: Read about our favorite water softener in our Top 10 Best water softener Guide
A water softener is a water filtration system that eliminates water hardness through ion exchange. In this process, magnesium and calcium ions, the major components that cause water hardness are replaced by sodium ions or potassium. At the end of the process, you will have soft water that will not scale your plumbing equipment and fixtures as well as not pose any health risk to your family.
The water softening process takes place in the brine tank that has resins bead. When you add salt into the brine tank it clings to the resin beads since they have opposite charged ions. When magnesium and calcium-rich water flows through the brine tank, the negatively-charged resin bead will attract the positively-charged magnesium and calcium ions.
Even though sodium is positively-charged, it is not as strong as the positively-charged magnesium and calcium ions. As such, sodium ions get displaced and magnesium and calcium ions take their place in the brine tank. What that flows out of the tank is rich in dissolved sodium ions instead of the previously dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals thus you get soft water running out of your water softener.
- Eliminates water hardness
- Reduces scaling in plumbing equipment
- Eliminates spotting around drains, faucets, and dishes
- Allows easy lathering of soap while reducing soap scum
- Enables use of less detergents, soap and dish soap
- Doesn’t eliminate water odor
- Doesn’t remove water impurities and contaminants
NOTE: Since water softeners don’t remove water impurities and contaminants, it can be used with other water filters such as reverse osmosis and water conditioners to filter the water for purposes of drinking and cooking.
Water Conditioner vs Water Softener: How Do They Compare?
Undoubtedly, both water conditioners and water softeners are used to improve the quality of water in households. However, they are quite different. To bring out the difference, let’s look at how they compare using the criteria below.
- Water Quality
Water quality is one of the main differences between water conditioners and water softeners. Water softeners only work to eliminate water hardness through ion exchange and don’t focus on filtering the water.
On the other hand, water conditioners are responsible for filtering water and removing impurities and contaminants but won’t remove the hardness of your water.
So, which one can you pick for your home? Well, if you want to eliminate water hardness and you have little or no concern about water quality, then a water softener should be your pick. But if you are more concerned about the quality of water coming to your home, a water conditioner could be the most appropriate to install. The water conditioner focuses on removing water impurities and contaminants rather than water hardening minerals. But if you want soft clean water, then installing both systems will be the best option.
- Running Costs and Maintenance
Water conditioners are cheaper and easy to run as they rely only on water pressure to function. The pressure of your tap water is what pushes the water through the filters which in turn will absorb the impurities and contaminants dissolved therein. They also don’t require electricity or generate wastewater. Therefore, you will save both energy and water bills. Water conditioners are also easy to maintain as they need filter change once a year or sooner if you exceed the recommended volume.
Water softeners. on the other hand, are difficult to run and maintain. With all things considered, you can easily need about $200 annually as running costs. They are also infamous for wasting water during the softening process which means you will have to foot the huge water bills every month.
When it comes to buying prices, water softener tends to be more expensive compared to water conditioners.
Are you spoilt of choice between a water conditioner and a water softener? Well, your water needs are what can guide you to the right water filtration system. If you want soft, clean, and high-quality water for use in your home then you can consider having both systems installed to deliver you the best quality of water. Regardless of the system you want, many choices in the market that will suit your household water requirements.