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Water Conditioner vs Water Softener: The Choice Isn't Hard

Woman holding glass of water


Consider the possibility of going one day without any interaction with water. Successfully attempting to remove water from our lives, even just for a day, is ludicrous at best and dangerous at worst. 

The simple conclusion is that it would be impossible. Human beings are made up of approximately 60% water and it is without a doubt the most essential component of our physical lives. Fortunately, we live in communities where water is plentiful and most likely give little thought to it beyond turning on a tap or filling a water bottle. 

Even with the easy access and essential quality it is still important to assess that the water running through our bodies as well as our plumbing systems is of the highest standards. If you live in a city, municipal water treatment plants take care of a lot of the leg work, but even the quality of the water they create is not as great as it could be.

There are water filtration resources to consider when evaluating the water in your home. One of the main questions that consumers ponder is the need for a water conditioner or a water softener.   

Before purchasing a system for water conditioning or water softening it is important to understand the benefits and advantages of both and how they might align with your household needs. 

Why Do You Need a Water Conditioner or Water Softener? 

Let’s begin with a little science lesson. Most of us have heard of water as being “hard” but what does that mean? Although water appears to be a clear liquid devoid of any particles or contaminants that is often not the case. Even the water sanitized through water treatment plants and running through our pipes, can contain dissolved minerals. Of course, they are microscopic but don’t let their size fool you. The minerals that exist in our water supply can actually contribute to plumbing problems in our homes.

These minerals can deposit in our pipes, appliances, and heating systems reducing their efficiency and lifespan which translates to the possibility of huge expenses for repairs or replacements. These deposits, called scaling, can be physically evident in your home and used as a determining factor for your choice of altering the composition of your water. Just take a look at one of your faucets. Do you see hardened mineral residue? That is scaling caused by mineral deposits and if you see it there it’s probably in your pipes and appliances as well.  

In addition, physical problems can become evident. The harshness of hard water and its possible contaminants can be attributed to dry hair and skin as well as water appearing discolored or tasting metallic. None of these issues are pleasant but innovative, scientific solutions are available.

Water conditioners and water softeners help to eliminate contaminants like water hardness thus making it that much cleaner and more efficient.  Let’s go back to our science lesson.

Water Softeners

It is easy to imagine that a water softening system might filter the mineral particles in water like an air filter prevents unwanted particles from entering the air we breathe by just blocking the particles so they cannot pass through. Water softeners go beyond our notions of filtration and actually attract the minerals floating around in our water based on their molecular composition. This process is known as ion exchange and changes hard water to soft. 

The primary tank of a water softener contains little beads inside made of resin that are positively charged, like the “north” end of a magnet. Hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) are naturally negatively charged particles. So as the water flows through the tank and past the resin beads, the hardness is physically pulled out of the water and sticks to the resin so it cannot continue through your home.

Once the resin beads have captured as much calcium that it can hold, that is when the secondary tank of a softener, called the brine tank, comes into play. This is where salt is stored and dissolved by water. While you’re asleep, a salt water solution washes over the resin in the main tank and knocks all the calcium off the resin beads so they are open and ready to collect more the next day.

This method for reducing the minerals that cause hard water has existed for decades and is proven to be effective. Large amounts of water, like what is used in a family household, can be consistently softened with noticeable results by using a combination of brine and resin tanks. As with any type of system or appliance there are installation and maintenance considerations such as the addition of salt to the brine tank, but if reducing hard water is your aim then this is a tried and true method that achieves that goal. 

Evolve Water Conditioners  

Water softening systems are not the only way to transform your water. Our Evolve series water conditioners provide the same benefits, but with additional results based on your corresponding needs. We call them “conditioners” because they can do more than just soften water, they can provide true filtration of other issues as well. 

Inside there is a very special, engineered media called Crystal-Right designed to capture hardness like a magnet, as well as high levels of iron and manganese. In most normal situations having hard water and water with a lot of iron in it, you would need to buy both a water softener and a water filter to get the high quality water you need for your everyday life. But with the power of Crystal-Right’s CR-100 media, you just need one water conditioner.

Certain types of Crystal-Right are formulated to take care of even more than that! Sometimes water can turn acidic based on the environment it is exposed to. Water naturally has a pH level of 7, which is neutral. In certain areas of the country, the pH of the water is significantly less than 7 and has turned the water into an acid. Acidic water is much more aggressive to anything it touches, so it will eat away at your plumbing, fixtures, and appliances. With Crystal-Right’s CR-200, it is able to soften water, filter out iron, AND raise the pH level of acidic water to bring it back to neutral all in one product. 

Over 90% of homes in America have hard water, so it affects most people no matter where you live. Iron, manganese, and acidic water are commonly found problems only for those that live in rural areas and are getting their water from a well. Iron and manganese, if left untreated, can lead to rust stains anywhere water is used and cause even more build up in your pipes and appliances. 

Low pH water can also lead to staining, but of a different kind. Sinks and showers usually start turning a blue/green color from the copper and other metals that is being stripped from the plumbing throughout the house. No one likes having to clean up stains, but that is just the surface of a bigger issue. If your pipes continue to get eaten away, they will get holes in them that leak water out of places it shouldn't, which could lead to costly water damage in your basement or walls. 

Both having iron in your water and acidic water can lead to your water having a very metallic or bitter taste. Water is essential to the hydration of our bodies, but if you don’t like to drink it, it makes it a lot harder to stay healthy!

The Pros and Cons: Water Softener or Conditioner?

Now that you understand a little more about the science behind these systems it’s time to do your homework and get closer to your choice. Assess what is in your water and what benefits are important to you and your family. 

Think about your hard water concerns as they can affect your home’s plumbing and appliances that require water to function. Mineral deposits can accumulate in pipes, sometimes generating expensive repairs. Efficiency can be reduced in appliances like hot water heaters, washing machines, and dishwashers because of a higher incidence of scaling. All are expensive to replace. 

Unpleasant taste, smell, and color of your household water might propel you toward a water conditioning system. If hard water is just the start of your water woes and a metallic taste, rust stains, or green staining are also an issue, an Evolve water conditioner can help improve your water while saving you money. Not only does it prevent costly repairs throughout your home, you can buy one single product instead of two or three separate water treatment appliances that can only address one issue at a time.

Both systems are effective, but differ in purpose, installation, and maintenance. Let us pair you with a local water expert to assess the needs of you and your family and any issues regarding your home’s plumbing. Call your authorized Evolve dealer today for your complimentary water test and consultation to get started!