January 4, 2016 | Posted in:Hard Water, Water Conditioner, Water Softener

To soften or to condition? Is there even a difference? When you apply conditioner to hair, it certainly comes out softer, but does the same thing apply to water?

At Clearwater, the technology we offer as a solution for hard water is salt-free water conditioners. But we don’t want you to get this confused with water softeners, which use an entirely different process to produce different results. This article hopes to clear up some confusion and explain the difference between these two types of hard water treatment so that you can make an informed decision as to which product is best for you.

Misconception

First, let’s get a few misconceptions out of the way. If you’ve been on the market for water treatment options, then you’ve most likely come across the term “salt-free water softener” at least once. This term can be pretty misleading, as most salt-free water treatment appliances are technically not actual water softeners, but simply conditioners.

While both water softeners and salt-free conditioners can reduce the apparent hardness of water, soft water must have less than 1 grain of hardness per gallon (GPG) in order to actually be considered “soft”. Water softeners produce this result, but salt-free conditioners don’t. Thus, a true “salt-free water softener” doesn’t actually exist. Don’t be mislead by these claims!

What Water Softeners Do

If “soft” water must have less than 1 GPG, then a true water softener must actually remove the minerals such as calcium and magnesium that make water “hard”. This can be achieved through ion exchange with salt, reverse osmosis, deionization, or distillation. All of these processes result in water that’s been stripped of any suspended mineral that might cause apparent hardness.

What Water Conditioners Do

Salt-free conditioners, on the other hand, developed as an alternative to water softeners that use salt. Rather than removing the hard minerals, these appliances instead strip the minerals of their ability to form scale. The effects are very similar, but the water retains its minerals and no salt is involved in the process.

Benefits of Each

While both technologies achieve similar results, they each have their own benefits. Traditional softeners are most effective at improving soap lather laundry color quality, removing dishwasher spots, and making water feel slick in the shower. Salt-free conditioners, on the other hand, are more efficient, lower maintenance, and produce no waste by-products like softeners do. They can both be equally as efficient in eliminating scaling due to hard water.

Which one is right for you? As a consumer, it’s up to you to determine which technology better fits your needs. We’ve given you the facts; the choice is yours. If you live in the San Marcos area and salt-free water conditioners are best for you, give us a call and we can help you find the right hard water solution.