Which is the Better Choice: A Water Conditioner or A Water Softener?


Hard water is not a pleasant problem to have at home. The stains. The mess. The high mineral content in your water makes it impossible not to notice what’s going on around your faucets, your showerheads, and your drains. From the staining to the deposits left behind, you might be in over your head trying to figure out what to do with this problem if it’s new to you. If you’ve just moved into a new home, you might not know what to do with hard water or how to make it seem like a smaller issue.

Because water filters through the ground, it’s not uncommon for it to pick up a few extra passengers in the form of minerals and limestone. Those minerals come in with your water, and it gets left behind on anything the water touches. Now you have to decide how to handle it. Do you use a water softener, or do you go outside the box and use a water conditioner? There is no right or wrong answer depending on what you want or need, but there are a few things you can learn that might make your decision easier.

What’s the Difference?

The difference between the two is one of the first things you should learn about a whole house water softener versus water conditioner. A water softener is an entire system that works to pull the hard water minerals from the water. Once this occurs, the softener replaces those minerals with sodium ions that make it easier to flush and drain your system of all the minerals you do not want to have in the system. There is no more hard water for you to deal with.

A water conditioner is sometimes referred to as a descaler. This is not a system that works to remove the minerals from your water in a complete process. Instead, this is a process that makes changes to the structure of the chemicals inside the water. This change in structure works to prevent your minerals from forming scales in your pipes, along with your fixtures, and anywhere else your water goes. It doesn’t soften the water by way of removing the chemicals from the water. It only helps you by making it possible to prevent the minerals from sticking. Your water is still hard because it still has minerals in it.

When Water Softeners Work Best

Water softeners are often the best choice when you have to get rid of the hard water. It’s a personal choice, but you do want to get rid of this if you cannot handle the problems that come along with having hard water.

  • Reduce scaling
  • Reduce staining around sinks and faucets
  • Reduce soap scum
  • Use less soap
  • Removes water spots

You might not care much about those things, but many people do. If you’re tired of these problems at home, you might consider working on using a water softener so you can eliminate these issues and work on living with soft water.

When Water Conditioners Work Best

If you choose a water conditioner, you’re making the decision to go without using a true water softener. This is sometimes problematic for homeowners because you are unable to live with truly soft water. However, it’s popular in many areas around the country.

  • Reduces staining
  • Reduces scaling
  • Costs less to install than a water softener
  • Requires less maintenance than water softener
  • Doesn’t wastewater
  • The water feels less slick

One of the biggest problems with a water softener is that many people who use it claim their skin feels very slimy and slick even when they’ve rinsed off. If you’re not accustomed to this type of water, you will feel that when you use it for the first time. You may have already experienced it during your travels.

What’s The Major Difference?

The big difference for most people is that you simply have to deal with the fact that your water will not work for you the way you want it to work in every situation. You might suffer from some slick skin if you use a softener, but you might prefer to use a conditioner because it’s more affordable. While neither is a wrong choice, you do have options available to you that might make it easier for you to decide what you’d like to do. You’re deciding between the feeling of your skin and the overall cost of each product.

When you have hard water, ask around for recommendations. Your friends, family, and neighbors in the same area as you have the same problem, and they probably have recommendations that might work for you. If you aren’t sure what to do, call a professional and ask about what might work best for your needs.

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