Hard water is one of the major problems of several homeowners, as it damages your plumbing fixtures and pipes. On the contrary, contaminated water can affect your health. It not only tastes bad but also causes cancer. However, there are various innovative systems to purify and soften water. But which should you buy? A water softener or water conditioner? Let us now talk about the differences between water softening and conditioning systems. You must know the functionalities and technical details to install the right appliance. 

Know about the water softening mechanism

Electrical water softeners of traditional models are efficient at removing excess minerals through the ion exchange process. To learn about this process, you should know that minerals in water are ionic or electrically charged. Magnesium, calcium, and other minerals are positively charged. Water softening systems use sodium to replace ions of hard water. But, as sodium has a weaker charge, ions are not attracted.

The salt applied to the water softener sticks to beads and attracts opposite ions. There is a displacement of sodium ions, and they are exchanged for magnesium and calcium.

Water flowing out of the reservoir has dissolved sodium chloride. So, it results in the formation of soft water. 

How does a water conditioning system work?

Water conditioners are of different types, and they use diverse methods for catalytic reactions. The reaction affects the way how biological contaminants and minerals work in a solution. The main purpose is to prevent their buildups on the surface. Thus, the process minimizes the risk of scale buildups and bio-fouling.

However, as there are various water conditioner models, they work differently to give this result. One thing to be noted is that conditioners do not remove mineral ions, unlike water softeners. But, they prevent buildups of ions around the pipes, in the plumbing systems, and inside the nozzles.

Based on the water conditioning processes, conditioners can be categorized in different ways-

Differences between water softening and conditioning systems

A detailed comparison will help you make the best decisions on a water conditioner and softener.

Water quality

Water softeners cannot filter tap water and well water. But, they are designed to exchange sodium ions and water-hardening ions. On the contrary, water conditioners filter impurities but cannot eliminate magnesium and calcium.

A water softener is a right choice if

However, you can buy a water conditioner to ensure better water quality. It removes contaminants efficiently and frees your water from herbicides, pesticides, and byproducts. Chlorine is also another detrimental element found in tap water. 

If you have issues with both water contamination and hardness, a water refiner can be a perfect choice. It is a costlier appliance but provides a comprehensive solution.

Maintenance and operational costs

You must not overlook the cost of running the machines. It is more cost-effective to run water conditioners, as they do not need electricity. But, water softeners rely on electricity to promote ion exchange.


You have now clearly understood the differences between water softening and conditioning systems. Although these appliances are different, they manage the same issue- water hardness. Salt-based softeners eliminate magnesium and calcium from the water. Some consumers choose water conditioners as an alternative to electrically operated water softeners. However, you must not confuse them. You should not use them to soften water. If you like to buy and install a water conditioner or water softener, you can visit besthomewatertreatmentsystems.com. This company has a team of professionals to help you with various plumbing services.