For anyone who has ever used water softeners, you can easily tell if a water softener is working
just by the way the water feels when you wash your hands or body with
soap. It always feels like soap never
washes off. Some people like that
feeling and others don’t. There are
benefits to having soft water in the home like a reduced heating bill, less
soap usage, and even less cleaning time.
What most people don’t realize is that the slick slippery feeling you
get from using a water softener is not just because of the water softener – it’s
because of the salt it leaves behind.
Water softeners replace calcium and magnesium (hard water minerals) for
sodium which makes the water slippery.
Soft water doesn’t have to be slippery to be considered soft. Reverse osmosis also creates soft water
without the slick slippery feeling simply because it removes all ions and
flushes them down the drain. There are many companies now who are starting to
advertise salt-free water conditioners which give the same benefits of water
softeners without the slippery feeling.
But what works better – salt water softeners or salt-free
water conditioners? Keep in mind water conditioners are not the same
thing. They NEVER give you soft
water. By definition, soft water is
absent of calcium and magnesium. Water
conditioners leave these minerals in the water but treat them so that they do
not stick to the pipes or glass in order to give you a more natural
feeling. There is the added benefit that
you never have to buy salt, maintenance the valve, or have complex plumbing in
order to install these units. The downside is that every few years, you need to
replace the media inside which can be quite expensive and time consuming if you
do it yourself. Also you are required to
have a carbon pre-filter if you live where there is chlorinated water. There
has been a lot of controversy if salt-free water conditioners even work because
no test can be done in order to actually see results. You just have to trust that it is.
Water softeners, on the other hand, have tests that indicate
whether or not it is working and can be felt also. You may have to continually
buy bags of salt every few months but the benefits are well worth it if you
consider that these have been proven to work. Installation of these units is
slightly more complex simply because you have to install these with a drain
connection, near an electrical outlet, and connect the brine tank. However, some cities have banned water
softeners and have starting enforcing the residents to remove any existing softeners
or they will be fined. Certain cities
believe that the salty soft water going down the drain is eating and corroding
the drain pipes for the city which costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars
to repair. However, the savings incurred
on the home user who use these systems outweigh the repair costs in the end.
In the end, it’s really a choice of preference and belief on
which system is better - a water softener which has a proven background of
softening water or a water conditioner which has many benefits but comes with a
concern of its ability to work. Either
way, your home will be treated to give you the benefits of soft water.