How Do Water Softeners and Conditioners Really Work?

Do you notice a build-up of scum in your shower or dishwasher? Is your home’s shower not supplying you with water that feels “right” as you rinse off the day? If you are encountering issues or experiencing a change in your water supply, it may be so to hard water or that the treatment option that you are currently using for your homes water is not the right one.

One of the most common solutions to treat a hard water supply is with a water softener or conditioner. In this installment, we shall briefly discuss the problem of hard water, how water softener systems and water conditioner work, and the difference between both.

Problems with Hard Water

Hard water is caused by the presence of too many metals or minerals in the water, such as magnesium, calcium, and others. These minerals dissolve into your household water through the dissolution of the surrounding soil and rock. Water hardness is calculated in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or grains per gallon (GPG). If your water tests 1 GPG or less, then you have soft water.

Hard water does not flow easily through because of the build-up of scale which accumulates inside your water pipes, heater or other appliances. In extreme cases, hard water can clog up water pipes and stop the flow of water all together. Hard water also influences household appliances and everyday activities. For instance, hard water reduces soap lathering, causing the water to become sticky and scum-like inside of lather.

How Water Softening Works

If you have a problem with hard water in your home, one of the best solutions is to install a water softener. Of course, it is important to speak with a professional who will test your homes water to see if this is the right option for your family.  A water softener reacts with the calcium and magnesium ions and replaces them with sodium ion which results in a softer water. The added sodium is well below the FDA standard which makes the water fit for life.

The ion replacement is done in a tank filled with resin. The beads are negatively charged and attract the sodium ions which are positively charged. Once water flows across these beads, magnesium, and calcium ions are replaced with sodium ions.

Once the softening is completed, there is a need to recycle the beads in sodium chloride solution (water softening salt). This solution will remove the magnesium and calcium ions attracted to the beads and replace them with sodium. This bead can then be used for further softening session.

Choosing a Water Softener or Conditioner?

The term water softener and water conditioner are often used interchangeably. However, there is a huge difference between the two appliances.

Water conditioners remove chlorine, sediments, chemicals, and other foreign materials while treating water hardness while water softener system does not treat water for any other reason other than hardness. Of course, both appliances are used to treat water hardness, but the results are always different.

Water conditioner system processes water through a process that prevents scales. This causes a slight drop in the water pressure and causes the hardness-causing minerals to be suspended for three days. Usually, a catalyst in form of a magnetic field is used to enhance the process. In the end, the system displaces bad tastes, minerals, and prevents bacterial growth. Although the water is not technically soft, it still possesses the properties of a soft water. This means that the water will not precipitate and will lather easily with soap.

At Reynolds Water Conditioning Company, we are here to help make sure our clients don’t buy water treatment systems that they don’t need.  We are here to make sure you find a water softening system that gives you the results you are looking for, whether it is to remove iron or odor from you water; we have a solution that will help!  For more information contact our experts at 800.572.9575 or at our website


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