Did you know that many Arizona cities have a water hardness level between 210-350 PPM, with Phoenix ranking among the top six cities with hard water? Residing in Arizona’s hard water zones likely means encountering stubborn mineral deposits on plumbing, central heating, taps, and hot water-exposed appliances. This buildup can prove challenging to clean and may harm household devices over time.

In this blog, our team at Aqua Science explores the contrast between water conditioners and softeners, to aid you in combating mineral buildup in your home effectively.


What Problems Can Hard Water Cause?

Plumbing Damage

Over time, mineral deposits from hard water damage plumbing, reducing flow, causing leaks, and risking pipe breakage. Common minerals like calcium and magnesium corrode pipes. Appliances like water heaters suffer too, as mineral buildup reduces efficiency and shortens lifespan, even without visible damage.

Dehydrated Skin and Hair

When hard water encounters your skin, it tends to dry on the surface, leaving behind calcium bicarbonate deposits. These calcium deposits can disrupt the natural oil balance of your skin, resulting in dryness. The effects extend to your hair as well, gradually causing it to appear dull and become more prone to breakage over time.

Decreased Water Volume

Mineral buildup can negatively impact water volume by impeding the flow of water as pipes become increasingly clogged.

Clothing Damage

The interaction between hard water minerals and laundry detergent speeds up color fading and can leave behind stains, like those seen on dishes. After washing, you might observe that clothes appear lighter and contain chalky mineral residues, potentially leading to fabric tears and holes.

Stained Dishes

As water hardness rises, so does the chance of unsightly stains on dishes and faucets. Even after handwashing or using a dishwasher, you may still see white streaks or residue, caused by soap interacting with mineral deposits.


How do Water Softeners & Water Conditioners Address Hard Water?

Water softeners employ ion exchange to remove the hard minerals that cause scale to build up in pipes and on fixtures. Though salt is used in the exchange, it isn’t added to the water.  Instead, sodium ions in a salt brine displace calcium and magnesium ions in the resin. The resulting softer water is achieved by flushing away the salty rinse water and mineral ions.

Water conditioners, on the other hand, use activated carbon to improve water quality.  Although they have no affect on hard minerals, the activated carbon removes a wide range of contaminants from water, including chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, herbicides, and unpleasant tastes and odors.


Comparing Water Conditioners & Water Softeners

Hard Water Solutions

Water softeners use ion exchange with salt to effectively remove hard water minerals, while water conditioners utilize anti-scalent material to combat the build-up of scale caused by hard minerals.  Anti-scalent material, although designed to address hard water, do not remove any minerals from the water and typically do not reduce scale.

Environmental Impact

Water softeners produce wastewater and require electricity to function, rendering them slightly less eco-friendly than water conditioners. On the other hand, water conditioners that do not have a backwashing valve are more environmentally friendly options, as they produce no wastewater and do not require electricity to operate.  Conditioners that use a backwashing valve require electricity and produce wastewater.


Water softeners require frequent salt replacements and system cleaning to remain effective. In contrast, conditioners can offer a low-maintenance alternative, as they require no salt replacements or regular cleaning, providing convenience and ease of use.

Get More Information on Water Softeners & Water Conditioners with Aqua Science

At Aqua Science, we are experts when it comes to water treatment systems for homes. Our services are tailored to adapt to the evolving landscape of Arizona.


Contact our team today to explore installing a water conditioner or water softener and kick-start your journey toward cleaner water.