What is a water conditioner?
A water conditioner is an alternative water softening device that’s equipped with some type of cartridge or tank containing a special scale control media that help transform hardness mineral ions in the water into a stable and harmless form that won’t adhere to surfaces.
How does it work?
Water conditioners are usually made up of a single cartridge or tank system filled with resin beads or another descaling media. Most work through a physical process known as Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) to alter the way hardness minerals in water behave.
In this template-assisted crystallization process, water is passed through a tank/cartridge of TAC media which consists of tiny polymer/ceramic beads that are covered in craters called nucleation sites that act as templates to create micro-crystals.
When the hard water from the mains supply comes into contact with the TAC media in the tank/cartridge, the calcium and magnesium ions get caught by the nucleation sites.
Therefore, as the water flows into the cartridge, more magnesium and calcium ions continue to build up within the sites upon which they are changed into small micro-crystals.
Eventually, when these micro-crystals reach a certain size, they break off of the media where they are then released into the water.
These crystals are stable and flow through the water and the plumbing system with their crystalline structure intact. They don’t break off and are unable to attach themselves to water pipes or appliances as scale as the regular hard minerals do.
The result is complete prevention against scale build-up, but the minerals remain present in the water which is a great advantage since they are healthy to humans and in this crystalline form, they can’t damage the plumbing system.
However, it’s important to note that, the scale control media used by whole house water conditioners may vary greatly from one brand to another. Furthermore, several models come equipped with extra filters to help tackle other issues aside from water hardness like removal of contaminants
They can come with a sediment pre-filter and/or a carbon filter to take care of particulates and chemical contaminants like chlorine. Others even include more advanced filters like a UV sterilization filter or an iron filtration tank that can help soften and treat well water.