Pros & Cons of a Water Softener

Sodium chloride is used in ion exchange water softeners.
••• sal image by mercedes navarro from

Water softeners reduce "hardness" (high mineral levels) in water. A proper water softening system looks at your source water and determines which minerals must be removed to bring your water to a more useful range.


Hard water is water with high levels of dissolved minerals (calcium and magnesium) measured in many areas as being above 1g per gallon. Hard water leaves stains in laundry and makes water smell or taste bad. If your shower or sink has reddish-brown stains, you have hard water.

Water Softeners

As the name implies, water softeners reduce levels of water hardness. Many either directly remove minerals from hard water, or they replace ionic hardness with salt ions. Reverse Osmosis (RO) and water distillation systems will remove water hardness while disinfecting the water, but are more expensive. Water softeners focus on hardness only and are a cost-effective treatment if hardness is the only concern.

Water Softener Pros

A well-designed water softener system only removes the minerals causing hardness. The least expensive systems are magnetic, removing dissolved metals from the water by passing the source water across a magnet. By removing the metals, the remaining water is acceptable. More expensive systems trade calcium and other minerals for salt ions, leaving a less hard water where the colloidal salts pass through with little impact.

Water Softener Cons

If the problem with the source water is more than simply high levels of minerals, water softening will not help. Water softeners do not disinfect the water, they do not address most problems with taste and smell of organic sources, and many are ruined by exposure to even trace amounts of oils in the water. Salt-based water softening systems require a regular maintenance and replenishment schedule, which causes higher expense.


If the problems with source water (well or tap water) are organic, water softeners will not help. Point of use systems such as RO filters or countertop water distillers will deal with both hardness in the water as well as most organic or inorganic contamination problems in-house.

Related Articles

You've Gotta Try This Fun, Easy Way to Grow Crystals...
What is the difference between hard and soft water?
How to Make Hard Water
Soft Water Disadvantages
High Water Table Problems
How to Test for Soft Water
How to Treat High Conductivity in Water
The Effects of Water Pollution Around the World
Brine Vs. Conductivity
Pros & Cons of Recycling Water
Ways That Communities or the Government Can Conserve...
Can I Use Dehumidifier Water?
Can Biodegradable Pollutants Cause Environmental Problems?
Methods for Desalination
How to Convert Water Hardness in mg/L to GPG
List of Activities to Save Water
How to Convert PPM to Grains in Water Hardness
How Does Sediment Affect Ecosystems?
What Is the Effect of PH on Living Organisms?
The Benefits and Effects of Limestone
Can Softened Water Cause a Copper Pipe to Corrode?