The Differences Between the
Water Treatment Technologies:
Water Softeners, Water
Conditioners and Water Filters.
The Primary Purpose of
this Webpage is to clarify the various
terms used by many retailers when selling water
We receive many phone calls from
customers that believe they need a traditional
salt based water softener but after some
discussion we find they are only interested in
purifying or making their drinking water taste
better. This is not the purpose of the GMX System.
We also get many call from
customers with various other problems that can be
solved without the hassle of salt based systems
and the maintenance involved.
Yes, we are in the business of
selling a salt based water softener alternative,
the GMX No Salt Water Softener System, but we
believe this webpage will help educate those
customers who are not sure what they really need
and do it in a passive way.
The term "Water
Treatment" encompasses all the
The term "Water
Filter" describes a device that
removes something from the water. IE: chlorine,
heavy metals, dirt, and/or other contaminants.
Minerals cannot be filtered out of the water with
a water filter.
The terms "Water
Softening" and "Water
Conditioning" are used
interchangeably in the industry and does cause
The term "Water
Conditioning" usually applies to
water softening without salt and sometimes
includes water filtration.
The term "Water
Softener" describes a device that
removes or neutralizes the minerals in your water.
Water softeners are not water filters.
A Bit of History:
Prior to the 1900's people were
dealing with hard water build-up, spotting and
scaling throughout their homes with no real
solution. Around the beginning of the last
century it was discovered that magnetic
load stones piled around their main water pipes
could be used as water softeners to improve this
situation with minimal effectiveness. A more
effective solution needed to be found.
During the US industrial
revolution of the 40's, 50's and 60's the ion
exchange water softening process was developed
using large amounts of salt. These very effective
salt based water softener systems have been sold
all over the US by many companies under different
brands names for the past 40 years or so. Until
recently, this was the only effective solution to
solving hard water problems in your home. Well,
that is no longer the case.
Please don't confuse
water filtration with water softening.
These are two very different ways to treat your
water and have very different results. Many
companies blur the lines by selling salt based
water softeners, reverse osmosis system and water
filters together as a system. Here are the
A Reverse Osmosis Unit:
Removes salt and some contaminates from your
drinking water at a very slow rate and they waste
a lot of water. These are point of use devices (kitchen
sink) that need their expensive membranes replace
on a regular basis.
A Water Filter:
This method removes contaminates, but not
the minerals or salt, from your water.
Water filters do nothing to solve hard water
problems in your home. They primarily make you
water taste better and healthier to drink.
Filtration is also used to remove sediment from
the water on well systems. These can be either
point of use or whole house filters and the
filter elements need to be replaced quite often.
A Water Softener:
Removes or neutralizes the minerals in your water
only. This method makes cleaning
easier, soaps lather better, eliminates scale
build-up and spotting, keeps your plumbing clear
and helps your appliances and clothes last much
longer. These are usually whole house systems
that may or may not
add salt to your water.
There are two type of water
softening systems on the market today: Salt
or Potassium Based and Salt
Free or No Salt systems. Many
companies say their systems are salt free because
they use potassium instead of salt. Potassium
is a type of salt and it has more potential
health drawbacks than salt. For the
discussion below, we will concern ourselves with
salt based water softener systems only.
There are four primary drawbacks
to salt based water softeners:
You need to add 40 pounds,
more or less, of salt to the salt
container every couple of weeks. This
typically adds up to 800 pounds of salt,
or more, per year. You will also need a
place to store and then a way lift those
40 pound bags of salt.
These systems add salt to
your water during the softening process
which has been found to be unhealthy in
recent years. The solution, was and still,
is to install a $200 to $400 reverse
osmosis unit under the kitchen sink to
remove the salt from your drinking water.
This salt will still be present in the
water throughout your home and in your
shower where it causes a slippery or
slimy feeling on your skin. Some have
called this a silky feeling. Most people
do not like this sensation as it makes
you feel like you cannot completely
remove the soap from you skin after
showering and washing your hands.
These system are usually
trouble free for the first few years,
then the $30 to $75 service and repairs
costs come into play. This, obviously,
depends on the quality of the salt based
water softener system purchased. Life
expectancy of these systems have been
anywhere from 2-3 years to 15 years or
It has been recently
discovered that these salt based systems
pollute our fresh ground water supply
during the backwashing or regeneration
process. This has caused many communities
around the US to ban salt based or
automatic water softeners. Primarily in
California. Click here for one
A fifth drawback can be the
initial cost of the unit and installation. If you
have ever been the target of one of those high
pressure in home water softener salesman, you
have been quoted prices anywhere from $2000 to
upwards of $5000 installed. If you go to your
local home improvement store you will find
various salt based units ranging anywhere from $700
to $1000 plus $200 or so for installation. This
does not include the cost and installation of the
reverse osmosis system to remove the salt from
your drinking water.
We, and many others in our industry, believe salt
or potassium based water softeners use outdated
and potentially harmful technology. Especially
because these are effective alternatives on the
market today. For a description of how a salt
based water softener works, click here.
Present Day Solutions:
Back in the 1980s, the public and
local governments were becoming aware of the
potential hazards of using salt based water
softener technology. This prompted the
development of effective alternate technologies
because the salt based technology was being banned in various locations
around the US.
Since that time, three effective
salt based water softener alternatives have come
on the market. They are: