Primarily, a water descaler treats water so that it doesn’t leave scales in your plumbing system and your appliances over time. A water softener’s main job is to soften hard water (it’s rich in calcium and magnesium ions). This means there will be no scales built over time. Water hardness is the primary reason scales develop over time.

Water descalers and water softeners are two of the best water treatment options with one goal in common: to prevent or hinder the development of scales in your pipes and appliances. Thanks to these water treatment options, the issue of hard water is less problematic than it once was.

As you read on, you’ll get to know more about these water treatment systems, how they function, their merits and demerits. Finally, this will help you decide which of them to purchase.

pros and cons of water descaler and qater softener

Water Descaler

As the name implies, this type of water filtration system ensures the water being supplied to your whole house doesn’t leave scales. It does this by treating hard water, but it doesn’t function by softening water in the traditional sense of the term.

They don’t operate with salt, and they usually have a single tank or no tank at all (depending on the descaler). They’re typically installed at the point the water flows to the pipes and appliances in the home. The beauty of this water treatment is that it prevents the development of scale deposits.

How Does a Water Descaler Function?

Water descaler has two popular types: the magnetic descaler and the template-assisted descaler. They function differently.

Template-assisted Descalers

These types of descalers are more popular than magnetic descalers. This is because their technique of descaling is easier to verify. These descalers have two major components: a sediment filter and a unique kind of media.

The sediment filter extracts scale-causing contaminants while the media draws the minerals responsible for water hardness. These minerals are glued to the surface of the media and are chemically transformed through crystallization.

Once the calcium and magnesium ions are crystallized, they become harmless and are discharged back into the water.

These types of descalers do not affect the quality of the water because the water is still hard. They only make it a “safe” hard water by neutralizing the calcium and magnesium present in the water, preventing them from sticking to surfaces.

Magnetic Descalers

The magnetic descaler is also called the electronic, magnetic descaler. These types of water descalers treat water by using a magnetic coil. It’s usually placed close to the pipe that supplies water to the whole house. This coil then emits a dynamic electromagnetic field that transforms the calcium and magnesium in the water, making them unable to glue themselves on any surface.

These types of descalers are less popular than template-assisted descalers because their water descaling technique is harder to verify. As the water descalers do not soften the water, their effectiveness is only evidenced by the absence or reduction of scale deposits over a period.

Pros of Water Descalers

They Are Salt-free and Retain Beneficial Minerals

These water systems don’t need salt to treat hard water, unlike water softeners that use salt to produce soft water. In essence, the water descaler is a salt-free water conditioner, which is the ideal choice for individuals who don’t wish to increase their daily salt intake through their drinking water. Here, the water descaler gains the upper hand in water softener vs water descaler.

Unlike water softeners, these water conditioners don’t get rid of hard water mineral ions. Instead, they only neutralize them. As a result, they make your drinking water a source of vital minerals such as calcium, which is good for the body. So they improve your water quality tremendously.

Water Descalers Are Low-maintenance and Very Convenient

Since they don’t rely on salt to treat hard water, there will be no need for salt re-fillings. So you’re doing virtually nothing in maintaining this water filtration system all through its life cycle. For the template-assisted type, you need to change the sediment filter twice a year and replace the media once in at least six years. It doesn’t get more convenient than that. Magnetic descalers are even more low-maintenance and convenient than their counterparts. They require zero maintenance.

They Are Affordable and Easier to Install

These water conditioners are affordable water filtration systems. Their market price is much lower than water softeners. They are also simpler to install. You can do it yourself. They are also less expensive than water softeners because you don’t need to purchase large bags of salt. Here is another point for water descaler in water softener vs water descaler.

Cons of Water Descalers

They Don’t Transform Hard Water Into Soft Water

When it comes to water softening, these water conditioners are not the ideal choice. They don’t produce soft water. They only neutralize certain minerals causing water hardness but still leaving them in the water. Over time, these can still lead to the build-up of scale deposits. This is one point down for this water conditioner in water softener vs water descaler.

Their Water Softening Techniques Are Not Easy to Authenticate

You can’t assess the water-softening potency of the water descaler because the water still contains those minerals. Therefore, you can only evaluate their effectiveness by periodically checking the absence/presence and increment/reduction of scales in the pipes and appliances in your whole house.

Water Softener

A water softener system employs specific processes such as ion exchange to treat water hardness. A water softener is usually installed at the juncture water flows into the home’s pipes. They typically consist of two tanks (brine and resin) and a water filter that extracts sediments. They function with salt to treat hard water and are the most effective producers of soft water. This way, the water softener prevents the accumulation of scales in pipes over time. Another filter that is effective at softening is the reverse osmosis system.

How Does a Water Softener Function?

The conventional method used by the water softener to treat hard water is the ion exchange process. The water is first filtered to remove visible sediments so they don’t impair the water softener.

It’s similar to the reverse osmosis system in this regard. From the sediment filter, water goes to the resin tank, where specific ions exchange. As a result, some minerals in the water are drawn to the resin bed.

The resultant effect is the discharge of sodium into the water. Sodium is more friendly on surfaces, pipes, and household equipment.

The water softener regenerates once the resin bed is filled with these ions responsible for water hardness. The regeneration process flushes out these ions from the water softener and keeps the resin bed in optimum condition.

Depending on factors such as the softener’s capacity, the degree of water hardness, and water usage, this regeneration process can occur once a week, nightly, and so on.

Pros of Water Softener

The Water Softener Softens Better

Water softener remains the most potent treatment option for softening water. It doesn’t stop at neutralizing certain minerals but flushes them out. Water softeners guarantee the safety and durability of your pipes because there will be no tendency for scales to develop. They are more effective than descalers in the actual softening.

Thanks to the complete removal of certain minerals by the softener, the water feels better when you bathe and use soap. This will also reflect the appearance of your hair and skin. That’s how beneficial a water softener is.

Elimination or Reduction of Scales and an Easily Verifiable Softening Technique

It’s beneficial to your dish-washing chore, you don’t have to use as much soap to get a lather, and your kitchenware will be spotless after washing them.

It’s also simpler to authenticate the softening technique employed by softeners. Aside from the absence of scales in your pipes, their softening technique can also be verified through science. Just carry out a softness/hardness test and see the results. Unlike your descaler, it doesn’t have to be a guessing game with this treatment option.

Cons of the Water Softener

They Function With Salt and Are More Expensive Than Descalers

Water softeners rely on salt for their treatment process. They can’t function without it. When it comes to softeners, get ready to set money aside for large bags of salt for re-fillings. This also means that you will spend more than what you would’ve spent using a descaler. So, if you’re not a fan of salt-based treatment, a descaler is the option for you. Also, their market price is more valuable than that of the descaler.

High Maintenance

Saturating the brine tank with sodium is inevitable as long as you’re using a softener. This can be inconvenient for you, but it’s important to regularly carry out this maintenance if you want to keep your water softener in optimum condition.

There’s also the sediment filter to replace once in 6 months (which is not so inconvenient, though). But when it comes to installing this system, you might need the expertise of a plumber if you can’t do it yourself. In addition, its installation process is not as easy as that of a descaler. With proper maintenance, a water softener can last up to 20 years.

Still confused? The explainer video below will give you a good summary of our article:

About the Author

Paul Morton

Paul is a retired plumber who now spends hours on home improvement projects. From fixing toilets to leaking pipes in crawls spaces, there is nothing Paul can't do or wouldn't try. Paul was running his own plumbing company and is our expert in regard to all types of water filtration systems.

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