WQA “Water Quality Association” defines soft water as any water which has been processed in some manner (like a Conditioner) BUT must be able to reduce the total hardness to 1 grain per gallon or less, expressed as calcium carbonate equivalent. The water softener system also needs to be certified S100 by the WQA in order to be a softener. If you are buying a softener, make sure it is WQA-certified S100 or similar standard.
In other words, unless a Water Conditioner actually reduces the total hardness to 1 grain per gallon or less, it cannot be called a Water Softener.
Consumers are advised to be certain that they understand exactly what benefits are claimed before they purchase any water conditioner device.
Only a Water Softener or a Reverse Osmosis/Water Purifier System can get your water below 1 grain of hardness. Only these two products actually soften hard water Period.