If you have hard water, you’ll notice that there are two options: water softeners and water filters. While they sound the same, they have fundamental differences that you need to know about prior to purchasing.
Let’s take a look at both of these options, so you know exactly what you need in your home.
What is a Water Softener?
There are two water types: hard and soft. The main determining factor between the two is how much minerals are in the water. Most common in inner-city areas or areas with hotter climates, hard water holds mineral deposits, while soft water doesn’t.
If you notice white spots on your dishes or scale in your bathtub, this is caused by the white deposits left behind in hard water. Older homes or homes in hot climates are susceptible to hard water.
It’s important to know that there are no pertinent health risks associated with hard water. While it’s safe to drink, it will leave deposits behind that may accumulate in your plumbing system. These deposits can cause your hair and skin to dry out and leave behind pesky white spots. The only difference, chemically, between hard and soft water is that hard water contains excess magnesium and calcium.
There are two types of water softeners.
- Salt-based models remove calcium and magnesium from the water before it flows through your plumbing system.
- Water conditioners work by neutralizing the water hardness before it leaves the faucet. Conditioners use electro-magnetic waves to neutralize the water, but they do not completely remove the minerals from the water.
Both of these models work well and will produce the same end result: soft water. The major benefit of salt-based models is that they’ll remove the minerals prior to entering your plumbing system, resulting in fewer clogs.
What is a Water Filter?
Water filters work off of the same basic concept as a water softener, but they do not remove calcium and magnesium. Ultimately, a water filter is meant to remove bacteria, chlorine, arsenic and other minerals that either:
- Add odor to water.
- Are harmful to drink.
- Produce strong odors.
Water filters can also be attached to your faucet. A complete whole house water filter system can also be installed for your home, or as a direct filter for a specific faucet. You’ll also find water filter pitchers, such as a Brita or Pur, that work to remove harmful contaminants from your water.
Ultimately, these filters are ideal when sediment gets into your system or there are harmful minerals found in your water. Depending on the filtration system used, you’ll experience a 99% reduction in the amount of harmful particles found in your water.
Some filtration systems, such as reverse osmosis systems, are so potent that they can render water so polluted and filled with harmful chemicals safe to drink in accordance with EPA standards. Reverse osmosis systems produce the purest form of water through filtration, but they will not be able to turn hard water into soft water.
Filtered through a “membrane” many experts agree that hard water can render an osmosis filtration system ineffective. The calcium and magnesium get stuck or caught in the membrane, resulting in the filtration process being disturbed in the process.
Comparing water softener vs water filters is like comparing apples and oranges. Water softeners attempt to remove calcium and magnesium from the water, while a water filter’s purpose is to remove as many contaminants as possible. Hard water issues should be solved before using a water filtration system. The minerals that cause water hardness can clog filtration systems and render them ineffective or less effective as a result.