Water Softeners Vs. Water Filters- What You Should Know


What is the difference between a water softener and a water filter?

This is a question very few people comprehend. First, you need to understand the difference between Hard water and Contaminated water.

What is “Hard water”?

Hard water is probably the most common water problem found in the home. Water described as “hard” is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium.

As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves very small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution.  Calcium and magnesium dissolved in water are the two most common minerals that make water “hard”.  The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.

Hard water is not a health risk; in fact, its mineral content makes it healthy for your body. Hard water as defined by wikipedia is water that has high mineral content.  This content usually consists of high levels of metal ions, mainly calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) in the form of carbonates, but may include several other metals as well as bicarbonates and sulfates.  Untreated hard water can leave the skin feeling dry; this is caused from the calcium and magnesium sticking to the skin.

What is “Contaminated Water”?

Contaminated water is water that has chemicals in it.  This water still has the calcium and magnesium in it but also has been influenced by something it picked up in the environment.

If you are on city water the most dominant contaminant is chlorine or chloramines.  There is a good side and a bad side to this.  The good side to adding chlorine or chloramines to the water is it kills bacteria, without it being added to the water, out breaks of disease would be prevalent.

On the other hand by adding it, it causes problems with humans as it is designed to kill living organisms “people”.  This is why if you are city water you should have some type of water filtration system to filter the chlorine or chloramines.  If you are on a well you may think you are safe because you don’t have chlorine.

Think about this though, how many pesticides, gasoline additives, and paint thinners to name a few go into the ground water?  Water that becomes contaminated is unsafe to drink or bathe in.  That leads to the question, do I need a water softener or a water filter.  The answer to that all comes down to where you get your water.

The main purpose of a water softener is to deal with the water “hardness”.  There are many different types of water softeners.  There are ion exchange methods, magnetics, electrical, and catalytic methods.  All of these methods have their pros and cons but they all deal with the effects of hard water can have on you home.

A water filter by itself will only deal with the contaminants in your water.  There are just as many water filters as water softeners.  A carbon filter is a type of filter that will remove the most contaminants by itself.  These filters are capable removing or reducing hundreds of contaminants in the water.  A water softener is not something you need, however a water filter is always a good idea.

Besides improving the taste of the water it dramatically improves the effects.  Most people claim to have softer skin and hair after using a water filter.  Whether you are on city water or a private well or another type of water source, a water filer is recommended.

If you have hard water and you want the best of both worlds, a combination of a water filter and water softener is the best solution.  Again, there are many different companies offering many different systems to accomplish the softening along with contaminant removal.

The technology in both water softening and water filtration has come a long way in recent years and it just keeps getting better.  Water is an essential part of our lives and it is something we deal with on a daily basis and because of that it important to understand it and get the very best from it.

Do I need a water softener?

Most people who have hard water are generally aware that they have an issue.  If you are one of the lucky ones who live in an area where there is soft water there is no need for a water softener.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 85 percent of the United States geography has hard water.

If the conditions of the water require a water softener, it is best to shop around and find the best solution for your particular situation.  Some things to consider if you are in the market for a water softener, does your state or county have a ban on salt water softeners, if they do have a ban consider a salt-free water softener alternative.

Can you run a drain line and do you have enough space for installation?  If you are looking at a traditional salt-based water softener remember that the plumbing in the kitchen for cooking and drinking should be bypassed if possible, if not possible then installing an under sink reverse osmosis filter may be your only choice.

Drinking the water from a traditional salt-based ion exchange water softener is not recommended for good health.  Salt Free Water Softeners offer an alternative for people who are concerned with their health and for people who are tired of dealing with the maintenance associated with traditional salt based water softeners.

With the different options available today, it is quickly becoming apparent that the newer water softener technologies are playing a larger role in the market place.  The Internet has made it easier for people who are in the market for a water softener to explore the different options available.


One Response to “Water Softeners Vs. Water Filters- What You Should Know”
  1. Lanie says:

    What is the difference between a water softener and a water filter? Reading this post gives us an answer to this question. Thanks for sharing this. I am sure that a lot of homeowners finds this a big help.

Tell us what you're thinking...

Please share your thoughts and ideas with the Who's Green community.