How a Water Softener Differs from a Water Filter and How to Decide Which One You Need
If you have well water and want it as pure as possible, or if you're on the city water supply and you want to treat it to make it safer for your home and family, then you may be looking into water treatment devices. Two popular options are water softeners and water filters. They do different jobs, and you may want both in your home. Here's a look at how these differ and the jobs they're designed to do.
A Water Softener Removes Hard Minerals
A water softener is used to treat hard water. Water is considered hard when the mineral content is high. Although the softening process is referred to as removing the minerals, they aren't actually filtered out. Instead, they are removed by ion exchange. A water softener has a tank that you keep filled with salt. Then, as the water passes through the process, calcium and magnesium ions are replaced by sodium ions. This changes the water so it is no longer hard and harmful to your home. A water softener is a whole-house device so the water in your laundry room and bathrooms is soft also.
This makes it easier to keep showers clean, and it helps control scale buildup in plumbing pipes. Soft water can also get your laundry cleaner. A water softener has benefits for your home and laundry, but it also benefits you by making your skin and hair feel softer. A softener is a beneficial addition to your home, but it isn't intended for use to purify drinking water.
A Water Filter Makes Water Safer to Drink
A popular type of home water filter is a reverse osmosis system. Rather than treating the water in your whole house, it is usually placed under your kitchen sink for use as a drinking and cooking water filter. This is an actual filter that blocks heavy metals, chemicals, microbes, and other types of contaminants from the water that comes out of your faucet. It does this by forcing water through a filter membrane. The contaminants are flushed down the drain and pure water comes out of the faucet. The purpose of a water filter is to make your drinking water safer. Although you can use a reverse osmosis system for your entire house, it is expensive and it wastes a lot of water, so it is more practical to use it on a single faucet in the kitchen.
When deciding on the type of water treatment appliance you need, think about what you want to achieve. If your laundry is stiff and dingy, then a water softener could be the answer that gives you soft clothing and towels. If your main concern is safe drinking water, then adding a water filter is the choice to consider. Start with a water test so you know the mineral composition of your water and the contaminants it contains. Then, you'll know for sure what you need to buy to improve your home's water quality.