Water Filters vs Water Softener: What’s better for you?

In order to make your tap water safe for drinking and using at home, it needs to be passed from different appliances such as water filters, softeners, and conditioners. All these appliances are used for different purposes and have different working mechanisms. The most common in every household are water softeners and water filters.

In this article, we will look at the basic difference between water filters and water softeners. You may need both of the appliances at one single time at your home. Let’s explore them in more detail.

Water Filters vs. Water Softener

The Need

The most important question that comes to your mind is what you need, a water softener, or a water filter. Both of them work differently and are required in different circumstances.

Water FilterWater filtration system

You need a water filter when you have contaminated water in your home. It is used to filter water for drinking, cooking, and washing eatable purposes. You can assess the quality of tap water by getting it tested.

Water Softener

You need a water softener when you are getting hard water at your home. Hard water contains an excess of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are harmful to your appliances and plumbing fixtures. Hard water leaves signs on your machines, faucets, and plumbing. If you notice a white-colored scale build-up on your appliances, you are suffering from a hard water problem.

The Working Mechanism

It is the working mechanism that sets them apart.

Water Filter

Water filters come in different shapes, sizes, and working capabilities. The number of filters starts from 1 and go up to 7, a lot of water filters also come with a RO membrane, a UV filter, and a re-mineralization stage. You need to select the relevant model according to the quality of your tap water. As the water passes from each step or filters, the respective contaminants are removed by it. Once the water comes out of the filtration plant through your faucet, it is fit for drinking purposes. Water filters can be connected to a single faucet or main water supply depending upon your needs and water quality.

Water Softeners

solution for hard water

Water softeners use a softening salt to remove hardness and scale causing minerals from your water. They are connected to the main supply line of your house and soften the water by removing calcium and magnesium from your water. After water enters your home from the main supply, it goes into a water softener and is then supplied to the entire house. The actual process that happens inside the softener is an ion exchange process. With the help of resin beads, calcium and magnesium are removed from the water. The resin beads contain positively charged sodium ions, calcium, and magnesium ions have a negative charge on them. Due to the difference in electric charges, the exchange process becomes easy. The calcium and magnesium ions are left behind and the water with sodium ions move forward.

Filter and Salt Replacement/Refilling

Filters and softening salts are like fuel to each of them.

Water Filters

Water filters employee a specific number of water filters and provide you with pure drinking water. Each filter has a set life of filtration capacity. Most of the filters available in the market work for around 6-8 months or 200-300 gallons of water. Some high-quality filters can filter more water and can last for approximately 8-10 months. They need to be replaced once their life is over.

Water Softener

They use softening salts to remove calcium and magnesium from your water. The salt consumption depends upon the number of gallons you filter. You will have to ensure that a constant level of salt is available for effective functioning. Oil-based and magnetic softener systems also need respective replacement of working material but not as often as compared to salt-based softeners.

Treatment Results

It is imperative to look at the result of what water softener and water filters of different types do and remove from your water.

Water Filter

Commonly three types of water filters are used for the filtration process, carbon filter, UV light filters, and reverse osmosis membrane. A carbon filter removes chemicals, sediments, minerals, and bacterial organisms, and the UV filter is effective for eliminating bacteria and other microorganisms that are left behind by a carbon filter. In contrast, a reverse osmosis membrane is effective in filtering everything from water other than water.It is so small that it allows nothing but water to pass through it. A reverse osmosis membrane is often used with a re-mineralization stage. Water produced from the 3 types of filter is safe for drinking and has a better taste without any odors. All the filters are unable to remove the hardness of water; yes, they may remove calcium and magnesium from your water but only in trace amounts. They cannot remove them as effectively as a water softener.

Water Softener

A water softener only removes calcium and magnesium from your water source, and it is not fit for drinking, considering a large number of sodium ions present in it. If you are sensitive to sodium in your diet, you must never consume water for a water softener in any form. It must be used for appliances; you can bath with softened water. Softened water will also contain other contaminants in it which will be filtered by a water filter.

Pros and Cons

Water Softener

Pros
  • Clean dishes, faucets, and showerheads
  • Better lather formation with laundry detergents, soap, and shampoo
  • Better skin, hair, and clean clothes
  • Higher life of water-related appliances
Cons
  • Does not purify water for drinking

Water Filter

Pros
  • Safe and healthy water
  • Cheaper than bottled water
  • Less impact on the environment
Cons
  • Does not soft water

Conclusion: Water Softener vs. Water Filter

There can be no comparison between the two. The answer depends upon your needs and the quality of water in your area. If you do not have hard water, you may not need a water softener. However, you will still need a water filtration system due to the poor quality of tap water. Most of the people use a combination of water softener and water filter to treat their water effectively. You can install a water softener right after the water enters your home and a water filter for the whole house system or faucet water filters or under sink filtration system as per your needs. Softened water keeps your appliances safe and also reduces the load on water filters and thus gives it a long life.

The combination of both machines is the most effective and reliable way to consume tap water and use it in your home. It will not only enhance the health of your appliances, but it will also improve your health as well.

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