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Water Filtration vs. Water Softening The Showdown!

What are the main differences between a water filter and a water softener?

Which system is more necessary and important for my home? These are a few of the questions that many people
often ask when they are considering a whole house water filter. A basic understanding of the mechanics behind each
system is important for making an informed purchasing decision on a home water filtration system.

Water Filters or Water Softeners -What's in a Name?

Water filters are any systems that can filter and remove contaminants from the water.

They can include small RO drinking water systems and also large whole house water filters which treat water
throughout the entire home.

Water softeners, as their name would imply, are a type of whole house water filter that softens water by removing
minerals which make water hard and cause scale.

Therefore while you can say that a water softener is also a whole house water filter, the term 'water filter'
encompasses a much large scope of products which includes more than just water softeners.

Examples of other whole house filters include backwashing carbon filters, iron & sulfur removal filters, sediment filters
and fluoride adsorption filters just to name a few. These are completely different systems that perform vitally different
water purification functions entirely.

Whole house water filters use a wide variety of water purification technologies to treat water contamination. Advanced
media beds are used to remove pollutants from the water through the process of adsorption, ion-exchange, micron-
filtration, catalytic conversion and oxidation. There are many types of media and their versatility allows them to treat
everything from natural and man-made chemicals to heavy metals. Most work by first trapping or converting
contaminants within their matrix and then removing them through the processes of regular backwashing cleaning
cycles or media and catridge replacements. For microbial concerns, UV lamps are used to sterilize water by attacking
the DNA of microbial contaminants with ultraviolet light which effectively destroys bacteria, viruses and cysts. Screen,
sieve and membrane filtration can also be used to remove pollutants within a wide range of micron ratings.

Water Softeners: Water softeners treat hard water by using salt and ion-exchange resins to remove calcium and
magnesium hardness from the water. These resins are coated in a sodium solution and when hard water comes into
contact with the resin beads, the calcium and magnesium ions migrate out of the solution to the active sites on the
resin and are replaced in the solution by sodium ions.

Salt-free water softener alternatives are also available for people dont want to add salt or chemicals to their water.
These salt-less systems use an advanced ceramic media that effectively attracts and neutralizes hard water scaling
properties without the need for regeneration, backwashing, or electricity. They are also more eco-friendly because
they do not require rinse water and electricity, are easier to maintain, and are 100% salt free making them a more
natural and healthy water softening alternative.
Choosing a System:

Water softeners are excellent water purification systems that will protect your home from the harmful effects of hard
water scale buildup. However, if you have other water problems such as with water chlorination, bacterial
contamination or iron staining, you will need to consider getting a whole house filter that will treat those specific water
concerns as well. It is quite common for homeowners to install both a water softener and whole house filter to
properly treat their incoming water, and these total solution type setups offer more complete filtration coverage.
Todays whole house filters are highly efficient, long lasting and very affordable making them a great home
improvement investment that will protect your health and home from many years to come. Below is a table that lists
some common water problem and the systems which can treat them.

Water Health Effects Contaminants Treatment Benefits Recommended


Problems Treated
Solution
Chlorine, Dry flaky skin, weak Chlorine, Softer skin & hair, General Whole House
Chemical Odors, brittle hair, asthma, Chloramines, healthier lungs; spa Filtration System
Rotten Egg Smell allergies, eczema. Hydrogen Sulfide, quality water for baths
Contact w/ Pesticides, VOCs,
carcinogens THMs
Mild Scale N/A Calcium Carbonate, Salt-free healthy soft Salt-Free Water
Buildup & Hard Magnesium, water; reduced scale, eco- Softeners
Water Mineral Limescale friendly, maintenance-
Deposits free, zero wasted water
Heavy Scale High blood pressure & Calcium Carbonate, Salt softened water uses Salt-Based Water
Buildup & Hard heart health concerns Magnesium, less soaps, improves Softeners
Water Concerns from salt added to Limescale laundry & removes scale
treat scale to protect pipes &
appliances
Bacteria, Viruses Gastrointestinal E.coli, Giardia, Better health with less UV Light Sterilizers
& Microbes illnesses, abdominal Cysts, Coliform gas, cramps, diarrhea &
pain, Bacteria, illness
fever, infections Cryptosporidium
Iron Red Stains, N/A Iron, Hydrogen No more red iron stains on Iron & Hydrogen
Rust Particles, Sulfide, Manganese sinks, tubs & toilets; clean Sulfide Removal
Rotten Egg Odors & odor-free System
Fluoridation in Dental fluorosis, Fluoride Protection from toxic Fluoride Removal
Public & Natural neurotoxicity & fluoride System
Water Supplies cancer risk ingestion, absorption &
inhalation
Sediment & Gastrointestinal Fine Particles, Sand, Clean, clear sparkling Sediment & Turbidity
Turbidity causing diseases Silt, Clay, Rust, water at every faucet Removal System
Cloudy, Impure Sediment
Water