Understanding the Difference Between Water Softeners and Water Filters


Understanding the difference between water filtration and water softening will help you decide which water treatment system you need for your home. You may not find your answer easily on the internet if you simply look up your question. But if you live in a place where you don’t know whether you have hard water problems or not, it may be necessary that you learn the difference between both devices. To understand the difference, you need to know how each of them works and what is the purpose of each of them. In this article, we explain the difference between a water filter and a water softener, and which one you need for your household.

The Difference Between Water Filtration and Water Softening

You may be familiar with the water filtration process due to previous use of a water filter. It’s quite simple, water filtration is removing the unwanted compounds and large particles from the water you drink. This includes sand, dirt, sediment, in addition to iron, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, and sulfur if you have a high-end water filter at home. These components can damage your body and your reverse osmosis system. Other types of filters or filtration systems also exist such as carbon filtration. This is the process of filtering the water from carbon, chlorine, and odor.

Water softening is the process of softening hard water, which is a little similar to the filtration process except that not all water filters can soften water. This process includes a few steps that remove the hard ions of calcium and magnesium and change the way they interact with any surface. So, water softening is a type of water filtration.

How Water Softeners Work 

As explained previously, a water softener removes magnesium and calcium ions from hard water to make it suitable for use. This is achieved through a process of ion exchange for the purpose of preventing limescale damage in the pipes or water treatment system of your home. The tanks of any regular water softener contain resin beads that attract these minerals and replace them with sodium ions to give you soft water. Many states in the US suffer from hard water problems which means that all households within these regions have a water softening system installed. If you have a water softener, it should be located at the point where water comes into your home, where your house’s stop cock is connected. Most homes would have this connection under the kitchen sink. This is where the water softening process takes place before fresh, limescale-free water can be pumped throughout your house.

How Water Filters Work

There are a number of purification methods by which a water filter can remove contaminants and treat water impurities like pesticides and lead in drinking water. Water treatment specialists at wellnesswaterfiltrationsystems.com say the most common water purification techniques are reverse osmosis, activated carbon, and sediment filtration. One of these processes takes place under your kitchen sink to remove pollutants from your tap water. However, the way your system gets rid of these pollutants depends on the type of water filter you choose. Some filters would trap contaminants and remove them later through system cleansing, while other types of filters would contain the contaminants in cartridge membranes that are replaced after a certain duration. It’s absolutely necessary to opt for a water filter or a whole house filtration system if you want drinking water that is free of bacteria, lead, chlorine, and pesticides.

Do You Need a Water Softener If You Have a Filter?

The most common question people ask is whether it’s essential to get both systems or not considering that water filters claim to purify water from all contaminants, which include magnesium and calcium. So is it really important to have a water softener? Although you can get a water filtration system that also softens water, the best option would be to opt for both. While water filters claim to filter water from particles as small as 30-50 microns, sediment trace amounts can be much smaller and you may still face issues with your water. At the same time, you can’t only use a water softener to treat your drinking water. Biological components such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses can be very dangerous for your health, and they sadly exist in the water of most regions. This is why you’ll also need a whole house filtration system to avoid these components.

Water softeners are not the same as water filters, but they are considered a type of filtration system. To protect your household and ensure you get the best drinking water, you need both a water filter and a water softener. This is because each of these systems handles a specific process that can’t be handled by the other.