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Water Softener vs. Water Filter

Not all tap water is created equally. Each city relies on a different source, each with a varying level of contamination and minerality in the water. Also, municipal water treatment processes may vary as well. Though they all are regulated through set standards, there are other factors that affect the quality of water as well. These include but aren’t limited to: the water treatment system itself, how often water is tested, a city’s pipe system, and runoff from neighboring rural and industrial areas, as well as city streets. 

Often, the quality of water, once it reaches a home or business, is often less than desirable. It could be cloudy, have sediment, or be unpleasant to smell or taste. It could also leave behind mineral deposits which can wreak havoc on your pipes and clog your plumbing. Fortunately, there are both water softener and water filtration systems to help remove minerals, toxins, and pollutants from the water, making it better for use and more enjoyable to drink. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind, these water treatment methods are not the same and do not provide all of the same benefits. Though there may be some similarities, it’s important to know the differences between water softener vs water filter systems and the value of each.

Water Softener Systems: What They Do

Hard water is what leaves behind stains, soap scum, and residue on water-based appliances and surfaces. It damages clothes, leaves behind spots on dishes after washing, and makes it difficult to work up a good lather of hand soap or shampoo. This leads to increased water (and soap) consumption because it takes more to do the job properly. 

Salt based water softener systems remove the mineral hardness naturally present in tap water. As water is distributed from its originating groundwater source, it picks up hard water minerals along the way, which end up running through the pipes and pouring out of your faucet. Two of the main minerals are magnesium and calcium, which affect the taste, odor, and appearance of the water.

Water softener systems use a process called ion exchange to eliminate the harshness of the minerals from affecting the water and appliances. Ion exchange is when there’s an exchange of positively charged mineral ions in hard water with positively charged ions, which takes place in the resin and brine softener tank of a water softening system. In the resin tank, the sodium ions from the brine, or salt, solution exchange places with the water hardness ions. 

Hardness minerals attach to resin beads which are then flushed from the tank using sodium chloride or potassium chloride. The water that remains contains a small number of sodium ions and virtually no hard mineral ions. The second part of water softening is the recharge process when the brine tank recharges the resin tank by flushing it out and rinsing it with saltwater. Any dissolved minerals are flushed from the system and it’s ready to head back to the resin tank for the water softening process to begin again. 

Some water softener systems require you to manually add salt. How to add salt to a water softener? You add it in the brine tank.

Water Softener Systems starting at only $35/mo. Try before you buy!

Benefits of a Water Softener

Two of the biggest benefits of using a water softener are eliminating residue and mineral deposits. Hard water has a high level of minerals which means it leaves behind soap scum and/or stains. Minerals typically found in tap water can leave behind a yellowish-white residue or sometimes a rust-colored stain. 

This ends up on your clothes, around your shower and sink drains, and can leave behind a slimy film on your dishes, even after they’ve come out of the dishwasher. Rather than destroying your belongings because of the hard water of your home, softened water can help avoid these common problems. 

Additionally, hard water leads to an accumulation of mineral deposits, which can cause blockages in your pipes, affecting water pressure and leading to plumbing damage. This affects the cleaning power and could eventually cause backups if the pipes aren’t constantly cleared. If your home or building has hard water, take a look at the kitchen spout or showerhead. If you notice crusts, films, water spots, or limescale left behind, it’s likely your water supply has a high level of harsh minerals.

When it comes to an advanced water softener system for the home, the whole house water softener systems provide all the benefits of soft water and offer the ability to adjust the feel of the water via a non-corrosive, durable, UV-resistant, blending value. The systems also provide on-demand regeneration, which saves on water and electricity bills and creates superior flow rates of water for the entire home.

There are several options to choose from, depending on your unique needs. Some are better equipped to use in smaller homes, while others have a high flow capacity necessary for larger homes. There are also systems that both soften and filter water. We can help you determine what solution will work best.

Water Filtration Systems: How They Work

Another popular water treatment method is water filtration. This is part of what your city’s water system uses to make tap water potable. A typical community water treatment process goes through the steps of coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection to remove contaminants, pollutants, viruses, and bacteria from the water. Though not 100% effective, the filtration method helps lower the amount of these elements in the water to the approved amount. 

However, not all municipal water systems follow the exact same treatment method and may not have a sanitary water supply to begin with. Cities that are near industrial factories or farming communities may have a much higher level of pesticides, chemicals, and other contaminants than other areas. Additionally, cities with outdated water pipes can leach metals into the water, such as lead, that can flow from the city water systems through the pipes that go into your home. 

Meanwhile, tap water can also leave behind an unpleasant odor or taste or a cloudy appearance that doesn’t make it desirable to drink. Since a water quality report is only distributed annually, unless individual testing is performed, tap water could be affected without knowing for months. In short, despite a city’s water treatment methods, people may not have as clean of water as they might be led to believe. That’s why the use of home water filtration systems is popular today to improve the quality of tap water at the faucet.

There are different types available, but one of the most common is reverse osmosis. A reverse osmosis filter pushes unfiltered water through a semipermeable high-quality carbon filter membrane which removes impurities, dissolved solids (such as lead, arsenic, iron, mercury, etc.), and contaminants from tap water. It also removes the chlorine taste and smells from city-treated water, as that’s what’s typically used to disinfect water. What’s left is pure, clean water that tastes fresh. 

Benefits of Reverse Osmosis

The key benefit of using reverse osmosis is removing contaminants that plague tap water. Although no system can claim to remove 100% of impurities from water, reverse osmosis is highly effective. The process also eliminates the unpleasant odors that can come from tap water with high levels of chlorine or sulfur. Additionally, it gives people freshwater on-demand without resorting to buying single-use plastic bottled water to stay hydrated. 

By installing a reverse osmosis system in the home or business, it uses the tap water available and filters it, making it drinkable for all. This cuts down on both cost and the carbon footprint.

Our reverse osmosis drinking water systems effectively filter out 95-97% of total dissolved solids and other harmful contaminants, such as copper, lead, nitrates, arsenic, and other pollutants that regularly end up in tap water. This improves the taste, appearance, and quality of the water for everyday use.

Water Softener and Filter: Enjoying the Benefits of Both

Both the water softening and water filtration processes help to reduce   varying degrees of contaminants in your water. The difference is a water softener uses ion exchange as the catalyst in its mineral removal process and a reverse osmosis filter uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove contaminants from the water. Since they both have their unique advantages, it makes sense to have the benefits of both in one system.

The Guardian Series systems are designed as whole-home, multi-purpose units with the ability to both soften water AND greatly reduce chlorine, chloramines, bad tastes, and odors in the water. It conveniently combines the advantages of water softener and water filtration systems to improve the quality of the water in your home. It provides you with water quality that’s gentler on your plumbing, dishes, and clothing, while also being clean and refreshing enough to drink.

Each type of system has options based on the size of your home and your specific water needs. The good news is you don’t have to make a determination on your own. Our experts at Rayne Water will make recommendations to find the solution that will best fit your needs. Through the power of innovation and technology, everyone can have the quality of water they desire right from their own faucet.