Water softeners cannot remove chemicals from water. Instead, they remove Calcium, Magnesium ions and Iron ions by making the water soft.
This can be a problem if you use public water because all public water has chlorine in it. Softeners make the water smooth, but they do not get rid of the chlorine.
People may tell you to get a water filter or water softener if you want your water to be better for your health and taste better. But each of these choices is different, so you need to know what they do and how they work to decide which one is best for you. If you already have a water softener and aren’t sure if you need a water filter, learning about each can help you decide.
Find out everything you need to know about water filters and water softeners, like what they do and whether you need one or both for your home.
What’s a water filter?
A water filter or water filtration system helps remove contaminants and dissolved solids from the water you drink, shower with, and cook with. A water filter does more than just make your water taste and smell better. It also reduces or gets rid of harmful contaminants in your water, like lead, chlorine, and bacteria, that can make it unsafe to drink.
There are different kinds of water filters, like under-sink, countertop, shower, and whole-house filters.
Also, water filters can get rid of contaminants in a number of different ways.
What is a softener for water?
Hard water comes from minerals in the water, like calcium and magnesium. Water softeners help get rid of these minerals. Ion exchange makes them work like a chemical magnet. Water is forced through a bed of beads covered with sodium ions.
The calcium and other chemicals that make water “hard” then trade ions with the positively charged sodium ions.
When this happens, there is no more calcium in the water, so you don’t get those nasty rings in your bathtub, soap scum buildup, or clogged pipes.
But even though the water softener has done its job and made your water less hard, it is not safer or cleaner to drink.
If I have a water softener, do I still need a water filter?
If your water is very hard, you’ll need a water softener that works with salt or another solution. If your water isn’t too hard, a Salt-Free Water Conditioner is a great option that requires less maintenance and won’t take away healthy minerals from your water.
But many people think their water is safe and clean just because they use a water softener to filter it. This is a sad case of miscommunication.
A water softener might help make your water less hard, but it doesn’t make it safer or cleaner to drink. Water softeners don’t filter the water, they just take out minerals like calcium and magnesium that make the water hard. Even if you already have a water softener, you’ll still need a water filter to remove contaminants from your water so it’s safe to drink, cook with, and shower with.
ALSO SEE: Does a Water Softener Filter Sediment?
Why is a water filter better than a water softener?
A water filter is better than a water softener if all you want to do is get rid of harmful contaminants. When you run the water in your home through a good whole-house water filter, you get rid of harmful substances like chlorine, chloramines, VOCs, and more.
You can filter the water in your whole house with a whole-house water filter, but you can also get clean water from under sink or countertop filters that let you choose where you want to get filtered water from.
Even systems that don’t filter the whole house are better than water softeners at getting rid of contaminants. For example, a reverse osmosis water filtration system gets rid of contaminants and total dissolved solids that make water hard.
Water conditioners that don’t use salt are a good alternative to water softeners
If you don’t worry about contaminants in your tap water but still need a safe and eco-friendly way to get rid of scale buildup in your home, a Salt-Free Water Conditioner might be for you.
The Aquasana Whole House Salt-Free Water Conditioner doesn’t use salt, so it doesn’t chemically remove minerals from your water. It also doesn’t put extra salt or chemicals into the environment.
It uses a technology called Scale Control Media to stop the hard scales from building up on the inside of pipes without using salt or chemicals.
Keep in mind, though, that water conditioners usually can’t handle very hard water. If you have very hard water, you’ll need a salt-based softener instead.
To sum up, if you have hard water, you need to do something about it. You could use a salt-based water softener, but if your water is only slightly hard, we recommend a salt-free water conditioner because it requires less maintenance, is better for the environment, and won’t take away healthy minerals from your water.
But using a water softener or conditioner doesn’t mean that your water is safe. Water softeners don’t remove contaminants from your water, so you’ll need to buy a water filter if you want clean water. Check out our guide on How to Choose a Water Filter if you don’t know where to start.