Water Softener vs Water Filter: Which One Should You Choose?

water dripping from faucet

Water is one natural resource that has become such an integral part of our lives.

That’s why many households look for ways to get better water from their homes. The water purification industry has made it easier for you to achieve this with two solutions; water softeners and water filters.

But sometimes, people get confused on which one to choose or if they need both.

In this article, we’ll unpack the differences between these two water treatment systems. Then, we’ll lay down a comprehensive guide for  you to decide if you’ll stick with one or go for both.

By taking advantage of the information provided here, you’ll have a clear decision process before you hit the store.

However, chances are if you’re in most cities that have a hard water problem, you might need both.

Like we said, they’re both water treatment systems. And to help get a clear picture of their differences, we’ll start by shining light on what water treatment systems aim to remove from water.

With that said, let’s dive in

What is found in contaminated water?

person opening faucet

We know what pure water is basically; No funny tastes, no colours. Instead, transparent and refreshing.

On a chemical level that translates to simply hydrogen and oxygen (H²O). 

But sometimes, unwanted guests can invade your water and end up ruining your experience. 

We’ll go over possible contaminants that can come out with your water through your faucets.

These are basically what water treatments search for so they’re removed.

Here’s a list of what water may contain:

  • Magnesium 
  • Chlorine
  • Iron
  • Rust
  • Sulphide
  • Bacteria
  • Lime scale
  • Industrial waste 
  • Pesticides

The right time to install a water treatment system

This ultimately boils down to your overall water quality experience. 

Depending on what is present in your water, you can decide whether to go for a water softener, water filter or both.

Another factor to consider are the differences between them. This is a great way to gain a better understanding of how to tackle your household water issues.

What are the differences between water softener and water filter system

So, you’ve figured your water quality is where you want it to be. Then, you decide is time to get a water treatment system for your situation. 

Well, to help you make an informed decision, we’ll take a deep dive into the key differences between them:

They tackle different substances. 

The way water softeners and water filters handle water treatment is different. 

Water softeners fix hard water by making it soft. They remove hardness – causing minerals like magnesium and calcium. 

Their primary objective is ensuring you never run out of soft water all day.

Water Filters cover a broader spectrum of contaminants. They go after unwanted compounds like dirt, sand, sediments and larger particles.

They’re also different types of water filters. For example carbon filters that reduce chlorine and odor in water.

All water softeners are water filters but not all water filters are softeners. A softener is basically a hard water filter

They run on different technology.

Water softeners utilize salt and ion exchange resins to remove calcium and magnesium ions from water. They work by replacing these ions with sodium ions.

On the other end, since water filters cover a wide range, they employ a variety of water treatment techniques to purify water.

Pollutants are thrown out with the use of advanced media beds through a step by step process of oxidation  to catalytic conversion etc.

Also, activated carbon filtration is an effective method for tackling chlorine and unpleasant tastes.

Maintenance requirements are different 

If you want to get the best out of your water treatment systems, then you have to take care of  them. 

Salt based water softeners need to be maintained regularly. You see, because they use salt to perform, the brine tanks have to be refilled with salt pellets each time they run out.

Salt free water softeners need less maintenance but can be damaged by oils. 

On the other hand, are the water filtration systems. These require very little maintenance. You don’t need to worry about checking up on them regularly. However, they can be quite expensive to install.

water softner

Water softener vs whole house filter 

Now, you know the difference between a water softener and a water filter. However, there’s something called a whole house filter. 

Water filters are usually installed in one part of the house like the kitchen for example. This means, only water in the kitchen will go through the  filtration process. 

A whole house filter takes things a step further. It’s installed at the point – of – entry of water into the house. This way, all taps in every room will produce non – contaminated water.

Is a water softener necessary if you have a whole house filter?

It boils down to the kind of whole house filter you intend to buy. A water filter that promises to perform the roles of a water softener by removing calcium and magnesium will be one stop fix for you.  

However, to get the best quality out of your water, we suggest you install both a softener and a filter.

This way, the water softener takes care of minerals like calcium that’ll be difficult for a filter.  And on the other hand, the water filter tackles biological contaminants like bacteria that a softener isn’t cut out for.

Q&A for water softener vs water filter

Running out of time and just need a quick review? We put together a short resource to shape your decision. 

What does a water softener remove?

Usually,  it handles hard minerals in water like magnesium and calcium.

Do water softeners filter water?

Totally! But it’s quite limited in its abilities. It can only purify water by removing specific contaminants. 

Does a water softener remove chlorine?

It’s mostly carbon based softeners that are capable of pulling it off.

Our final thoughts

Water filters cover a wide range of contaminants. And most of them are uniquely designed to attract and remove specific contaminants. 

Water softeners are pretty straightforward. They’re created to eliminate the effects of magnesium and calcium in hard water