Water Softening vs. Reverse Osmosis: What’s the Difference & Which One to Buy

by Jay | Updated on March 28th, 2023

Those who want to stay up to date on household technologies may have heard of terminologies like reverse osmosis and water softener! These are two highly popular methods or gadgets for making water safer for you to use. But does that mean it’s safe to use in the shower or to drink? Which one should I choose?

Let’s find out in our head-to-head comparison of reverse osmosis vs. water softener!

Water Softening vs. Reverse Osmosis

What exactly is reverse osmosis?

One of the various water purification processes available to humanity is reverse osmosis. A porous membrane works by separating pollutants from a solvent, such as water. Clean water passes through the barrier, leaving toxic molecules, ions, and other undesirable substances on the other side.

The benefits of Reverse Osmosis

Water purification

This technique removes several impurities from the municipality’s default water supply. Microbes and chemical contaminants are frequently found in this water. They can be eliminated using a water purifier or filter with a reverse osmosis mechanism, making water safer for you!

Sweet flavor

Reverse osmosis can make water more appealing by removing hazardous chemicals. Clean water tastes sweeter, appears clearer, and smells nicer than dirty water. As a result, you and your loved ones will be more motivated to drink water daily!


Devices that use reverse osmosis as their preferred filtration method are significantly less expensive than other comparable alternatives. Each gallon of reverse osmosis water costs pennies, making it astonishingly affordable for most people.

Reverse Osmosis disadvantages


To filter out contaminants, this technique uses a partly permeable membrane. However, the membrane has tiny holes that are quickly blocked. As a result, the entire system may halt if the pores get clogged. That is why you must schedule frequent maintenance and change filters regularly.

Output is slow

Because the water must travel through the membrane each time it goes through the process, you may notice a slowing in its output. In addition, during the first stages of reverse osmosis, the flow rate from each water outlet will decrease. So, once you’ve installed the system, remember that getting clean water will take some time.

What exactly is a water softener?

A water softener merely aids in the transformation of hard water into soft water by removing the related components. Magnesium, calcium, and certain metal cations are common components that cause hardness in water. Lime, resin, and washing soda are these devices’ most commonly utilized substances.

Water Softener Benefits

Improved skin and hair

Hard water is very harsh on the skin and hair. Even though the consequences on our appearance are often unnoticeable, hard water minerals can make the outer membranes rougher than usual. You will feel more gorgeous daily with brighter skin and silkier hair if you switch to soft water!

Increased appliance lifespan

Soft water, believe it or not, can extend the life of your equipment! Hard water typically deposits mineral deposits inside the pipes of equipment such as refrigerators, coffee makers, and washing machines. Such accumulations potentially shorten their lifespan. Soft water, which is free of minerals, can keep them effective.

Less energy is required.

Soft water and extending your appliances’ life can save you money on utility bills! It consumes 30% less electricity than hard water and can save you over $200 per month! So, by investing in a water softener, you can see a significant increase in your financial reserves within a year.

Water softener disadvantages

Nutritional deficit

One of the many reasons we do not recommend drinking soft water is its lack of minerals. This water loses most of its beneficial nutrients, such as calcium, during the process of eliminating hardness. As a result of drinking soft water every day, your teeth, bone, and other body components may suffer.

Sodium excess

Even while soft water lacks minerals such as calcium and magnesium, it retains a large quantity of salt. This type of water may have 10-50 parts per million (ppm) of sodium, or 12.5 mg per 8 oz. gallons of water, which is far more than our daily limit. As a result, drinking it regularly poses significant health concerns.

Choosing between a water softener and a Reverse Osmosis system


The reverse osmosis method improves water’s taste, look, and odor. As a result, it tastes considerably better and encourages individuals to stay hydrated throughout the day.

On the other hand, water softeners make municipal water more suitable for home duties such as cleaning dishes, washing clothes, and taking showers. The soft water quickly lathers with soap, making cleaning duties easier.

Health dangers

Water softeners, contrary to popular belief, cannot cleanse water. The truth is that they can only eliminate hardness by removing most minerals and metals. Purification techniques such as reverse osmosis are far more dependable for clean water free of impurities like bacteria or chemical poisons.

Enhancement of beauty

A daily shower with soft water will improve your skin and hair appearance. Bathing with a water softener can improve the texture of your hair follicles by making them smoother and shinier. Regular use will also leave your skin feeling silky. Unfortunately, reverse osmosis purifiers cannot ensure the same.


Because of their pores, reverse osmosis devices are more prone to clogging. As a result, you may need to seek expert assistance more regularly. On the other hand, water softeners conserve energy and extend your household appliances’ life. As a result, they require less upkeep than reverse osmosis systems.

Is a water softener and Reverse Osmosis System required?

You can combine a water softener and a reverse osmosis system for the most extensive filtration and water softening benefits. This will deliver soft water with a better taste to your pipes, faucets, showers, and water-based equipment.

In the long term, both strategies can help you save money in various ways. To begin with, if you want clean water with a superior taste, you won’t have to buy bottled water because a reverse osmosis system can handle that.

The most money you’ll save is by extending the life of your appliances. In addition, you won’t have to worry about what your water is doing to your pipes with a water softener, allowing you to get the most out of your home’s plumbing and appliances while requiring no maintenance.

The needs of your home determine the requirement for water softening and reverse osmosis. Here are some advantages of having both a RO system and a water softener, so you can determine which is best for your home.

Water softeners safeguard reverse osmosis systems — Using a water softener to remove magnesium and chloride relieves strain on the reverse osmosis filter, allowing it to last longer.

Water softeners “soften” the water, whereas reverse osmosis water systems filter it. Many contaminants will still be present in your water if you only have a water softener. If you merely have a reverse osmosis system, your hard water will only get slightly better.

Water softeners save energy and extend the life of household appliances. In contrast, customers who use reverse osmosis systems save hundreds of dollars annually by not buying water bottles, which is also good for the environment.

Dasani, a registered brand of Coca-Cola Company, and Aquafina, a registered trademark of Pepsi Co Inc., both use reverse osmosis to cleanse their bottled water. A glance at the label.

Why do Reverse Osmosis and softening work well?

1. A softener safeguards an RO unit:

Membranes used in reverse osmosis are brittle. Despite a small sediment filter in front of the RO, reverse osmosis has difficulty eliminating or lowering calcium and magnesium–the minerals that cause hard water.

Installing a water softener WITH a RO drinking water system reduces the hardness of the water, functioning as a protective barrier for the RO system, preventing fouling and extending the life of the membranes.

2. Water of high quality:

Many individuals who install a home water softener system also install an under-sink reverse osmosis system in their kitchen. A system like this can be installed to service the kitchen faucet, the lines going to a refrigerator-freezer, or both. In other words, a reverse osmosis system goes above and beyond a water softener to ensure that the water you consume is even purer.

In the past, the reverse osmosis technique was employed to desalinate seawater. As a result, millions of homes now have high-quality drinking water. First, however, thanks to modest RO units installed in their kitchens.

A softener, as well as an R.O. system, are an excellent combination because, while the softener provides soft water throughout the home by removing minerals that produce hard water, the RO system provides excellent drinking water by removing the majority of contaminants (including hydrocarbons, sulfates, cadmium, pesticides and more).

3. Financial savings:

Most water softener users have discovered that by conserving energy, extending equipment lifespan, and using less soap/shampoo/detergent–a water softener can quickly pay for itself. Not to be outdone, owners of RO systems discover that they save money.

They eliminate the cost of bottled water from the family budget after installing a RO system (since RO costs pennies per gallon), not to mention that most families save money by purchasing fewer sugary drinks after a RO unit has been installed.

As a result, a softener and RO system is an excellent combination that will save you money while providing you with high-quality water.


Finally, after comparing the qualities of reverse osmosis vs. water softeners, we came up with the perfect solution: use them both for distinct purposes!

It may raise your original cost. However, the health and long-term financial benefits cannot be ignored.

Because water softeners lather nicely with soap, they should be employed in daily domestic duties such as showers, laundry, and dishwashing. They also extend the life of your appliances and cutlery.

We choose reverse osmosis for drinking water since it removes pollutants and improves the taste. So, install them together to experience the best of both worlds every day!


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."