Do I Need a High-Quality Water Filter or is a Water Softener Enough?
Many people are under the misconception that their water is perfectly safe and clean simply because they are using a water softener to filter their water. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding. Although a water softener may help to make your drinking water taste better, it does not make it a cleaner or safer drink. Using a water softener instead of a high-quality water filter will not give you the cleaner water that you want to for drinking, cooking or taking showers.
What is hard water?
Hard water contains a higher than average amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) — primarily calcium and magnesium — and a higher concentration of multivalent cations — Ca2+ and Mg2+. It’s really more of a nuisance than a health issue and is not considered contaminated. Most water sources in the U.S. are considered hard.
How do Water Softeners Work?
Water softeners work somewhat like a chemical magnet. Water is forced through a bed filled with beads that are covered with sodium ions. The calcium and other chemicals that make water “hard” then exchange their ions with the positively charged sodium ions. When this happens, the calcium is no longer in the water, preventing those horrible rings in your bathtub and the nasty taste of hard water. However, all the water softener has done is to remove calcium from your water and replace it with salt. This water is no safer than hard tap water. Learn more about hard water here.
Having soft water means you have a lower concentration of TDS and multivalent cations in your water. The most recognizable trait of soft water is how much more soap lathers, as opposed to hard water.
Why Filtration Works Harder than a Softener
A high-quality water filter does more than removing the calcium from your drinking water. When your drinking water is run through a whole house water filter, you are getting water that is free from harmful contaminants like chlorine, chloramines, harmful VOCs, and more.
For example, chlorine has been used to disinfect municipal water for over 80 years and has had some positive effects on public health. In the 1970′s it was discovered that chlorine, when added to water, forms Trihalomethanes (chlorinated by-products) by combining with certain naturally occurring organic matter such as vegetation and algae. In 1992 the American Journal of Public Health published a report that showed a 15% to 35% increase in certain types of cancer for people who consume chlorinated water. This report also stated that much of these effects were due to showering in chlorinated water. The National Cancer Institute estimates cancer risks for people who consume chlorinated water to be up to 93% higher than for people who do not. The effects of drinking chlorinated water have been debated for decades. However, most experts now agree that there are some significant risks related to consuming chlorine and chlorinated by-products in drinking water.
Many cities in recent years have started using chloramines as a disinfection agent. They use chloramines for two big reasons:
- Chloramines are less reactive, so it does not create as many disinfection by-products as chlorine, and
- Chloramines are more persistent and remain in the treated water through the distribution network all the way to the taps in the homes the treatment facility serves.
The RHINO 600,000 Gallons, RHINO 1,000,000 Gallons, and the OptimH2O Whole House Filters are certified for the removal of chlorine, and the process of removing chlorine is similar in most respects to the process used to remove chloramines.
Salt-Free Water Conditioners: The Alternative to Water Softeners
If you do need a way to remove scale buildup from your home that’s environmentally friendly and safe, consider a Salt-Free Water Conditioner.
Unlike salt-based softeners, the Aquasana Whole House Salt-Free Water Conditioner won’t demineralize your water by chemically removing minerals nor will it put excess salt waste or chemicals into our environment. It also uses Scale Control Media technology to safely and naturally reduce harsh scale build-up on internal pipes without the use of salt or chemicals.