What Is The Difference Between Water Filters & Water Softeners

Everyone loves water. We drink it and use it to prepare juices and food; to clean our bodies, clothes, and everything else. We use it to water plants and countless other things. We cannot survive without water, but we need to ensure that we consume and use only clean water. There are various ways to get water clean, so let’s find out what is the difference between water filters and water softeners.

How you treat your water will vary depending on where you live and the number of contaminants present in your local water supply and the water quality. Even though tap water that is treated by the municipality generally needs less treatment than rural, well water, it still has harmful contaminants and needs to be filtered and softened to remove chlorine and contaminants. With the various water treatment options, how does one know which is best for their home?

What Is A Water Filter & What Does It Do

Water Filters & Water Softeners

The process of filtering particles and pollutants from water is known as water filtration. Water filtration systems can be whole-house filters that filter the water from the main entry pipe, tap filters that are installed on individual pipes such as the pipes on your kitchen sink, or even large-scale water filters found at the municipal water treatment facility. They come in many forms and sizes to suit varied needs.

Water filters remove particles and contaminants from water by using a fine physical impediment, chemical, or biological process. Lead and insecticides are removed from your drinking water by applying a variety of water purification procedures. Some common methods for removing contaminants include reverse osmosis filters, activated carbon filters, and sediment filtration.

Most commonly, the water filter system is fitted under your kitchen sink. It purifies the water that comes from your counter tap. Pollutants are trapped and removed through a system of cleansing or are contained in a cartridge membrane that must be changed every month or bi-weekly, depending on the brand or type you use. Drinking water filters, countertop filters and whole-home water filters are a must in these times. Homeowners looking for a reliable way to remove contaminants and physical particles from water should opt to use a water filtration system.

What Does A Water Softener Do?

No one likes hard water. Most people don’t even know that water is hard; they only realize that it tastes different or that it their pipes have marks around them. Hard water causes filmy soap scum, destroys appliances, and dries hair and skin. The most common sign that your water is too hard is the scum around your pipes. Most households depend on tap water for personal use and others use it commercially. With water being such a precious commodity, you see why we need to ensure it is soft enough for household use. This prevents damage to our bodies and appliances.

The main parts of a water softener work in partnership to extract the minerals from hard water, monitor the flow of water, and periodically clean the system through a regeneration process.

The process through which the water softener works is the ion exchange. Ion-exchange resins and salt are used to remove the calcium and magnesium hardness from water. They coat the resins in a sodium solution. When hard water comes in contact with resin beads, the calcium and magnesium ions migrate out of the solution to the active sites on the resin and replaces it in the solution with sodium ions. Resins beads have a negative charge, while calcium and magnesium have a positive charge. We all know that opposites attract, so we then see that the negative charge of the minerals attracts to the positive charge of the resin beads. To further expound, as the hard water passes through the resin, the beads grab hold of the mineral ions and remove them from the water. The column of the resin beads strips all the hardness out of the water as it passes through the mineral tank and the softened water then flows into your household.

Differences Between The Two Systems

What are the key differences between water filters and water softeners? We want to help you to make an informed decision when choosing the system that is best for your home. It’s absolutely important that you understand how each system works. Here are some fundamental differences between a water softening system and a water filtration system.

  • The systems have different technologies: Water softeners use salt and ion-exchange resins to remove calcium and magnesium from hard water in order to prevent limescale damage. Water filters use a variety of water purification techniques to remove physical and microbial contamination that rids impurities from your drinking water.
  • They have different water treatment methods: Water softeners should remove hardness-causing minerals and contaminants from water, like magnesium and calcium.

Water filters treat contamination and remove impurities from water, like heavy metals (lead, copper, cadmium, mercury), pesticides (herbicide, insecticides), dirt, and sediment from your drinking water.

  • The systems have different maintenance needs: What needs regular maintenance is the salt-based water softeners. Water filtration systems do not need as much maintenance as water softeners. The water filtration system however is more expensive to install and the filters must be changed often.

 Can They Work Together?

For cleaner, healthier water, it is easy to see why many households choose systems that include the capability to filter chemical impurities, remove bacteria and viruses. Choosing a water filter or softener should depend on the current condition of your water. In a nutshell, a water softener protects your possessions and your body, while a water filter protects your health. Both systems can be used together or alone, but it is wise to have both systems installed to ensure complete protection and clean, healthy water.

Lone Star Water Services has been helping families set up and maintain water treatment systems for many years and are here to help you bring safe drinking water into your home. Contact us for a consultation.

How Often Should you Test your Well-Water Quality?

Safe water is essential for everyday life and consumption. If your drinking water comes from a well, we suggest you take the necessary steps to ensure your well-water quality is safe to drink. The standard time-frame for how often you should test your well-water quality is once per year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that wells be tested based on their depth. If you begin to have abnormal gastrointestinal discomfort or notice that the quality of taste, look or smell has changed, you will want to test your water more often.

It may become urgent to test your well-water quality more frequently if you know that local wells are developing issues and if there has been a positive test result for contamination in your well or neighboring wells. Testing your drinking water at both the tap and the source will reveal if your treatment system is performing correctly. It will also inform you if the quality of your source of water has changed.

Importance of Testing your Well-Water Quality

Millions of people rely on a private water supply. Ponds and wells are two of the major water sources they use. Having a superior quality and source of water is crucial to the economic, health, and social well-being of everyone. Testing the quality of water from private wells on a regular basis is an important part of maintaining a safe and reliable source.

Issues with well-water quality are usually noticed after people become ill or simply by just looking at the water and seeing visible contaminants. Of course, not all contaminants and bacteria are visible with the naked eye, so testing your well-water often will help you to identify any issues present and take the necessary steps to fix them.

It is even more important to test your water quality if you have young children and sick people in your home. Contaminated water is not safe for consumption and will aggravate an already-weakened immune system. Even if private good owners don’t use their water for domestic purposes, it is still important to stick to the testing methods and testing schedules to protect plants and livestock from harm.

Common Contaminants Found in Well-Water

A large number of harmful chemicals and bacteria can now be detected in your water due to the advanced modernization of chemistry. Now, testing can be done at even extremely small concentrations. Though at-home drinking water test kits are available, it is wise to seek the advice of water treatment experts to properly test your groundwater and drinking water quality. Your health department will have guidelines for testing your water sample and your water expert can provide further guidance.

Below are some of the common contaminants found in well-water:

  • Microbiological Contaminants: These occur naturally in our environment. They are inhuman and animal waste material and are also present in the soil. These can fall into the well or enter through other ways. They are harmful when consumed and can cause cholera, typhoid fever, polio, dysentery, and more.
  • Radionuclides: Radionuclides or radiological are naturally-occurring and are found everywhere on earth they are even found in our DNA. Radionuclides exposure can come from many places including metal, oil and gas mining, fertilizer production, and nuclear waste. A common form of exposure is from medical facilities. When radionuclides come in contact with groundwater, it causes the water to become contaminated and continued exposure to radionuclides is said to cause cancer.
  • Heavy Metals: Metals are probably the first things that come to mind when you think of water contamination. Access to safe drinking water is necessary for good health and livelihood. When heavy metals such as copper, arsenic, and lead are present, they make water unsafe to drink. Simple things such as metal pipes and plumbing issues can cause metal contamination. High levels of metal exposure in the body can lead to kidney, liver, and intestinal problems. It can also cause cancer. Speak to your water services provider if you suspect metal exposure in your well-water.
  • Fluorides and Nitrates: Though we know of fluoride as the mineral that reduces tooth decay, high levels can lead to skeletal fluorosis, a condition caused by a build-up of fluoride. Issues with bones and teeth are common with high exposure to fluorides.

Nitrates enter groundwater from runoff sewage and septic systems, industrial activity, and other waste. Consuming water with high nitrate levels can cause methemoglobinemia. This is otherwise known as blue baby disease and is a potentially fatal condition in which the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity is reduced. Water with high nitrate levels is also dangerous for pregnant women, babies, and people with compromised immune systems.

Testing Your Well Water

Testing your well-water allows you to understand the quality of your water and helps you to take the necessary steps in giving your family access to safe water. It will also aid in ensuring that your water is protected from all potential causes of contamination and the right approach is taken with the treatment process.

Lone Star Water Services is equipped with the knowledge, skills, and team to ensure you have safe well-water for your family. Contact us to find out how to get started with your water testing and treatment services.