This page should help you as you research the different water treatment needs for your home. Various terms can be tossed around when discussing water treatment. One’s understanding can become as clear as clean water by knowing what the different water treatment products are and what they do. Water Softeners vs Whole Home Water Filters vs Reverse Osmosis Systems. What is the difference?

Water Softeners make “hard” water “soft” by removing calcium and magnesium

By definition hard water has too much calcium and magnesium. Water softeners remove calcium and magnesium from the water.

There is a debate about whether salt-based or salt-free water softeners (or water conditioners) should be used, but the the debate is moot since there really is no such thing as a salt-free water softener (not one that actually works, especially with the water hardness level that we have in the Phoenix Metropolitan area). The softener removes these elements with ion-exchange beads. The beads grab the calcium and magnesium ions and release sodium.

Calcium and Magnesium do not cause any health risks, but they do cause a lot of other problems. These are responsible for water spots on dishes coming out of the dishwasher, dry skin, soap scum on bathroom fitures, and scale in plumibing and water-using appliances (it can clog pipes and containers, making water-using appliaces use more energy to function, thus more money for energy used and replacement costs). Eliminate the calcium and magnesium in your water and that eliminates these problems.

Whole Home Filtration or Whole Home Water Filters remove more contaminants from the home water supply (POE Filter)

Water Softeners are a subcategory of whole home water filters; they remove calcium and magnesium from the water in the entire home. However, when a device is labeled a “filter” it does more than just remove calcium and magnesium. A whole home water filter always includes a softener but does more. This is important since there are other impurities in the water that need to be removed. Whole home filters are often said to be a softener and filter in one device, which is installed in the home at the point where the water supply from the city enters the home. Another name for it is a point of entry or POE filter.

Beyond softeners, whole home filters can also include backwashing carbon filters, iron and sulfur removal filters, sediment filters, fluoride absorption filters, and others. These filters may also use ion-exchange beads and other filtration technology to absorb, oxidate, trap, convert and remove impurities. UV lamps are used to sterilize water by killing bacteria, viruses and other microbes.

Iron is a common contaminant in well water. It causes rust-colored rings in bathroom fixtures and clothes, and it can cause a metallic taste in water. Sulfur will give the water a bad taste and odor. High acidity (or low pH) in water will cause damage to plumbing and fixtures. Chlorine can mix with organics in the water to form cancer-causing agents called trihalomethanes. These are just some examples. Other impurities can cause other heath issues and other problems. Remove these impurities from the water and you remove these problems.

Reverse Osmosis Systems are Effective POU Filters

Reverse Osmosis Systems are also filtration devices. They’re not a whole home filter because they’re not installed where the water enters the home from the city water supply (point of entry or POE filter). They’re installed just before the water faucet in the home to provide a final step of filtration before water comes out of the faucet for drinking and cooking. They are also called point of use filters (POU).

Drinking and cooking water is often called “life support” water to distinguish it from water used for cleaning, bathing, gardening or industrial uses outside the home. Life support water requires more thorough filtration. While a whole home filter will filter out contaminants that are 10-30 microns in size, reverse osmosis systems will filter out contaminants down to 0.0001 microns.

In nature, osmosis is when water moves through a membrane or barrier from an area of lower concentration to an area of higher concentration so that the concentration equals out on both sides. The technology in POU filters forces the osmosis in reverse so that the impurities are left on one side of the membrane and purer water comes out of the faucet.

Which One Do You Need?

Aqua Bright services begin with a courtesy water test to determine the water treatment needs in your home or business. There are many products available on the market. Some are sufficient for some parts of the country, yet insufficient in other parts of the country. Here in Phoenix, we have some of the hardest and most contaminated water in the country whether your water supply comes from the city or well water. We generally recommend complete water treatment to maximize the health and money-saving benefits of water treatment, and we’ve selected the best products to do that while keeping the products affordable.

Complete Water Treatment

The most effective water treatment combines the use of a water softener, whole home water filter AND reverse osmosis system. Learn more about the Max Pack.

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