Water Filter Vs. Water Softener: Which One Do You Need?

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Water filters are great at removing impurities from tap water, but they don’t remove minerals or hardness.

Water softeners are designed to soften water, but they also add chemicals that can damage pipes over time. Which one should you get?

Tap water has become increasingly contaminated with harmful contaminants such as fluoride, arsenic, nitrates, and other heavy metals.

The problem is especially acute in developing countries, where municipal water systems often lack proper treatment.

To ensure safe drinking water, you’ll want to invest in a good quality water filtration system.

This article will show you the differences between water filters and water softeners, and help you decide which one is best for your home.

Water Filter vs Softer: The Basics

To put it simply, both water filters and softeners treat your water, but they each have their own aims.

There are some systems available which combine both the aims of water filters and softeners, which are known as the all-in-one system.

It is important to understand what each of these things are trying to do. This way, you can make your own judgment about whether you need an all-in-one system that uses both water filters and softeners.  

Water Filters: What Do They Do?

Water Filters What Do They Do

A water filtration system has been designed to remove any impurities from the water that enters your home.

In the city of Phoenix, it is known that the water that has entered this city has been passed through multiple filtration systems.

Yet there has been evidence to say that the water still contains some toxic chemicals which passed through these systems. 

Some of these harmful chemicals include:

  • Chlorine,
  • Boron,
  • Lead,
  • Selenium,
  • Lithium,
  • Firefighting Foam,
  • Chromium-6 (a carcinogen).

However, having a water filtration system in your own home acts as one final process to help make sure that the water being used in your home is safe for yourself and your family. 

A lot of the most popular water filtration systems use a process known as reverse osmosis (see also ‘ Why Is My Reverse Osmosis Tank Not Filling Up? ‘). This forces the water to go through a tight membrane. The membrane stops any impurities and toxins from passing through. 

Water Softeners: What Do They Do?

Water Softeners What Do They Do

As we have established, a water filter removes any impurities from the water, but this does not soften the water. A water filter has been designed to remove impurities, but softeners remove minerals. 

Instead, you need to use a water softener which has been specially designed to remove the minerals from your water.

These minerals are what are making your water hard and can cause issues for your water’s plumbing.

This is because if the hardness isn’t removed then over time sediment will build up which can affect the efficiency of your plumbing systems. 

Also, hard water can cause issues to people’s skin if they shower using hard water. It can actually damage your skin and even cause irritation.

These are just common issues with hard water, which is why you should use a water softening system. 

You could argue that a water softener is a type of filter, as they are removing unwanted minerals. However, they have a different objective, which means they are classed as something different.

Also, water softeners use a process known as ion swapping. So they remove manganese and calcium ions in your hard water and replace them with sodium ions instead. 

There is only one real way to soften water. Systems that use anything other than salt are not properly softening the water.

Therefore, water softeners are great for removing unwanted minerals. It is also easy to maintain this system, as you just have to check the brine tank is filled with enough salt. 

However, every 7 to 8 years you may want to think about changing the resin beads, but you should contact a professional to do this job for you who has experience doing this job.

Yet, a well maintained water softener system will last around 20 years as long as it is well looked after. 

However, it is important to note that water softener systems don’t filter the water for any other impurities like chlorine, it is solely focused on minerals such as calcium. 

Whole House Filtration System vs Water Softener?

Whole House Filtration System vs Water Softener

Now that you understand the difference between a water filter and a water softener (see also ‘ What Is The Best Water Softener Salt’ ). It is important to discuss which system you need. Ideally, both systems are really important for any household. 

If you have hard water, this causes a mineral build up in your appliances and plumbing and then can lead to even more energy consumption. This could then lead to high energy bills. 

It is known that Phoenix in Arizona has extremely hard water.

If this water is left untreated, that hard water will end up costing homeowners in Phoenix thousands of dollars a year due to plumbing repairs, extra detergent and higher utility bills.

Also, if you drink untreated hard water, then the water itself can lead to a very unpleasant taste. 

This taste isn’t also due to the mineral build up, but also chemicals like chlorine that haven’t been fully removed from the water.

Alongside this, if you don’t remove the heavy metals, lead, arsenic, and chlorine that have been found in Phoenix’s water, if consumed this can lead to negative health issues to your family and household. 

As a result, a lot of people question which system do they need. Do they need a whole house filtration system or a water softening system? We would suggest that ideally you should have both.

If, at the moment, your home doesn’t have any filtration system, then you may want to consider purchasing an all-in-one system.

It is then one system that filters and softens your water, so you can use and drink this water knowing that it is safe and clean. 

Although, if your home already has one system but not the other. Then all you need to do is get in contact with the American Home and Water and have a chat with someone.

You should discuss your options so that you can get the other system installed as soon as possible.

On a side note, you can purchase a whole house all in one system that filters all your water in your household.

Yet, there are also systems out there that will just filter water that has been designated for drinking. This is something to be aware of when parking your systems. 


Overall, a water filter’s aim is to remove any impurities including toxins from your water. This includes chlorine and lead that are commonly found in water.

However, a water filter cannot soften your water, this job is for the water softener system which removes calcium ions and replaces them with sodium ones. 

Both systems are incredibly important, and ideally you should either have both systems or an all-in-one system installed.

By having both systems installed, you can guarantee to have clean and safe water for using and drinking.

This will then keep your family safe. Alongside also reducing your costs of having to deal with the effects of hard and impure water.

We hope you have found this article helpful and have a better understanding of water filters and water softeners.

It is important to keep both systems well maintained so that you have fewer issues, and they last longer. 

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