This is a common question, the short answer is yes if you want to remove certain contaminants that a water softener is not designed to handle. A water softener can remove the dissolved minerals that make the water hard, including calcium, magnesium, and to a lesser extent iron too. If the iron concentration is high then it may be a better idea to install a dedicated iron filter instead. In this article, we will explore this topic in more detail to help you make informed decisions for your home.
Understanding Water Softeners
There are a few different water softener methods, but the most reliable system at this time uses an ion exchange process. The incoming water passes through a resin media tank filled with resin balls that are coated with a layer of brine which creates a positive charge. The dissolved minerals are attracted to the surface of the resin media and an ion exchange takes place. The mineral ions that make the water hard are exchanged for sodium or potassium salt ions. This can impart a slightly salty taste to the water, but this is less noticeable if a more premium grade potassium-based water softening salt is used.
In recent years, salt-free water softeners have become more viable alternatives to a traditional ion exchange model. These systems use Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) which converts hard water minerals into a crystalline format that can be filtered. These systems don’t need much maintenance, they require no salt or power to use and this makes them an attractive prospect. But, this technology is still new and ion-exchange water softeners are still preferred by many because they are more reliable.
Understanding RO Water Filtration
At the heart of a RO filtration system, there is a semi-permeable filter membrane with pores that are only 0.0001 microns in diameter. To put this into some perspective, this is a filter pore that is 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair. This tiny pore size allows water molecules to pass through, but larger contaminants are left behind on the surface.
A RO filter system can remove a wide variety of contaminants, including arsenic, lead, copper, chloride, pesticides, herbicides, potassium, nitrate, phosphorus, radium, fluoride, and many more. To push the water through the tiny filter pores the water is placed under pressure and this process can take some time. So, the cleaned water is stored in a tank, but it’s cleaned to an exceptionally high standard and no chemicals are added. But, if you only want to remove the saltiness of softened water a RO filter may be completely overkill.
If you have no immediate concerns about water contamination and you only want to make ion-exchange softened more palatable, there are better options than RO. Switching to a potassium-based water softening salt which is more benign than a sodium-based alternative can help.
If you want to improve the quality of your drinking water, contact your local water treatment specialist.
By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.