Water Softener Vs. Water Filter – What are the Differences?

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water softener vs water filter

Tap water often needs to be treated before it can be used. To ensure that the water you are using is free of harsh chemicals, does not clog your pipes and drains, and is suitable for your skin and hair, you need to process it before use. The two methods with which the tap water is treated are water softening and water filtering.

Water Softener

Water softeners are used to remove the hard mineral ions from the water through the process of ion exchange. The hard mineral ions are exchanged with either sodium or potassium ions. Water softeners mainly remove calcium and magnesium ions from the water.

Water Filter

A water filter has nothing to do with the hardness of the water? it won’t affect the hardness or reduce it in any way. Instead, it is used to remove dirt, impurities, and contaminants from the water. It efficiently removes the naturally occurring harmful impurities as well as other chemicals that are added to the water from the environment and surroundings.

Differences between Water Softeners and Water Filters

Let’s have a look at the basic differences that you will find between a water softener and a water filter. To decide what you need for your water supply, it’s important to have complete and detailed information about each of them.

  • These systems treat water in two different ways. A water softener removes the hardness of the water by eliminating calcium and magnesium. On the other hand, water filters remove heavy metals such as chromium, manganese, lead, and copper, sediment, dirt, and other contaminants from your water.
  • A water softening system comprises a mineral tank that has a bed of resin beads. The beads exchange the hard mineral ions with softer sodium ions and hence, the quantity of sodium in the water increases. In contrast, a water filter works in a completely different way. There are various filtration systems, each of which is used to eliminate contaminants, sediment, and impurities from the water.
  • In order for the water softener to work efficiently, you need to maintain it on a regular basis. When using a water softener, one major ingredient that you need to keep in hand is your salt supply. The brine tank in the water softening systems requires salt to charge the resin beads. On the other hand, water filters are easy to install and do not require any regular maintenance, with the exception of some varieties of certain parts that will need to be periodically replaced.
  • Water softening systems are cheaper than water filtration systems. So, if you only need to reduce or minimize the hardness of the water, a water softener is a budget-friendly option.

Benefits of using a Water Softener

When treated through a water softener, Tap water saves you from a lot of problems. These are the common benefits of using a water softener:

  1. Forms good lather, reducing the amount of shampoo, soap, and detergent you’ll need to use.
  2. Because of the absence of hard minerals, your skin and hair get back their shine and smoothness.
  3. Clothes stay in good condition for longer. Even the problem of clothes fading over time also vanishes.
  4. The crockery, sink, mirrors, and tiles look stainless and shiny.
  5. There’s no need to worry about pipes and drains getting clogged as with soft water, there are no mineral deposits building up.

Benefits of using a Water Filter

Following are the benefits that can be obtained when using a water filter:

  1. Chlorine and chloramine are eliminated, which changes the taste of water. Using a water filter removes chlorine, which enhances the taste and the odor of the water.
  2. The presence of lead is another major problem that can be solved by using water filters. Using filtered water minimizes the presence of lead in drinking water.
  3. Harmful bacteria, pesticides, and pathogens that can affect human health are removed.
  4. Although fluoride is essential for dental health, excess fluoride intake can be injurious to human health. Using a water filter ensures you that the water you are using is free from excess fluoride and hence, completely safe for drinking.

Which water treatment is suitable for me?

This is another commonly asked question. To decide which water treatment should you opt for, you need to first test your water to confirm what you want to remove from it. if you want to install a water softener in your house, look for the following minerals in your water:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Limescale

For treating the following chemicals or contaminants, you must install a water filter:

  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Lead
  • Chromium
  • Minerals
  • Bacteria
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • VOCs
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Rust
  • Fluoride


Water softeners and water filters both are equally important, depending on the type of water we get. As the tap water in many areas is not suitable for use, water softeners and water filters are increasing day by day.

However, if we compare the processes of each of them, water softeners are cost-effective and affordable. But they lack water filters? ability to remove harsh chemicals and contaminants from the water.

We hope that this article has helped you to choose the appropriate water treatment method for your home. Choosing the right water treatment method can save you from many health problems and the amount you need to spend on any household maintenance that depends on tap water.

Jeremy Lee is a researcher and part-time blogger who has a passion to discover cutting-edge technologies related to water filtration. He knows the importance of purified water in our lives and started this blog aiming to provide the best product reviews, buying guides, and other useful information related to water. When not working, he loves to spend time with his beloved wife and two kids.