Water softeners are preventative treatments to the problem of hard water. Water is considered “hard” when it contains more than 6 to 8 grains of calcium carbonate per gallon. Water softeners work to deter dissolved minerals—calcium, magnesium, and iron, the main components of hard water— from acting against appliances such as plumbing and pipes. Why is this important? Because hard minerals are the culprits of fouling, comprised of deposit formation, encrustation, and the common scale formation, all types of build-up that prevents appliances from running efficiently and for a long period of time. Water softeners either remove the calcium, magnesium and iron from water or prevent them from turning into foul, leaving you with “soft water” that is gentle on the skin and on your home’s hardware.
Water softeners are designed to treat “hard water”. Hard water is water that is high in mineral content, consisting mainly of calcium and magnesium in the form of carbonates and sometimes iron. This “hard water” is not harmful to humans but is damaging to plumbing fixtures, pipes, hot water heaters and other appliances from fouling, most commonly known as scale. Softened water not only aids in the lifespan of expensive fixtures, but also provides you with softer hair and skin and makes everyday tasks such as washing clothes or dishes simpler.
On the other hand, water filters treat “contaminated water” or water that has chemicals in it by removing these chemicals. Contaminated water still contains the hard minerals, but also has been influenced by elements it picked up in the environment, most often chlorine. While chlorine necessarily kills bacteria in water, it is still detrimental to human health. Unfiltered water also contains pesticides, gasoline additives, paint thinners and countless other contaminants that make water unsafe to drink or bathe in.