Fast Facts You Need to Know About Water Filtering & Conditioning
March 19, 2020
There are three reasons why people want to condition or filter their water:
- Their home’s tap water is too hard or too soft
- Their home’s tap water tastes bad
- They are worried about contaminants
So let’s start with conditioning water that’s too hard or soft.
What IS "Hard" (or Soft) Water?
Hard water is water with a high (or too high) mineral content. Typically magnesium and calcium.
Hard water tastes good for drinking, but it’s a pain for everything else, and typically leads to
- Dingy or not-quite-clean looking clothes,
- Spots and residue on dishes
- Film and soap scum on bathtubs and showers
- Sticky and dull-looking hair
Hard water is also “hard” on home appliances and uses up more energy.
That’s because soap isn’t as effective in hard water. The soap reacts to the magnesium and calcium in hard water, preventing it from lathering properly — you’ll definitely notice this when washing your hair in a shower with hard water.
Limescale — the dissolved minerals that builds up on appliances and looks ugly on faucets, tubs, tea kettles — can also hurt appliances.
Soft water, on the other hand, is water with too few dissolved minerals, other than sodium, which is responsible for the salty and “flat” taste.
In general, soft water makes for lousy drinking water, but much better water for cleaning and for your appliances.
With softer water, soap will lather better and leave items cleaner:
- Glasses will sparkle and hair will look healthy
- The shower curtain will be scum-free
- Clothes and skin will be left softer
In addition to time, this can also save money, as less soap and detergents will be used. Energy bills are noticeably lower when in households with water softeners.
Since appliances have to work less hard, soft water can also prolong the life of washing machines, dishwashers and water heaters.
Conditioning for a Goldilocks Water — Not Too Hard, Not Too Soft
If your water is too hard, you can install a whole-home water filtration or conditioner to solve that problem.
These systems remove enough minerals to make the water great for cleaning and your appliances, but still leave enough minerals for taste.
This can be done through a filtering system or through a deionizer. Water deionizers are a solid choice if you only want to condition your water and remove the hardness.
But filtering systems also remove contaminants from water as well as conditioning it, so they have some real advantages.
If your home’s tap water is too soft, you have some other options, but you’ll definitely want to treat your water, either at the tap or through a whole home system.
Whole home water filters come in two general types: 1) reverse osmosis, 2) distillation. But before discussing these technologies, let’s talk about water taste and then circle back.
Filtering Water for Better Taste
Fortunately, most culprits of bad tasting water can be removed with a decent carbon filter.
This is why filtering water pitchers do a decent job of improving the taste of tap water.
Unfortunately, just because your water is made to taste better, doesn’t mean that all of the health hazards have been removed — many of which can’t be removed by carbon filters.
And that’s where advanced filtering for water contaminants comes in.
Filtering Water for Contaminants
Unless your tap water comes from a well, your municipality should be filtering and treating water for you.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean all contaminants have been removed, or removed at levels that you would deem safe (instead of to government standards you may or may not agree with).
If you’d like to know how your tap water stacks up, look up your zip code on the Environmental Working Group’s website
They’ll show you exactly what is and isn’t getting through the treatment plant and to your tap.
And if that information makes you want to take your water quality into your own hands, you’ll generally want a whole home filtration system installed.
Moreover, you’ll want your system to have multiple stages:
- one stage being either reverse osmosis or distillations,
- possibly one stage for filtering out sediment
- one stage as a carbon filter
- and possibly another stage to add back in enough minerals to maintain great taste.
Not only will you be left with great tasting water, but the water you bathe and shower in and wash your clothes in will be treated.
For example, many homeowners — even if they don’t have hard water — find that eliminating the chlorine from their shower water leaves their hair healthier and shinier.
Pros & Cons of Reverse Osmosis vs. Distillation
Despite the sub-head for this section, there are no cons for Reverse Osmosis (RO) when compared to Distillation.
Here’s the comparison:
- RO systems do a (slightly) better job of purifying the water. Distillation systems won't remove herbicides and pesticides with boiling points lower than 100°C, which can actually become concentrated in water you drink.
- RO systems don't require electricity to run and don't "waste" as much tap water when purifying it. This makes Distillation systems more expensive to run.
- RO systems need no maintenance other than replacement of the filters, whereas the condensing gasket and o-rings components on distillation systems may need to be replaced once a year, which is a considerable expense.
This is why Plumbline Services proudly features the best multi-stage whole home Reverse Osmosis water purifiers on the market.
Interested in making your home’s water perfectly healthy, great tasting, and easy on your appliances?