What is Water Filters, Purifiers and Softeners – The Difference Explained

There’s no denying the fact that clean drinking water is extremely important for us humans. If water is not clean, we will be faced with many health issues that can have disastrous effects.

However, there is a lot of confusion that goes around regarding ways of purifying water. Many are mostly confused between water purifiers, water softeners and water filters. They believe their functionality to be the same.

Since there is no room for a compromise when it comes to clean water, we will explain and discuss all that there is to know regarding the functionality and, more importantly, the differences between water purifiers, softeners and filters.

What Do We Not Want in Our Water?

We all know that water in its purest form is oxygen and hydrogen, more commonly known as H2O, but we do not get this pure form. Water picks up different minerals, compounds and impurities on its way. Minerals like magnesium and calcium are beneficial and desirable for us, whereas some minerals, chemicals and impurities are undesirable and need to be removed. These impurities include chlorine, industrial waste, bacteria and viruses.

Water filters and purifiers work to remove such impurities, whereas a water softener’s job is to remove hard minerals that have more to do with the health of your appliances than yourself.

We will now individually look into all three of these items, see how they work and how their functionality differs from one another.

Water Filters

A water filter’s main job is to remove impurities such as chlorine, lead and copper. It also restricts the growth of bacteria, fungi and algae, but it does not completely remove the bacteria and viruses. That job is done by the water purifier.

How It Works

There are 4 main steps that combine to form the entire water filtration process that occurs in the water filters in our homes. We will be briefly explaining them:

  1. Pre-filtering is the first step. This step involves the removal of large particles from the water as it enters your home. This step’s importance is that it prevents clogging in the later stages.
  2. After the removal of large particles, chlorine removal is done. This process involves neutralizing water contamination and rids the water of chlorine and similar compounds. This process’s importance is that it makes the water taste and smell better.
  3. This step is used to further clean the water and improve its taste. The process is called activated charcoal. It will remove the remaining impurities.
  4. Waste removal is the last step where whatever remains after the above three steps is cleared out and flushed away.

Water Purifiers

Water purification results in water that is free from all bacteria and viruses. Unlike a water filter, water purifiers do not remove chemical contaminants. Hence, water filters and purifiers should go hand in hand. While a filter mostly removes contaminants like chlorine, a purifier removes bacteria and viruses.

How It Works

In a water purifier, the first three steps are the same as the water filter, but after the activated charcoal step, the water goes through a RO membrane that removes various kinds of bacteria and leftover impurities through a 0.0001-micron sized pore. After that, the water enters a UV stabilizer where all the microorganisms are killed in the chamber. Hence, the water that flows out is completely pure and free from bacteria.

Water Softeners

Water softeners are entirely different from water filters and purifiers. A water softener’s job is to keep pipes and appliances clean by not letting scale build up in them. Removing scale-causing minerals from water results in clearer silverware and glassware. It also means cleaner and scale-free water outlets like showers and faucets.

As mentioned previously, softeners are important for the health of your appliances and pipelines. They do not remove any minerals or bacteria that will make the water any less or more beneficial for you.

How It Works

Water softeners consist of resin beads. When hard water containing magnesium and calcium flows through the resin beads, it undergoes a process called ion exchange. The hard ions in the water exchange places with the soft ions covering the resin beads. As a result, the water that comes out is soft water which has lost all the hard ions.

Difference Overview

Now that you know what all three products do and how they work, it is easier to differentiate between them and their functionalities.

From what we have mentioned, you would know that a water filter mostly focuses on the removal of particles and contaminants like chlorine and lead. It also helps improve the taste and smell of water.

Water purifiers, on the other hand, focus more on the removal of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. They work in conjunction with water filters. They make filtered water even more drinkable and free from harmful elements.

Lastly, a water softener is completely unrelated as its main purpose is to save appliances and pipelines from scale. This means that the soft water it produces looks better, tastes better and does not ruin your water outlets and appliances.

Which One Should You Choose?

After knowing all about water filters, purifiers and softeners, the main question that might arise in your mind is, which product should you use? Well, if you want your water to be free from contaminants and harmful minerals along with having a good taste and smell, go for a water filter. If you believe that the water in your home is not free from bacteria and viruses, you can install a water purifier to simply make its quality even better and almost completely pure. However, if you also want your pipelines to stay free from scale for a long time, you should install a water softener along with a filter and purifier.

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