When it comes to improving residential water, there are two things often discussed: reverse osmosis (RO) and water softening.  While they both had advantages, they are not the same thing.  Our Everyday Life describes the difference between water softeners and reverse osmosis systems, “In a reverse osmosis system, a membrane separates pure water and unfiltered water. Normally, osmotic pressure moves water molecules to the unfiltered side, to equalize the concentrations on both sides. Reverse osmosis puts extra pressure on the unfiltered side, forcing water to migrate to the pure side. A water softener removes minerals from “hard” water by what chemists call ion exchange. Inside the softener unit, the water passes over salt-covered material. The material strongly attracts minerals. As it absorbs the minerals, it releases sodium from the salt.”

While having at least one is better than nothing, having both reverse osmosis and a water softener is ideal.  Because the water from a water softener does not taste ideal for drinking, you may want to have both reverse osmosis and a water softener. but is not ideal for the rest of your home’s plumbing, you may want both hard and soft water.

An additional benefit of having both is that if you have a water softener you can actually protect your reverse osmosis system and prevent it from wearing down too quickly.  Hard water contains a lot of minerals that can deposit and buildup on plumbing and that can cause your reverse osmosis system to work less efficiently, eventually wearing the system out.  If you have a water softener that provides your reverse osmosis system with water, the water will be that much cleaner and usable for your reverse osmosis system.  Reverse osmosis will provide you and your family with the cleanest possible drinking water in the comfort of your own home – making it an investment that is definitely worth making!