Soft Water: Soft water is simply the process in which minerals like calcium and magnesium are removed through ion exchange. The hardness minerals are exchanged for sodium or potassium chloride. If sodium chloride is used as the regenerant, there will be approximately 110 mgs of sodium present in 1 gallon of water. For comparison, a slice of bread ranges between 100-150mgs of sodium. Additionally, a water softener also has the capability to remove some iron, dirt, and sediment to 50 microns. You could refer to a soft water system as a “filter” since it is removing the minerals, but the term filtration or filter is typically used for the removal of specific contaminants unrelated to hard water or minerals. Typical water filters use an adsorption process to eliminate the contaminant being removed. There are many benefits to having mineral free water. Soaps, detergents, and other cleaners perform better and more effectively with soft water. Scaling and hard water build-up on appliances, fixtures, and hard surfaces are significantly reduced when water is soft. In areas where the water is extremely hard this can be a substantial benefit to the home, and occupants living there. When soap mixes with water, the calcium and magnesium combine to make a curd. The amount of curd will depend upon how hard the water is. The minerals in the water need to be neutralized with more soap to be able to clean effectively. The elimination of hard minerals from the water allows for easier cleaning throughout the home, less spotting on dishes, decreased scale on fixtures, and reduces soap residue. A whole house water filter will not “soften” your water. An easy way to determine if the system you are considering will provide soft water is simple. If it does not use salt as a regenerant, the minerals in the water will not be removed. Don’t fall victim to the no salt system marketing that is popular today. Water treatment technology is supported by chemistry, not conjecture, it’s just that simple!
Water Filtration: If your key objective is to remove chemicals from your water like chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, smells and odors. A carbon-based water filtration system is a good place to start. Other contaminants like heavy metals, fluoride, and nitrates can also be addressed with other filtration medias. Water filtration has a wide variety of options of where it can be used within the home. It can be used strictly for drinking water in the kitchen, or for the entire household plumbing. If you are concerned primarily with drinking water, a single or dual filter system can be installed under sink to provide reasonably good quality drinking water to the cold supply on the faucet. Another option is to have the benefits of filtration throughout the entire home water source. Chlorine can be quite undesirable as it has detrimental effects on hair, skin, fabrics, and rubber materials like gaskets, and other seals that reside in water using appliances, and fixtures. Chlorine causes oxidation and will leach oils from literally everything it comes in contact with. This will cause thesethings to be weaker, brittle, and dry. If you have been swimming, exited the pool, and noticed your hair feels like straw and skin resembles sandpaper, you know what I am talking about!The next time you replace the aerator gasket or a faucet cartridge, you will understand why the material blackens your hands or disintegrateson contact.Do not expect any under sink water filtration or whole house water filtration system to significantly reduce the TDS (total dissolved solids) from your water. The reason for this is the contaminants that carbon filtration and other medias reduce are not that prevalent in the water supply. If your incoming TDS is 500ppm, you probably have less than 20 ppm of any number of contaminants that filtration would be targeted or ableto remove.Chlorine levels are usually between 1.0 – 2.0ppm in most municipal water. We feel strongly that filtration benefits are greater realized at the everyday use level, (showers, laundry, appliance and fixture seals) than at the consumption level. Due to our high TDS levels, filtration simply does not remove enough TDS to drastically improve taste, or purity. This leads us to our next topic, Reverse Osmosis purification.
Water Purification:If you have ever wondered why the filtered water from your refrigerator, the faucet attachment or pitcher filter doesn’t seem to do the trick for your taste buds, it’s probably related to high dissolved solid content. Most of the tap water in the U.S. is under 200 ppm of TDS (total dissolved solids) allowing the water to be palatable for most. However, in areas where these solids are much higher, the water can be quite objectionable to drink. Salt is a good example. A little on your food enhances the flavor, but too much overpowers the food, dominating the dish altogether. The same applies with dissolved solids in water. Carbon filtration or other types of filters just won’t cut it, because they are not effective at eliminating considerable levels of dissolved solids. Filtration and purification are completely different, and it is wise to understand the difference, so you don’t fall for false claims being made by some water treatment providers.To effectively eliminate enough TDS to make the water enjoyable to drink, use in coffee or tea, even produce good ice, the water must be purified by specific processes like reverse osmosis, deionization or distillation. The most common for quality drinking water for the home is reverse osmosis (RO) technology. RO is affordable, very effective, and simple to maintain. Typical purity levels achieved with RO systems is 95-97% reduction in TDS. Most of the bottled water off the shelf is purified by this process and can be verified by reading the label.The reason RO is much higher quality water than filtered water is due to a membrane that rejects TDS from the water supply. Membranes are made of thin film composite material that is wound around a composite post that has holes around it for the quality water to pass through.Water pressure is forced through the membrane, where the water is separated. Significant dissolved solids are flushed to drain and the good water into a storage tank. The drinking water is made slowly, at approximately 1-2 gallons per hour depending on membrane size. New membrane technology allows for very little waste at a 1/1 ratio. Older membrane technology required 4/1 ratio, a significant water savings!If your TDS is high chances are you won’t be satisfied with a water filter. Reverse Osmosis is the choice for many Phoenix area residents for high purity, and great tasting water.