Water is an indispensable part of our survival, not just for drinking but also for various other essential activities such as bathing and cleaning. In today’s day and age, it has become increasingly important to ensure that the water we get is free from toxins. However, many households face challenges with the quality of their water due to hard water issues. This is where a water filtration system such as a water softener or a water purifier comes into play which helps in making impure water fit for our consumption. Before delving into the nitty-gritty of such devices, it is important to understand what hard water is?
Hard water is water that contains excessive minerals like calcium and magnesium, often sourced from underground aquifers and wells. These minerals dissolve in the water, making it challenging to lather soap, leaving unpleasant white residue on surfaces and also causing damage to appliances. Further, it also causes scaling and blockage in pipes and leave your skin dry and itchy. In India, hard water is more prevalent than soft water, therefore, the use of a water purifier or a water softener is imperative for every home.
What is a Water Softener and How Does it Work?
A water softener is a device designed to treat hard water by removing the minerals responsible for its hardness. If you notice blockage and mineral build-up in your home’s plumbing system, then it may be time to consider investing in a water softener. What is unique about this device is that it functions through a process called ion exchange, where they replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium or potassium ions, effectively softening the water.
There are three important processes of a water softener, namely:
- The Resin Tank:
The heart of a water softener is the resin tank, filled with thousands of tiny resin beads. As hard water passes through the tank, calcium and magnesium ions are attracted to the resin beads.
- Ion Exchange Process:
During the ion exchange process, the calcium and magnesium ions attach to the resin beads, displacing the sodium or potassium ions. The hard water is thus softened as it exits the resin tank.
Over time, the resin beads become saturated with calcium and magnesium ions, reducing the water softening efficiency. To rejuvenate the resin, the water softener goes through a regeneration cycle. This involves rinsing the resin with a concentrated brine solution, which forces out the accumulated calcium and magnesium ions. The excess minerals and brine are then flushed down the drain.
How are Water Softeners Beneficial for Your Home?
Installing a water softener for your home can offer several advantages. It helps extend the lifespan of water-dependent appliances like washing machines and dishwashers by preventing mineral build-up. Additionally, softened water reduces the need for excessive soap or detergents, leading to cost savings in the long run. Furthermore, it contributes to cleaner, spot-free dishes and hair and skin health due to the absence of mineral residues.
What is a Water Purifier?
A water purifier is designed to remove various contaminants and impurities present in the water. It essentially focuses on making your water safe to drink by removing toxins from it. These can include chlorine, bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and other harmful substances. Choosing the best water purifier for home can be quite confusing and requires a basic knowledge of its functionality.
Water purifiers use different filtration methods and the most common ones can be summed up as follows:
- Activated Carbon Filtration:
The activated carbon filtration has activated carbon filters which work like magnets effectively removing chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and unpleasant odours and tastes from water.
- Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filtration:
In reverse osmosis method, water is forced through a semi-permeable membrane, leaving behind contaminants and producing purified water on the other side.
- UV (Ultraviolet) Disinfection:
UV disinfection is a chemical-free method that utilizes ultraviolet light to inactivate or destroy bacteria, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms present in water.
- Sediment Filtration:
Sediment filters are commonly used as the initial stage of water purification. These filters physically trap larger particles like sand, silt, rust, and debris, preventing them from entering the main purification process.
How Can a Water Purifier Benefit Your Home?
Water that is not purified may contain harmful elements such as dirt and bacteria which when consumed can cause illnesses. A water purifier ensures that the water you drink and use for cooking is free from harmful pollutants providing your household with safe, clean, and odourless water. It also helps improve the taste of water by eliminating unpleasant odours and flavours caused by chlorine and other chemicals.
Water Softeners vs. Water Purifiers: Knowing the difference
To begin with, water purifiers and water softeners are both designed to treat and improve the quality of hard and impure water. However, the primary difference between them is that each targets a different issue. A water softener primarily deals with hard water problems, whereas a water purifier focuses on removing impurities, contaminants, and microorganisms to make water fit for consumption. How a water softener works is also different from the method employed in water purifiers.
Which System is Suited Best for Your Home?
Softened water does not necessarily mean purified water and vice –versa. While a water softener removes hard water minerals, it does not remove bacteria and dust and a water purifier is required to that end. The choice between a water softener and a water purifier depends on your specific water quality concerns. If your primary issue is hard water, with lime scale deposits and appliance damage, a water softener is the most suitable solution. However, if you are concerned about the presence of contaminants and want safe, purified drinking water, a water purifier is the better choice.
Ultimately, both water softeners and water purifiers play vital roles in enhancing water quality for your home. Understanding the difference between these systems will help you make an informed decision based on your unique requirements.