How Do Home Water Softeners and Water Filters Differ?

According to the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) in the UK, ensuring the quality and safety of consumable water is of paramount importance. Water softeners and water filters play a vital role in achieving this. While some think that water softeners and water filters are the same, these two systems have distinct purposes and functions.

What is the difference between home water filters and water softeners

In this short guide, we look at the features of these important home water treatment devices. We explore their individual benefits, how they work, and the key differences between them. Whether you are looking to improve the quality of your drinking water or protect your appliances from scale build-up, you need to understand the distinction between home water softeners and drinking water filters.

Water Softeners Vs Water Filters: Different Purposes

Water softeners are designed to remove minerals and reduce water hardness. They primarily target scale build-up in pipes and appliances.

See if you live in a hard water area: How hard is my water?

Water filters, conversely, focus on removing contaminants from tap water, thus ensuring its safety for consumption. In addition to being safer to drink, filtered water also has a better taste and odor. There are different types of water filters:

Reverse Osmosis water filters

Scale reduction filters

Carbon water filters

Water Filter Taps and 3-Way taps are also a very popular, cost effective and convenient way of delivering filtered, boiling and sparkling water to the kitchen in one tap. 

How Water Softeners and Water FIlters Function: Different Mechanisms and Targeted Substances

Water softeners use ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium from water, which effectively softens it and prevents limescale. Water filters utilize various technologies, such as activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light, to remove bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, and sediment from water.

Installation Process:

Water softeners

Water softeners require a separate plumbing connection and a drain for brine discharge.

Water Filters

Water filters can be installed at the point of use, such as under the sink. You can also install them at the point where water enters the house. The most efficient water filtration systems are Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filters: they remove up to 95% of contaminants from drinking water.


Water softeners require regular regeneration to flush out accumulated minerals and recharge the resin beads inside. Water filters require regular filter cartridge replacement, depending on the filter type.

To maintain the quality and safety of your water supply, you should understand how these two unique systems differ. Water softeners combat issues caused by hard water. In so doing, they prevent scale build-up and prolong the lifespan of home appliances, eliminate limescale from kitchen and bathroom surfaces and water fixtures. In addition, soft water is better for bathing and skin, as the hard minerals in hard water cuase dryness of skin, often adversely affecting eczema and dry skiin condition. Water filters, on the other hand, ensure the purity and safety of drinking water in your home or business. While they have different purposes and mechanisms, water softeners and water filters share the common goal of enhancing water quality.