Reverse Osmosis VS Water Softener (Which One to Choose?)

People who own water softeners often think they are good without reverse osmosis. In some cases, this might be true. Despite having seemingly the same outcome, reverse osmosis and water softener have different purposes and processes. It is important to know what the difference between the two is so you can make the right choice. If you want to make the right choice when it comes to reverse osmosis vs water softener, wait no more!

Here, you can find the similarities and the distinction between the two and learn about what will suit your needs.

At the same time, there are some factors that you’ll need to consider when deciding.

What Is Reverse Osmosis?



Reverse osmosis water filtration systems are becoming more and more popular with homeowners with wells.

When deciding on reverse osmosis vs water softener, take this into the account.

They will provide you with healthier, better-tasting water.

If you are worrying that there is something wrong with your natural water source, reverse osmosis is the right choice. It will physically remove dissolved minerals and contaminants via a filter.

You can install a whole-home or point-of-use system.

Some of the advantages of the reverse osmosis filtering system are:

  • No chemicals – These systems will filtrate water without using any damaging chemicals. This makes them healthier and environmentally friendly than other water systems.
  • Tasteless water – When you think your water has a weird taste, this is probably because of the minerals in it. Using reverse osmosis systems will remove the minerals, and with them the taste source as well.
  • Odorless water – Next to removing taste, these systems will also remove any strange smells and colors in your water. These problems also tend to be caused by minerals.
  • Softer water – In a way, reverse osmosis works similarly to a water softener. By removing the minerals, it will also remove the hardness of the water. This is why we recommend installing a whole-house system. It will help you prevent pipe corroding.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that reverse osmosis systems are without flaws. Only 5 to 15% of water can be returned, while the rest will go down the drain. Also, installing them in your whole house can get quite expensive.

When to Use Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis is best used if you have a property that uses well as a water source. In these cases, we recommend installing a whole-home reverse osmosis system.

This will provide you with healthy, filtered water. You can also use it if you think tap water has a funny taste or smell. Just install a point-of-use system under your sink and the problem is solved!

Our recommendation:

APEC Water Systems ROES-50 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System.

This point-of-use filter is one of the best-rated products of this type online.

It can remove up to 99% of pollutants and comes with a warranty. At the same time, this is one of the best water filter brands in the US.

It’s WQA certified and long-lasting and you get the installing instructions with it. Although, we would still recommend contacting your local plumber for help.

What Are Water Softeners?


As we have already mentioned, the biggest difference between reverse osmosis vs water softener is in the process.

While reverse osmosis systems use physical filters, water softeners use a process known as ionization.

Ionization will replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions – in other words, with salt.

How does this help? Hard water is considered hard because it contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals.

Usually, these minerals are calcium and magnesium. They are the reason why your dishes or pipes become white over time.

Even worse – they can deposit in your kidneys and cause health problems. Digesting small amounts of these minerals can be beneficial.

However, if you consume them every day in big amounts, such as when drinking hard water, they become a problem.

A water softener will make your water softer by replacing these hard minerals with soft ones, such as sodium.

This will help not only your water systems but your health as well.

The advantages of water softener systems are:

  • Natural water taste – By using a water softener, you will remove most of the dissolved minerals from it. These minerals are what cause your tap water to have ‘metal’ taste. In return, this will also make you healthier.
  • Cleaner dishes – Hard water stains your dishes and faucets. By using water softeners, you will prevent white stains from appearing and your dishes will look newer and cleaner. This is especially important if you are using a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand.
  • Brighter laundry – Similar to the dishes, hard water can cause stains on your clothes, or even damage them. Water softener systems will make your laundry long-lasting and it will help with color fading.
  • Less clogging – Hard minerals are what can cause sedimentation in the pipes or in your appliances. When you use a water softener, you will help your piping system, and your (dish)washer has a longer life span.


We can’t talk about the advantages of water softeners without mentioning the flaws. Unlike reverse osmosis, a water softener can’t physically remove minerals.

This makes it less effective with really contaminated water. Also, it won’t make your water any cleaner or remove any other pollutants. Another problem with water softeners is that they are under blast by environmental agencies, as they take long to regenerate.


When to Use Water Softener?

We recommend that you use a water softener if you are having a problem with plumbing corrosion. This happens because of hard minerals in the water, and a water softener can get rid of them.

This is also the case if you notice any other hard water symptoms, such as staining on the dishes.


Our Recommendation:

iSpring ED2000 Whole House Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner. This product is designed for plumbing with very hard water. It doesn’t use any chemicals while preventing mineral deposits from forming.

This will extend the life of your appliances and your watering systems. It can be installed on any pipe, even PVC and PEX. Not only that, but it is environment-friendly, as it will reduce your energy consumption.

It’s even easy to maintain, even without the regular visits from a professional.

Reverse Osmosis VS Water Softener – Do You Need Both?


In theory, you are good to go with just one of these filtering systems. Check out your home and your family’s needs and make the choice on which of the two is more important. Every household has different needs.

However, if you decide to have both, you will have certain benefits. Below are the reasons why you should consider having both filtering systems at the same time.

  1. Reverse osmosis systems are protected by water softeners. When you have both, a water softener can take out bigger hard minerals, which will benefit the reverse osmosis system. If you have a water softener, your reverse osmosis system will have a longer life span.
  2. No matter how similar, they still have different functions. Water softeners will soften the water, but reverse osmosis water systems will filter it. If you use softeners alone, many pollutants may still remain in the water. On the other side, reverse osmosis systems can’t soften it as much as water softeners. By having both, you will ensure that your water is both healthy and soft.
  3. You will actually have financial gain in the long run if you spend some more and buy both at the same time. Water softeners will save energy, while also giving your appliances a longer life span. This means fewer expenses for professional visits and buying new products. Also, your electricity bills will likely be lower. On the other hand, if you buy a water osmosis filtering system, you will no longer need to buy bottled water. Your tap water will become pure enough to drink every day. This means more saved money in your pocket. This is also good for the environment. Fewer water bottles mean less garbage, and less garbage means a happier planet Earth.



In short, it depends on individual needs which one you prefer when it comes to reverse osmosis vs water softener.

If you have a good water system, then a water softener is enough. If your tap water has certain problems, it’s better to use reverse osmosis filter systems.

We would still recommend the joined use of both devices.

This is the only way to be sure enough that your water is safe enough for everyday use. Not only that, but you will become environment friendly this way.