Water Softener vs Reverse Osmosis

Last Updated on August 26, 2021

Are you having trouble determining whether to buy a water softener or a reverse osmosis system? The decision can be tricky, but we’re here to answer your questions and help you purchase the best system for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Water Softener and a Reverse Osmosis System?

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems purify your water and water softeners reduce hardness in your water. RO systems use a semi-permeable membrane to filter your water, reducing nearly all contaminants and minerals, which are flushed down the drain, leaving you with clear water. The process of reverse osmosis reduces salt, minerals and any other impurities. Water softeners use ion exchange to replace minerals that cause your water to be hard with sodium or potassium, making your water soft. RO systems are less efficient than water softeners, so they’re usually installed at a single point-of-use, like a kitchen sink, rather than used for the whole house.

Which is Better? A Water Softener or Reverse Osmosis System?


It depends on your needs. While a reverse osmosis system will soften water in addition to filtering it, constantly filtering hard water will wear out an RO membrane faster. While a reverse osmosis system can replace a water softener, it will waste a lot of water, so water softeners are often a more economical solution if your water has a hardness problem. If your water has a strange taste or smell due to contaminants beyond minerals, you may need a reverse osmosis system or other filtration system to fully filter the water.

Can I Use Both of These Systems?

Absolutely. In fact, a water softener will protect the reverse osmosis membrane and make it last longer. The water softener will soften water throughout your home, providing benefits for your pipes, appliances, fixtures, skin and hair. The reverse osmosis system can be installed under a sink to provide purified water at a separate tap for drinking and cooking. Depending on what’s in your water, you may need an additional whole-house system to treat other contaminants.

Ready to improve the water in your home? Request a free consultation and quote.

What are the Benefits of Using a Water Softener?

soft water benefits

  • Clearly refreshing® water
  • Water-using appliances last longer
  • Dishes are cleaner
  • Skin and hair are soft and silky
  • Save money and time on cleaning
  • Virtually eliminate water spots
  • Prepared food and beverages taste better

What are the Benefits of Using a Reverse Osmosis System?

  • Better tasting water – RO systems reduce contaminants that can make your water taste or smell unpleasant.
  • Environmentally-friendly – Enjoy bottled water quality without the plastic straight from your kitchen sink.
  • Crystal clear water – The process of reverse osmosis reduces salt, minerals and many other contaminants, leaving you with pure water.
  • Healthier water – RO systems reduce contaminants that are associated with a variety of health problems.

Is Reverse Osmosis Water Hard or Soft?

As stated above, a reverse osmosis filter will soften your water – at the cost of wearing through the filtration membrane faster. While reverse osmosis filtered water is soft, many homeowners install a whole-home (not a point-of-use) water softener to soften water before it is filtered by reverse osmosis, as this reduces maintenance costs throughout their homes.

What Makes Puronics Water Softeners Different?

Puronics Chlorostatic® water softeners reduce chlorine and chloramine as well as soften your water, improving the taste and smell of your water. Our systems also utilize the advanced technology of the iGen®… the valve so smart it does the thinking for you to monitor your water to optimize water quality and operating efficiency.

How can I Purchase a System?

If you know what system you want, you can request a quote or contact your nearest dealer. If you’re not sure, you can request a free water treatment consultation, and you’ll receive a personalized quote based on our recommendation.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us today! We’re happy to assist you with your water treatment needs.

© Copyright 2020 Puronics, Inc. All rights reserved.

Showing 9 comments
  • Braden Bills

    I’m trying to decide what I should do to make my water work better. I didn’t know that water softening systems were so effective! It would be nice to not have to worry about bad water.

  • Sammy

    I am finding a water filter or softener for my home. I was a bit confused but this article is very useful

  • Patrick

    That’s a great comparison. I find the softener and the RO system make a great combination.

  • Sandra

    People mostly use water softeners for reducing the risk of plumbing issues to a large extent, due to the fact that when hard water travel through the pipes it leaves scale deposits over the walls; these deposits accumulate with the passage of time. This water when moved through the pipes reduces their efficiency leading towards multiple plumbing problems. Therefore, the best way to address this issues is installing a water softener which completely eliminate the chances of water build up inside the pipe.

  • Samantha Nichols

    I think both reverse osmosis and water softeners have pros as well as cons. However, they have the same benefit: they can soften your hard water well and provide you with pure and safe drinking water.

  • Christine Elling

    Do you have salt free water softening?

  • Steven Peterson

    Generally, people doesn’t know the difference between water softener and water reverse osmosis. Really appreciate your efforts for showing the difference between water softener and reverse osmosis and curating their most important advantages.

  • Reply

    I like how you mentioned that one of the benefits of softened water is that your dishes are cleaner. As far as I know, people often run dishes twice in order to make sure that they are completely cleaned. It seems like having a softener can help you save money on your water bill.

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