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Softened vs. Reverse Osmosis Water

What’s the difference?

Softened water has gone through a process known as ion-exchange. Incoming water travels through the softening media, which has an affinity for the hardness ions in your water. Eventually, the softening media reaches its hardness capacity and needs to undergo regeneration. This involves running a brine solution through the media to replace the hardness ions (bound to the resin) with sodium ions. This process does add a small amount of sodium to the post-treated water. 

Reverse-osmosis is a completely different type of water quality measure. It involves a membrane that has very small pores (≤.001 microns) and a pressure gradient of water on one side. The pressure forces the water through the membrane to remove almost 100% of dissolved solids. 

How often should I change my reverse-osmosis filters? 

Filters should typically be replaced every 6-12 months. The carbon pre-filter is important because it prevents chlorine from reaching and ruining the membrane, reducing its purifying potential. The sediment filter is important because it filters out larger pieces of sediment to prevent them from fouling the membrane and reducing its flow. In short, regularly replacing your filters will maximize your membrane lifetime. 

What about my reverse-osmosis membrane? 

Reverse-osmosis membranes should typically be replaced roughly every three years or so. This time can vary depending on the quality of your feed water. Flow rate and TDS (total dissolved solids) are important factors—if your flow rate/pressure seems low or if your TDS levels aren’t being reduced as well as they originally were, it may be time to replace your membrane.

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