Is Reverse Osmosis Water Soft Water?

Is Reverse Osmosis Water the Same as Soft Water

If you’re living in an area with hard water, you are probably familiar with issues such as a buildup of limescale on faucets and stains on your sink and bathtub. The obvious solution is to install a water softener to reduce the hardness.

In this article, we will explore whether reverse osmosis (RO) water is soft water and is an RO system sufficient for your needs.

Reverse osmosis water is soft water. The RO process removes major metals and minerals from water, including calcium and magnesium, which are responsible for creating hard water. Reverse osmosis systems ensure soft water in a limited number of taps in a household.

Reverse osmosis systems are designed to remove hardness and other contaminants from your water supply and deliver soft water through one or a few taps in the house. This means that you will get a limited supply of soft water that can be used for drinking and washing dishes. However, if you need soft water throughout the house, you may have to consider a water softener or a combination of a water softener and an RO system.

Learn more in my comprehensive article about reverse osmosis.

Reverse Osmosis vs Water Softening

The main difference between the two systems is the quantity of water they process and the actual mechanism through which they do it. Reverse osmosis mainly filters water, which means it gets rid of the majority of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). This includes elements like calcium and magnesium, which are the two minerals comprising hardness.

Water softeners soften water through the ion exchange method. They replace calcium and magnesium with other salts like sodium and potassium, and they soften water for the entire house and not just some faucets, as opposed to RO systems.

The result in both cases is soft water, but the main difference is the quantity.

Benefits of Installing a Water Softener to Remove Hardness

Water softeners are designed and built specifically to remove hardness from water. The ion exchange resin they use effectively and efficiently removes a significant amount of hardness from your water. These systems automatically regenerate to maintain their ability to soften water.

A typical water softener is installed at the point where water enters your house. It provides soft water for your entire home, including faucets, showers, and the tub.

Water softeners provide the following benefits:

  • Shiny and smooth hair
  • Better texture in your skin
  • Clean and spot free crockery and cutlery
  • Less clogging in pipes
  • Prevention of damage in water related appliances
  • Softer clothes with no faded colors
  • Better tasting water

Benefits of Installing a Reverse Osmosis Filtration System to Remove Hardness

The reverse osmosis process utilizes an RO membrane which is a semi-permeable membrane through which water is passed under high pressure. This separates the sediments and other contaminants from the treated water. The concentrated contaminants, known as brine, are dumped down the drain, and the purified water is routed to a special faucet or a holding tank as required.

The reverse osmosis process is slower, compared to water softening. This process also produces much less treated water than a water softener. In most residential settings, RO is only used for drinking water and possibly washing dishes.

Here are some benefits of using an RO system for getting purified and soft water:

Should You Install an RO System and a Water Softener or Both?

If you only need soft water for drinking – you can install an RO filter. However, if the goal is to protect your appliances, hair, skin, dishes, etc. – you need a water-softening solution.

The best solution, though, is to install both. If you install both you will ensure clean, soft, and contaminant-free water across the board in your home.

Here are some obvious benefits of having both systems installed in your home:

1.   Pure drinking water

If your goal is to drink pure, clean, and healthy water then it is best to have both systems installed. A water softener will remove the minerals that make the water hard, and an RO filter will ensure it is contaminant free, which includes sulfates and pesticides, etc. These two processes will ensure that every sip you take is healthy.

2.   Protected reverse osmosis system

An RO system can sustain a lot of damage over time if it is continuously exposed to hard water minerals. This is where a water softener can come to the rescue. A water softener can remove these damage-causing minerals from the water before it is processed by the RO membrane. This means that the membranes and the carbon filters will stay protected, and the overall life of your system will be extended.

Related article: Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You: 3 Dangers to Know

Frequently Asked Questions

Is RO water hard water or soft water?

Reverse Osmosis passes water through a very thin membrane that removes the sediments and minerals that are responsible for hardness, which makes RO water soft water. This water is purified and safe to drink.

Does RO water improve skin health?

Reverse osmosis water is great for skin because RO systems remove contaminants and irritants from the water source. RO water actually improves the health of your skin. Drinking RO water can ensure healthy skin and hair.

Can you cook food with RO water?

RO water is pure. It is free of minerals and contaminants. This means it is excellent for cooking as it ensures food that is healthy to eat and free from contaminants. RO water also tastes great so it will not alter the taste of your food.

Final Thoughts

Reverse Osmosis systems are designed to remove impurities from a water source. Water softeners are designed to condition water and remove minerals that make it hard. Both systems work well together to provide soft water around the house as well as clean and pure water for drinking purposes.


Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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