I think it’s important to provide a clear, simple way for people to understand the difference between water filtration and water treatment.
Water filtration removes anything you can see in the water. Some particles can’t be seen unless there are a lot of them—take coffee, for instance. What makes coffee brownish or blackish in color? It’s actually very, very small particles in the water. If you introduce enough of those particles, the water changes color. It’s also like dropping a handful of mud into water and stirring it up. The tiny bits of dirt will cause the water to become a different color. Filtration is measured in microns (µ) and filters can block particles of different sizes. Your naked eye can see a 20 micron particle. Anything smaller than that will not be visible to your eye unless there’s a whole bunch of them. All of these particles are handled by filtration.
Water treatment, on the other hand, removes things you cannot see. These things are completely dissolved in the water. They do not produce a smell and they do not discolor the water. Water softeners are a kind of treatment, and they use something called ion exchange. The word exchange is important here because if you want to remove an element from the water, you have to put another element into it. Exchange is essentially what treatment does—you’re exchanging one element in the water for another. In the case of hardness, the treatment/softener removes calcium from the water by introducing sodium.
That raises the question, if you can’t see or smell anything in the water, how can you find out if something is there? It all starts with a water test to make sure we’re not making any assumptions. We must test the water to verify if there’s something like iron or calcium, and to find out how much there actually is. If there is a sulfur smell, is it really sulfur in the water? The exact substance and amount is best determined through testing.
Once you know what is or isn’t in your water, you can make a decision about what needs to be done. Some homes only have filters (like reverse osmosis) because there’s no iron/hardness in the water. Other homes do have hardness and might need some sort of treatment to remove it. (This happens a lot with city water.) If you would like to get your water tested, reach out to the team at Wisler Plumbing & Air. Contact us online today or give us a call at 540-483-9382.