Does a Reverse Osmosis System Soften Water?

You might assume that your tap water is clean because it looks like it, but the truth is, it’s not. The water might be full of minerals and contaminants.

And although these contaminants are not meant to pose serious health issues, kids, infants, and pregnant women might be vulnerable to those contaminants.

With a reverse osmosis system, you won’t have to worry about impurities. It removes almost every contaminant from your water, making it pure and safe to drink.

If you have a water softener, you might be convinced that you have clean water free of impurities. Well, that’s not the case.

Even after processing your water with a water softener, some impurities may remain in your drinking water. If possible, you need to invest in an RO system and a water softener.

They make an excellent combination.

So, does a reverse osmosis system soften water? A reverse osmosis system can soften water. However, using the system results in a lot of wastewater. Hard water also wears the purifier quickly.

What is Water Softening?

Water softening removes hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium from water.

Although hard water is technically safe to drink, it can clog up your water pipes, stain your sinks and bathtubs, irritate your skin, and cause dry hair, among other negative effects.

If you have stained clothes or see spotty films on your dishes after cleaning, you most likely have hard water. Getting a water softener would greatly help.

A water softener contains polystyrene beads with positively charged sodium ions. As water passes through the softener, calcium and magnesium ions swap with the sodium ions from the beads.

This results in soft water that won’t clog your pipes or stain your clothes.

What’s a Reverse Osmosis System?

A reverse osmosis system removes contaminants like heavy metals and dissolved solids like fluoride and arsenic from water through the RO membrane.

It is one of the most extensive methods of filtering water that ensures that you get clean, pure, and great-tasting water.

An RO system eliminates sediment and chlorine from tap water with a pre-filter before forcing the water through the RO membrane to remove dissolved solids.

After exiting the RO membrane, the water passes through a post-filter that polishes it before entering a dedicated faucet.

Unlike other water filters that trap contaminants, the system sends all the water with rejected contaminants down the drain.

Does a Reverse Osmosis System Soften Water?

Even with a sediment filter, a reverse osmosis system can’t remove calcium and magnesium as effectively as a water softener.

The hard water passing through the system can cause mineral build-up and decrease the reliability and effectiveness of the RO membrane.

That’s why it is recommended to have both the reverse osmosis system and a water softener.

Should You Install Both a Reverse Osmosis System and a Water Softener?

The higher the hard water level, the more you will likely experience clogged pipes and stained clothes. Your appliances will also become less effective and require more repair and replacement.

A water softener comes in handy if living in a place with high hard water levels. It helps eliminate the hard water minerals that clog the RO membrane making it ineffective.

This means that a water softener helps prolong the lifespan of a reverse osmosis system. It assists the system by softening the water before reaching the RO membrane.

With softened water, your reverse osmosis system won’t work as hard, which helps extend its lifespan.

The RO system further purifies the water after it has gone through the water softener. It removes the rest of the impurities and odors and transforms the water into pure, healthy, and great-tasting water.

A water softener and an RO system give you the purest drinking water.

The Benefits of Using Both the Reverse Osmosis System and the Water Softener

By using a water softener to remove the hard water minerals from your water, you get to enjoy:

  • Great tasting water
  • Fewer clogs in pipes
  • Softer, smoother, and shinier hair
  • Softer clothes
  • Prolonged life of household appliances

An RO system, on the other hand, offers the following benefits:

  • Great tasting water free of cloudiness, bad taste, and odor.
  • Pure and healthy water that is free of most contaminants.
  • Soft water – reverse osmosis further softens the water.


A reverse osmosis system removes chromium, chlorine, nitrates, aluminum, copper, and other contaminants from your water.

Although it effectively removes minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause water hardness, it’s not recommended.

The hard water minerals can clog the RO membrane making it ineffective after a short period of use.

It’s therefore advisable that you install a water softener together with the unit as it’s not only effective at softening water but will also extend the lifespan of your RO system.

When you buy something through our affiliate links, we earn a commission without you having to pay extra.