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The Ultimate Water Filtration Media Guide

You’ve decided to take a step toward providing your home with filtered water—that’s great! But before you make your purchase of a water filtration system, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different types of filtration media used in these systems.

Not all water filtration systems are built equally. The right filtration media—the material that captures the harmful contaminants in your water—will depend on what contaminants you’d like to reduce.

Water filter media can be made of naturally occurring materials, including sand, rock and various synthetic materials. Other filters will feature more than one form of media, which can help reduce a wider range of contaminants.

What is the best material to filter water?

In short, the best material to filter water will depend on your unique needs. Some people simply want to reduce the smell and taste of chlorine, while others have more concerning contaminants including lead and PFAS. Since there isn’t really one type of filter media that’s better than the other, it’s important to understand the different types so you can properly target your water’s contamination. The following are a few filter media examples that are most commonly used in water filtration systems.

Activated carbon

Carbon is a common and extremely effective media for adsorption. (Note that adsorption is when molecules and ions are attracted to a surface, as opposed to absorption, where molecules are soaked up like a sponge.) Activated carbon is a powerful way to reduce unpleasant odors and tastes from your water.

This water filter material is made from organic substances that adsorb contaminants. A few different examples of the material used to create activated carbon filters include wood, bamboo, coconut shell and coal.

Activated carbon is effective at reducing chlorine taste and odor, a common issue for households with municipal water supplies. Because of its effectiveness, water filtration systems of all kinds use activated carbon, often paired with other additives focused on reducing specific contaminants. Both under sink and whole home systems can be fitted with filters that feature activated carbon.


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That Uses Activated Carbon Filter Media


Carbon block

Carbon block filters use activated carbon bound together into block form. Like activated carbon granules, they filter out chlorine and sediment. Carbon block filters are used in both whole home and under sink filtration systems, often with additives to reduce contaminants such as lead, PFOAs, etc.


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That Uses Carbon Block Filter Media


String-wound and pleated

String-wound filters are typically made of cotton and fit into whole home systems. String-wound filters reliably capture sediment particles that can harm home appliances, faucets and plumbing. If sediment is your main concern, string-wound is an excellent water filter media choice, particularly when dealing with particles as small as 10 microns. String-wound filters are also a great way to eliminate low levels of red water iron, also known as ferric iron.

Pleated filters have several benefits in common with string-wound filters, including the ability to eliminate low levels of red water (ferric) iron. Pleated filters have long lifespans, thanks to their expanded surface area.

Both pleated filters and string filters can vary in the size of particles they can effectively remove. This is known as micron rating and every sediment filter has one. The lower the micron rating, the smaller the particle size captured. Similar to string-wound filters, the size of the targeted particles will depend on how tightly layered the media is, giving homeowners a little flexibility with which filter is right for their home.


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Wound or Pleated Filter Media


Flow and Capture Technology (FACT)

A unique and powerful filter media, Flow and Capture Technology (FACT) is made of carbon-impregnated cellulose-based fiber that adsorbs chlorine taste and smell, and captures high levels of particles that could be harmful to your water-using appliances and fixtures.

Fitting into most under sink and whole home filtration systems, FACT filters are uniquely designed to give you higher levels of filtration, better flow and a longer filter life.


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Reverse osmosis

EcoPureHome reverse osmosis filtration systems feature three unique filters: a pre-filter, a membrane and a post-filter. Some of these filters use blended media, or a combination of materials that can reduce specific contaminants in tandem. Each filter targets different contaminants, making reverse osmosis (RO) systems one of the most thorough options available.

The pre-filter, or the first filter that the water will travel through, is a carbon block filter. This filter, as discussed above, will reduce chlorine smell and taste, which will protect the membrane.

The membrane of an RO system is semi-permeable. It neither captures nor absorbs. Instead, it rejects contaminants, flushing them down your drain. This is the stage where contaminants including cysts, lead and total dissolved solids are reduced and flushed away.

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Reverse Osmosis

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Next, the water is moved into the post-filter, which is another carbon block. You can think of this filter as the polishing filter which removes any lingering odors. In some unique systems, such as the Brita Total360 Reverse Osmosis system, additional filtration components may be added to target contaminants like PFAS, or “forever chemicals.” Not every RO system is designed to capture PFAS, so if this is a concern for your household, be sure to look specifically for a system that’s capable of reducing these chemicals.

Ion exchange

While water softeners don’t filter your water as a true filtration system would, the ion exchange that occurs within the resin tank is another form of filtration that reduces levels of calcium and magnesium in your water. This mechanism is made possible by the resin beads inside a water softener’s tank. These beads have a negative charge, which attracts and binds to the positive charge of calcium and magnesium. Drawing these minerals out of your water turns it soft.

Hard water minerals can be destructive to your home, so the softening process can help you keep your water-using appliances running for many more years. If you suspect you have both hard water and other contamination issues, there are hybrid water treatment systems that can help you work to reduce hard water minerals and contaminants, such as chlorine taste and odor. These systems use a combination of different water filter media, including ion exchange, to ensure your water is soft and filtered.


Find a System That Uses
the Ion Exchange Method


Find the water filter that will fit your needs.

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to picking between water filter media.

The best material to filter will depend entirely on your home’s needs and your own goals. No matter what water filtration system you decide upon, make sure it has third-party performance and a safety certification from NSF, WQA, or another reputable organization that verifies performance. If you want to narrow down your search for the right water filtration system, take a look at EcoPureHome’s Interactive Shopping Tool, which will help you understand your home’s water and which system will make the most difference in your home.

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How Filtered Water Is Better for the Environment Than Bottled Water

Not all forms of drinking water are created equal. While bottled water can seem like a convenient purchase, it’s rarely the best option for your family—or for the Earth. Switching from buying bottled water to installing a water filtration system has benefits for both your wallet and the environment.

The problem with plastic

Single-use plastic bottles can be a cheap and convenient option when you’re on the go, but behind that one-time use is a complex and catastrophic pollution issue. You might think you’re not hurting the planet by using plastic water bottles because they’re recyclable, but the truth is only 1/3 of all plastic bottles get recycled. Plastic takes roughly 450 years to biodegrade, filling up landfills and harming ecosystems and wildlife. It’s estimated that 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year, accumulating in enormous patches of plastic waste.

You can cut back on this plastic consumption by switching to filtered water from an under sink or whole home filtration system. If you rely on bottled water because you’re concerned about contamination in your water supply, you can select a filtration system that’s specifically designed to reduce common water issues such as sediment, lead, chlorine and even PFAS, or “forever chemicals.” Filtration systems can offer you peace of mind when drinking, cooking and cleaning with water from your tap—and you’ll know you’re helping the environment by cutting back on single-use plastic.

Is water from a filter environmentally friendly?

Using a water filter is much more environmentally friendly than buying cases or jugs of bottled water. Installing a filtration system gives you a long-term solution to clean water, rather than contributing to the 29 billion water bottles and counting that are filling landfills and the world’s oceans.

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What are the environmental benefits of filtered water?

In addition to having fresh, filtered water whenever you want it, there are a number of other benefits to having filtered water in your home, many of which are good for the environment. The environmental benefits of filtered water include:

  • Reduce water waste
    When you buy plastic water bottles, you’re not just paying for the water. You’re also buying a plastic bottle and paying for the manufacturing that was required to produce it. Not only is it more beneficial to invest in a filtration system to provide filtered water, it’s much more environmentally friendly. To produce one plastic bottle actually takes six to seven times the water that ends up inside the bottle.
  • Fewer emissions
    Producing plastic water bottles also requires a lot of energy and contributes to both air and water pollution. The total energy required for bottled water production is as much as 2,000 times the energy needed to produce tap water.
  • Just as good as bottled water—or better
    Just because your water isn’t coming in a perfectly sealed bottle with a pretty label does not mean it’s any lower quality than what’s in a bottle. Take the reverse osmosis filtration process as an example. This process removes small contaminants by using a membrane filter and depending on the system, a few other steps of filtration. Reverse osmosis filtration systems catch the contaminants and flush them away while the cleaned water flows on to your tap. Bottled water companies use this same process, just on a much larger scale. When you install a reverse osmosis system, you’ll be getting the same fresh, crisp water as you would with bottled water.

Ready to cut back on single-use plastic?

If selecting a water filtration system is part of your journey to a future that’s less reliant upon single-use plastic, it’s important to choose a system that will provide you with reliably filtered water for years to come. EcoPureHome offers under sink and whole home systems that can meet a variety of household needs—from simply making your water taste better to reducing more serious contaminants such as lead.

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Is Softened Water Bad for You?

Debunking Common Water Softener Myths

A water softener is a powerful solution for people struggling with the effects of calcium and magnesium buildup on their water-using appliances. Softer water means dishwashers, washers and dryers, water heaters and other appliances can function without the damaging effects of mineral buildup left behind by hard water. The benefits of installing a water softener are plentiful—but many customers are left to wonder if water treated by these systems is safe to drink. Before you purchase a water softener, it’s important to understand how a water softener transforms hard water into soft. Let’s take a look at the softening process and what it means for you.

How Water Softeners Work

First, let’s brush up on how water softeners work. The goal of the softening process is to remove the mineral content in your water. Connecting to your main water line, a softener sends water into a tank filled with resin beads that attract hard water minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium in exchange for sodium. This turns the hard water into soft water. This water then flows from your softener into the rest of your home.

Eventually, your water softener’s tank will need to be flushed clean by going through a regeneration cycle. During this regeneration process, salt water from the additional tank rinses out the resin-holding tank, washing away the minerals and ensuring the softener can continue to work as intended. Because water softeners do use salt to clean the resin beads, some people wonder if there are any disadvantages to soft water—and, more specifically, whether drinking it is bad for you.

So, is soft water bad for you?

No, soft water is not bad for you. In fact, soft water is much better for your skin and hair than hard water, which can leave your hair brittle and skin dry. Though the process and terminology of water softeners can seem complex, it is a simple but effective process that offers you a much higher quality of water.

Do water softeners make my water taste salty?

The biggest misconception about water softeners is that they use salt to soften water. Salt (sodium chloride) is used in the regeneration process to prepare the resin to continue attracting hard water minerals. Though water softeners use salt in the regeneration process, it will not cause your water to taste salty, as salt and sodium are different. What you think of as “table salt” is really sodium chloride, not sodium.

The amount of sodium found in softened water does not represent a significant portion of the daily intake for the average person—which means drinking soft water is not bad for you. If you have a water hardness of 11 gpg (grains per gallon), the amount of sodium found in 8 oz. of water would come down to 20 mg, which is significantly less than a glass of milk!

What to do if you’re concerned about sodium intake

If sodium intake is a health concern, it’s a good idea to talk about the potential risk of installing a water softener with your healthcare provider. People who need to keep a close eye on sodium intake can install a reverse osmosis system as a filtration method to ensure that any excess sodium from their softened water is filtered out. This filtration system is a sophisticated and thorough way to reduce common water contaminants both large and small.

Supplement your water softener with thorough water filtration.

Enjoy clean, fresh water right from your tap with a reverse osmosis system designed to remove contaminants large and small.

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Even if sodium intake is not a concern of yours, a reverse osmosis filtration system is still a great option if you notice your water smells or tastes like chlorine, or you’re worried about another source of water contamination.

One more option you may consider is to use potassium chloride water softener salt instead of sodium chloride in your water softener. Again, a healthcare provider can give you specific direction on whether sodium in water softeners is something you need to be concerned about.

Start Enjoying the Benefits of Softened Water

Providing soft water for you and your household, water softeners offer a wide range of benefits. Keep your appliances running longer, save more money on energy bills and enjoy healthier skin and hair with a water softener system. Wondering which water softener is right for you and your home? Get started with this comparison guide that helps you see the benefits of each system and what they mean for you.

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What Are PFAS and How Can I Remove Them From My Water?

Some water contaminants are easy to identify by smell or taste — chlorine, sulfur and iron are common culprits. Some you can identify by discolored water, but others are much more insidious and difficult to detect. One such category of chemicals is known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. You might have heard of the term “forever chemicals,” which refers to these man-made substances that were created to be incredibly resilient and used for an enormous number of consumer products including nonstick pans, makeup, food packaging, insulation and more.

A study by the scientists at the Environmental Working Group found that more than 200 million Americans most likely have PFAS in their drinking water. So, what are PFAS? Are they dangerous? And how can you protect yourself from exposure? Find answers by reading on.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are man-made chemicals designed to endure extreme heat, water and oil. In short: they’re designed to be nearly indestructible. About 3,000 chemicals fall under the umbrella term of PFAS. Since their invention in 1946, they have been added to an almost unending list of consumer products, ranging from stain removers to pizza packaging. Because of their widespread use, almost everyone has been exposed to these chemicals.

What are PFAS found in?

  • Nonstick cookware
  • Fire fighting foams
  • Household cleaners
  • Stain-resistant carpets
  • Hairsprays and other cosmetic items
  • Water resistant clothing

Are PFOAs the same as PFAS?

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a man-made chemical created by 3M in 1947 and later sold to chemical manufacturer DuPont. It falls under the umbrella term of PFAS, a category used to describe a variety of man-made chemicals of similar makeup and application.

PFOA, which was formerly used to create Teflon, was used in hundreds of consumer products including carpets, cardboard, cookware, waxes, waterproof clothing and many more. It’s also a common water contaminant due to manufacturing plant leaks which end up seeping into local water supplies.

PFOA stands out from other PFAS because of their documented effects on health. PFOA was the subject of a 2001 class lawsuit which charged DuPont with contaminating water sources in Ohio and West Virginia. A PFOA leak occurred from a DuPont plant and eventually was linked to six diseases including kidney cancer. Eventually, PFOA was phased out of production, but due to the deliberate resilience of the chemical, it will continue to linger in water supplies, ecosystems and human bloodstreams for years to come.

Are PFAS Dangerous?

PFAS substances, including PFOA, have all been linked to a variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, even low doses of these PFAS have been linked with the following health effects:

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Birth defects
  • Liver damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer

Because PFAS were so widely used in manufacturing, it’s estimated that 99% of Americans have a measurable amount of PFAS in their bloodstreams. While production of PFAS/PFOA has been halted, the resilience of the chemicals mean they’ll be lurking in products and water supplies for decades. So, how can you eliminate PFAS dangers from your drinking water?

How to remove PFAS/PFOA
from drinking water

If you live near a manufacturing facility that used to produce or work with PFAS substances, you’ll want to take extra precautions with your drinking water. Since the United States government has been slow to initiate widespread cleanup efforts, it’s up to homeowners to take matters into their hands.

Right now, many water treatment systems are not capable of filtering PFAS from drinking water, but some filtrations systems including select reverse osmosis filtration systems do. Let’s take a look at how some reverse osmosis systems can reduce PFAS from drinking water.

Reverse osmosis systems work a little differently than other under sink or whole home filters. Learn how they use sophisticated technology to provide thorough filtration.

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How do select reverse osmosis (RO) systems reduce PFAS/PFOA from water?

Reverse osmosis systems use a powerful 3-stage filtration process that moves water through a carbon pre-filter, a semipermeable membrane and a post-filter. This advanced water filtration process relies on the sophisticated, semipermeable membrane and high-performance carbon blocks to reduce the most severe contaminants such as PFAS, chlorine, sediment, microbial cysts and lead from your home water supply. Clean water is directed into a storage tank, ready for use, while the waste water is flushed away.

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If you’re concerned about PFAS/PFOA contamination in your drinking water, it may be time to invest in a filtration system specifically designed to reduce these contaminants. It’s important to understand that not all RO systems are rated to reduce PFAS, though. EcoPureHome is proud to offer one that does: The Brita Total360 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System. This system installs directly under your sink, providing safe, clean water right to your tap.

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How to Choose the Best Water Filtration System

The benefits of filtered water are wide ranging and can protect you and your family from dangerous contaminants. Whether you want to enjoy fresher tap water or you’re concerned about your area’s water supply, a water filtration system is a wise investment that can offer peace of mind. Selecting the right water filtration system for your home can be a big investment, so it’s important to take time to understand the differences in systems to determine which will be the best fit for you and your family. There are several factors to consider when choosing a system — read on to find out how to choose the best type of water filtration system for you.

What Should I Look for in a Water Filter System?

First, Understand What’s in Your Water.

If you’re wondering how to choose a water filter system, the very first step is to determine what’s in your water. There are several common contaminants that households across the country struggle with — whether they are aware or not. If your water smells bad, leaves stains or simply just doesn’t taste good, you may have some level of contamination. To get a better idea of your area’s quality of water, type in your zip code in this database from the Environmental Working Group for detailed results.

If you already know your water simply smells and tastes too much like chlorine — a common issue for households running on municipal water supplies — a basic under sink filtration system or refrigerator filter (wherever you get your drinking water from) will do the trick. Read more on these systems below.

However, if you have sand, sediment or a contaminant such as lead that’s a more serious threat, the best type of water filtration system for you must eliminate the danger of water contamination, and you’ll need to select a more thorough option. If you live near fracking operations, mines or areas notorious for pollution and industrial run-off, you should consider having your water tested to verify what’s going on.

Once you have a better understanding of what’s in your water, there are two categories of water filtration systems to choose from.

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Under Sink Water Filtration Systems

This category offers many options for targeted, thorough filtration and is the best drinking water filter system for those who want better-tasting water or have concerns about serious contamination issues in their kitchen or bathroom. Under sink filtration systems eliminate the smallest of water contaminants, which make them a perfect choice for households with the most common to the most severe contaminants such as lead, sediment, chlorine or even polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Another major perk of under sink filtration systems is that they allow homeowners to save money if they’ve been relying on bottled water. If you’re looking to cut back on costs by eliminating bottled water, an under sink filtration system is a great choice. It’s also much more environmentally friendly!

Under sink systems vary in their levels of filtration. For the most thorough option available, a reverse osmosis water filtration system is your best bet. Reverse osmosis filtration systems work by filtering water through a pre-filter, and then through a membrane. This process results in two solutions of water: the contaminated water that is flushed away and the fresh water that’s clean and ready for consumption.

For households with more moderate levels of contamination, a dual-stage (or two-stage) water filtration system makes a great option. These systems are effective at reducing contaminants such as lead, microbial cysts, sediment and chlorine and require two internal filters.

Finally, offering another stage of filtration, three-stage systems powerfully reduce up to 99% of lead, chemicals, bacteria, viruses and pharmaceuticals from water. This is a perfect choice for households that want an extra layer of filtration but aren’t concerned about contaminants such as PFAS that a reverse osmosis system would remove.

Whether you choose a single-stage, dual-stage, three-stage system or an advanced reverse osmosis water filtration system, these options are generally compact and fit neatly under your sink, as the name suggests. Most systems include a separate faucet from which you can access the clean, filtered water.

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Whole Home Filtration Systems

Wondering how to choose a water filter system, but don’t need the targeted treatment of an under sink system? Whole home systems, as you might have guessed, filter your entire home’s water supply. They are a great option for homes with larger contaminants such as sand, sediment, iron or chlorine taste and odor. Sand, sediment and iron are all contaminants that can negatively affect appliances around your home, and iron can leave unsightly stains. So, investing in a filtration system that can stop these contaminants before they can wreak havoc on your home will save money in the long run.

Whole home filtration systems connect to your house’s main water line, allowing water to pass through the system’s internal filter before moving along to your appliances. Depending on your area’s quality of water, you’ll need to replace the system’s filter every six months, and the design of most systems allow for quick, clean and easy replacements. There are also maintenance-free models that include a lifelong filter which never needs to be replaced.

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Find the Best Water Filtration System for Your House.

Ultimately, the best drinking water system for your house comes down to what your goals are for your water. It’ll also depend on your household size, budget and whether you’re looking for a softening solution as well. EcoPureHome offers a variety of water filtration systems for households of all sizes. Find the system that’s right for your home and experience all the benefits that filtered water has to offer.

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Water Softeners vs. Water Filters: What’s Right For My Home?

You know something is wrong with your water. It either smells, leaves stains or makes your skin feel dry and itchy. But what can you do about it? The water treatment market is full of products with confusing science that can leave you with more questions than you had to begin with. The first step toward finding the best water treatment system for your home is to identify the issues you’ve been noticing around your home. This will help you assess how severe the problem is and how to tackle it. When choosing between water softeners vs. water filters, take a look around your house and see if you recognize any of these symptoms:

Signs you have hard water:

  • Your dishes are spotted with residue, even after going through the dishwasher.
  • Your faucets and showerheads are coated with a white, crusty buildup.
  • You have dry, itchy skin all year round.
  • Your hair is flat and brittle.

Signs your water is contaminated: 

  • Your water smells musty, metallic, sulfuric or fishy.
  • Your water tastes bad.
  • You are located in an area with poor water quality.

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Water Softeners vs. Water Filters: What’s the Difference?

The difference between water softeners and water filters comes down to the type of contaminants you want to remove from your home’s water. Each system uses different technology to improve your water, so understanding the difference between the two is important before selecting a model for your home.

Water filters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from pitchers, faucet and water bottle attachments, all the way up to a whole home water filtration system that treats water before it travels throughout your entire home. The terms water filters and water filtration systems are sometimes used interchangeably. For this article’s purpose, the water filters being referenced indicate installed water filtration systems rather than smaller pitchers and other low-cost, limited-use filters.

Water softeners remove hard water causing minerals like calcium and magnesium from your water. While technically both filters and softeners reduce certain levels of contaminants, softeners use salt to exchange the ions of calcium and magnesium, instead of simply trapping them with activated carbon or another kind of filtration media.

But which is better, a water softener or a water filter?

This is a common question, but the answer depends on your needs. A water filter reduces common—and potentially harmful—contaminants, providing healthier, better-tasting water. A water softener will remove the minerals that make your water hard, providing more comfortable, cleaner water that combats nagging hard water symptoms around the house. In some cases, it’s not an either or question—you may want both.

Choosing the Right Water Softener

If you’ve identified some of the common problems hard water is causing in your home, it’s time to find the best system for your needs. Using the ion-exchange technology through a salt brine tank, water softeners all are designed to reduce the level of hard minerals in your water. When selecting the right model for your home, you’ll need to assess the following:

Compare and contrast different kinds of water softening systems based on the items above to help you navigate the many options available.

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Choosing the Right Water Filtration System

Water filtration systems vary much more than water softeners. Depending on your water quality and your home’s needs, there are a few different options to consider when selecting a filtration system. Start with these basic categories and determine which will be the best fit for you.

Under sink water filtration

These filtration systems are a great option for people looking for high-quality water to cook, drink and eat with. As you can guess, they install directly under your sink and remove common contaminants – like lead and chlorine – that cause your water to smell and taste poorly, or worse, cause health problems. The types of under sink water filters vary in price and levels of filtration, so understanding the quality of your water will be critical in choosing the right filtration system. Under sink filters are simple to install and their compact designs don’t take up too much space in kitchen cabinets.

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Whole home water filtration

This type of filtration system is best suited for people who want to reduce contamination across the entire home, from drinking water to bath water. If you are struggling with severe water taste, smell or you’re aware of local contamination, a whole home filter is a great way to treat your water before you make contact with it.

To install a whole home filter, you will need to attach it to your home’s main water supply line so any contaminants or sediment will be stopped as soon as it travels into your home.

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Find the Right Water Solution for Your Home

Choosing between water softeners and water filters can seem daunting at first, especially with so many options to consider. But understanding what issues you’re currently experiencing at home and what goals you have for your water quality is a great way to determine which system to choose. Next, take time to learn more about each system and find the right solution for your home’s water.

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What Size Water Softener Does My Family Need?

You’ve determined that your home would benefit from a new water softener, but which size softener is right for your family? The differences in softening systems can vary widely, and it’s crucial to select the right size so that you enjoy all the benefits that come with a system that is perfectly suited to your needs. Selecting the right size water softener ensures that enough water is softened and the minimal amount of salt and energy is required for maximum energy efficiency. Learn the differences between softening systems, what grain capacity means for your choice, and ultimately, pick the right system for you and your family.

The right water softener depends largely on your area’s level of water hardness and the size of your household. So, start by determining those two factors.

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Understand your city’s level of water hardness

One of the first things to determine is how hard your water is. You can perform a DIY test at home using soap and a clear water bottle. After mixing soap and water in the bottle, the amount of bubbles formed will indicate the hardness of your water: the less sudsy the result, the harder your water is.

You can also investigate your city’s water supply if you receive municipal water. A few major metro areas including Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are known to have some of the country’s highest levels of hard water, so if you live in the surrounding area, there’s a good chance that you’d benefit from a water softener.

How much water do you use?

Knowing how much water your household uses per month is another good place to start when determining the right water softening system. Your water bill should include a graph of your historic water usage. From here, you can determine a rough estimate of how much water your household consumes per day. If you don’t have access to this information, use this quick formula: for each person in your household, multiply by 75 and add the totals together (for example, a household of three would total to a rough estimate of 225 gallons a day).

Determine how many grains need to be removed

The next step in choosing the right size of water softener is determining how many grains to remove. A grain is a unit of measurement in which one grain is equal to approximately 65 milligrams of calcium carbonate. Water softeners are rated according to how many grains of calcium they can remove, as calcium is the mineral that causes hardness.

When purchasing a water softener system, you’ll notice the grain capacity labeled anywhere from 24,000 gpg (grains per gallon) to 64,000 gpg. Simply put, the smaller the number, the fewer grains will be removed.

If you have had your water tested and know the level of grains per gallon in your supply, take that number and multiply it by the number of gallons your household consumes per day. Using the example from above, a household of three that uses 225 gallons per day with a hardness level of 10 gpg would require a softening system that can remove 2,250 grains of hardness every day.

Since water softener units regenerate once a week, you’ll need to multiply 2,250 by 7 to get the correctly sized softener. In this case, the household would need a softener rated to remove 15,750 gpg of hardness.


What size water softener is right for a family of 4?

In general, a 32,000 or 33,000 grain water softener will suit most families of four. Does that seem too high of a number based on the formula above? It is! But salt usage also needs to be considered when purchasing a softener. A 24,000 grain softener may technically fit the needs of this family, but it will require much more salt. A 32,000 softener won’t require as much salt as the other unit, saving money in the long run.

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What size water softener is right for a family of 5?

Using the 75 as the average use of gallons per day, multiplied by five, a family of five would generally be expected to use 375 gallons per day. With a water hardness level of 10 gpg, this family would need to remove 26,250 gpg of hardness per week. Finally, taking into consideration salt use, the right size of water softener for a family of five would be a 40,000 grain softener.

What size water softener is right for a family of 6?

A family of six with a low-to-medium amount of water hardness should consider a water softener rated for about 48,000 grains.

For more information on water softening terms, please consult EcoPureHome’s glossary.

Time to select the right size water softener.

Of course, selecting the most effective water softener for your family will depend on your unique circumstances such as your water use and the levels of water hardness. But knowing how to accurately use this information to find the most efficient system for your home will bring you one step closer to enjoying a life at home with soft water. Take time to compare different models of water softeners, then make your selection.

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The Benefits of Water Softeners

With more than 85% of American homes dealing with hard water, it’s safe to say that may be the case in your house. Because hard water is so prevalent, it can feel like this is just how water is — you may not link some of the frustrations you have to what’s coming out of the tap, but the benefits of soft water in your home can’t be overstated. Water softeners help eliminate hard water which is the root cause of everyday annoyances from spotty dishes to dry and itchy skin.

Hard water occurs when the minerals calcium and magnesium dissolve into a water source. The hardness level depends on the concentration of these minerals, which varies due to a number of factors like where your water comes from and how long it takes to travel from its source. Because water sources differ across the country, sometimes changing from one neighborhood to the next, homeowners should have an idea of how hard their water is within their home.

No matter the level of hardness, every home can enjoy the benefits of water softeners. Water softening systems eliminate minerals in your home’s water before they reach your water heater, faucets and appliances. The water that runs out of the softener is cleaner and more efficient, leading to a whole range of benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Softened Water?

There are several major benefits of soft water in your home. By installing and using a water softener, your family will:

  • Have better skin and hair
  • Keep a cleaner home
  • Maintain household appliances for longer
  • Save money in the long run

Keep reading to learn more—or, try our new interactive shopping guide.

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Better Skin and Hair

If you’ve ever dried off from the shower to find your skin and scalp feeling worse than when you got in, you know how uncomfortable hard water can feel. Hard water is full of minerals that strip your skin’s natural oils and leave behind a buildup of soap residue which, in turn, clogs your pores and keeps your natural oils from coming to the surface. The result ranges from dry skin that feels scaly and itchy to increased dandruff and dull hair. In fact, the University of Sheffield found a connection between hard water and the development of eczema — a chronic skin condition that can lead to persistent rash patches on the body. However, the impact goes much deeper, literally.

The fact is that healthy skin is much more important than simply looking and feeling good. Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It regulates temperature, holds fluids in and keeps dangerous microbes and toxins out. It acts as a natural filter and protective layer between your vital organs and the outside world while providing you with information about what’s happening around you via nerve endings. But despite being your heaviest and largest organ, your skin is only a few millimeters thick at most. When hard water builds up on the skin, it disrupts its natural functions.

Soft water helps your body get back to normal by removing those skin-damaging minerals that hinder the way it’s meant to function. Investing in a water softener fixes the problem of having hard water and the unfavorable effects rather than relying on band-aid solutions like lathering up on lotion or making more frequent appointments at the salon.

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A Cleaner Home

Like it does to your skin, hard water causes scale buildup in your home. Over time, that buildup begins to leave less-than-pleasant stains on dishes, faucets and even around your tub and toilet bowl. If you haven’t done a deep clean into your water-using appliances like your coffee maker, you can be certain that hard water has started to settle into those unseen corners of your home also.

The truth of the matter is, hard water does damage to whatever it touches. For your home, that means appliances will break down more often, unsightly film will spot your dishes and you’ll spend more time scrubbing away stains in the sink, toilet and shower. Water softeners nip the problem in the bud by ensuring that the water that runs through your home effectively removes minerals.

Longer-Lasting Clothes

Hard water doesn’t only wreak havoc in the kitchen and bathroom: when pumped into your washing machine, the calcium and mineral deposits latch onto the fibers of your clothes, causing them to wear and fade faster. What’s more, these deposits trap dirt and soap, yellowing and dulling the appearance, which can actually be made worse when you try to undo the damage with bleach.

Fewer Breakdowns of Your Water-Using Appliances

One spot in your house that is out of sight and out of mind until it suddenly isn’t is your water heater. This vital appliance can become costly when it breaks down or needs repairs — two things that happen more often when hard water scale builds up inside the tank. What’s worse: The higher the temperature of the water, the faster and denser these minerals solidify, leading your hot water tank to become a hot spot for hard water damage.

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Saves Money

If the up-front cost of getting a water softening system has stopped you from taking the leap, one of the biggest benefits of water softeners is the money it saves over its lifetime.

  • Water and electricity bills: Hard water impacts your bills in a few different ways. From needing to work harder to keep water hot due to scale buildup to narrowing pipe openings so more water pressure is needed, hard water consistently appears as added costs to your monthly bills.
  • Appliances: Buildup in appliances from your coffee maker to ice maker, dishwasher and water heater will keep these appliances from working at their best and potentially cause premature breakdowns and need for replacement.
  • Personal products: When hard water dries out your skin, dulls your hair and causes dandruff, band-aid solutions like lotion, salon appointments and flake-control shampoos are needed more often. Nixing the problem altogether with a water softener means purchasing and using less product.

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Understanding Common Water Softening Terms

When it comes to understanding hard water basics, the facts are pretty straightforward — hard water causes many problems like spotty dishes straight from the dishwasher and dry, itchy skin — but understanding water treatment terminology can leave you confused when shopping for a new water softener.

This water treatment glossary contains a list of common terms and definitions that will help you understand that confusing web of terminology and navigate products like a pro. When you understand the information, choosing the water softener with the best capabilities for you is a snap — not a chore.

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Water Softening Treatment Glossary

 

Alkaline

Having a pH greater than 7, also described as being basic (versus being acidic, which is when a substance has a pH lower than 7). Minerals such as calcium and magnesium that cause hard water are alkaline; therefore another way to describe hard water is to say it is alkaline.

Brine/Brine Solution

A liquid that contains salts like sodium chloride and potassium. During the regeneration process, the brine interacts with the water, and calcium and magnesium are exchanged with sodium ions. Brine is an important aspect of water softening as it is necessary for ion exchange, the method in which the softener removes calcium and magnesium particles that cause the water to be hard. Without it, there won’t be anything to condition the hard water.

Brine Tank

The physical portion of the water softener where sodium is added (it should be at least 50 percent filled with salt) and the resulting brine is housed.

Deionization

The removal of ions. Hard water is caused by a high concentration of positive ions (calcium [Ca2+] and magnesium [Mg2+] are both positive ions). During the deionization process, ionized minerals are removed from water by exchanging them with sodium, making the water “softer.”

Grain

A measure of unit in which one grain equals an approximate 65 milligrams of calcium carbonate.

Grain Capacity

A unit of measurement that is commonly used when describing how much water hardness a water softener can remove before needing to regenerate. Understanding grain capacity is helpful in determining the right water softener, especially if you know the hardness level of your water. If your hardness level is high, but you have a lower grain capacity unit, it will need to regenerate more often than if you had a water softener with a higher grain capacity.

Grains Per Gallon (gpg)

A unit of measurement in which the amount of grains (~65 milligrams of calcium carbonate) per gallon of water are determined. Hard water has a gpg of 7 or greater, while soft water has a gpg of 7 or fewer. For example, a water hardness with a gpg of 7 would mean that for every gallon of water, you would find ~455 milligrams of calcium carbonate.

Hard Water

When water has a gpg of 7 or greater, meaning it has at least ~455 milligrams of calcium carbonate per gallon, it is considered “hard.” Hard water occurs when the water flows through soil, rocks and other materials containing calcium carbonate, which then gets mixed into the water and flows to the final destination.

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Ion

An atom or atoms that have an electrical charge, whether positive (formed by a loss of electrons by the atom) or negative (formed by a gain of electrons by the atom).

Ion Exchange

When one type of atom or atoms is switched with another of equal charge between an insoluble (chemical makeup that can’t break down in water) solid and a solution (chemical makeup that can be broken down in water). In water softening, ions are exchanged between sodium (a solution) and the alkalis calcium and magnesium (insoluble solids). Because the calcium and magnesium are insoluble, they can be filtered out.

Ionization

The addition of ions. Opposite of deionization.

NSF

The National Sanitation Foundation, now known as NSF International, sets standards for food service, swimming pools and healthcare equipment by testing and certifying products are in compliance with public health guidelines.

Parts per Million (ppm)

Less common than gpg, parts per million (ppm) is a unit of measurement, especially for water that contains iron. The conversion between gpg and ppm is 1 : 17.1. Therefore, hard water with a gpg of 7 has a ppm of 119.7.

Regeneration

The process in which sodium ions are added or returned to a mineral as a water softener removes hard water minerals. When a water softener exchanges sodium ions for calcium and magnesium (which are causing water to be “hard”) it eventually will run out of sodium. During regeneration, the sodium ions are replaced so that the water softener can continue to exchange sodium ions with calcium and magnesium.

There are two types of regeneration: timer-based and demand-initiated. Timer-based regeneration occurs on a set schedule while demand-initiated regeneration uses sensors to monitor the mineral exchange, regenerating when needed on its own rather than on a timed schedule.

Resin

A synthetic plastic made from polystyrene sulfonate that is shaped into beads and added to a water softener. The physical location of the resin beads is called the resin tank, and it’s within this tank that hard water is passed through. The resin beads contain sodium or potassium (which are soluble) which are switched with calcium and magnesium (insoluble) during the ion exchange process. If you have an older water softener installed but the water still seems harder than you’d like, it may be time for a water softener update since resin can lose its sodium over time.

Softened Water

When water has undergone a process to remove the calcium and magnesium ions, reducing the grains per gallon (gpg).

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

The total amount of substances dissolved in water — aka, soluble substances — including solids such as magnesium, bicarbonates and chlorides.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Meter

A hand-held device that indicates the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in a solution by measuring the conductivity of a solution (because dissolved solids such as salts and minerals increase the conductivity of a solution). Because it is exclusively a TDS water tester, it does not measure contaminants such as lead, pesticides, arsenic, etc.

Water Conditioning

When a solution added to water doesn’t remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium — which occurs during water softening — but instead changes the ways in which a liquid solution behaves, keeping the calcium and magnesium present from adhering to surfaces. If you’re conditioning your water rather than softening it, the calcium and magnesium are still there but they won’t cause build-up on your glasses or in your faucets.

Water Control Valve

Valve which controls the flow of water through a water softening system. Most are designed to maintain maximum water pressure throughout the home.

Water Softening

The process of removing calcium and magnesium ions through ion exchange with sodium so that the gpg falls below 7.


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All About EcoPureHome’s Partnership With charity: water

EcoPureHome is a proud brand partner with charity: water, a nonprofit organization dedicated to equipping communities in developing countries with safe drinking water infrastructure. Both organizations share a common belief: access to safe, clean drinking water changes everything. When you buy from EcoPureHome, you’re helping support and elevate charity: water’s mission.

Get to Know charity: water

charity: water was founded in 2006 by Scott Harrison with the mission to deliver clean and safe drinking water to families in developing countries across the world. Through the years, charity: water has helped complete over 51,000 projects that have delivered clean water to 11,152,945 people and counting.

charity: water takes a long-term approach to their solutions and prioritizes complete transparency with their projects. You can actually see where their completed projects are, who they’re helping and what technology they’re using as their workers tag products with GPS coordinates. To ensure the people they provide resources to have a reliable source of clean water, they train mechanics on how to repair equipment and partner with local governments to strengthen community ownership.

EcoPureHome’s Partnership with charity: water

EcoPureHome is proud to partner with charity: water to support clean water efforts in developing countries. One project that EcoPureHome supported was a clean water initiative in Cambodia, a country where safe water can be hard to come by. EcoPureHome helped fund the implementation of BioSand Filters in households across the country. Once the water filters were installed, the project’s mission ensured homeowners knew how to operate and maintain their filters, which promotes sustainable, long-term use. EcoPureHome looks forward to continuing the support of Cambodian communities.

How You Can Help

If you’re looking for a trusted and transparent organization to support, charity: water is an outstanding candidate. Here are some ways to support their cause:

If you choose to support charity: water, you’ll be able to track where your money goes and the impact it makes. EcoPureHome hopes you’ll join the effort to ensure clean, safe drinking water for all.

Concerned About Your Own Water? Try EcoPureHome’s Interactive Shopping Guide.

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5 DIY Solutions for Your Home’s Hard Water

If you’re here, you know that hard water is something that can cause a variety of problems around the home. From dry skin to clogged appliances, hard water can quickly become an unwelcome guest. The good news is there are many ways to combat hard water symptoms. The methods vary, and depend on your budget, handiness and ultimately your desire to rid your house of hard water issues. Each one of these five ways to get rid of hard water require a little research and elbow grease — perfect for the avid DIY-er.

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DIY hard water test

Maybe you’re aware of hard water, but are unsure if it’s in your home or not. Here’s a simple way to find out. All you need is a clean and clear water bottle (a reusable one works fine) and pure castile liquid soap. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a third of your bottle with water from your tap.
  2. Pour a few drops of the liquid soap into the bottle and give it a good shake.
  3. Set the water bottle down. If you have soft water, the bottle will be filled a third of the way with soapy bubbles. If there is only a thin layer of bubbles and the water looks cloudy, you have hard water.

If your water bottle lacked bubbles and you’re wondering how to get rid of hard water, it’s time to find a solution. Here are ways to fight hard water around your home.

Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most powerful home remedies for hard water scale build up — it’s acidic, which makes it a powerful tool for dissolving calcium-based hard water stains. If you’re looking for ways to treat hard water, especially in the kitchen where calcium buildup appears on dishes and appliances, you’ll want to use vinegar to remedy these issues. Here are two ideas to get you started:

  1. Soak a cloth with warm vinegar. Then, place the cloth over your faucet to let it dissolve calcium buildup. You can also fill a Ziploc bag and fasten it over the faucet for the same effect.
  2. Fill a bucket or large bowl with warm vinegar, and place kitchen items that are spotted with calcium into it. Let it soak for a few hours. This removes calcium deposits and leftover scum your soap may have left behind.

Specialty shampoo & soap

Have you noticed your skin is itchy, or your hair is a little drier than it should be? Hard water could be to blame. If you’re worried about the effect of hard water on your hair and skin, you can fight back with shampoos and soaps made with ingredients that help dissolve calcium. Clarifying (or chelating) agents stop minerals in hard water from interfering with soap while you wash up. When you clean with hard water, your soap is less sudsy, which you discovered through the DIY hard water test. Using clarifying soap means you’ll be able to enjoy soap and shampoo the way it was meant to be. If you do opt for clarifying shampoo, be sure to use an extra-moisturizing conditioner, as chelating agents can be tough on treated hair.

Showerhead filters

If you don’t want to buy specialty beauty products, consider installing a showerhead filter, which will filter out hard water minerals and other contaminants that could be in your water. These specialized filters make a good choice for people who are sensitive to the minerals in hard water, which can make skin conditions like eczema worse. When picking a showerhead filter to install, be sure to find one that specifically filters out hard water minerals like calcium and magnesium, otherwise you’ll continue to experience issues caused by hard water.

Rinse aids

A rinse aid is a product you can use in your dishwasher to help prevent spots of calcium buildup and soap scum. Rinse aids are surfactants, or something that helps reduce the surface tension of whatever liquid it’s dissolved in. Despite the name, rinse aids actually help your dishes dry faster, and doesn’t have much to do with rinsing itself. Using rinse aid is particularly useful with hard water, as it thins out the water, preventing it from forming droplets and leaving residue on your dishes and glasses. Not only does it prevent buildup, but without droplets on your dishes, it means they will dry faster when you open the washer.

How to use rinse aid

Typically, there are two compartments in a dishwasher’s dispenser: one for soap, one for rinse aid or other product. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a dispenser, there are pods that include both soap and rinse aid that release during a cycle. Rinse aid is an easy and cheap way to combat the pesky spots and stains caused by running a dishwasher with hard water.

Water Softener

All of the above products are great ways to treat hard water symptoms for individual needs, but the only way you can truly get rid of hard water throughout your home is with a water softener. The products above cost less up front, but none eliminate the problem entirely. Cleaning the buildup caused by hard water is a great way to keep a tidy home, but if you fail to address the root issue, your water-using appliances will break down sooner and more often — a costly and preventable expense. Yes, you’ll have to spend a little more upfront with a water softener system, but it will pay for itself by keeping your appliances and pipes working in prime condition for much longer and allowing you to cut back on soap and detergent costs.

How to choose the right water softener

Selecting the right water softener will depend on your household size, budget and whether you’re looking for a filtration solution as well. EcoPureHome offers a variety of water softeners for households of all sizes. Find the system that’s right for your home, and experience all the benefits that softer water has to offer.

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Home Water Softeners Comparison

How to Choose a Water Softener System

What are the best water softener systems to buy for your home? To answer this question, start by asking another — what are your family’s water usage needs? While the purpose of a water softener is to remove the concentrations of magnesium and calcium that cause water hardness, the product you choose to accomplish this goal depends on a wide range of external factors. The number of people in a home, the amount of water those people regularly use and the existing water hardness levels should all be considered in your product purchasing decision.

Below, you can compare our selection of water softener systems and brands. Each option comes with a convenient user manual that will simplify the installation process.

Product / Model Name EcoPure 31,000 Grain Water Softener

EP31
EcoPure 42,000 Grain Water Softener

EP42
EcoPure EPHS Whole Home Hybrid Water Softener & Filter

EPHS
Whirlpool 30,000 Grain Water Softener

WHES30
Whirlpool 40,000 Grain Water Softener

WHES40
Whirlpool Pro Series Water Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid

WHESFC
Dimensions D 19.75 in
W 16.5 in
H 47.75 in
D 19.75 in
W 16.5 in
H 47.75 in
D 19.75 in
W 16.5 in
H 47.75 in
D 19 in
W 18 in
H 43 5/16 in
D 19 in
W 18 in
H 47 7/8 in
D 19 in
W 18 in
H 47 7/8 in
Rated Softening Capacity (Grains @ Salt Dose) 12,300 @ 2.4 lbs.
26,200 @ 7.7 lbs.
31,300 @ 12.9 lbs
16,600 @ 3.3 lbs.
35,300 @ 10.3 lbs.
42,200 @ 17.4 lbs
14,000 @ 2.9 lbs.
29,800 @ 9.3 lbs.
35,600 @ 15.6 lbs.
12,800 @ 2.9 lbs.
24,600 @ 8.0 lbs.
28,900 @ 13.1 lbs.
11,900 @ 2.4 lbs.
31,600 @ 9.0 lbs.
40,000 @ 15.5 lbs.
11,000 @ 2.6 lbs.
24,700 @ 7.8 lbs.
31,100 @ 13.4 lbs.
Minimum Water Supply Flow Rate 3 gpm 3 gpm 3 gpm 3 gpm 3 gpm 3 gpm
Maximum Drain Flow Rate 2.0 gpm 2.0 gpm 2.0 gpm 2.0 gpm 2.0 gpm 2.0 gpm
Water Supply Max. Hardness 110 gpg 110 gpg 100 gpg 95 gpg 125 gpg 120 gpg
Certifications NSF International against NSF/ANSI Standard 44 for hardness reduction and efficiency, and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 372. NSF International against NSF/ANSI Standard 44 for hardness reduction and efficiency, and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 372. NSF International against NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for the reduction of chlorine taste and odor, and Standard 44 for hardness reduction, efficiency and the reduction of barium and radium 226/228, and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 372. NSF International against NSF/ANSI Standard 44 for hardness reduction and efficiency, and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 372. NSF International against NSF/ANSI Standard 44 for hardness reduction and efficiency NSF International against NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for the reduction of chlorine taste and odor, and Standard 44 for hardness reduction and efficiency, and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 372.
Reduce Chlorine Taste? No No Yes No No Yes
Reduce Calcium & Magnesium? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rated Efficiency (Grains/Pound of Salt @ Minimum Salt Dose) 5,090 @ 2.4 lbs. 5,090 @ 3.3 lbs. 4,230 @ 2.9 lbs. 4,410 @ 2.9 lbs. 4,958 @ 2.4 lbs. 4,230 @ 2.6 lbs.
Ideal Household Size (# of people) 1-4 1-5 1-5 1-4 1-6 1-5
Free Shipping? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Smart Regeneration Technology Variable Salt Dosage Variable Salt Dosage Variable Salt Dosage Demand Initiated Regeneration Demand Initiated Regeneration Demand Initiated Regeneration
Low Salt Light? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
High Flow Valve? Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Full Parts & Labor Warranty 1-Year 1-Year 1-Year 1-Year 1-Year 2-Year
Water Softener Price $490 $540 $625 $570 $630 $690

Be sure to consider how much water people in your home regularly use — a household with 5-6 people will require a higher grain capacity model than one with 2-3 people. More people in a home leads to higher water and salt usage. You can use salt more efficiently with a softener that is designed to match the number of people in your home. If you’re unsure how many people will be using your water softener, it’s better to overestimate than underestimate your grain capacity needs — otherwise your equipment might not meet your performance expectations.

It’s important to take your water’s existing hardness into account when choosing a softener. In the table above, pay close attention to the maximum hardness for each softening system. This figure is measured in grains per gallon (gpg). One grain per gallon is the equivalent of one grain of calcium carbonate dissolved in one US gallon of water. Water hardness levels of 7 gpg or more are considered hard, with levels of 10.5 gpg or more being considered very hard. If you are unsure whether your water can be considered hard or not, request a free water hardness test kit to learn your exact water hardness level.

Every salt-based water softener requires regeneration to remove impurities such as mineral particles in the resin tank. Most water softeners schedule this regeneration process for a set time of day, with a predetermined amount of salt used for the process. Smart regeneration reduces the amount of salt used during regeneration cycles and limits the number of cycles that take place. Both of our water softener brands feature exclusive smart regeneration technology.

EcoPure Variable Salt Dosage

This exclusive feature automatically uses a predictive algorithm to calculate the amount of salt and water necessary to regenerate the system. The technology senses the hardness level of the water it collects in order to calculate regeneration requirements. It only uses what is necessary, resulting in a significant reduction in salt and water usage.

Whirlpool Demand Initiated Regeneration

This technology learns and predicts your daily water usage patterns. It makes adjustments based on these patterns and regenerates only when you need it. Demand Initiated Regeneration automatically calculates how much salt to use as opposed to using a fixed amount.

Both of these features are an ideal way to save salt and water if you’re away for an extended period of time.

Water softeners are used to remove calcium and magnesium, while central water filtration systems are used to remove sediment, chlorine, taste and odor. A non-hybrid water softener can prevent spotty dishes, dry skin and appliance stains, but it will not address many of the water contaminants that can lead to health issues. On the other hand, the best whole house water filtration and softener systems provide an all-in-one solution in a single unit.

If you already have a whole home filtration system in place, there is no need to install a hybrid softener. In these situations, a standard EcoPure or Whirlpool water softener can be integrated into your existing setup.

The rated capacity of a softener is the maximum number of hard water grains the unit can remove prior to regeneration. These figures vary depending on the amount of salt you’re using and a home’s water hardness level. For this reason, the same product may regenerate more frequently in a different household with higher water softening demands.

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Get More Information

Still undecided and want to learn more about your water softening options? Visit the Home Water Resource Center to find valuable information for all of your water softening needs. Then, you’ll be ready to find the system that’s right for your home and experience all the benefits that soft water has to offer.

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My Kenmore Water Softener Needs Replacing … Now What?

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As production of Kenmore products comes to a halt with the news of parent company Sears’ bankruptcy, you may be wondering what to do when it’s time to replace your trusted Kenmore home appliances. Fortunately, if you’ve come to rely on a Kenmore water softener, you’ll have a quality option to turn to when that time comes. EcoPure offers three models of water softeners that are exact-fit replacements for discontinued Sears Kenmore softeners — a perfect option if you need your unit to fit the dimensions of a storage closet.

Which models of Sears Kenmore water softeners are compatible with EcoPure’s systems? Any of the Kenmore models below are exact-fit replacements with the EP31, EP42, EPHS.

340700MC, 340752MC, 342802V2, 348320, 348321, 348420, 348460, 348470, 348471, 348491, 348512, 348541, 348570, 348571, 348751, 348812, 348832, 383000, 383060, 393060, 383500, 383560, 393560, 386200, 388110, 388150, 388160, 388170, 388180, 388200, 388250, 388251, 388260, 388270, 388280, 3483400, 3484400, 3485400, 3488003.

Product dimensions for the Kenmore models above and featured EcoPure water softeners

D 16.5 in

W 19.75 in

H 47.75 in

If your Kenmore water softener is showing signs of decreased performance, take a look at the compatible EcoPure softeners to evaluate and find the best fit for your home.


EcoPure 31,000 Grain Water Softener (EP31)

The EP31 is a reliable softener that’s a great choice for households of 1-4 people. This model will reduce water hardness of up to 95 grains per gallon, making it an extremely effective solution for families who have struggled with effects caused by hard water. If your water comes from a well and has a high level of iron, this water softener will also help to remove levels of iron up to 8 parts per million.

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EcoPure 42,000 Grain Water Softener (EP42)

With a slightly higher grains-per-gallon level rating than the EP31, the EP42 is a perfect option for Kenmore water softener owners who live in a household of 1-5 people. You can rely on the EP42 to remove water hardness of 110 grains per gallon, higher than many competitor models. It also removes iron levels up to 11 parts per million. If your household has grown since you last purchased a water softener, or you are in search of a perfect replacement for your Kenmore, you can trust this model to provide soft water for years.

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EcoPure EPHS Whole Home Hybrid Water Softener & Filter in One

Tackle two water issues at once with the EPHS water softener and filter hybrid. If you’re a Kenmore water softener owner who wants to add another tool to ensure your water is both soft and clean, this is the system for you. The EPHS is a good fit for households of 1-5+ people and has a high level of water hardness removal of 100 grains per gallon.

In addition to its powerful softening capabilities, the EPHS’s filtration component reduces common contaminants including lead, sediment, calcium, magnesium, manganese iron and chlorine.

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What Else You Need to Know About Replacing Your Kenmore Water Softener

Since your new EcoPure softener shares exact dimensions with your Kenmore unit, the installation process will only take a few minutes — no need to call the plumber or change the water lines.

When you’re ready to install your new water softener, hold on to the bypass valve from your Kenmore water softener system as it will be an exact fit with your new EcoPure softener.

However, if your old bypass valve is in poor condition (or you already tossed it), you can order a new valve directly from EcoPureHome.

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After you have all the equipment necessary, it’ll only take a few minutes to replace your softener.

Follow these steps:

1. Shut off your main water supply line
2. Disconnect your Kenmore softener from the water line
3. Set the bypass valve in place

4. Reconnect the clips of your new water softener, ensuring the valves are connected to the correct water lines
5. Fill the new system with salt
6. Plug into a power supply

After you’ve set up and plugged in your new softener, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the benefits of your new system.

Discover How Hard, Unfiltered Water Impacts Life in Your Kitchen.

This interactive video shows you how to identify and solve common water problems that may negatively affect your cooking and cleaning.

If your water is hard and unfiltered, it could be causing a number of problems in your kitchen. While you might be unaware of most of them, after watching the interactive video above or reading the list below, you will be able to identify common issues like why your water-using appliances are breaking down more often than they should, or why your dishes are spotty after going through the dishwasher. This list breaks down the five most common effects hard, unfiltered water can have in a kitchen, from food odor to dishwasher scale.


Spotty dishes

Hard water contains minerals that cause a number of problems throughout your home. Have you ever noticed spots on your dishes, even after a full cycle in your dishwasher? Those filmy spots are called scale, which is caused by high mineral content. Installing a water softener will help avoid water spots on dishes caused by mineral buildup. Cleaning with soft water also means using less soap — this allows you to save a little extra money.

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Soap activation

If you have hard water, the minerals that cause buildup on your dishes will interfere with soap, too. Soap is not as effective with hard water, meaning you’ll have to use several more pumps than you would with soft water to get everything clean. While the amount of soap you’re using may not be as obvious of an issue as spots or broken appliances, when you make the switch to soft water, you’ll notice the difference immediately.

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Scale buildup on appliances

You know that minerals from hard water create residual buildup on your glasses — the same thing happens in your appliances. In the kitchen, this can mean the lifespan of your dishwasher is cut down by as much as 50%. When you install a water softener, you can expect all of your water-using appliances such as dishwashers, laundry machines and other expensive equipment to operate as intended for years. This means less money spent on costly repairs and replacements.

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To see if you have scale buildup, take a look at the drain in your dishwasher. If you see white streaks, you have hard water that may be harming the performance and lifespan of your water-using appliances. It may be time to start protecting your appliances with a water softener.

Dull flavors

You can enjoy more flavorful food and beverages when cooking with soft water. Have you ever made yourself a cup of tea, only to be disappointed in its dull flavor? It’s likely that you have hard water that’s interfering with the infusion process. When you install a water softener, you’ll begin to notice bolder flavors while cooking and making tea. If you like to bake bread, you’ll also notice that yeast performs better with soft water and that vegetables and rice will be more tender. These improvements to cooking and baking are due to the reduced level of minerals in your water.

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Water odor

Unpleasant odor is a common issue for people with hard, unfiltered water. It is usually caused by chlorine, which is added to water during the treatment process in municipalities. If you get your water from your city’s treatment plant, you might have this exact issue. Unfortunately, this odor can affect the food you cook and the beverages, giving your meals an unpleasant smell.

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Other contaminants such as lead, microbial cysts and other chemicals can be harmful to your health, but may not give off odors. If you believe your water is contaminated, an in-line water filter for the kitchen sink is a good start, but you may need a whole home water filtration system with the proper filter.


Solve your water issues

Untreated water can be the culprit for a number of problems you may not be aware of. Water that smells bad, among other issues, can make the smallest daily tasks much bigger chores than they should be. Solve all of these issues with the necessary water treatment systems and experience the difference treated water can make for you. Always check with a water expert if you are uncertain about your water.

My Kenmore Water Softener Needs Replacing … Now What?

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As production of Kenmore products comes to a halt with the news of parent company Sears’ bankruptcy, you may be wondering what to do when it’s time to replace your trusted Kenmore home appliances. Fortunately, if you’ve come to rely on a Kenmore water softener, you’ll have a quality option to turn to when that time comes. EcoPure offers three models of water softeners that are exact-fit replacements for discontinued Sears Kenmore softeners — a perfect option if you need your unit to fit the dimensions of a storage closet.

Which models of Sears Kenmore water softeners are compatible with EcoPure’s systems? Any of the Kenmore models below are exact-fit replacements with the EP31, EP42, EPHS.

340700MC, 340752MC, 342802V2, 348320, 348321, 348420, 348460, 348470, 348471, 348491, 348512, 348541, 348570, 348571, 348751, 348812, 348832, 383000, 383060, 393060, 383500, 383560, 393560, 386200, 388110, 388150, 388160, 388170, 388180, 388200, 388250, 388251, 388260, 388270, 388280, 3483400, 3484400, 3485400, 3488003.


Can’t remember which parts you need?

If you’ve forgotten which part needs to be replaced, please refer to your owner’s manual. Your respective owner’s manual will inform you of the parts and accessories needed in your system in the “Parts & Tools” chapter. The manual also describes the installation and replacement process for your new parts. You may also refer to this online Owner’s Manual glossary of Brita Total 360, EcoPure and Whirlpool systems.


How to find parts and accessories to order:

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The fastest way to find the part you need is by typing the part number into the search bar in the top-right corner of this page. The product will appear in the search results, and all you need to do is click the appropriate option. Once you’ve found the correct part or accessory, add it to your cart and check out. Can’t find your part? Contact us for product questions and information.

Is it Time for an Upgrade?

Try EcoPureHome’s guided shopping experience to see a selection of water treatment systems with the latest features and technologies.

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My Kenmore Water Softener Needs Replacing … Now What?

http://kenmore%20replacement%20unit%20banner

As production of Kenmore products comes to a halt with the news of parent company Sears’ bankruptcy, you may be wondering what to do when it’s time to replace your trusted Kenmore home appliances. Fortunately, if you’ve come to rely on a Kenmore water softener, you’ll have a quality option to turn to when that time comes. EcoPure offers three models of water softeners that are exact-fit replacements for discontinued Sears Kenmore softeners — a perfect option if you need your unit to fit the dimensions of a storage closet.

Which models of Sears Kenmore water softeners are compatible with EcoPure’s systems? Any of the Kenmore models below are exact-fit replacements with the EP31, EP42, EPHS.

340700MC, 340752MC, 342802V2, 348320, 348321, 348420, 348460, 348470, 348471, 348491, 348512, 348541, 348570, 348571, 348751, 348812, 348832, 383000, 383060, 393060, 383500, 383560, 393560, 386200, 388110, 388150, 388160, 388170, 388180, 388200, 388250, 388251, 388260, 388270, 388280, 3483400, 3484400, 3485400, 3488003.


Lead

Lead is a toxic metal that is extremely dangerous to consume. Water isn’t the only source of lead poisoning, but it is one of the most common. Infants, fetuses and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning.

What Causes It?

Unlike many other types of contaminants, public water usually doesn’t contain lead until it enters a building’s plumbing system. Homes built before the 1930s are especially susceptible to lead problems, because many of them feature lead pipes and/or solder. Newer homes, however, aren’t immune to lead contamination — until 2014 “lead-free” plumbing meant fixtures with 8% or less lead content. Unfortunately, fixtures with any lead content can lead to water contamination.

Health Impact

The impact of lead poisoning varies greatly depending on exposure levels, a person’s health and their age. Infants and young children are especially susceptible to problems with lead poisoning, so it’s important to be mindful of children’s health changes if you are a parent.

Follow these steps:

1. Shut off your main water supply line
2. Disconnect your Kenmore softener from the water line
3. Set the bypass valve in place

4. Reconnect the clips of your new water softener, ensuring the valves are connected to the correct water lines
5. Fill the new system with salt
6. Plug into a power supply

How to avoid it

Replacing lead piping with safer materials can significantly reduce lead levels in water. Because this isn’t always feasible, utilizing a water treatment system may be the best course of action. Reverse osmosis systems, distillers and specialty filters can all help reduce lead levels in a building.


Chlorine

Chlorine is best known as the chemical used to disinfect swimming pools. The distinct smell you notice after taking a dip is a result of chlorine, and many municipalities use chlorine in public drinking water to kill harmful microorganisms. While chlorine can eliminate the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid, it can also lead to health problems.

What causes it?

Chlorine is intentionally added to the water supply by the vast majority public utilities in the United States. It has been used for over a century as a disinfectant in water.

Health Impact

Chlorinated water alone is unlikely to cause major health issues, but it can react with organic compounds in the water supply to produce harmful disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes. Long-term exposure to DBPs can slow down brain activity, cause kidney and liver cancer, heart disease and even lead to death.

How to avoid it

If you live in an area with chlorinated public drinking water, the best ways to remove this chemical are by utilizing a refiner, a carbon-based filter or a point-of-use filter. With these types of water treatments, you will still get the disinfecting benefits of chlorine, while eliminating the unpleasant smell and associated health risks.


Chloride

A common anion in tap water, chloride typically combines with calcium, magnesium or sodium to create different types of salts. Chloride is naturally found in groundwater, but human impact has lead to higher levels in certain areas. There are no federal regulations for chloride in drinking water, as small amounts have a negligible health impact.

What causes it?

Chloride makes its way into tap water from human/animal waste, road salt storage, seawater and oil drilling operations. If your home is near any of these sources, you may notice a slight salty taste to water from your faucets.

Health Impact

In small quantities, chloride in water is relatively harmless. When chloride concentrations in water exceed 250 mg/L, people with existing heart conditions may experience complications, and consumption could lead to higher blood pressure.

How to avoid it

There are two main ways to remove chloride from tap water: reverse osmosis or a distiller. Both effectively eliminate the salty taste you might be getting in every sip of water.


Iron

Iron is a natural element that tastes metallic in high concentrations. Small amounts of iron are safe for consumption and are, in fact, an important part of a balanced diet. In higher quantities, the taste of iron becomes more obvious. The Environmental Protection Agency provides recommendations to utilities regarding iron concentration in water, but there are no set regulations.

What causes it?

Following precipitation or a thaw, water makes its way through soil. This is where high concentrations of iron can be found, and the passing water absorbs the substance. This process is known as seepage, and it brings a risk of contaminating the water supply.

The other primary contributor to iron in tap water is corroding pipes. Over time, iron pipes corrode and subsequently show signs of rust. As plumping infrastructure deteriorates over time, the pipes may flake bits of iron content into passing water.

Health Impact

So, is iron in water bad? Compared to many other water contaminants, iron is relatively harmless. Tap water taste is one of the most common factors people consider when deciding to get rid of the substance. If your tap water tastes a bit like a bloody lip, it may be time to treat your water. You can also spot iron by looking for water stains left behind in sinks and toilets.

How to avoid it

The most effective ways to treat iron in water are with a water softener or a specialty filter. Check out EcoPure’s iron filter, a chemical-free option that features wifi-based smart home monitoring capabilities.


Arsenic

You probably already know that arsenic is not good for you. This chemical is notoriously toxic, which is why the federal limit for the substance in tap water is a mere .01 mg/L. It doesn’t take much arsenic to cause serious health problems, which is why it’s important to remove as much of the chemical as possible before water consumption.

What causes it?

Arsenic is an element naturally found in underground rock and soil, but levels of arsenic tend to be higher near agricultural areas where pesticides are used. Because groundwater typically contains some amount of arsenic, you should be especially aware of the substance if your home’s public water supplier gets its water from underground sources. You can use the EPA’s drinking water mapping application to find the source of your local tap water.

Health Impact

Long-term consumption of arsenic in water can cause a wide range of health issues. In humans, arsenic in drinking water can cause:

  • Skin discoloration
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart, lung, nervous and reproductive system problems
  • Bladder, lung, skin, kidney and several other cancers

Arsenic levels in tap water are measured in parts per billion (PPB). The federal limit for arsenic concentration in water is 10 ppb, but it’s best to reduce any amount of arsenic in water.

How to avoid it

If you’re wondering how to remove arsenic from water at home, you should know that you have several water treatment options. Reverse osmosis, anion exchange and iron oxide filter systems are three effective approaches to arsenic removal. Compare all of your water treatment options from EcoPure before you attempt to remove arsenic once and for all.


Hyfrogen Sulfide

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Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless chemical compound which is extremely dangerous in its gaseous state. In water, hydrogen sulfide poses less of a risk, but getting rid of it is a priority for anyone who cares about the taste of his or her water.


Nitrates

While plants rely on nitrates to stay alive, they pose a significant risk to humans. Well water is especially susceptible to nitrate contamination because they may be exposed to soils with this contaminant. If you source your water from a well or you live in a rural area, take some time to learn about the risks of this harmful substance.

What causes it?

Nitrates are colorless and odorless, but they’re not harmless. While nitrates are a naturally-occuring form of nitrogen, they are used heavily in agriculture to assist with crop growth. For this reason, people who live in rural communities near farming should be mindful of nitrate levels in their drinking water.

Health Impact

Infants are especially at risk for health problems associated with nitrates in water, because the substance can cause a fatal blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia or “blue baby” syndrome. When an infant consumes too many nitrates, their blood has more difficulty carrying oxygen throughout the body.

In older children and adults, there has been speculation that nitrates could increase the risk of certain forms of cancer. However, there are no conclusive results on whether this is actually the case. More research is necessary to understand the full impact of nitrates in public drinking water.

How to avoid it

You can eliminate up to 99% of nitrates from your drinking water with a point-of-use drinking water system or point-of entry filter.


Bacteria and Viruses

There are a wide range of bacteria and viruses that can be found in water supplies. The types that carry diseases are known as pathogens, and although the EPA regulates levels of these health hazards, dangerous amounts of pathogens can enter the water supply after they leave a water treatment facility. While not all viruses and bacteria are harmful to humans, it’s not worth taking a chance on waterborne pathogens existing in your drinking water.

What causes it?

There are many sources of viruses and bacteria in water. Some of the most common include:

  • Sewage
  • Animal waste
  • Dead and decaying animals

These sources of microbes contaminate underground water supplies. In many cases, there are no clues or indicators that harmful viruses or bacteria are present in the water. Many people only learn that their water is contaminated after they get sick.

Health Impact

There are two main microbial contaminants that the EPA monitors in drinking water:

Legionella Bacteria: A naturally-occuring bacteria that thrives in warm water. When water turns to steam, such as during a shower, it is dangerous to breathe in this bacteria. Inhaling the pathogen is known to cause a unique type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease.

Enteroviruses: A category of virus that lives in a host’s intestines. These viruses can cause many health problems such as meningitis.

While these pathogens are regulated, there are others that can also cause health issues. If you suspect any problems with microbes in your drinking water, your best course of action is to switch to another water source until you install a water treatment solution.

How to avoid it

The most effective way to eliminate viruses and/or bacteria in water is with disinfectant water treatment systems. There are several treatment options available whole home filtration systems, including ozone, chlorine, chloramine and UV technology. Filtration systems can also be used to eliminate dangerous pathogens from water.


Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical water pollution is a growing problem in the United States, as there are no federal regulations to combat the phenomena. Chemicals from prescription drugs, such as mood stabilizers or painkillers, have been found in dozens of municipal water supplies. Because most water treatment facilities don’t account for pharmaceutical contamination at all, it’s important to know about the presence of pharmaceuticals in your drinking water.

What causes it?

Traces of pharmaceutical products enter the water supply mostly due to bodily excretions. These compounds start in toilets and make their way to water treatment plants, where they are not removed. While the amount of pharmaceutical compounds in tap water is much lower than you’d find in a prescription, the safest course of action is to remove them entirely.

Health Impact

Chronic exposure to pharmaceutical compounds can be detrimental to your health. Over time, pharmaceutical chemicals may cause unpredictable health outcomes, and the long-term effects of exposure are still being studied. Endocrine disruptors are of particular concern, since they disrupt many internal biological processes such as growth and development.

How to avoid it

Although it is impossible to remove all pharmaceutical compounds from drinking water, point-of-use water treatment systems can help. EcoPure’s treatment systems under sink filtration systems have been proven to remove molecular compounds, reducing your chances of drinking water with pharmaceutical contamination.

Find Your Water Treatment Solution

There are countless contaminants that can enter your drinking water, and a good portion of them will make you sick. The most important step you can take to protect yourself from waterborne pollutants is to utilize a water treatment system. There are many types to choose from, so you should tailor your purchase to the unique risks in your area. The Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database is a great starting point to find the specific contaminants that are a risk in your area.

When you’re ready to find a water treatment solution, our team is here to help.

The Nagging Effects of Hard Water on Your Skin and Hair

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Hard water loves leaving a mineral trail. From crusty faucets to stain rings around toilet bowls, wherever hard water goes, remnants stay behind well after the water drains. It’s well known these calcium and magnesium mineral stains are slowing down the efficiency of your home, but the effects of hard water can also show on your skin and hair.

Maybe you have experienced the symptoms before. It’s common for people who have moved to a new area or into a new home to experience drier skin and the color in their hair not lasting as long as it used to. All of these are signs of hard water.

Are You Concerned About Hard Water in Your Home?

If you’re worried about hard water and its impact on your hair and skin, take a look at EcoPureHome’s wide variety of water softeners.

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The Effects of Hard Water on Skin

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Dry and itchy skin

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Stiff and tight skin

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Increased sensitivity

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Amplification of existing eczema or psoriasis

One of the most obvious signs of hard water on your skin is your increased use of lotion. Your dry skin is caused by the high mineral content in hard water. These minerals are stripping your skin of natural oils that would otherwise keep your skin healthy and moisturized.

Hard water also prevents soap from lathering correctly and you will notice less suds in bathwater. This can lead to soap scum staying on your body even if you think it’s washed away. The soap scum can clog your pores, leaving your face susceptible to acne breakouts.

When your skin is dry, this leaves you open to embarrassing skin care issues. It’s important to keep your skin moisturized after shaving, but if you’re using hard water, your skin will dry out and you’ll be left with bumps and razor burn.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have reported hard water igniting the development of eczema — a skin condition that leaves a dry, red rash on your body. Similarly, people experiencing psoriasis will see an increase in irritability when they use hard water.

It’s not just your skin feeling the negative impact of hard water, it’s your hair and scalp, too.


The Effects of Hard Water on Hair

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Fading color

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Flat, dull and brassy hair

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Increased dandruff

Dandruff is a fact of life for those of you with thick hair. But you have persevered by using special shampoo and conditioner products to keep the flakes to a minimum. What isn’t helping is washing your hair with hard water. The same minerals clogging the pores on your face are worsening dandruff on your scalp.

The problems with hard water only begin on your scalp. Your hair is also in danger of becoming damaged due to hard water. Calcium and magnesium fade new hair color and highlights quickly. Hard water has also been known to flatten perms faster.

While there is no scientific evidence that hard water causes you to lose hair, your hair will feel thinner when you wash it with hard water. The heavy, greasy feeling you get after leaving the shower is also from hard water.

No matter what product you’re using, hard water’s effects are hard to mask when it comes to making your hair shine. This means more trips to the salon and increased stress on your self-care budget.

Are You Struggling with Dry Hair or Unhealthy Skin?

Browse EcoPureHome’s wide selection of water softeners today.

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Other Hard Water Problems Hurting Your Personal Hygiene

Dull hair and itchy skin are only the beginning of the personal hygiene challenges related to hard water. The leftover minerals in your water are also creating a difficult experience for you in your bathroom.

Everything from residue stains on your shower to the white crust around your sink’s faucet comes from hard water. Weak water pressure can be attributed to mineral build up in your home’s pipes from pumping hard water. Even your fading, scruffy towels are caused by the washing machine using hard water.


How to Protect Your Skin & Hair From Hard Water

By now, you can understand the widespread effect hard water has on your skin and hair. You can mask the problem over and over again with specialty lotions and new hair products or you can deal with the issue at the source.

Installing the right water softener for your home is a great step in responding to your hard water issues.

You deserve a clean, refreshed feeling coming out of the shower, not cracked dry skin and annoying dandruff. Now you can have moisturized skin, and healthier hair when you start softening your water.

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Hard Water Basics: What Is Hard Water & What You Can Do About It

Over 85% of North American households live in areas with hard water. Yet many homeowners are still unsure of the effects of hard water on a house and what consequences their family may face because of it.

To respond accordingly to a hard water problem, it’s important to take a step back and understand what hard water is and where it comes from.

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What Is Hard Water?

Hard water contains varying amounts of dissolved minerals like calcium, lead, and magnesium — with the very real possibility of many more. Water picks up these minerals as it trickles from its source and gets transported to your supply. The hard water level and specific minerals in your water depending on where it comes from and how long it takes to get to your home. The main reason many areas have different levels of hard water is that no supply is the same.

Hard water can have annoying to downright detrimental effects on your home and family, no matter the severity. White, chalky residue on sinks and higher utility bills from appliances working overtime are just a few signs (and costly results) of hard water. Learn how to take the best care of your home and family by understanding the level of hard water in your area and its potentially costly effects on your daily life.

How Is the “Hardness” of Water Measured?

The level of hardness in water is measured in grains per gallon (gpg). One grain is equivalent to 17.1 milligrams of magnesium or calcium dissolved into one liter of water. Soft water is lower than 1 gpg, whereas hard water is anything over 7 gpg.

For example, a single aspirin is equivalent to 5 grains — when dissolved into a gallon of water, the unit of measure would be 5 grains per gallon. Your local municipal water supply may use mg/L or ppm to measure water hardness. If so, then use this calculation: 1 gpg = 17.1 mg/L or 17.1 ppm.

How Do I Find My Water Hardness Level?

You can find out how hard your water is by reviewing the annual drinking water quality report, contacting your local water municipality (if the report neglects to include a hard water rating), or by using a free water test kit.

If you suspect you have hard water but don’t have the time to test its hardness rating, there are symptoms that will help you identify if it’s a problem. You can do this by taking a brief quiz. Select which symptoms you’re noticing, and then find the right solution for your home.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head about all the hard water problems you’re noticing in your home, you can act now. View our wide selection of water softeners and find the best system for the size of your home.


How Water Softeners Work

Water softeners are the key to cleaner dishes, brighter clothes, lower energy bills and a healthier family — especially in places with critical hard water problems. Investing in a water softener makes life easier with minimal work needed from a homeowner.

Water softeners should be installed on a water pipeline before the water heater. After installation, the water softener will do the work for you — simply monitor salt level every 2-3 months.

The Water Softening Process

  • Once installed, hard water enters the resin tank and flows through resin beads
  • Water circulates in the tank where tiny resin beads swap minerals in the water for the tiny sodium ions they’re holding
  • This iron exchange results in soft water that can then enter the home
  • When the resin beads have maximized their ability to hold the minerals, they need to go through a regeneration

The Regeneration Process

After the minerals have been stripped from the water, they can’t stay in the tank forever. An automated system will begin a regeneration process that will flush the minerals out of the softener and down the drain. Here’s how it works:

  • Resin beads are “washed” with a highly concentrated brine solution created from the salt tank
  • The brine solution forces the minerals out of the resin beads and replaces them with the sodium ions
  • Once the resin beads have been recharged, the brine solution, along with the minerals, are flushed from the softener down the drain

Water softeners are now built to time the regeneration process automatically. Depending on your machine, the process will occur in one of two different ways.

 

Older machines: A set timer on a predetermined schedule (i.e. every 3 days at 11pm) to regenerate no matter if the resin beads actually need it or not.

Newer machines: A computerized sensor monitors bead depletion and other metrics based on water use to regenerate only when needed. These demand-initiated regeneration softeners are ideal for saving money and energy by using less water and salt.


When to Refill a Water Softener

Generally, homeowners should open the lid of their brine tank and check for a salt refill every 2-3 months. Water softeners will do the bulk of the work for you, but it’s important for you to maintain the salt levels so the machine can work properly. When a refill is needed, it’s important to purchase high-quality salt pellets and fill your tank no more than half full to avoid salt bridging. The more you know about maintaining your water softener, the longer it will last.

Key Signs a Tank Is in Need of a Refill:

  • The salt appears overly wet or dry
  • The tank is less than half full of salt
  • Water has started to build-up
  • A salt bridge has started to form
  • Salt is sitting at the same level as the last checkup

What to keep in mind:

  • Machine age: The older the machine, the more often you must refill because older machines are not as efficient as newer models.
  • Level of hard water: The harder the water in your area, the more often you must check and refill your tank.
  • Size of the tank: Naturally, the smaller the tank, the more often you will have to refill.

Find a water softener to improve the quality of your family’s life and reduce the effects of hard water on your home. Enjoy better-tasting water, noticeable cost savings and superior energy efficiency every day.

What’s Contaminating Your Home’s Water

258 million Americans — nearly 80 percent of the population — receive their water from treatment facilities. While these facilities claim to remove water-borne illnesses such as E. coli from your drinking water, they can’t do anything about the pollutants that enter your water after it leaves their facility. Here is a look at some of the culprits contaminating your home’s water.


What Are the Main Causes of Water Contamination

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1. Agricultural Runoff

In 2014, people in Toledo, Ohio were told to steer clear from their water. Approximately 400,000 people couldn’t drink their water for 3 days. The cause of this water crisis was the formation of an algae bloom on Lake Erie.

Nitrates are also a threat to our water supply. They find their way into our water sources when rainfall transports excess fertilizer from crop fields into nearby rivers and lakes.

The EPA’s legal limit for nitrates in water is 10 parts per million (ppm). But a study by the National Cancer Institute discovered that water containing nitrate levels of just 5 ppm could increase the risk of a handful of cancers, including colon, kidney and ovarian.

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2. Fracking

There are 137,000 fracking wells across the United States. Many of these wells are sprinkled across the country in the Marcellus Shale (Appalachian Basin), Bakken Shale (North Dakota & Montana), Haynesville Shale (intersection of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas) and Eagle Ford Shale (Southern Texas).

353 chemicals are used in fracking operations and all of them have the potential of reaching water sources.

In 2011, a Duke University report found that methane contamination was 17 times more likely to appear in areas within a mile of a fracking site. Methane is a colorless and tasteless gas that can occur naturally or through landfills and gas well drilling. Water well owners who live near fracking sites should test their water for this contaminant.

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3. Industry Runoff

In 2018, the state of Minnesota settled a lawsuit with the 3M Company and the manufacturing giant paid $850 million in damages. The state claimed 3M had polluted drinking water with PFCs, which is a form of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are known as “PFAS.”

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured in a number of industries. PFAS are in packaging materials, stains and other water repellent fabrics, cleaning products and fire-fighting foams. These dangerous “forever chemicals” have been known to interfere with the body’s natural hormones and increase the risk of cancer.

These chemicals affect people through their drinking water. The Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University found that 16 million Americans have received water from sites that have been contaminated with PFAS. Overall, 94 sites in 22 states have reported PFAS contamination.

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4. Service Lines

The Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) was created in 1974 and last amended in 1996. This law authorizes the EPA to establish the “national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.”

It doesn’t require school districts to test drinking water for lead contamination, according to Rhea Suh, the president of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). In 2016, New York became the first state to test its school district’s water.

The state found that 82% of the 5,000 districts studied had at least one tap that exceeds the state’s lead action level. In New York, the threshold at which action must occur is 15 parts per billion (ppb).

Another big concern with lead leaching into tap water is the number of lead service lines still in use across the country. This became a predominant issue in 1991 when the EPA implemented the lead and copper rule.

At the time of the ruling, the EPA estimated 10 million service lines were in use across the country. Nearly 30 years later, 6.1 million lead service lines are still in use.

This can have detrimental effects on young people and children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated.” They found lead exposure in young adults and children can lead to startling health problems. Lead exposure can lead to behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

Is My Water Contaminated?

There are several steps you can make to ensure your water is safe. The first is discovering if your water is contaminated or not. You can start this by smelling your water. If there’s anything fishy, take action.

However, some contaminants can’t be detected by smell alone. You can reference the Environmental Working Group’s tap water database by simply entering your zip code.

What Should I Do If My Water Is Contaminated?

If you suspect your water is contaminated by agricultural runoff, industry runoff, fracking or lead pipes, you should find a filtration unit for your home’s drinking water. Whirlpool and EcoPure have several filtration systems that can reduce lead and other harmful contaminants from reaching your family.

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Is Your Furry Friend Safe? How Water Contaminants Affect Your Pets’ Health

Are you giving your pet a fresh bowl of water straight from your tap? That bowl of water might not be as fresh as you thought. If you wouldn’t drink your tap water, your pets shouldn’t either.

If you do not have a system in place to soften and remove contaminants from your water, you could be stunting the growth of your dog or cat and exposing them to dangerous chemicals.

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Hard Water Effects on Dogs and Cats

Magnesium and other alkali earth metals accelerate water hardness when these minerals are present near your water source.

Calcium, on the other hand, is an element that naturally exists in water. The source of calcium in water is rocks such as limestone, marble, calcite, dolomite, gypsum, fluorite and apatite that have dissolved into the water. Like magnesium, calcium is a determinant of water hardness.

While there is no conclusive evidence suggesting pets could be harmed by drinking hard water, a 2016 Trupanion study found a relationship between medical claims for pets with urinary issues and areas of the United States with very hard water.

Trupanion’s study concluded that in areas with extremely hard water, cats – especially males – were three times more likely to have urinary complications than male cats in areas with lower levels of hardness.

Dogs aren’t in the clear, however. While dogs don’t develop kidney stones from hard water, they can be exposed to struvite or calcium oxalate stones. These stones can harm the bladder and lead to your dog getting a urinary tract infection.

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Tap Water And Pets: A Guide to Potential Contaminants

 

Lead

Lead is a toxic metal that is very unsafe to consume. If there are excess amounts of lead present in your water system, your pet will be affected. Water isn’t the only source of lead poisoning but it is one of the most frequent.

Common symptoms of lead poisoning include stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. If pets are exposed to lead for a longer period of time it may cause neurological symptoms such as seizures. They may also experience fatigue, poor appetite, extreme anxiety, blindness and other changes in behavior.

Chlorine

Chlorine is purposefully dissolved into the water at treatment facilities across the country. They add this chemical in the water that goes to your home because of how effective it is in killing pathogens.

Chlorine levels up to 4 milligrams per liter in water are considered safe for human consumption. However, areas that have a high bacteria count in their source water tend to use more, leading to the increased likelihood of chlorine contamination in your water.

It is very probable that the health issues that chlorine causes in humans are similar to the issues it causes in our pets. If your pets drink water with high amounts of chlorine, they might experience GI irritation, red eyes and itchy skin.

Iron

Iron is a natural element that tastes metallic in high concentrations. Small amounts of iron are safe for your pets to consume. However, higher amounts of iron in your water may cause symptoms in your pets such as diarrhea and vomiting, pain and swelling in the abdomen, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, and fatigue.

Nitrates

Water that is high in nitrates is most common in water sourced from a well because it is often exposed to soils with this contaminant. The health risk of over-exposure to nitrates in your pets include abdominal pain, fre­quent urination, diarrhea and other signs. Other symptoms include tremors, coma and occasionally convul­sions.

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What to Do If Your Pet Is Drinking Contaminated Water

It is extremely important that you test your water for contaminants that could be affecting your pets’ health.

If you know your water is contaminated, but don’t know if you need either a filtration or softening solution, you can use this guided shopping tool to pin down the best solution to keep your pet safe.

Our pets are our best friends. We are responsible for maintaining their health while they keep a smile on our faces. Whatever water solution you choose to install in your home, remember it’s on you to keep them hydrated and healthy. Ensure your pet is protected from unhealthy water by knowing the signs of contaminated water and acting fast, so you can keep them away from the vet and safe in your arms at home.

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