Does a shower water “filter” really soften water?
Why not? There are dozens of companies who sell shower water “filters” (also known as “shower head filters”) and although some of them advertise that their shower filter will give you “soft water” or “soft water effects” or “softer skin and hair”, NONE of them are capable of actually “softening” water. Softening water involves the removal of hard water minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron which a filter is not capable of doing. To soften water, you need to use a SOFTENER! You can prove this by using a hard water test kit as it will show no change in hardness when using a filter. And the companies who falsely advertise these products as being able to soften water have nothing to loose. Since the majority of them are outside the USA, hardly anyone would be willing to return their product for a refund since they’d be responsible for return shipping charges which would in most cases cost more than the amount paid for the product. And some of these companies even charge a re-stocking fee. The 2 ways to obtain soft water in a shower are by using a whole house softener or a shower softener (such as the “ShowerStick”). Both use resin beads to soften water via a process called “ion exchange” and the resin is regenerated with salt water. To soften water in a shower you need a large volume of resin and you need to be able to regenerate the resin. Filters don’t contain softening resin and they aren’t regenerated (they or their cartridges are usually replaced every 6-12 months).
Q: What does a shower head water filter do and why am I not getting the results I want?
A: Shower “filters” mainly remove chlorine. Although filters are beneficial for your skin, hair and health, the results that many people are looking for cannot be obtained with a filter alone. Without using a “softener” to remove the hard water minerals, these minerals will continue to build up on your skin, hair and scalp and cause all kinds of negative effects such as dry itchy skin and dry brittle frizzy hair (see list of negative effects below). Soft water is the key to obtaining the best results. Two options for achieving soft water are listed below.
Q: How can I obtain soft water in my shower?
A: The ONLY WAY to soften water in a shower is by using resin beads through a process called “Ion Exchange”. This involves using a MUCH larger volume of resin than what would fit inside a shower filter. And the resin needs to be regenerated with salt water. Even if there was a shower filter on the market that contained resin beads, it would be such a tiny amount that you’d most likely only get a couple minutes of soft water from it. And without being able to regenerate the resin, the filter would never again produce soft water.
Two ways to obtain soft water in a shower using resin beads via the Ion Exchange process are:
1) Installing a whole house water softening system. This can be very costly and not an option for everyone (especially renters).
2) Installing the portable ShowerStick shower water softener made by WaterSticks. This is a great solution for renters or for those who want to avoid the high cost of a whole house water softener.
There are benefits to using a filter but many who first try using a shower filter alone don’t end up happy with the results it gives. To get the best results, you need to soften the water. The ShowerStick is a true water “softener” since it removes hard water minerals which are known to cause dryness since they build up on your skin, hair and scalp. So unlike a filter alone, water from the ShowerStick will test as soft when using a hard water test kit. If you want to include a shower filter in-line with the ShowerStick to remove chlorine and other contaminants, we do offer a KDF filter as an optional accessory. The water would first flow through the KDF filter then through to the resin inside the ShowerStick body to get softened.
Q: What are some of the negative effects of hard water?
A: There are many, such as:
Dull, dry ‘straw-like’, brittle, frizzy, lifeless and unmanageable hair
Hair loss, breakage and thinning
Hair color fading
Dry itchy skin (soft water is also great for bathing dogs or other animals who suffer from dry skin or skin conditions, diseases or disorders)
Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and skin yeast infections
Soaps and shampoos don’t lather properly which causes you to use too much of them which contributes to more dry skin and hair
Soaps and shampoos leave residue build up on your skin and in your hair because they don’t dissolve easily in hard water
Can cause blonde hair to turn red or orange
Flaky, itchy scalp (dandruff)
Scale buildup in your shower and on your fixtures that’s difficult to clean
For more information about the ShowerStick shower water softener, please visit our ShowerStick page: Click here»
Because of the volume of calls and emails we’ve received over the years from people with similar concerns and questions, we decided to create this Blog. Our hope is that the information we’ve provided will help clear up any confusion regarding the differences between filtered water and softened water, what soft water is, how it can be obtained and what the negative effects of hard water are.
WaterSticks also makes portable softeners for the water supply in RVs and boats and portable softener deionizers for spot free washing of cars, RVs, boats, solar panels, windows, etc.
Thank you for visiting!
Best Soft Water Filter
Q: What is the best soft water filter?
A: There isn’t one! Why? Because a shower filter cannot soften water.
Our Shower Water Softener is called the “ShowerStick”. It’s a true water “softener” since it removes hard water minerals (such as calcium, magnesium and iron) which are known to cause dry skin and hair. This means that the water from the ShowerStick shower water softener will test as soft water when using a hard water test kit. But the water from a shower water filter won’t test as soft since it isn’t capable of removing hard water minerals (see for yourself by using a hard water test kit). This is why many people who first try using a shower filter alone don’t end up happy with the results it gives. Plus, although the ShowerStick costs more to purchase initially than a shower filter, it actually costs a lot less in the long run (see below)!
Some of the effects of hard water on skin and hair:
- Dull, dry ‘straw-like’, brittle, frizzy, lifeless and unmanageable hair
- Hair loss, breakage and thinning
- Hair color fading
- Dry itchy skin (soft water is also great for dogs or other animals who suffer with skin diseases or disorders)
- Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and skin yeast infections
- Soaps and shampoos don’t lather properly which causes you to use too much of them which contributes to more dried out skin and hair
- Acne breakouts
- Can cause blonde hair to turn red or orange
- Soaps and shampoos leave residue on your skin and in your hair because they don’t dissolve easily in hard water
- Flaky, itchy scalp (dandruff)
Q: Why should I buy the ShowerStick instead of just a shower filter?
A: Because the ShowerStick is a softener, not a filter. A softener is capable of removing hard water minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. A filter mainly removes chlorine (and some other contaminants such as heavy metals and microorganisms depending on the type of filter). But since a filter can’t soften the water, you’re still left showering in hard water minerals. And since they stick to the surface of your shower/tub enclosure and your glass door or shower curtain, you can be certain they’re also building up on your skin, scalp and hair. So filtering the water alone will give you some benefits but removing the hard water minerals can give you much greater benefits since these minerals are most known for irritating skin and causing skin, scalp and hair dryness.
Q: Why should I spend $200 for the ShowerStick instead of $32 for the KDF shower filter?
A: Our KDF filter that we offer as an option to be used in-line with the ShowerStick is $32 and will last about 12 months so it would end up costing about $2.67/mo. The ShowerStick is $200 and the resin has a lifespan of approximately 10 years so it would end up costing about $1.67/mo. (Note: there are several other types of shower filters that cost more than $32 and that have to be replaced more frequently than every 12 months. And none of them are capable of softening water.)
Q: How does the ShowerStick work compared to the KDF shower filter?
A: The ShowerStick contains resin beads that soften water via “ion exchange” as a whole house water softener does. The resin beads attract and ‘capture’ hard water minerals and after many of the resin beads have collected minerals, regeneration needs to take place (with salt water) so the resin beads will exchange the hard water minerals for the sodium to complete the “ion exchange” process. The KDF filter contains KDF process media that creates an electro-chemical reaction where electrons are transferred between molecules and new elements are created. For example, chlorine is changed into harmless chloride.
Q: Why do some companies claim that their shower filters soften water?
A: We’ve been asked this question many times by people who have become frustrated after spending a lot of money on various shower filters that don’t give them the results they’re looking for. And many of these people have been misled because when some of these companies set up their listings they’ll include keywords or phrases such as “soft water”, “soft water effects”, “soft skin”, etc. and you’ll end up on their site or listing thinking that’s what their product does. But it doesn’t. And many people aren’t aware of what soft water really is or that filters don’t in any way soften water or that there’s more to improving your water quality other than just filtering it. Unfortunately, there are online companies who take advantage of people and aren’t always truthful regarding what their product is capable of doing. They want to sell their product plain and simple. So we as consumers really have to not only be sure that a company is legitimate but we have to do research and educate ourselves prior to making purchases. Otherwise, we may end up getting ripped off. But there are some companies out there who really do care about helping people and we are one of them. We will always answer your questions thoroughly and give you examples or information to backup what we’re saying. For example, if you still aren’t sure whether or not a shower filter can soften water, use any hard water test kit and you’ll have your answer.
Q: Is the ShowerStick easy to assemble?
A: The ShowerStick comes with a one page installation instruction sheet that’s easy to follow and shows step by step instructions. We also have a video on our website that shows someone installing it while following along with each step on the instruction sheet.
Q: How do I know if WaterSticks is a legitimate and reputable company?
#1: We also sell our products on eBay and you can see how long we’ve been selling them (since 2004), how many feedback postings we’ve received (over 675) and that we have 100% positive feedback.
#2: We’ve obtained an SSL certificate so that our website is secure. Instead of “http” as you’ll see with many other website addresses, you’ll see “https” in our website address line (https://watersticks.com/).
#3: Our email address and phone number are legitimate which you can easily verify.