Do Water Softeners Remove PFAS?

Water provides many of the nutrients you need for a healthy life. Nevertheless, drinking water can also be contaminated in several ways, whether you use municipal water or a well. Many areas of the US have water that’s contaminated with perfluorinated or polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), which are often referred to as forever chemicals due to the exceedingly long time they take to break down. These contaminants are very common because the chemicals are used in many products such as non-stick pans, waterproof clothing, and greaseproof paper and packaging. But they’re also known to cause health issues such as an increased cancer risk, an impaired immune system, and liver damage. Those chemicals need to be removed from your water to reduce the risks.

The Effectiveness of Water Softeners

A water softener’s main purpose is to soften hard water by removing calcium and magnesium and replacing them with harmless sodium ions. It does this by a process known as ion exchange, where the water is forced through a tank of resin beads to remove the minerals, after which brine is used to flush out the minerals from the resin. Because of the way it works, a water softener is capable of removing other contaminants from the water, but these will only be minerals, such as iron, rather than any other contaminants. The water softener cannot remove PFAS chemicals, so you will need additional treatments to deal with the threat. Since municipal water companies are taking little or slow action, and the homeowner is responsible for private well water, you must do something to avoid problems. Various types of water treatment systems are available, and these work differently for varying types of contamination. UV light treatment systems, for example, are particularly effective at destroying bacteria, but will do little or nothing for PFAS. The best and most effective type of treatment is a reverse osmosis system that forces water under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out dissolved solids. Such a system typically uses a three-stage process that the water moves through in sequence:
  • a carbon pre-filter that removes sediments and suspended matter to prevent the membrane from being clogged;
  • a semi-permeable membrane that traps contaminants and impurities; and
  • a granular activated carbon post-filter to remove chlorine, taste and odor.
This type of comprehensive system will remove up to 99% of PFAS plus many other contaminants. The result is pure and sparkling water that’s safe and sweet to drink.

Comprehensive Filtration Systems

Since PFAS are common and dangerous contaminants that municipal water companies are doing little to counter, it’s up to you to take positive action. Contact us for a free water test to see what your water contains and to determine the action needed. If you have hard water as well as contaminants, this will require a combination of a water softener with a water filtration system for comprehensive treatment. The Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station, for example, is a fully customizable filtration system that’s certified by the Water Quality Association to meet NFS/ANSI standard 58. That means it removes up to 99% of contaminants and is effective against PFAS. While a water softener by itself may not remove PFAS, but when combined with a reverse osmosis system, the combination will provide purified, soft, and safe water.