Does Brita Filter Hard Water (Soften Water)?

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Brita is one of the longest-standing water filter brands, pioneering the revolutionary concept of at-home water filtration. But can Brita filters filter hard water? No – Brita’s filtration process isn’t capable of softening your water.

In this guide, we’ll look at hard water in more detail, why Brita’s filters can’t soften hard water, and alternative water treatment options to consider.

🚱 What is Hard Water?

Hard water is water that contains calcium and magnesium minerals. The more calcium and magnesium minerals water contains, the harder the water.

How do you know if you have hard water? Measure it.

According to the EPA, water hardness can be classed in four categories:

HardnessGrains per Gallon (GPG)Parts per Million (PPM) & mg/L
Soft<3.50 – 60
Moderately Hard3.6 – 7 61 – 120
Hard7.1 – 10121 – 180
Very Hard>10>180
Water Hardness Map
Source: United States Geological Survey

Calcium and magnesium are the two hardness minerals responsible for scale – the white, rough deposits that build up around faucets and on shower screens.

Scale buildup causes a host of problems around the home, including plumbing and cleaning issues. If you have even moderately hard water, your skin and hair health may suffer, and over time, the scale will decrease the lifespan of your appliances and slow down the flow of water in your pipes. You’ll need to use more soap in your washing machine and dishwasher, and your cleaning duties will become considerably harder.

limescale in home

Hard water = more money and effort on maintaining your home and keeping up with your daily chores.

Thankfully, there are water treatment solutions available that can soften water – but Brita isn’t one of them.

πŸ’­ Do Brita Filters Soften Hard Water?

Brita filters don’t soften water.

Brita’s pitchers are the most popular drinking water filters offered by the brand. There are two water filter cartridges available for the pitchers: the Standard filter, and the LongLast+. The LongLast+ can remove a handful of extra contaminants compared to the Standard filter, but neither filter can soften hard water.

You can also buy bottle filters, faucet filters, and dispensers from Brita. The bottle filters and faucet systems use carbon filters, while the dispensers use the Standard and LongLast+ filters. None of these filter types filter hard water, either.

The key thing to understand here is that Brita filters work as filters, not softeners.

This means that they can remove contaminants from drinking water – such as chlorine (taste and odor), mercury, lead, asbestos, benzene, cadmium, and copper – but they can’t soften water.

What’s confusing is that Brita water filters do use an ion exchange filter resin, and if you know anything about the softening process, you’ll know that ion exchange typically removes calcium and magnesium. However, in this case, the ion exchange filter only removes copper, zinc and cadmium.

Brita coconut-based activated carbon media

Apparently, Brita water filters can remove temporary hardness like calcium bicarbonate, but they can’t remove permanent hardness, like calcium sulfate – so they’re no good for tackling hardness in the long run.

Brita filters will give you cleaner, better-tasting tap water.

πŸ“€ Can You Filter Hard Water Through a Brita?

Yes, you can filter hard water through a Brita filter. However, the hardness minerals would eventually build up inside the filter cartridge.

Imagine that the hardness ions in your water were red food coloring. Every time you filtered water through the pitcher, some of the red food coloring would stick to the filter media. Eventually, the media would become completely saturated with red food coloring, and the filter cartridge would be bright red.

This concept explains how hardness ions can build up in a Brita pitcher filter over time. You might not notice the scale building up to begin with – but a few weeks later, the scale may have formed a layer over the filter media that drastically reduces filtration time and prevents the Brita filter from doing its job.

Scale build up inside brita filter cartridge

The result? You end up having to wait hours for your pitcher to produce a batch of filtered water – and less effective filtration may mean that you’re drinking contaminants that the filter is supposed to remove.

If you do plan to use a Brita filter for your drinking water, we recommend using a softened tap water supply in your pitcher, which won’t damage the media with water hardness minerals.

πŸ’‘ Systems That Can Deal With Hard Water

So, now you know that Brita filters can’t tackle calcium or magnesium ions – but you have a hard water issue that you want to resolve. What’s next?

The most sensible option is to ignore the conventional Brita filter products and buy yourself a system that can soften water.

This means not only bypassing Brita water filters, but water filters altogether.

While other water filter pitchers may be capable of removing other contaminants that negatively affect taste, they won’t be able to turn your hard water into soft water.

To soften your water, you need a water softener or a water conditioner. The best water softening solutions are outlined below.

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

Ion exchange water softeners, also known as salt water softener systems, use the process of – you guessed it – ion exchange to physically remove hardness ions from tap water.

Water softener systems don’t filter water – they’re designed purely to produce softened water. The process involves sending water through a resin tank, which contains salt (sodium) ions.

Here’s what happens next:

  • The resin and the hardness ions have opposite charges, which attracts the hardness ions to the resin bed.
  • When the hardness ions stick to the resin bed, an equal amount of sodium ions are released into the water.
  • Salt-softened water leaves the tank, and the hardness ions remain stuck to the resin.

Eventually, the softener regenerates, removing hardness ions from the resin and replenishing it with sodium, ready to go again.

Ion Exchange Process

Unlike Brita filtered water products, water softener systems are installed at your home’s point of entry, before your hot water heater, to intercept your water supply and prevent scale deposits from damaging your plumbing.

Related Article: Do Brita filters remove sodium from softened water?

Water Conditioners

Water conditioners are the salt-free alternative to water softening systems. Conditioners don’t actually remove calcium and magnesium, and they don’t technically produce softened water. Instead, they alter the composition of magnesium and calcium, preventing them from forming scale.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Water flows into the conditioning tank.
  • The tank contains media, such as template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media. This media crystallizes the hardness ions.
  • Water flows out of the conditioning tank. The water is still technically hard, but in their new, crystallized forms, the hardness ions are unable to stick to surfaces and cause plumbing issues.

Water conditioners, like softener systems, are installed at water’s entry point into your home. Because conditioners don’t physically remove calcium or magnesium, they don’t affect water taste.

However, water conditioners aren’t as effective at tackling higher concentrations of hardness. For that, you’ll need a water softener.

Electronic Descalers

Electronic descalers are the final option to protect against mineral damage in your plumbing. An electronic descaler uses a coil of wire, positioned around your water pipe, to send electromagnetic impulses through the water, conditioning the hardness ions and preventing scale formation.

While electronic descalers are the most affordable scale prevention option, their performance isn’t backed by much scientific proof, and skeptics say that they’re not worth using.

yarna electronic descaler installation

However, descalers are becoming more popular, and many customers have first-hand proof that electronic descalers work. Do your research and read customer reviews when considering this type of product.

🧠 FAQs

Does any form of filtration soften water?

The only filtration process that can tackle hardness is reverse osmosis, which can remove the majority of total dissolved solids from water.

However, if you run hard water through an RO membrane for long enough, the membrane will eventually become damaged. It isn’t recommended to use water with high hardness in a reverse osmosis filtering system because the hardness will shorten the system’s lifespan.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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