Like most filtration systems, reverse osmosis works by funneling
contaminated water through a semi-permeable membrane that removes a
specific set of impurities. Unlike some other solutions, the system
applies pressure to the water as it flows through the membrane,
using the natural tendency toward chemical equilibrium to trap
offending ions (like salt) in order to achieve the desired state of
contaminant-free water. The membrane traps impurities, usually
around .001 microns or larger, so that what exits the membrane to
your faucet is purer, potable water.
Reverse osmosis technology was developed during the 1970s, and
is most commonly used to desalinate water in areas where fresh
drinking water may be hard to access. RO is also common in
industrial applications, like our very own Culligan Matrix Solutions Reverse Osmosis, where it can be used
to treat water for facilities and recycle commercial
How does reverse osmosis work to treat my
Residential systems use the same pressure membrane technology to
separate contaminants from municipal water, and may include
additional filtration steps like sediment filtration or UV
sterilization. Our residential reverse osmosis systems, for example, include
pretreatment as a matter of course, and post treatment as needed.
If water quality is especially concerning in your area, you'll want
to make sure your RO system is used in conjunction with a
sterilizing filter to ensure water is not only free from saline and
other particles, but any harmful contaminants like E. coli or
arsenic. These features are always included in Culligan reverse
osmosis products to ensure the highest-quality result for your
What types of water problems does it work best
RO works best for water with high saline content and relatively
few other impurities. Beyond salt-water fixes, reverse osmosis can
also be used to remove chlorine and fluoride from drinking water,
and in general, be used to remove a variety of:
It can be challenging to know exactly what type of filtration
product is right for your home and your water supply. Whether
you're considering reverse osmosis, or any other type of
filtration, it's helpful to have your local Culligan Man test your water in order to make the best recommendation
based on the unique needs of your tap.
Ever wondered if there was a way to filter water, no nasty
chemicals or salt hassle required? Culligan has been on the front
lines of breakthrough technology like UV filtration for
generations, and we're hard at work expanding on the technology
that allows us to provide effective filtration for every kind of
How UV Systems Work
UV disinfection has been used for decades in various capacities
after the germicidal properties of sunlight were discovered. It
wasn't long before this naturally occurring phenomenon was
harnessed to focus specific spectrums of ultra violet light toward
eliminating harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and
certain pathogens from water.
In general, UV light is applied through a combination of gas
applied with a voltage that creates the desired disinfecting
wavelength. This is all contained in, typically, a quartz sleeve
that water passes through during the disinfection process. Ultra
violet light can, when properly applied, eliminate most of the
leading causes of waterborne illness like:
Benefits of UV Treatment
Using ultra violet treatment can come with a variety of
- Low maintenance,
- Reduced carbon footprint
- No treatment by products like salt
- No chemicals (chlorine etc.)
- No change to taste, smell, or appearance of water
Will it Work for My Water?
Well water generally has the highest risk for carrying or
containing protozoa like giardia because of the availability for
ground water contamination and/or runoff, so while it may be useful
for those using municipal water, there's generally more need for
those served by wells.
What's also important to understand about UV water treatment is that it is only effective in water
that is already mostly pure. For example, dissolved sediment and
minerals like iron, manganese, and sulfur can impact how
effectively ultra violet exposure renders microorganisms inert. If
water is hard to begin with, pathogens can essentially hide behind
iron or sulfur particles, making the treatment ineffective. In many
cases, ultra violet applications are used as the last in a series
This in mind, if your water is already soft but you're concerned
about contaminants, UV treatment may be a perfect solution. In
order to know for certain, it's easy to have a Culligan Man test your water and evaluate flow rate to see if a UV
filter makes sense, or if it should be used in conjunction with
another type of filtration like a softener.
We probably all have a general sense of what water should look,
smell, taste, and feel like, but sometimes it's not always obvious
when there's something wrong with your water.
Self-Diagnosing Problem Water
While some contaminants are better at hiding than others, there
are a few telltale signs that something is causing a problem with
- Odor: If something smells suspicious, it
probably is. Common pause-giving smells you might come across in
tap water include:
- The Pool Smell: Easily identifiable from our
associations with swimming pools, high chlorine levels in water are
usually to blame for this olfactory affront.
- Something's Fishy: This
you-know-it-when-you-smell-it water scent (also often
associated with rotten eggs) is perhaps the most unpleasant one,
and is typically the nose-wrinkling result of dissolved sulfur not
so subtly stowing away in your water supply.
- A Little Too Natural: We all want our water to
be fresh from the source, but sometimes there can be too much of a
good thing. If water smells earthy, grassy, musty, or moldy,
there's a good chance bacteria could be to blame.
- Anything but Nothing: A good rule of thumb is
that if water smells like anything - organic, chemical, or
otherwise - it's time to call in a Culligan Man to test it and ensure it's safe to
- Taste: Not unlike the smell situation, you
want water to taste like water. If it doesn't, it's likely you've
got a problem - how big or small can sometimes be determined by
what exactly you taste.
- The Metal Head: If you've ever come across the
singular tinge of iron in water, it's likely you'll remember it.
Other causes for metallic tastes can include dissolved mercury,
lead, copper, manganese, zinc, or arsenic.
- Essence of Ocean: There's a reason we react
negatively to consuming salt water, so if your water has that
beachy tang, it's a possibility there may be certain kinds of
bacteria and/or sulfates affecting the supply.
- Appearance: We also have certain expectations
of our water's visual quality. You should be able to see through
it, for instance.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Contamination: This
particular visual distraction also masquerades under the guise of
turbidity. Essentially, any time your water is cloudier than you
expect, and/or lingers after water is allowed to settle, that's a
sign of problem water.
- Off-Color: This may be a bit harder to tell,
but if water has any sort of hue to it, you'll want to get a water
test. You might also notice colors left behind by water in the form
of rust-colored stains around drains and fixtures.
The way water looks, tastes, and smells is often a product of
location and geography. To read more about the qualities of water
near where you live, explore our state-by-state problemwater resources.
They're common questions we hear:
- What's the difference between a water softener and a
- Which one is better for my home?
Maybe you've had the same questions. Let's start by looking
closely at what each of these solutions does, and how they can help
out around the house.
As you might guess from the name, water softeners generally only
refer to products that remove hardness-causing minerals and
contaminants from water, like magnesium and calcium. While this
still covers a variety of products, it's generally fewer than those
considered "water filters." Softeners also typically use salt as
the primary chemical agent in modifying the properties of water,
while filtration can encompass many more methods to alter water,
like reverse osmosis.
Filters generally refer to any methods or systems that remove
contaminants from water, including:
- Metals such as arsenic, iron, or copper
- Industrial and pharmaceutical byproducts like pesticides
- Sediment and other organic troublemakers
As such, the term "water filter" can refer almost equally to
systems that filter water throughout your home, smaller products
that filter at the point-of-use, reverse osmosis filtration
systems, and others in between.
How Can I Tell Which One To Use?
Since each of these solutions focuses on different water-related
issues, deciding on a softener or a filter should largely depend on
what's in your water. For example, if limescale buildup is a
constant headache for you, that's usually a sign that water is hard
and a softener will alleviate some of those frustrations. If your
water tastes or smells strange, a filter might be the more
effective choice to remove culprit contaminants from your
A good way to find out, if you don't already know or suspect
what's in your water, is to have a
Culligan Man test it for you. The results will help you
and your Culligan Man evaluate the best solutions, whether it's
softening, filtration, or a combination of both.
Whether you're on a municipal water supply, your own well, or
you're not quite sure where your water comes from, the best way to
find out what's in it is for a Culligan Man to evaluate it in
person. This is key because of the nature of infrastructure and
other factors, water quality within the same neighborhood can vary
widely, and even differ from house to house.
To make sure we're providing the best possible service and
support, it's important for us to know exactly what kind of water
we're dealing with before we make any kind of recommendations.
Before The Visit
There's really nothing you need to do in advance of a Culligan
Man visit. Schedule your appointment online, or call to set up a
time that works for you. Then, just plan on being at home during
that time to meet your local Culligan Man or Woman.
Expect your Culligan Man to show up promptly and be kind and
courteous, as we'd expect of any guest in any one of our homes. As
part of the standard water test, he'll take a sample of your tap
water - probably from the kitchen sink - and use the Culligan
testing kit to see how hard or soft your water is, as well as look
for any impurities, like iron or dissolved solids.
The whole process is free and usually takes less than 10
minutes. Once he's tested the water, he'll discuss the results with
you. If water is hard, for example, he may be able to tell you
what's causing it (minerals like dissolved calcium or magnesium)
and ways to fix it.
He'll also want to know if you have any concerns about your
water, and if there's anything in particular you're looking to get
out of the visit. Additionally, he'll be able to recommend more
advanced lab testing if the standard test comes back without
conclusive results, or if it looks like it will need further
What Happens After
Based on the outcome of your Culligan Man visit, he or she will
follow up with you to set a time to come back and install any of
the solutions discussed. If you're still in the process of deciding
how to deal with water concerns, he'll set up a time for a follow
up call or visit to answer any additional questions you have in
order to get all the information you need to make the most of your
It seems like there's always new wisdom (some of it not so wise)
popping up about the benefits or complications of soft water. We're
used to seeing people on both sides of the discussion getting it a
little wrong, so we thought it was time to clear up some of the
most common forms of flawed thinking we've encountered through the
Myth-Busting Common Water Softener
Myth No 1: You can filter or condition water
The Bust: While it's true that some water
treatment products don't require salt, these products don't provide
the same softening capability and quality you expect from a
traditional water softener. It is possible to filter water without
salt, but you won't get the signature soft water feel many people
expect when they think of softened water.
Myth No 2: Softened water prevents access
to important minerals your body needs and/or leaches essential
minerals from your body.
The Bust: Many variations of this one seem to
crop up all over, so let's start with why: water softeners do
remove hard minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron from
Softened water doesn't change the way our bodies absorb these
nutrients. In general, these are also minerals that most of us have
plenty of regular access to in the foods we consume, which is why
this would only be something to be concerned about in very rare and
specific nutritional cases.
Myth No 3: Softened water leaves film
behind on skin.
The Bust: Most of us are used to feeling
scaly and dry after showering with hard water - thank dissolved
minerals for this effect. Hard water leaves an insoluble residue
behind that's responsible for skin feeling chapped or dry, and hair
feeling weighed down or lifeless. Because many of us are so used to
this, the switch to actually getting cleaner with soft water can
sometimes feel different or unexpected. It's also common for people
not to notice any difference at all depending on levels of
dissolved minerals present before the switch, or if they notice,
it's that skin and hair feel softer and less dried out.
Myth No 4: Softeners add too much salt to
The Bust: The most effective softeners use salt
as the chemical means to remove hard minerals and dissolved solids,
replacing magnesium and calcium ions with sodium ions. This process
leaves behind trace amounts of sodium and in varying forms (certain
softeners leave sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) traces in water,
while others, sodium chloride (table salt). The key here is
"trace." In general, the levels of either form of sodium in water
are so minimal that not only would you not be able to tell from a
taste perspective, there's no evidence that such minute amounts
could contribute to any kind of health risk (Mayo Clinic).
From keeping your clothes softer and helping them last longer,
to protecting pipes and fixtures, the benefits of soft water for
you and your home are more impressive than most myths. If you have
any questions about how water softening works, and whether or not
it might be useful in your house, contact your Culligan Man to clear things up today.
Is it time for better-tasting or harder-working water at home?
Start by learning the differences between two of the most common
types of household water filtration: point-of-use and
Point-of-Use vs. Point-of-Entry
- Point-of-Use - Commonly known as
drinking water systems, point-of-use treatment refers to any
under-sink filtration system installed at the tap level, or other
direct water-access point.
- Point-of-Entry - This refers to
filtration systems installed at the entry point of water lines to
the house. These are often referred to as whole-house systems, and
other variations on whole-home filtration terms.
Now that we know what we're dealing with, there are essentially
two questions to consider when evaluating what will work best for
you and your home.
Step 1 - What are you filtering?
Do you need to filter out fairly benign contaminants, like
chlorine, or mild dissolved solids or sediment? Is there something
more sinister, like arsenic, lurking in your water? Learning what's
in your water is the first and most important step in deciding what
kind of water filtration system is right for you, whether it's
whole-home filtration, point-of-use, or something altogether
Start by scheduling a
free water test from your local Culligan Man. He or she
will come by to sample your tap water and run tests for the most
common water contaminants, so you can find out whether you need to
address water issues right in the kitchen or throughout your home.
Your Culligan Man is also a great resource to ask for advice once
you do know what is, or isn't, in your water.
Step 2 - Why?
It's also important to isolate why you're thinking about
filtering your water. It's one thing if you have a contaminant
issue that's making water smell or taste bad, but if issues are
more subtle there can be additional factors to consider when it
comes to your drinking water quality, and its impact throughout
- Skin conditions or allergies in the family?
- Low (or zero) tolerance for house cleaning?
- Heavy coffee or tea drinkers in the household?
- Hate the way laundry feels?
- Avid gardener?
- Well or municipal water?
For example, if your household hates its scratchy laundry and
drinks a lot of coffee, you might want to consider whole-house
filtration for the added benefits it can bring to your home (softer
laundry, better-tasting coffee and tea, etc.). Similarly, families
with allergies find that treating or softening water all over the
house can help reduce some common allergy symptoms. On the other
hand, if you're strictly interested in improving the taste of your
tap water, under-sink filtration may make more sense. Talking about
these issues with your Culligan Man can help you decide what will
work best for you and your family.