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What is a Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Filtration System?

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis, or commonly referred to as RO, is a water purification process where water is demineralized or deionized as it goes through a semipermeable membrane. Applied pressure is used in the water purification technology to overcome the thermodynamic parameter known as osmotic pressure.

Reverse Osmosis technology significantly filters many different types of suspended or dissolved water impurities including chemical contaminants and bacteria. The technology is used in the production of commercial and residential drinking water.

History of Reverse Osmosis

Osmosis was first discovered by Jean-Antoine Nollet in 1748 and was observed in laboratories over the next 200 years. By 1950s, the process of desalination of seawater with the use of semipermeable membranes was investigated at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Although it was not commercially viable at that time, researchers were optimistic about the future of the water purification technology.

Understanding Osmosis and Reverse Osmosis

What’s Osmosis?

Understanding the process of osmosis is significant to understand the objective and method of reverse osmosis technology. Osmosis is a naturally occurring process where a weaker saline solution moves to a stronger saline solution. A semipermeable membrane separates the two saline solution while gradually allowing the weaker solution to migrate to the stronger solution.

During osmosis, the reverse osmosis membranes allows the atoms or molecules to pass through the screen door while preventing impurities from penetrating towards the stronger saline solution.

Table of Contents

What’s Reverse Osmosis?

In Reverse Osmosis or RO, the osmosis process is done in reverse using energy to allow the passage of water molecules by pushing the water through the semi permeable membrane or “reverse osmosis membrane.” The process is crucial to desalinate water to allow purified water to be acquired.

Through the use of high pressure pumps, Reverse Osmosis forces water to pass through the semipermeable membrane while leaving the dissolved salts behind. The amount of pressure required to push the water through the membrane will depend on the salt concentration of the feed water.

At least 90% to 95% of dissolved salts and contaminants are left in the Reverse Osmosis technology’s reject stream after the desalination process.

Unlike with other water purification processes, Reverse Osmosis uses cross filtration system which collects contaminants within the filter media while the purified water goes the other way. The filtration system in Reverse Osmosis systems is designed with two outlets to separate contaminants and clean, fresh water.

Benefits of Reverse Osmosis

So, why is Reverse Osmosis technique good for you and your loved ones? Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of drinking reverse osmosis water.

According to Dr. Jacqueline Gerhart, a UW Health Family Medicine physician at Madison, Wisconsin, drinking reverse osmosis water has many advantages to our physical and mental health.

Better Taste

First and foremost, drinking water treated with reverse osmosis technology tastes better than tap water or any form of purified water. Since it removes the contaminants in the water, the taste of the drinking water is a lot better than the other residential or commercial drinking water.

Eliminates Impurities

Reverse Osmosis also gets rid of the chemicals and solid debris in the water that affects the taste and smell of the water. The technology makes sure you get the best tasting drinking water because of the absence of impurities in the water.

Great for Sodium Restrictions

The Reverse Osmosis filtration system catches large sodium molecules from the feed water since it can not pass through the semipermeable membrane of the filter system. Drinking reverse osmosis water is recommended to individuals with kidney or liver disease, or any medical condition that requires sodium restrictions. It is also a good choice for people with high blood pressure since drinking Reverse Osmosis water provides the benefits required by the human body.

Removes Lead

Most of the filtered drinking waters are lead-free, and the Reverse Osmosis system provides one of the best filters designed to eliminate contaminants like lead and other heavy metals.

If your water supply has tested positive for lead, the Reverse Osmosis water filtration system can effectively remove the contaminant and make it safe for human, animal, and plant consumption. Drinking RO water will also help people with a fertility problem, as well as those with nerve and muscle damages.

Beneficial For Weak Immune Systems

Drinking Reverse Osmosis water is also recommended for cancer patients during and after their cancer treatment. Since cancer patients have weakened immune system due to the radiation during chemotherapy, it is wise for them to consume purified water since the filtration system gets rid of 90 to 99.99% of impurities found in your drinking water.

Consuming contaminated water may cause an infection that could have been avoided with clean and clear RO water.

Contaminants Eliminated by Reverse Osmosis

Bacteria and parasites found in water sources may cause infection and diseases when consumed. Without an adequate water filter system, you might be drinking bacteria or parasite-contaminated water. According to reports by the CDC, cryptosporidium, a parasite found in freshwater can’t exist in Reverse Osmosis water.

If your drinking water comes from a private well, there might be chances of protozoa infestation in your water source. Reverse Osmosis works effectively to get rid of the bacteria and protect your family from the harmful effects of parasitic microorganisms.

Aside from reducing or removing cryptosporidium and other harmful microorganisms in your water source, RO filter systems can also eliminate a handful of contaminants including arsenic, asbestos, lead, chloride, chlorine, copper, cyanide, fluoride, manganese, magnesium, mercury, nitrate, sulfate, zinc, and algae. These are just a few examples of some of the contaminants reduced or eliminated by an RO system.

If you think there are contaminants in your water source, conduct a complete water test and install a reliable Reverse Osmosis water system.

What Is Not Removed by Reverse Osmosis

Although there’s a long list of contaminants removed by Reverse Osmosis water filter systems, there are also pollutants that can’t be eliminated. Despite its reputation of being the best filter system in the market today, there are just some contaminants that get past through its powerful filtration system.

If you rely on a private well for your water supply, pesticides, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), and solvents may find their way into your water source. These are some of the contaminants an RO system is unable to remove.

Is Drinking Reverse Osmosis Water Bad for You?

Despite its exceptional performance in removing impurities, prolonged drinking of RO water may have adverse effects on our health. According to the experts, the demineralization of drinking water may lead to deficiencies that may negatively influence one’s health.

Drinking purified water for several weeks or months may also have an adverse effect on the homeostasis mechanisms. If you solely rely on RO water as your drinking water, it may lead to the dilution of electrolytes in the body water.

Since RO water lacks in essential minerals, the demineralized water will leach the minerals from the body. According to medical experts, the absence of minerals and ions in the drinking water may not be compensated by any diet.

Understanding Pre-Treatment in Reverse Osmosis

In a commercial Reverse Osmosis system such as in RO plants, pre-treatment is the process where various chemical and physical water treatments take place. Sand filters and excellent pre-filters are usually used in a Reverse Osmosis pre-treatment.

There are also cases where chemical treatment is used in a pre-treatment. Since RO plants supply municipal bodies, smaller communities, either for residential and commercial use, they need pre-treatment to increase the life of the RO plant by treating fouling, scaling, and chemicals in the water.

What’s the Difference Between Passes and Stages in Reverse Osmosis?

Since RO is a highly effective water purification technology that provides purified water to residential and commercial communities, it requires passes and stages to eliminate impurities and contaminants in water. Understanding the difference between passes and stages is essential to conduct correct maintenance practice.

Passes in Reverse Osmosis System

Single and double pass systems are two types of RO system passes used in Reverse Osmosis filtration systems. They are both designed to purify the feed water at a more efficient level.

Since feed water passes through more than one pass, the result of the filtration process produces high-quality drinking water. When water passes go through a single and double pass systems, it ensures the removal of carbon dioxide.

Stages in Reverse Osmosis System

Permeated water is collected from the first and second stage in the double-stage RO system. Contaminants or rejected wastewater goes to the second stage while permeated water from the first and second stage are collected simultaneously.

Both passes and stages in an RO system are significant to the overall performance of the water treatment system. Your knowledge and understanding of how passes and stages work will help you prolong the life of your water filter system. It will also allow you to conduct accurate and hassle-free maintenance.

What are Pin Hole Leaks in Reverse Osmosis Systems?

Pinhole leaks in Reverse Osmosis systems are caused by the improper connection of the filtration system to the drain and a plug or restriction on the drain side of the faucet air gap. This type of problem can be corrected by inspecting and eliminating plugs or restrictions.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Lead?

Lead in water is dangerous to one’s health. Therefore, it is essential to remove the heavy metal from the water. The RO system is designed to eliminate lead and other heavy metals.

In high level, lead can cause serious health problems to any individual. Infants and pregnant women are prone to lead poisoning even in small amounts. If your water supply has lead in it, the best way to address the issue is with an effective filtration system.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Fluoride?

As an essential mineral, fluoride is essential to your health since it protects the teeth from tooth decay and the bones from deteriorating. Unfortunately, it is among the minerals removed during the Reverse Osmosis process. An RO filtration system will remove everything in your water from contaminants to minerals. Without fluoride and the other minerals, you’re left with just water that is incapable of thoroughly hydrating your body.

Should You Use Reverse Osmosis?

While there’s a voice in your head that’s telling you this is the way to go, there are better options to improve your water. Reverse Osmosis is used in many countries where safe and clean water is not available. It is a practical solution to places with safe water.

Unfortunately, it’s cons set back your health instead of improving it. If you are living in a place where other water sources are available, then RO water is not the best solution for you.

Water filter systems designed to get rid of impurities without leaving out the minerals are the better choices. All you need to do is find the right one that will address your specific needs. If you want to make sure you land the best filter that will deliver results, then ask for professional guidance by contacting water filtration system experts.

What You Can Do to Improve Your Water?

A reverse osmosis system (RO filter) is a system that under pressure forces water through a membrane to remove contaminants from the water. It is important to keep the RO membrane clean of contaminants or it will stop it up.

How Much Water Is Wasted With A Reverse Osmosis System?

It takes somewhere around three to four gallons to produce one gallon of clean water. So it waste three gallons of water to make a gallon of water. Those are not good numbers 3 to 1.

If you want all of the water in your home to be filtered, that is a lot of wasted water. Most families of 2 uses 100 gallons a day. That means you would waste 300 gallons a day. That would triple your water bill which would have you paying “an arm and a leg” for your home’s water use.

Can You Use Reverse Osmosis For Kitchen Sink?

The water that is produced by RO systems is very aggressive. It will attack your plumbing system trying to get back to a neutral state. This means your copper lines, fittings, appliances and fixtures will be under attack. It will eat away at them until you can poke a hole in them with your finger.

It is not a system you want to put on your whole house – maybe one under sink RO system, but not the whole house. It would cost around $7500 to $15000 and take up a room the size of a small bedroom to install an entire system for your house.

Tankless Reverse Osmosis System For Your Kitchen

A tankless reverse osmosis system for your kitchen faucet can be installed underneath the sink cabinet and connects to the cold water line. Without a water storage tank, this under sink water filter will help to save space, but may require some plumbing skills to install.

If you have an under sink reverse osmosis system, the water for drinking would need to be remineralized. Under sink water filters create dead water with no electrolytes. Be careful if that filtered water is all you drink as it will not give you the minerals your body needs to function properly.

Rather than a RO under sink filter, the best way to ensure proper filtration for your water is to get a whole house water filter like the AquaOx.

An Alternative: Whole House Filtration System

AquaOx filters are designed to eliminate impurities in your drinking water without stripping off the essential minerals. The whole house water filter system is made to promote good health by improving your drinking and cooking water.

Unlike most water purification systems, it does not set back one’s health since it preserves the beneficial minerals in the water. It is a smart choice if you want to purify the feed water without removing the essential minerals before it goes out of the faucet.

Designed and built to revitalize your health, an AquaOx filter with granular activated carbon filtration in your kitchen will ensure better health for the long haul. Either for drinking or cooking, you can rest assured your water is safe and clean. The best part of it all is the intact minerals that you and your family can enjoy as long as your filtration system is in good condition.

If you want to have peace of mind knowing that your family is safe from all sorts of pollutants in the water, then invest in a reliable water filter system. Get a water treatment system that is designed to address your needs!

Next time you hear someone say “What is Reverse Osmosis?” or “How does a Reverse Osmosis System work?”, you now have all the info you need to help them get the pure water you enjoy!

*NOTE: Not all water contains all contaminants discussed. No water purifying system can remove 100% of every contaminant. If you have a concern about a specific contaminant, please give us a call or live chat with our water experts.

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