The Surprising Cons and Pros Of A Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
You’ve probably heard the term reverse osmosis when it comes to water. Maybe you are currently considering purchasing a reverse osmosis filtration system for your home. You may not be precisely sure what the term ‘reverse osmosis’ means. Perhaps your 10th-grade biology teacher discussed the term ‘osmosis’ in great detail. However, chances are you don’t fully remember what it means. Not to worry, returning to high school is not necessary to get a quick refresher on your terminology.
So to help you decide if a reverse osmosis filtration system is right for you, we will share some pros and cons. And let’s take a minute to refresh your memory on the term osmosis while we are at it.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis is what happens when pushing water through a semipermeable membrane. The semipermeable membrane is a microscopic filter that only allows the tiny water molecules to get through. The smaller water molecules go through while the filter blocks larger molecules. Larger molecules can be a variety of organic materials, even salt. The microscopic pores remove contaminants and dissolved substances from within the water.
Unlike other filtration systems, it does not use chemicals or carbon filters to clean your water. In addition, reverse osmosis does not require thermal energy but uses pressure to filter the water.
When It Comes To Water Filtration, How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?
Time for a quick science lesson. In simple terms, osmosis is nature’s way of creating balance. Osmosis takes place when molecules pass through a membrane from a lower-concentrated solution into a higher-concentrated one. Reverse osmosis is the same basic concept. Except it involves adding a stronger pressure to move the water molecules out of the higher concentrated solution (contaminated water) into the weaker solution (pure water).
What Does A Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System Remove?
A reverse osmosis water filtration system will remove a vast number of contaminants. Viruses, nitrates, bacteria, fluoride, sulfates, and arsenic all stand no chance. On the other side, the system also removes healthy minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Unfortunately, your body needs these minerals. The systems are so effective that they purify water with a 99% or higher filtration efficiency rate.
However, a reverse osmosis system does not remove chlorine and will not soften your water very efficiently. That is why reverse osmosis systems often work in combination with carbon filters. The activated carbon will remove additional contaminants that the reverse osmosis system misses. Some contaminants it helps remove are pesticides, herbicides, chlorine bi-products, pharmaceuticals, and more.
Pros of a Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
We now have a solid understanding of a reverse osmosis water filtration system and how it works. So, let’s talk about the many pros of installing one!
1. It Removes A Lot Of Crap
A reverse osmosis system will remove 95-99% of total dissolved solids (TDS) from your water. The filters will remove numerous harmful contaminants like lead, asbestos, and other things you don’t want to drink. Keep in mind this percentage will be lower with lower-quality water filters. That’s why opting for a trusted, quality brand is important!
2. Better Tasting Water, Anyone?
By removing the majority of contaminants from your water, a reverse osmosis filter improves the taste of your water. For example, chlorine and fluoride are typically added to tap water to help with water filtration. Unfortunately, they leave the water with a funny taste. A reverse osmosis water filter removes these compounds leaving your water tasting crisp and fresh.
3. Better For The Environment, Anyone?
In many communities, bottled water is the only other option if you want clean drinking water. Unfortunately, disposable plastic bottles have a huge impact on our environment. Reverse osmosis does waste a significant amount of water. However, it might be better for the environment than the piles of plastic filling landfills annually.
In addition, studies continue to question the quality of bottled water. A key thing many studies take into consideration is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides strict regulations for tap water. On the other hand, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has considerably lighter restrictions regarding bottled water.
4. Improves The Taste of Your Food
Cooking is just a combination of different chemical compounds and reactions! The end result is something delicious. Because reverse osmosis water is pure from any extra contaminants, like chlorine and fluoride, the result is food that tastes better!
5. The System Is Cost Effective And Low Maintenance
This point teeters on the edge of a pro and con. Several factors impact this point. Initially, the cost of a reverse osmosis system is expensive. However, reverse osmosis water filter systems are easy to maintain after the initial cost of installing the system. In addition, the total price per gallon is low. This is especially true when compared to the cost of purchasing bottled water. While the system requires low maintenance, it is often expensive when needed. Here are a few maintenance things you can expect:
Clean your reverse osmosis system once a year
- Replace the filters annually
- Replace the semipermeable membranes every 2-3 years
Cons of a Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
Very few people will deny that reverse osmosis filtration is one of the most effective and safest water filtration options available. However, it does have its cons. One of the biggest things to consider when determining if this system is right for you is to look at what is in your city’s water. Many of the cities in the United States offer some of the cleanest tap water in the world. Unfortunately, that means that some see reverse osmosis systems as unnecessarily wasteful.
1. Huston, we have a clog!
The semipermeable membrane in the system has tiny pores. The microscopic pores make it easier for clogs to develop. So, regularly changing the water filters and the semipermeable membrane is essential. However, if you follow the system manual and service guidelines, you can avoid this con! In addition, many quality reverse osmosis water filtration systems often come with a sediment or carbon pre-filter. The addition of these filters helps keep the semipermeable membrane from clogging.
2. Wastes Water
Water waste is a significant current issue. That is why one of the biggest disadvantages of the reverse osmosis water system is the water it wastes. Studies reveal that reverse osmosis water systems waste anywhere from 3 to 20 times as much water as the system produces. Not only is water waste hard on your water bills, but also detrimental to the environment.
3. Removes Everything… Even Healthy Minerals
Another potential disadvantage of the reverse osmosis system is it can be too effective. It will remove healthy minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies have shown that the process removes 92-99% of the calcium and magnesium minerals usually found within water. By removing these minerals, the pH of the water decreases, resulting in more acidic water. While the lower pH won’t harm you, it is more corrosive to your plumbing and can strip lead and copper from pipes. The result is toxic metals going back into your water. Some systems remedy this problem by adding a step to the process and having water go back through a remineralization process.
Is A Reverse Osmosis System The Right Choice For You?
Reverse osmosis water filtration is undoubtedly one of the most effective forms of water filtration today. However, remember that its original purpose was to provide fresh water by desalinating ocean water. In addition, these systems served to create drinkable water in areas where it is scarce. After reviewing the surprising advantages and disadvantages of a reverse osmosis water filtration system, we hope you feel informed and confident in making the right decision for you and your family! We believe in offering top-quality reverse osmosis systems. If you are unsure what your water holds, contact Crystal Clear Water and Air today to learn about our free water analysis.
Fascinating Filtration Facts About Reverse Osmosis
- Many people don’t know that Americans are also impacted by water scarcity. Nearly two million Americans live without basic essentials such as access to safe drinking water.
- People first invented reverse osmosis systems to desalinate seawater and reduce high chemical contaminant materials such as heavy metals. The government, commercial buildings, the military, and residential homes use the system.
- Many countries use reverse osmosis to desalinate seawater to help reduce water shortages. These systems help provide water in areas throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
- Reverse osmosis systems have ended boil water advisories in communities worldwide by safely treating the drinking water where traditional water filtration systems did not work.
- As water accessibility becomes an increasing problem due to climate change, scientists expect that salination through reverse osmosis will grow 7-9% annually.
- Many restaurants use reverse osmosis water when cooking to improve the safety and taste of their food.