Ensuring that your drinking water is clean and free of contaminants is one of the most important things that you can do to help your overall health. Reverse osmosis (RO) is one of the most comprehensive water filtration systems available and can address more water quality issues than common water filters, like those found in standard pitcher filters or refrigerator filters.
In this blog, we will go over all aspects of the reverse osmosis water filtration process so you can make an informed decision about whether RO is the right choice for your home.
What Is Reverse Osmosis Filtration?
Essentially, a reverse osmosis water filter operates by pushing water through a semi-permeable membrane, which leaves impurities behind to be washed away. The purified drinking water is then gathered in a storage tank. In a typical RO system, this process is usually just one step in a multi-stage filtration system.
The semi-permeable membrane that is key to the RO process has a pore size of around 0.0001 microns, which only allows the small water molecules to pass through and catching any larger molecules of contaminants, organic material, or even salt. In addition to removing contaminants and sediments, RO can also remove microorganisms. RO was originally developed to desalinate seawater and reduce high chemical contaminant material such as heavy metals, but it is now commonly used in many commercial and residential applications.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Filtration Work?
As we all learned during high school chemistry class, osmosis is the process of passing water through a semi-permeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated solution. The pure water is passed through a filter to the contaminated water to equalize the concentrations. This is not what we want for our drinking water, which is where reverse osmosis comes in.
RO is the same basic process as osmosis, but it simply involves adding higher pressure to move the water molecules out of the stronger solution and into the weaker solution. Due to the microscopic pores on the semi-permeable membrane filter, RO is incredibly effective at removing vital contaminants from the water.
The RO filtration system is so effective that it will also remove beneficial materials present in the water. Many RO systems will run the water back across mineral beds to add those positive minerals back into the water.
The Stages Of Reverse Osmosis Systems
The reverse osmosis membrane is the main part of the RO system, but a RO system also includes other types of filtrations. The RO system can be made up of 3-5 stages of filtration. All RO systems contain a sediment filter and a carbon filter in addition to the reverse osmosis membrane. Here are the stages of the RO process:
1. When water first enters a RO system, it goes through prefiltration. Prefiltration typically includes a carbon filter and a sediment filter to remove sediment and chlorine that could clog or damage the RO membrane.
2. Next, water goes through the RO membrane where dissolved particles, even too small to be seen with an electron microscope, are removed.
3. After filtration, water flows to the storage tank, where it is held until needed. A RO system continues to filter water until the storage tank is full and then shuts off.
4. Once you turn on your drinking water faucet, water comes out of the storage tank through another postfilter to polish drinking water before it gets to your faucet.
The Benefits Of Reverse Osmosis
There are a lot of benefits to reverse osmosis filtration systems, which have made it increasingly popular in recent years. RO filtration improves taste, odor, and appearance of water by removing contaminants. One of the best things about using a RO filtration system is that it is highly effective at removing a wide range of contaminants, providing you with a high level of water purity.
Many people have a concern that tap water has too many contaminants and impurities that could be harmful to them and their families. RO filtration offers the peace of mind that you are drinking the cleanest water possible. Additionally, many people find that water treated with RO has a cleaner and more neutral taste compared to tap water. RO systems are also typically more compact and can be installed under the sink, making them a practical choice for homes with limited space.
A Few Things To Consider
While reverse osmosis filtration has a plethora of benefits, there are also a few drawbacks that you should take into consideration before installing a reverse osmosis system in your home. One drawback of RO systems is that they produce wastewater as a byproduct. The ratio of purified water to wastewater varies, and this could impact your water efficiency.
While reverse osmosis is excellent at removing contaminants, it also removes minerals from water. Some argue that this “pure” water may lack beneficial minerals that contribute to taste and health. This is why many RO filtration systems include a step where vital minerals are added back to the filtered water.
Making The Right Decision
Reverse osmosis could be the right filtration system for many people. If you live in an area where your tap water has high levels of contaminants, a reverse osmosis system may be a suitable choice for ensuring clean and safe drinking water.
If you prefer the taste of purified water without the mineral content found in tap water, a reverse osmosis system may be appealing. Reverse osmosis systems do require periodic maintenance, including filter replacement. Consider whether you are willing to invest time and effort in maintaining the system.
In summary, reverse osmosis filtration systems can be a valuable addition to your home if you prioritize purified water and are aware of the system’s advantages and considerations. It’s essential to evaluate your water quality, taste preferences, and willingness to manage maintenance before deciding if a reverse osmosis system is the right choice for you.
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