Reverse Osmosis - The Good, The Bad, & The Bubbly

In today’s world of water filtration technology, there’s an abundance of information about different filtration mechanisms. Not all of it is consistent. This is especially true with reverse osmosis (RO). Just like in every industry, certain parties benefit from one school of thought while others benefit from the opposing view. Because we carry both RO filtration systems as well as other technologies, we’d like to do our best to equally explore both sides of the argument on RO and give you the power to become an educated consumer and make the decision best for you and your family.

Reverse osmosis filters don’t require a whole lot of maintenance. Although the less expensive prefilters in the first couple phases of the typical 3, 4, or 5 stage RO systems still need to be replaced every 6-12 months, the actual RO filter only needs to be replaced every 2-3 years.

Unlike some of the other technologies, RO typically filters at least SOME of every type of contaminant (95 - 99% or more for most contaminants) and is able to filter out smaller particles than any other mainstream technology on the market today. In other words, RO, when combined with other parts of a multi-stage system, does the most complete job of all in terms of true water purification.

There are some downsides to RO, however. Because RO requires water particles to travel with high pressure through a semipermeable membrane, it can take a while before the water is finished filtering and ready to drink. Luckily, RO systems come with storage tanks so that they can store already filtered water if you need more than just a glass at a time. Still, you’ll want to be cognizant of how much you’re using in order to avoid a stoppage from your tap. (Once the storage tank depletes, the system will shut off rather than allow you to draw unfiltered water.)

RO also uses more water than other filtering methods. For every gallon that comes out of the filtered side, 2 gallons from your city may be required. This ratio is different for every system but it’s something to keep in mind.

In this article written by Frantisek Kozisek on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Czech Republic, there are quite a few claims made about the shortcomings of RO in terms of plumbing longevity and human health. All of them center around the lack of minerals in RO water. He suggests that demineralized water is highly corrosive as compared to regular water. This means it could leach metals from pipes and other plumbing materials into the water itself. This is objectively true, however, as long as RO is not being done from the municipality level, the chance of there being any complications from a home RO system is very small due to the drastically shorter periods of time involved and lengths of pipes traveled.

Frantisek goes on to list many other health implications essentially caused by a lack of minerals - most notably magnesium and calcium which are removed by the reverse osmosis process. Studies in the article suggest low magnesium intake can lead to increased risk of sudden cardiovascular death, a higher risk of motor neuronal disease, pregnancy disorders (preeclampsia), sudden death in infants, and some types of cancer. Other studies suggested low calcium intake could lead to a higher risk of fracture in children, certain neurodegenerative diseases, pre-term birth and low weight at birth.

Obviously, these health impacts sound terrible and seem like something everyone would do well to avoid. However, at the core of this argument seems to be the theory suggesting that drinking water is, in fact, the primary method humans use to acquire these minerals into the body. Opponents would, of course, say that food is primarily responsible for the introduction of minerals into the human system and minerals in water are unnecessary. To date, there has not been agreement amongst the scientific community as to which line of thinking is more correct.

One other extreme theory in the WHO article suggests that by drinking RO water, your body loses the ability to maintain homeostasis and may actually leach essential minerals like calcium and magnesium over time. This theory is very debatable as well and unlikely to reach a consensus any time soon.

Defenders of RO technology argue there may be a cultural bias stemming from some countries in Europe who have been promoting the health benefits of their mineral water for centuries. They claim that big business interests behind certain bottled water brands and certain simple filters (incapable of filtering the tiny particles that RO can) have vested interests in promoting minerals and shutting the door on RO.

In short, the RO issue is quite a complex one. If you’re after the highest degree of water filtration possible, then RO is exactly what you’re looking for. Take a look at our top-of-the-line RO system here. If you’re willing to tolerate a higher TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) level but still want to get rid of things like chlorine, fluoride, lead, other harmful chemicals and most bacteria, you may be better off going with a more traditional technology that allows more minerals to get through. Click here to learn more about our best selling traditional filter system.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Reverse Osmosis - please check out our store or give us a call to learn even more about what’s right for you and your family today!