Although British tap water retains high quality most of the time, many people prefer to get a reverse osmosis water filter to ensure that the water they drink is safe for human consumption.
The desire to use a reverse osmosis water purifier is a legitimate concern, especially if you want high-quality water that costs less than commercially bottled water.
While you may have other water purification systems like water softeners or distillers, they are not as effective at removing contaminants.
As such, you will feel the urge to get a reverse osmosis water filter system to ensure all the water you use for cooking and drinking is 98% contaminant-free and safe for your body in the long run.
If you wonder what a reverse osmosis water purifier is or why you need one, be sure to read this article to the end for deeper insights into the world’s most complicated water purification systems.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Commonly known as RO, reverse osmosis is a water purification process in which tap water travels at high pressure through a semipermeable membrane that selectively allows water molecules through but holds back larger molecules of substances like dissolved salts.
A reverse osmosis water filter or purifier is thus a device that uses this mechanism to purify water to make it safer for drinking or cooking. However, these two aren’t the only uses of RO water.
Reverse osmosis water filtration systems vary in size, design, and a number of stages. However, they generally comprise the following components:
- A prefilter that holds back particles
- A cartridge that protects the membrane and acts against chlorine
- A post filter
- A sizable storage tank
- A self-piercing pipe connector
- A separate water tap
How Does a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Work?
As mentioned, a reverse osmosis water filter removes contaminants or impurities from water using high pressure and a semi-permeable membrane.
The water is forced through the membrane at high pressure, causing the tiny water molecules to pass through while larger contaminant molecules remain behind.
The water is first passed through the prefilter to trap sediments and remove chlorine. The membrane then traps the dissolved solids and keeps them from passing onto the other less concentrated side with the now purified water.
The process borrows its idea from osmosis, which allows the molecules of a solvent to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution to a more concentrated one.
In reverse osmosis, the selective membrane ensures the water molecules from the purified water do not flow back into the contaminated water. It also keeps the contaminants from flowing into the side with purified water.
The fresh or purified water from an RO system is known as the permeate, while the concentrated water left behind is known as brine or waste (which is, unfortunately, usually more than the purified water.)
Reasons You Need a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter
1. High-efficiency at Removing Water Contaminants
Reverse osmosis systems remove contaminants from water with an efficiency of up to 98 percent. Traditional water purification systems like water softeners are effective at softening hard water, but they do not help remove impurities or contaminants like dissolved salts.
What Impurities are Removed by Reverse Osmosis Water Filters?
The RO system you choose should be highly effective at removing the following contaminants.
- Sediments or particles like soil, linen, hairs, and glass
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Unhealthy molecular compounds of lead, sodium, mercury, radium, barium, calcium, iron, and manganese
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Among others
Experts are divided on whether reverse osmosis filters can remove viruses and bacteria. Some say the systems cannot do this, while others say that the systems can effectively remove harmful bacteria such as E. Coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.
The removal of heavy metals from drinking water is crucial for humans in reducing the harmful effects of the metals on vital body systems and organs like the liver and the brain.
Consumption of heavy metals in large amounts is particularly a health hazard in children as their brains are still young and developing, and the metals can negatively impact brain development.
Extreme accumulation of heavy metals in humans has been linked to debilitating diseases like cancer and brain damage, especially in older people who have been consuming water laced with heavy metals for a long time.
It is a given that to experience peace of mind and body when it comes to drinking water, you should go for a purification system that effectively gets rid of heavy metals, which is why experts recommend reverse osmosis water filters.
2. Water Purified Through Reverse Osmosis Tastes Better
Although taste is highly subjective and debatable, most people agree that water purified using reverse osmosis filter systems tastes and smells better than ordinary tap water.
Blind taste tests have been conducted as research to determine whether purifying water through RO enhances its taste.
The carbon filters in reverse osmosis water filters can absorb odours from the water passing through them. The improved taste is attributable to the removal of traces of sulfur and its compounds from the water.
Removing minerals like magnesium, sodium, and calcium also results in an improved taste in RO water.
The removal of minerals like magnesium, sodium, and calcium that also alter the natural taste of clean water also results in an improved taste in RO water.
Besides drinking water that tastes better, you also enjoy better-tasting food and beverages once the system removes the hard minerals that otherwise lower the flavour, colour, and texture of cooked food.
3. Reverse Osmosis Filters Use No Chemicals
One of the greatest fears in today’s world is that we consume many deadly chemicals each day through the water we drink and the foods we eat.
It has become a routine that most of life’s modern processes like cleaning, cooking, growing crops, and even purifying water involve using chemicals. Fortunately, reverse osmosis water filters do not use any chemicals in the water purification process.
Although based on the simple biological or chemical process of osmosis, water purification in an RO system is largely mechanical.
The high pressure in the system pushes water through the filters and the membranes, where the small water molecules pass through while contaminants get trapped.
The mechanical nature of the process ensures water remains chemical-free in two ways. One is the fact that no chemicals are used in the process. Secondly, the system rids the water of harmful dissolved chemicals.
When reverse osmosis filters first came out, there were concerns that although they do not use chemicals in the purification process, they demineralize the water by removing safe elements like magnesium and calcium.
The solution to the demineralization menace has been the addition of an extra stage where the water is re-mineralized with safe, chemical-free magnesium and calcium.
4. Reverse Osmosis Water Filters are More Cost-effective than Some Other Methods
While they are not the cheapest way to clean and refresh water, reverse osmosis purification systems are more cost-effective than some other methods in the long run.
Where ordinary tap is common, the purification cost is remarkably lower than other methods like seawater desalination.
While most properties across the UK are connected to high-quality tap water, some off-grid areas often rely on hard water or seawater for drinking, cooking, and agriculture. Desalinating seawater can be overly expensive on a large scale because of the high salt content.
UV water purification systems are also efficient and viable, but they are usually expensive because they require bright UV lamps.
Other than cost, reverse osmosis water filters have the upper hand against UV systems because the latter do not remove any chemicals or odours, meaning they are no good at improving the taste of water. However, they are proven to eliminate microbiological contamination.
A reverse osmosis water filter is also cheap to maintain. It only requires the occasional changing of filters about every six months to ensure optimum water purification.
5. Reverse Osmosis Water Filters are Compact and Suitable for Small Spaces
It is a fact that most of our homes are hard-pressed for space, yet you badly need a water purification system that won’t take up a lot of the little space you have remaining. Thanks to their compact designs, reverse osmosis purifiers take up very little space in your home.
The compact nature of RO systems makes them easy to install even in small homes in tight places like tiny corners and under the kitchen sink where they can remain subtly concealed and safely hidden from daily activities.
Since they can be tucked away easily in queer places, your interaction with them reduces significantly, meaning that they are safer and will last for a long time due to the minimized disturbance.
Other points of use (POUs) or places where you can install a reverse osmosis filter include under the bathroom sink, garage, or basement, or inside a kitchen or pantry cabinet.
It’s also advisable to connect your RO system to your refrigerator if you like making ice often, but the system should be fairly distanced from the fridge.
If your refrigerator is close to the sink, consider placing the water filter under the sink and connecting it externally to the fridge.
You can also use an RO system and an aquarium for saltwater fish to combine reverse osmosis with deionization. This advantage is that both the RO kit and the aquarium take up very little space, and you can have them running close to each other.
The RO-DI (reverse osmosis/deionized water) setup allows you to supply your fish with water matching their natural environment. Through reverse osmosis, you can rid the water of its minerals before using a remineralizing filter to add the desired amount of salt.
Any Shortcomings of a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter?
It’s agreeable that no invention or innovation by man is perfect. And it would be dishonest not to mention that while RO water purifiers are excellent for their high effectiveness at removing water impurities, they have their fair share of shortcomings.
One of the most significant concerns is that RO systems waste a lot of water. As mentioned earlier, they only produce a small percentage of the clean drinking water, with some reported to drain away as much as six times the safe water they produce.
However, the drain water doesn’t become waste in the real sense since you can use it for other functions like watering your garden and cleaning the house. Despite the high mineral or salt content, the water is still safe for growing non-edible plants like flowers in your backyard.
You can also use the reject water in an artificial lake, water fountain, or pond in the backyard.
Some reverse osmosis kits have an auto shut-off valve that stops water from flowing to the drain once the storage tank gets full.
Another smart way to reduce water wastage in a reverse osmosis system is to add a permeate pump to the setup. However, not all RO systems can accommodate the pump, so buy one with a plumbing allowance for the pump.
The other major downside to reverse osmosis filters is that they remove even safe minerals like calcium and magnesium from water, referred to as demineralization.
As mentioned earlier, there is a solution to this, so you don’t have to worry much about it.
You can use a remineralization filter to restore safe and contaminant-free minerals to the water.
There are many ways to purify drinking water at home or the office, but using a reverse osmosis water filter is the most effective method for removing dissolved contaminants or impurities. RO systems can purify water at an effective rate of up to 99% for contaminant-free drinking water.
The good news is that this level of effectiveness does not have any strings attached. For example, once you have the system installed, you will only require minimal maintenance practices. Changing filters twice a year is the most regular practice, but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
A reverse osmosis water filter also blends well with your home as it can fit in tiny places like sinks and cabinets. Such compactness is highly welcome in houses where space is limited.
The versatility of RO filters makes them an excellent addition to your home as you can safely use the clean water not only for drinking but also for cooking and ensuring your aquarium always has fish-safe water.
If you are worried about your health because of the many chemicals you take daily, you can now relax knowing that your reverse osmosis water filter operates without using any chemicals. And it still strips your water of all harmful chemicals!