Reverse osmosis is one of the most powerful and effective water filtration method today. It is really good at removing water contaminants and making your water pure and safe for drinking.
Actually, in some situations, nothing else besides reverse osmosis will do the job, for instance, in areas with high levels of nitrates.
But is RO the best water treatment method currently available? Is anything better than it? You’ll find the answers to these questions in this post.
We’ve listed the good and the bad of reverse osmosis to help you understand this system better. Included herein are alternatives to RO as well.
The Good and the Bad
Reverse osmosis removes the most contaminants when compared to other water treatment methods. It eliminates most chemical impurities (95 to 99%) and disease-causing organisms.
Reverse osmosis is also safe and environmentally friendly. It makes a perfect alternative to bottled water and helps you reduce your carbon footprint.
When it comes to cooking, you’ll love the taste of your food should you prepare it using RO water. In fact, most restaurants are today using RO water when cooking to improve the taste of their food.
Investing in an RO system means you won’t you won’t have to spend your money on bottled water, which is quite expensive in the long run. Your family will also start taking more water and ditch soft drinks.
And while some water purification and filtration systems are quite cumbersome to maintain, RO systems are pretty easy. You only need to change the membranes and filters according to your systems manual, usually every 6 to 12 months.
RO water systems do not consume energy; hence energy-efficient.
And the Bad?
Even with the high number of benefits that reverse osmosis has to offer, some people are trying to avoid it for a number of reasons. For instance, if you have a large household, you’ll always have a problem with water shortage.
Most RO systems designed for the home come with a rating of 50 gallons per day output. Under ideal conditions, these systems usually produce only 8 to 12 GPD. Combine this with the fact a 4-gallon tank can only hold 2.5 gallons at a time! It can be a painstaking wait for the water to refill a single tank.
Another aspect that turns of people is the fact that RO water is devoid of essential minerals. It’s a serious issue since drinking mineral-deficient water is detrimental to your health in the long run.
Reverse osmosis produces a lot of waste water. For every gallon of pure water produced, several gallons of waste water goes to the drain. The purified water to waste water produced varies depending on the water source and the system’s membrane.
The other challenge with RO systems is that the membrane can be worn out over time. This usually happens to those living in areas with hard water. And that’s why you’ll see single-digit TDS readings in a unit after you install it and mid double readings a few months down the line.
This means the membrane is not performing the same way it did initially, and contaminants might be getting through.
Reliable Alternatives to Reverse Osmosis
Distillation is a water treatment method that vaporizes water by using a heat source. The process helps to separate pure water molecules from contaminants with a higher boiling point than water.
In other words, distillation is turning water into a gas and then reforming it into a liquid again. It is used as a method of water purification and helps reduce contaminants from the water.
And just like other water filtration methods, distillation doesn’t remove all contaminants on its own. It’s, however, effective in getting rid of dissolved solids such as minerals and salts.
Distillation also helps to neutralize microbes such as Giardia/Legionella from water.
For distilling water at home, get a countertop distiller. This device will distill and filter your water and remove a large number of contaminants. check price on Amazon to buy the best water distiller.
And similar to reverse osmosis, this method has a few drawbacks as well. It removes essential minerals, is time-consuming, and can be quite expensive to get started with.
Ultraviolet Treatment Systems
Ultraviolet water treatment systems use ultraviolet light to reduce the amount of bacteria in the water/disinfect it.
These systems are highly effective in removing protozoa like Cryptosporidium and Giardia from the water. They also help to remove bacteria including E.coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter.
You can also use an ultraviolet water treatment system to get rid of viruses like Hepatitis A, Rotavirus, Norovirus, and Enteric.
However, one thing to note is that although highly effective, ultraviolet water treatment systems cannot remove chemicals.
Filtration is also another method of treating water. It occurs when gasses, liquids, suspended or dissolved matter adhere to an absorbent medium’s pores or surface.
Filtration of contaminants highly depends on the size of the contaminant particle, amount of contaminant, and charge of the contaminant particle.
There are 3 types of water filtration processes which include microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and nanofiltration.
Microfiltration is, in simple terms, the process of removing suspended solids from water through a membrane. It usually serves as a pre-treatment for ultrafiltration.
A micro-filter has a pore size of approximately 0.1 microns and has high effectiveness of removing protozoa and moderate effectiveness of getting rid of bacteria from your water.
This method can, however, not remove viruses and chemicals.
Ultrafiltration (UF) is a water filtration/purification process that helps remove contaminants from the water. It produces stable water quality and removes 90-99% of pathogens.
An ultrafiltration filter has a pore size of around 0.01 micron. It helps remove larger particles from the water and some viruses. It can, however, not remove dissolved substances.
A nanofiltration filter has a pore size of approximately 0.01 micron. It removes most organic molecules, natural organic matter, nearly all viruses, and a range of salts.
This process also helps get rid of divalent ions that make water hard. As a result, this water treatment method is also used to soften water.
Nanofiltration is almost as effective as reverse osmosis in removing contaminants from water.
So, is There Anything Really Better than Reverse Osmosis?
Not really. Reverse osmosis is the only water treatment method that removes the most contaminants. It removes turbidity, microbes, and virtually all dissolved substances.
An RO filter has the smallest pore size (approximately 0.0001 microns) hence highly effective.
Also, all the above-mentioned water treatment systems pair well with reverse osmosis as a post filter. This takes RO systems from good to great as they offer a buffer for contaminants that the system doesn’t remove entirely, such as chloramines.
With all the contaminants that can get into your home’s water supply, you need a reliable water filtration system. And while RO has a few drawbacks, its benefits outweigh the negatives. It’s actually the most efficient water filtration system as it removes the most contaminants.
And if reverse osmosis doesn’t seem to work for your home, combine it with other water treatment methods for better results. If worried about the essential minerals that the system removes, just ensure that you get a unit with an alkaline remineralization filter(check price on Amazon).