Reverse osmosis is a water filtration system that works using pressure. With the force of this pressure, water is conducted through a semi-permeable membrane, from an unfiltered side (in this case your tap water) to a filtered side. In this way, pure water (relatively speaking) is separated from any pollutant molecules that are too large to filter through the filter screen. Some elements contained in the water, such as lead, chlorine or possible viruses and bacteria, are entirely eliminated and flushed out with waste water or caught in the filtering mechanism.
Reverse osmosis is a very effective and “natural” water purification process. That is why it is so well known and often used.
How Reverse Osmosis Works
In short, water is driven past a membrane which allows through pure molecules of water. This potable water reaches the tank to be consumed. The excess water and all its particles are discharged into the drain. This is inherently a wasteful process, as large quantities of water is flushed for all the water that is accepted. A holding tank for the clean water is necessary as well.
However, this process can involves many different filters and elements that are essential for the effectiveness of filtration (including, but not limited to):
- Sediment filter: retains suspended particles so that they cannot be consumed or damage the membrane and the rest of the equipment
- Pressed carbon filter: removes chlorine from water and chemicals that may cause a bad taste or odor. It also protects the membrane from chlorine puncture
- Granulated carbon filter: continue with the filtration process
- Osmosis membrane: contains the most sophisticated filtering elements, which remove all harmful compounds
- Remineralizing filter: eliminates residual taste
- Accumulator: A tank where the water arrives ready to be consumed
All this filtering can drastically reduce water pressure and slow your water flow rate, making the filtered taps annoyingly slow. Also these pre-filters need to be changed early and often to ensure that the main membrane is not damaged.
Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Filtration At Home
The benefits of “RO” filtering should be clear by now: effectiveness, simplicity, and proven track record. As no chemical assets are involved in the entire process, it is sometimes viewed environmentally friendly system but the waste of large amounts of fresh water negates much of this (often over 3x the amount of water accepted is wasted). On the upside, minimum energy consumption is required for the equipment to work. Maintenance is low due to its modular design, but there are size requirements that make RO filters larger than some of the competition because the holding tank is required. This tank is normally under a sink and will take up much of the cabinet area.
But, without a doubt, if we have to highlight one advantage of reverse osmosis above all others: health. Thanks to its meticulous filtering process, we obtain excellent potable water. People that need to run through large amounts of filtered water — such as those when the immune system is weakened or in an area with questionable water quality — often find reverse osmosis filtration to be an effective solution, but it’s generally not our recommended solution as the negatives can outweigh the positives..