What is Reverse Osmosis?
The amount of people that still purchase bottled water for home use never ceases to amaze me. Come on people, it's time to get educated here. You are wasting time and energy, landfill space, and yes, money … Lots of it.
Have you ever heard of reverse osmosis? Did you know that most bottled water manufacturers are using reverse osmosis as a means of purifying the bottled water you are drinking? It's a fact that many people are completely unaware of.
Soon, everyone will know the benefits of reverse osmosis. Reverse Osmosis equipment has only been manufactured for the household consumer for just a few years. Until recently, it was used primarily by major corporations and the US Government for purifying non-potable water supplies throughout the world. It was, and still is, used on large military and commercial ships for purifying seawater, making it suitable for human consumption.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is often described as filtration, but it is much more complex than that. People sometimes explain it as a filter because it is much easier to visualize using those terms. For instance, the osmosis phenomenon is how our blood feeds each cell in our bodies. As our blood is carried into the smallest of capillaries in our bodies, nutrients actually pass through the cells 'wall to sustain its' life.
For example: If you take a jar of water and place a semi-permeable membrane in it, which by its' construction mimics a cell wall, then divide the jar into two sections and place water on both sides of the membrane to an equal level , nothing happens. But, if you place salt, (or other such dissolved substance), into one side of the jar, you will soon notice that the water level in the salty side begins to rise higher as the unsalted side lowers. This is the natural osmotic pressure at work. The two solutions will continue to try to reach the same level of salt or equilibrium on each side of the membrane by the unsalted water passing through the membrane to dilute the salty water. This will continue until the "head" pressure of the salt water overcomes the "osmotic" pressure created by the differences in the two solutions.
Many years ago, researchers discovered a means to reverse or exploit this natural osmotic process and use it to purify salty ocean water. They found that if they took that same semi-permeable membrane and fed salty water into it with a sufficient amount of pressure on one side of the membrane, to overcome the natural osmotic pressure of the other side, they could actually "manufacture" clean water on the side of the membrane that has no pressure applied to it!
Depending on a membranes' design, and the material it is made from, the amount of TDS, (salt or total dissolved solids), reduction will range from 80 to over 99 per cent. Different minerals have different rejection rates, for instance, the removal rate for a typical TFC (Thin Film Composite) membrane is 99.5% for Barium and Radium 226/228; but only 85.9% for Fluoride and 94.0% for Mercury. Contamination removal rates are also dependent on proper feed-water pressures.
Is it Reverse Osmosis Water Safe To Drink ?
Reverse osmosis water is perfectly safe to drink. There is also a scientific explanation as to why this type of purified water is actually better for you than water that contains high mineral (TDS) content. Water with a high TDS count of over 50 ppm, actually becomes electrically charged and can conduct very small amounts of electric current. High TDS water, under the right circumstances, can actually cause a small electric light bulb to become illuminated! Water with high TDS is typically a solution that is lacking in hydrogen molecules. This type of water often causes de-hydration on the cellular level. Reverse Osmosis water with low TDS on the other hand, has a much lower ability to conduct electrical charges. Typically, Reverse Osmosis water is slightly acidic and loaded with positively charged hydrogen (H +) molecules. This type of water has been scientifically proven to provide superior hydration at the cellular level.
What's the Difference Between Conventional Water Filtration and Reverse Osmosis?
A conventional filtration system, such as that in a refrigerator for instance, will give you nice tasting water, but it will not remove Total Dissolved Solids, such as, SODIUM, MANGANESE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, to name a few, that are present in most municipal tap and well waters. Residential reverse osmosis systems typically incorporate a combination of conventional filtration to remove sediment and other solids, followed by activated carbon adsorption for the removal of organic compounds, chlorine, pesticides and VOC's, prior to the reverse osmosis membrane. The end result is as close to distilled water quality as you can get, with virtually no energy consumption. The typical household water line pressure of 40 psi is all the energy that is required to make the RO system work.
The Technology Side
Just as with many new technologies, when reverse osmosis systems first became available to the public sector, they were used almost exclusively in commercial settings and beyond the justifiable financial reach of the average household consumer. The membranes were very inefficient and wasted a lot of water. The technology has progressed in recent times to the point where it has become an affordable alternative, more efficient and readily available for the average consumer. A typical residential reverse osmosis system has a recovery rate of 30-35%. What this means is that for every gallon of water fed to the RO system, approximately 1/3 of a gallon of purified water will be produced and 2/3's will be wastewater. Most residential installations simply flush the wastewater to the drain. The very nature of the reverse osmosis process does cause some water wastefulness. However, if this waste is a big concern, rather than throwing it down the drain, there are numerous ways to use the wastewater, only limited by one's ability to be resourceful.
Reverse Osmosis Recognized by the United States EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently released information stating that one in five Americans, supplied by one-quarter of the nation's drinking water systems, consume tap water that violates EPA safety standards under the Clean Water Act! With this in mind, it is safe to assume that no matter where you live in the United States, at any given time, there is likely to be some toxic substance in your tap water.
It's no wonder why so many people buy bottled water but right? … Read on you may be surprised. The US EPA has stated that many dangerous contaminants can exist in our public water supplies as well as bottled water. One such contaminant is called a "cyst" and yes they are just as disgusting as they sound! Cysts are tiny microscopic organisms that can cause dangerous health problems to even healthy individuals, let alone persons with weakened immune systems. The kicker here is that you do not have to actually drink the water with these organisms in it to become sick. Cysts can be ingested in a number of ways, including just brushing your teeth. They're more common than you think; the elusive cyst has been found in many public water supplies over the past few years and yes, even some bottled waters have been found to contain cysts!
Reverse osmosis is recognized by the EPA as an effective means to remove cysts. The US EPA has even recommended the use of point of use reverse osmosis for the removal of certain contaminants such as cysts found in many water supplies, public or otherwise. In addition, reverse osmosis has been scientifically proven over conventional filtration, to be one of the most effective means of removing the widest spectrum of all other water contaminants.
Chances are your neighbor or someone you know already has a residential reverse osmosis drinking water system installed in their home. It is becoming a popular choice for many educated consumers to have a reliable pure water source at their fingertips. After using the RO system for a while, most people find themselves wondering how they ever did without it.