Reverse osmosis water has become a popular choice for people looking for a healthier drinking water. But is reverse osmosis water good for you?
Reverse osmosis water is one of the best and most affordable ways to get clean drinking water. It removes hundreds of contaminants from your water, and it’s cheaper than buying bottled water.
Not only is reverse osmosis water cleaner and more affordable, but it also comes with a host of other benefits. RO treated water can help improve your skin health, digestion, and overall well-being.
Let’s take a closer look at what reverse osmosis is and how it works, and then we’ll discuss the pros and cons of drinking reverse osmosis water.
What Is Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water filtration method that pushes water through a semipermeable membrane to remove contaminants. This process removes up to 98% of the total dissolved solids in your drinking water.
The key to reverse osmosis is the membrane – a sheet of porous plastic or cellulose that allows water to pass through, but blocks contaminants. The membrane is usually spirally wrapped and mounted in a plastic housing.
The process of reverse osmosis begins when water is forced under pressure through the semipermeable membrane. This pushes pure water molecules through the membrane while contaminants are left behind.
The water that comes through the membrane is then collected in a storage tank or delivered directly to your home.
Reverse osmosis filter system
When I learned my tap water contained PFAS and lead, I installed this reverse osmosis filter in my kitchen. It removes 100% of both contaminants – I just tested my water to confirm it.
You may want a similar RO filter if your drinking water is contaminated.
Benefits of Drinking Reverse Osmosis Water
Drinking water treated by reverse osmosis filtration can improve your health and quality of life in many ways.
RO removes hundreds of contaminants
First, reverse osmosis removes hundreds of contaminants from your water – including metals like lead and cadmium, which are toxic to the body. Other harmful impurities removed by an RO system include pesticides, herbicides, detergents and chemicals such as chlorine.
Reverse osmosis removes the following contaminants from water:
- Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses
RO removes bacteria, viruses, and cysts
Reverse osmosis can protect you from harmful bacteria, viruses, and cysts that can cause serious illness. An RO system can remove more than 99% of these contaminants from your drinking water.
The membrane has pores that are 0.0001 microns in size. A bacteria is about 1 to 10 microns long and from 0.2 to 1 micron wide. Viruses are approximately 0.004 to 0.1 microns in size. Since the membrane pores are much smaller than these contaminants, they’re prevented from passing through.
Saves money compared to bottled water
Reverse osmosis allows you to enjoy clean, healthy water at a fraction of the price you’d pay for bottled water.
One study found that reverse osmosis systems cost as little as 1 cent per gallon to operate, while bottled water costs as much as $8 per gallon. That means you can save thousands of dollar a year by filtering your drinking water at home.
Downside of Drinking RO Treated Water
There are some downsides to drinking reverse osmosis water. While reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to get clean, healthy water, it’s not perfect.
It removes beneficial minerals
An RO system strips away all kinds of contaminants – including bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, pesticides and more. But it also removes beneficial minerals like magnesium and calcium from your water.
These minerals are essential for health and vitality – but you get all the minerals you need from eating a healthy diet, not drinking water. However, calcium and magnesium give water a good taste, and many people report that RO treated water has a metallic or earthy taste.
Bacteria can grow in poorly maintained system
If your reverse osmosis system isn’t properly maintained, bacteria can grow in the storage tank and lines. This can cause illness and must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent problems. You need to regularly clean and sanitized the storage tank, tubing and faucet.
RO treated water is aggressive
Reverse osmosis water has very little dissolved ions in it. This makes it aggressive and can cause metal corrosion in pipes and fixtures.
It is slightly acidic
Another downside of reverse osmosis is that it can make your water more acidic. This is because reverse osmosis removes carbon dioxide from your water, which makes it more acidic.
While this isn’t a major concern to your health – your body regulates its pH normally. However, the reduced pH can cause problems with your pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Reverse osmosis wastes water
Reverse osmosis is an effective way to remove contaminants from water, but it also wastes a lot of water during the process.
It takes about three gallons of tap water to produce just one gallon of treated RO drinking water – and that adds up over time.
The brine waste is released into your home’s drain line or a nearby drain field. This transfers the contaminants from your drinking water to your wastewater – and could cause water pollution.
Can Drinking Reverse Osmosis Water Harm Your Health
Reverse osmosis filtered water is safe to drink. It does not cause harm to your health.
Myth #1. Some people believe that reverse osmosis water is harmful because it removes beneficial minerals from the water. However, you get all the minerals you need from eating a healthy diet, not drinking water.
Myth #2. Reverse osmosis also makes your water more acidic – but this isn’t a major concern to your health. The reduced pH can cause problems with your pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Myth #3. Some people speculate that because RO water is aggressive, it can leach minerals from your bones and teeth. However, this has not been proven. Further, many people have been drinking reverse osmosis filtered water for decades with not health effects.
Alternatives to Reverse Osmosis
If you’re not comfortable drinking reverse osmosis water, there are alternatives. You’ll need to replace RO with a treatment technology that can remove the contaminants your concerned about.
For example, if you are using RO to remove chlorine and chloramines from your tap water, you can install a coconut shell activated carbon filter. If you are worried about lead, you can install a lead removal filter.
You can also buy bottled water or use a pitcher-style water filter like Brita to get clean, healthy water.
Bottled water is another option, but it’s expensive and the environmental impact of plastic bottles is significant.
Adding minerals back to RO treated water
If you don’t want to change your reverse osmosis system, but still want mineralized water, you can add minerals back. There are two ways to do this:
- Remineralizing filters have a small amount of calcium carbonate in them. As the water passes through these cartridges, they dissolve and add a small amount of minerals back to the water.
- You can also use a mineral drops like Trace Minerals Research ConcenTrace Liquid Ionic Trace Minerals, which adds all the trace minerals your body needs.
Is reverse osmosis water healthy to drink?
Yes, reverse osmosis water is safe to drink. It does not cause harm to your health. However, it can be aggressive and can cause corrosion problems with your plumbing system – especially if you live in an area where the water has a high mineral content.
Is reverse osmosis water better than bottled water?
Yes, reverse osmosis water is better than bottled water. Bottled water can be more expensive and the environmental impact of plastic bottles is significant. Some bottled waters have contaminants like PFAS and microplastics in them.
Final Take on Drinking Reverse Osmosis Water
So, is reverse osmosis water good for you? The answer to that question is a little complicated.
RO removes hundreds of contaminants from your water supply and can save you money in the long run compared to buying bottled water. It effectively removes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. It also removes minerals that can stain your clothes and plumbing fixtures.
RO treated water also has a few undesirable traits. Many people don’t like the way it tastes. It causes corrosion in metal pipes. It also wastes a lot of water.
On whole, drinking reverse osmosis water is good for you and protects your health.