Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You – RO Water Health Benefits

Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You?

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 filtration

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.

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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:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Ammonia
  • Arsenic
  • Bacteria, protozoa, and viruses
  • Cadmium
  • Chloride
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Cyanide
  • Cysts
  • Fluoride
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Microplastics
  • Nitrate
  • PFAS
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Phosphate
  • Radium
  • Sodium
  • Sulfate
  • VOCs

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.

RO systems excel at removing water impurities and provide exceptional water purification.

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. Failure to keep up with maintenance for even a few months can create serious side effects. Avoid these bad situations by maintaining your reverse osmosis water system.

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. Adding alkaline minerals can reverse this effect.

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 Water Filtration

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.

Alternative #1 – Activated carbon filter

Activated carbon is a commonly used alternative to reverse osmosis in water treatment. It is a highly porous material that effectively removes impurities, such as chlorine, chloramines, and volatile organic compounds, by adsorption.

Activated carbon filters are also effective at removing bad tastes and odors from water. Additionally, activated carbon does not remove essential minerals from water, unlike reverse osmosis, which can lead to water that is “dead” or lacking in beneficial minerals.

If you are worried about lead, you can install a lead removal filter. Overall, activated carbon is a cost-effective and efficient method for improving the quality of drinking water.

Alternative #2 – Pitcher filter

Pitcher style filters, such as those from Brita and Pur, are another alternative to reverse osmosis in water treatment. These filters use a combination of mechanical and chemical filtration to remove impurities from water. They are typically filled with activated carbon, which effectively removes chlorine, chloramines, and volatile organic compounds, as well as bad tastes and odors.

However, compared to reverse osmosis, pitcher style filters have a lower capacity for removing impurities such as heavy metals, dissolved solids, and microorganisms. They are also less effective at removing dissolved salts, bacteria, and viruses.

Alternative #3 – Bottled water

Bottled water is another alternative to reverse osmosis in water treatment. The water can be sourced from various locations such as springs, wells, or municipal sources.

Bottled water is often perceived as a safer and purer alternative to tap water, but this is not always the case. The quality of bottled water can vary greatly depending on the source and the treatment methods used. Some bottled water is simply tap water that has undergone minimal treatment, while others are sourced from natural springs and have been purified through reverse osmosis or other methods.

However, even with the best quality bottled water, it can be expensive and creates plastic waste.

Overall, while it may seem like an alternative to RO filtration, it is not always a reliable option and it has environmental impacts.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 good 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 RO 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. Does reverse osmosis remove every contaminant – no. But, it is better than all other water filters available.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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