Clean drinking water is an essential component of healthy lives. Many people obtain their drinking water from municipal supplies, and while this water meets minimum safety standards, the water coming from faucets is not always free of contaminants. To ensure safe, clean drinking water, reverse osmosis water filtering systems provide an ideal solution. Just what is reverse osmosis and how does it work to filter drinking water? In this guide, we will give you the information you need to understand this method of water filtration.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Osmosis itself is a natural process used by living organisms; diluted solutions pass through cell walls to mix with more concentrated solutions, helping to balance the concentrations of the two solutions. A perfect example of natural osmosis at work is when the skin of your fingers shrivels after prolonged exposure to water, such as swimming in the ocean. Through the osmotic process, water from our bodies passes through skin tissues and into the water surrounding us.
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a process by which water passes through a semipermeable membrane in order to achieve equilibrium, just like in natural osmotic processes. The primary difference is in the flow direction and in the method to achieve flow. Instead of moving from dilution to concentration, RO solutions move from concentration to dilution. Natural osmosis is passive, while RO requires pressure to pass solutions through a membrane.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Work?
Whole home reverse osmosis water filtration systems typically perform several steps in producing clean, fresh drinking water. The first step is pre-filtration, where feed water from drinking water supplies is piped under pressure through carbon or glass-fiber filters. This process traps larger sediment particles and minerals before flowing into the RO chamber.
The second step is where reverse osmosis takes place. In typical RO water filtering systems, the RO chamber is equipped with a membrane made of a tightly-woven material. The gaps in the weave may be as small as one-ten thousandth of micron (0.0001 micron) in diameter, giving the material the ability to trap tiny particles. Pressure pushes the pre-filtered feed water through the membrane, leaving all the dissolved sediments, minerals, and contaminants behind.
In the third step, the treated water is stored in a separate tank until it is ready to be used for drinking, cooking, or cleaning. Finally, the reverse osmosis system drains contaminants that collect in the RO chamber through a special drain.
What Can an RO Water Filter Remove?
High-quality whole house reverse osmosis water filter systems can remove a wide range of contaminants from drinking water. Under optimal conditions, these systems are able to remove as much as 99% of dissolved contaminants; some of the effectiveness depends on the size of the contaminant particles or molecules. RO systems can remove:
- Organic and inorganic salts
- Oils and fat-based molecules
- Pyrogens – small protein-based bacterial substances that can cause illness
- Sediment particles
- Organic bacteria and certain viruses, including Salmonella, E. coli, Norovirus, and Hepatitis A
- Trace minerals such as sulfates, iron, zinc, mercury, and arsenic
Is Reverse Osmosis-Treated Water Safe for Drinking?
RO water is some of the cleanest water on the planet. By harnessing a natural cellular process and reversing it, RO systems remove harmful contaminants from drinking water. In numerous studies conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking RO-treated water can minimize many health risks associated with drinking water contamination.
Thousands of RO water filtration users around the world report improved quality in taste, odor, and clarity of treated water. RO water filtration is the safe choice when it comes to providing you and your family with clean, pure drinking water.