Clean drinking water is difficult to come by. In places like California, water is scarce thanks to drought. In third-world countries, there’s a lack of infrastructure to provide potable water. And even in our own homes, tap water toxicity is a real concern, as toxins like lead and arsenic have been found flowing through the tap. It’s just one of the reasons that reverse osmosis water advocates believe that reverse osmosis is the way to ensure safe drinking water.
What Is Reverse Osmosis Water?
Though reverse osmosis sounds like a biology class you might’ve missed, in reality, it’s just a type of filtration process. In reverse osmosis, untreated water, like saltwater, flows through a semipermeable membrane and carbon filters.
The size of the membrane lets the water flow through the filter, but leaves behind salt, chemicals, minerals and impurities. The result is “pure” water that’s free from bacteria and minerals.
Can you drink reverse osmosis water?
Water that’s been treated through reverse osmosis is drinkable! Some cities use reverse osmosis when there’s an abundance of saltwater but not enough fresh water, like this plant in Australia.
You might have used even reverse osmosis in a water filter on a camping trip to ensure you had safe drinking water. You can also install a reverse osmosis system in your house or have a reverse osmosis filter at home.
Is Reverse Osmosis Good for You?
There are advantages to drinking water that’s gone through the reverse osmosis process. If you live in an area that’s plagued with water issues and concerns, this can be a good way for you to feel safe about the water that you’re drinking. If pesticide or herbicides are a concern in your community, filtering your water through a reverse osmosis system makes a lot of sense.
Reverse osmosis water is also a terrific option when you are camping or visiting a place with suspect local water. It’s one of the most effective systems for removing trace minerals in your water.
There are, however, some disadvantages to reverse osmosis water, too. For starters, most reverse osmosis systems have no way to differentiate between “bad” ingredients and good ones. So while harmful contaminants are being removed, so are the trace minerals that our bodies need to perform properly, like iron and manganese.
In an ideal world, this wouldn’t actually matter, because we’d be getting all the good stuff we need from the foods we eat. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Almost 10 percent of women, for example, are iron deficient, which can lead to anemia. And a manganese deficiency can throw our entire body out of whack, as the mineral is critical in balancing hormones. If we’re already not getting enough vitamins and minerals from our diet, and then we’re extracting them from our water supply as well, it can lead to a higher risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Additionally, cooking with demineralized water, like reverse osmosis water, actually reduces the amounts of vitamins and minerals found in whole foods. For example, when using demineralized water, like reverse osmosis water, you can lose up to 60 percent of magnesium or 70 percent of manganese in your food. (1) Water wants to bond to everything, and it will take the minerals where it can — like in your food.
In fact, the World Health Organization released a report about its concerns over reverse osmosis water and over the fact that much attention has been given on how the process removes contaminants, without the same thorough examination over what happens when folks are drinking this demineralized water. (2)
The report says that reverse osmosis water “has a definite adverse influence on the animal and human organism.” It also mentions that “the potential for adverse health effects from long term consumption of demineralised water is of interest not only in countries lacking adequate fresh water but also in countries where some types of home water treatment systems are widely used or where some types of bottled water are consumed.”
In homes, reverse osmosis water systems actually wind up wasting water. There’s not as much pressure in these as there are in huge, industrial-size systems, so more energy is needed. In total, up to 85 percent of the water can be wasted to produce 15 percent of drinkable water. (3)
So, Should I Install a Reverse Osmosis System?
Sadly, this isn’t an easy answer! This is very much a personal decision for yourself, your family and your needs. If the water supply in your area is really sub par, and you feel that the reverse osmosis system is a better option than other filtration systems, it’s definitely better than ingesting ingredients like lead or arsenic.
However, if you’re merely curious about a reverse osmosis water system, definitely do your research. Check and see what minerals are removed during the process, as each system is different. If you’re concerned about the environment, it’s a good idea to ask how much water waste is produced for each gallon of water that’s filtered.
Finally, price will likely be a factor in your decision, too. Filters range from simple countertop and under-the-sink contraptions to household-wide systems.
- Reverse osmosis is a way of filtering water.
- There’s no real way for reverse osmosis to filter out harmful ingredients and leave good ones in.
- Reverse osmosis can be a good option if you live somewhere with super contaminated water or as a short-term solution, like when you’re camping.
- Unfortunately, removing all of the vitamins and minerals from your water supply can impact your health by leading to mineral deficiencies.
- These systems can also waste a lot of water and energy.
- Ultimately, the right decision is the one that works best for your family. Good luck!