This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for supporting the work I put into this site!
Clean water is essential to staying healthy, hydrated, and disease-free, and often tastes far better than water that comes from wells and municipal reserves. Today, we have access to many types of water purification systems for our homes, which can make it difficult to narrow it down to the healthiest, most economical filtration method.
After many years of having tried numerous water filtration systems and filling water bottles at fill stations, I’ve come to realize that reverse osmosis (RO) systems provide the cleanest, best-tasting, and healthiest water. The CDC reports that RO systems are highly effective at removing bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and common chemical contaminants from water such as chloride, copper, and lead. RO systems are also far more convenient and cost-effective than bottled water!
Here’s a look at the benefits of drinking RO water, how RO systems work, and how to choose a quality, economical RO system for your home.
What Is RO Water, and How Does an RO System Work?
RO is a purification process that removes and reduces contaminants, dissolved solids, viruses, bacteria, chemicals, tastes, and odors from water. It does this by forcing it through spiraled membranes that trap all those foreign bodies. The RO process also removes chlorine and harmful byproducts caused by chlorination that have been associated with illnesses including cancer. RO water systems are designed to filter out these contaminants so that only water molecules (H2O) make it through the filtration process while contaminants are sent to the drain. Though some dissolved solids do still make it through, these parts make up fewer than 100 parts per million, which equates to less than 1 part per 10,000 parts of H2O that is not H2O.
No company can guarantee 100% filtration with their system; however, RO systems are found to perform more efficiently than many other filtration methods. RO systems are even used by many popular bottled water companies (including Aquafina and Evian) to purify water before packaging it, so why bother paying for pricey bottled water when you can get the same quality of water on tap for a fraction of the cost?
RO water systems may seem complex—especially when it comes to their installation and how they work. However, these systems are relatively simple and function using the existing water pressure in your home’s plumbing. The quality of water produced by RO systems is top-notch, and the system is low-maintenance after you get through the initial installation process. And, depending on your handyman skill level, you will likely only spend 1 to 2 hours hooking up an RO system (which is well worth your time and money, believe me!).
What Are the Health Benefits of RO Water?
RO water is the cleanest water I’ve ever tasted. This water has no odor and leaves behind no water sediment or stains at the bottom of glasses and tea kettles as do other forms of “pure, clean, and safe water.” For many years, I used a PUR Faucet Water Filter and PUR Water Pitchers, but these systems left behind large amounts of residue and sediment buildup in my water even after swapping the old filters for new ones. The taste of sediment and chlorine remained in the water even after a fresh filter change in those filtration methods.
RO water systems remove over 99% of pollutants and contaminants from water including bacteria, chlorine, pesticides, fluoride, nitrates, sulfates, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and arsenic, among many more. All these pollutants have been linked to a wide range of serious health problems including infertility, organ damage, and cancer.
In addition to producing healthier water and being more effective than many other water purification systems, an RO water system will save you lots of time and money! You may pay more up front for this system and its installation, but in the long term, you’ll never again have to worry about trips to the grocery store for water bottles or to the nearest refill station for 5-gallon water jug refills.
A gallon of water may last you 2 days and costs about $1 per gallon. Over one year, you may pay an average of $180, which is the same price as many RO water systems—and that’s only for one person. If every person in a family of 3 drinks one gallon of water per day (including the water used in coffee, tea, and cooking), the family may go through at least 3 gallons a day, which equates to over $1,000 per year if you purchased $1 gallon water jugs at the store.
Does RO Water Have Any Disadvantages?
Non-fans of RO water say that RO systems produce low-pH water that increases the body’s acidity levels. However, don’t be discouraged from purchasing an RO system if you read any of these assaults. RO water comes out of the faucet at slightly below the neutral pH level of 7, and a typical pH of any given RO system ranges between 6.2 and 6.7. Also, it’s worth noting that the average American diet is made up primarily of foods and beverages with pH levels that are much lower and far more acidic than that of RO water. Coffee, soda, alcohol, fruit juices, tea, and energy drinks are examples of highly acidic beverages consumed by the masses.
Some people (and manufacturers of other water purification systems) are completely against RO water due to the way RO systems strip water of all its minerals—including those that offer health benefits such as calcium, zinc, and magnesium. However, the makers of RO systems have acknowledged this and offer special mineralization and alkaline cartridges that can replace these essential minerals and raise the pH level back up into your drinking water following the initial filtration stages. These simple cartridges offer essential nutrients and increase the pH level of your water into the range of 8 to 10 for a very low cost. They are sold as part of the package deal with your RO system, or can be purchased separately. This isn’t bad at all considering some people may spend a few dollars for a quart of alkaline water at the store.
Tips For Choosing a Quality, Cost-Effective RO System
Quality RO systems will have a series of filters before the membrane that remove larger sediments and dissolved solids before the water gets to the membrane where all the smaller, more harmful contaminants are located. This extends the life of the membrane (which is often costly to replace) so it can do its job more efficiently. Typically, an RO system should have a sediment filter and two carbon/charcoal filters, followed by the membrane. After these four stages, an additional carbon filter can be added for the purpose of extracting any additional tastes or odors that remain in the water.
The type of RO water system you should buy depends mainly on whether your water is coming from a well or municipal supply. For those of us who depend on city water, a 4- or 5-stage system for around $150 to $200 is usually high in quality and very feasible. Those who live in rural areas and rely upon water from a well would typically want the addition of a UV light filter added to the system, which would equate to a total of between $200 and $300. UV light kills bacteria in the same manner as chlorine, but with fewer harmful effects.
Those who want the pH boost and remineralization option should opt for a 6-stage system, which typically costs an additional $20 to $40 and supplies around a thousand gallons of water. These can be purchased as part of the package deal or separately later on.
Keep in mind when purchasing a system that you will be changing out filters and the RO membrane periodically. Some manufacturers make filters specific for their systems, which tend to be 2 to 3 times more costly than standard-sized filters that fit most systems. Fortunately, standard-sized replacements are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
Do you have an RO system and if so, how would you say it compares to other water filtration systems? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medical treatment.
Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links for Amazon.com.