The Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Water

Do the benefits of reverse osmosis outweigh the downsides?

By: Alyssa Scavetta

Reverse osmosis (RO) is one of the most effective methods of water filtration technology. For example, many countries use reverse osmosis to desalinate seawater in an effort to combat water shortages in key locations. Currently, most of the operating desalination plants provide water in the Middle East or North Africa (44%). However, as water accessibility becomes more urgent (and as the effects of climate change start to uncover new needs across the globe), scientists expect that salination capacity will grow 7% to 9% annually — and that’s all by using reverse osmosis on a large scale.

On a smaller scale, the benefits of reverse osmosis water have made it a popular choice among consumers for filtering the water in their homes. Additionally, many restaurants use reverse osmosis water to improve the safety and taste of their food. The sheer capabilities of reverse osmosis can be overwhelming, so we’ve broken down everything you need to know including what it is, how it works, and the pros and cons. Let’s take a look.

What is reverse osmosis filtration?

Reverse osmosis is a water filtration method that forces water through a semi-permeable membrane at a high pressure, leaving all particles larger than the net behind. In this sense, the semi-permeable membrane filters contaminants on a molecular level, catching microscopic particles including chemicals, sediment, microorganisms, and heavy metals. As pressurized water goes through, contaminants get caught, and only filtered water gets to the other side to use for drinking, cooking, bathing, or any other purpose.

"Reverse osmosis is a water filtration method that forces water through a semi-permeable membrane at a high pressure, leaving all particles larger than the net behind."

Is reverse osmosis water good for you?

Many people wonder if reverse osmosis water is good or bad for their health. Since RO systems are the most effective water filters, removing up to 99.99% of contaminants, RO water is safe to drink. The natural loss of minerals during the filtration process can result in a flat taste and reduced health benefits, but using an RO system that adds back minerals solves this problem.

How does reverse osmosis filtration work?

The reverse osmosis process essentially sifts out particles that are larger than 0.01 micrometers or larger in size, which can include many types of sediment, bacteria, and even fluoride and lead particulates.

It’s also important to note that the reverse osmosis process does not require thermal energy, and instead, relies on high-pressure pumps. In layman’s terms? This means that it doesn’t require access to a power supply, it just needs a lot of water pressure.

As an example, for brackish water (water with more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater), the water pressure flowing through your reverse osmosis system will be between 225 and 376 pressure-per-square-inch (psi). That’s more than 6x the average water pressure of a standard-size home (usually between 40 to 45 psi). This intense pressure pushes water through the semi-permeable membrane, leaving impurities behind and providing you with healthier, better-tasting water.

Reverse osmosis pros and cons

There are many benefits of RO water. With more than 91% of Americans using some form of water filtration in their homes, and a percentage of that being reverse osmosis, let’s look at the benefits they’re receiving.

Advantages of reverse osmosis

Pro #1: Reverse osmosis filters the most contaminants

When it comes to removing the most contaminants, reverse osmosis stands out from the water filtration pack. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites reverse osmosis as one of the most “effective in eliminating all disease-causing organisms and most chemical contaminants.”

For example, the Aquasana SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis Filter is Water Quality Association tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and CSA B483.1 for the removal of 90% of fluoride, 96% of chlorine and arsenic, 97% of mercury, and 99% of lead and asbestos plus 83 additional contaminants. While many reverse osmosis systems inadvertently remove healthy minerals as well, Aquasana’s system adds those back through a remineralization process that restores beneficial minerals.

Pro #2: Reverse osmosis is a safe alternative to bottled water

It’s no secret that plastic bottles are bad for the environment, but few people realize that filtered water (such as reverse osmosis) may actually be safer than using disposable bottles every day. The bottled water industry is notorious for lack of regulation and as the New York Times pointed out, “the FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminants it contains.”

By comparison, Aquasana’s SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis is certified to strict NSF/ANSI standards so you know exactly what contaminants are being removed/reduced and to what degree. Furthermore, using a reverse osmosis water filter is far more environmentally friendly than plastic bottles, and adds convenience since you only need to turn on the faucet to enjoy healthier, great-tasting water.


SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis

High-efficiency reverse osmosis system removes up to 99.99% of 90 contaminants, including fluoride, arsenic, chlorine, and lead.

Pro #3: Reverse osmosis provides better water for cooking

Many restaurants have started using reverse osmosis water to wash ingredients and cook with in order to improve the taste of their food. In fact, Chef and Owner of Crop Bistro & Bar Steve Schimoler noted:

“I never gave much thought to the water I used until I had the opportunity to research the role that water plays in my kitchen and restaurant. I quickly found the water that was purified using reverse osmosis (RO) technology provided me with a clean canvas which allowed the flavors and ingredients I used to shine.”

While the benefits of reverse osmosis are making it a standard in the food service industry, you can also use an RO system to give your home cooking an added boost.

Pro #4: Reverse osmosis is more convenient than pitchers

Reverse osmosis filters won’t take up fridge space (or counter space), or require refills and as frequent filter changes as water filter pitchers do. RO filters only need to be changed out once or twice a year and once installed, all you have to do is turn on the faucet for healthier, safer drinking water. The convenience of an RO system is a major benefit if you find yourself getting water several times a day for optimal hydration.

Pro #5: Reverse osmosis systems can help you save money in the long run

While the upfront cost of a reverse osmosis system may seem expensive, in the long run, you’ll end up saving money. This is especially true for those who buy water bottles or jugs each week. Currently, in the United States, the average cost of a 20-ounce bottle of water is around $1.50.

If you alone drink around a gallon of water per day, that’s around 6 to 7 bottles of water, running at almost $9-10 per gallon of water. That quickly adds up for larger households. With a reverse osmosis system, you can access filtered water for just a few cents a gallon without having to leave the house.

Disadvantages of reverse osmosis

While reverse osmosis is the most effective water filtration technique on the market — preventing particles as small as fluoride from entering your water — there are some downsides as with any filtration method.

Con #1: More water wasted

According to the EPA, “Reverse osmosis units use approximately three times as much water as they treat,” which may be reflected on your water bill. In fact, some household reverse osmosis systems only recover between 5%-15% of the water they filter.

Additionally, there aren’t many options for the proper disposal of wastewater. You can dispose of the wastewater into the sea, but for those who are landlocked, you should consider an evaporation system to avoid runoff or groundwater contamination, as it can be detrimental to the ecosystem.

Con #2: Some noticeable pressure drop

While the Aquasana SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis features a reliable flow rate of 0.8 gallons per minute, many people who use alternative reverse osmosis filters experience a fairly noticeable pressure drop in their water flow rate.

Con #3: Loss of minerals

Reverse osmosis is such a powerful filtration method, that in addition to contaminants, it also removes healthy minerals. By removing good minerals from your water, it loses some of the health benefits and can also have an off taste which makes it less enjoyable to drink. To counteract this, some systems, like the Aquasana SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis include a remineralizer to restore beneficial minerals that would otherwise be lost.

Is reverse osmosis worth it?

Reverse osmosis is a popular method of water filtration, but it comes with pros and cons that each person will need to consider to determine if an RO filter is right for them. If you’re looking for maximum contaminant removal in the water you use for cooking and drinking, you’ll find that reverse osmosis filters are a great solution with more convenience than bottled water. However, you should be mindful that these systems create wastewater, and some systems lower your water pressure and remove minerals.

At Aquasana, we take pride in making our reverse osmosis system the most efficient, reliable, and durable water filtration system on the market. The SmartFlow® Reverse Osmosis filter reduces 15x the contaminants of the leading pitcher filter brand. Plus, with the included remineralizer, you’ll get healthy amounts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium for optimally alkaline, pH balanced water. Shop now to enjoy the benefits of reverse osmosis in your home.