Reverse osmosis is one of the most comprehensively effective options for home water treatment, removing up to 98% of contaminants. But it sometimes gets a bad rap. Today we’ll debunk seven common myths and tell you the real facts about this valuable method of water filtration.
Myth 1: I Need to Treat all the Water in My Home with Reverse Osmosis
Although there are circumstances where this may be true, reverse osmosis is more commonly a point-of-use system, rather than whole-house. Reverse osmosis removes a wide range of impurities that you don’t want in your drinking water, but are fine for other household water uses like bathing and plumbing. Choosing a point-of-use system will cut down on installation and maintenance costs and overall water usage.
Myth 2: Reverse Osmosis Systems Waste Too Much Water
It’s true that during the reverse osmosis process, water is required to flush away the contaminants trapped on the dirty side of the membrane. Depending on the system, this averages about four gallons of water used to clean every gallon of filtered water. While that statistic can seem startling, reverse osmosis technology is continually improving. Many new systems produce two gallons, one gallon, or even just half a gallon of wastewater for every gallon of clean water. Some systems are even considered “zero waste” because they send wastewater into your hot water supply instead of down the drain.
This ratio is less concerning when you remember that reverse osmosis is most commonly used only on drinking water, which is just a fraction of your overall water usage. If a family of four drinks 4 gallons of water per day, that means up to 16 gallons are sent down the drain. Most showerheads dispense 2.5 gallons of water per minute. That means your reverse osmosis system uses less water per day than a 7 minute shower.
Myth 3: Reverse Osmosis Systems Are Bad For the Environment
Because reverse osmosis produces undrinkable water as a byproduct, some worry about the environmental impact of this “wasted” water. However, there are ways to decrease the amount of water used. As mentioned above, many of today’s newest systems are much more efficient than the old 4:1 standard and some are even zero waste. Maintaining your system regularly will allow it to run at its peak efficiency. Reverse osmosis also uses no chemical additives, so the wastewater poses no environmental risk beyond its original contaminants.
In fact, reverse osmosis is much better for the environment than its most common alternative – drinking bottled water. Not only do most empty plastic bottles fill up landfills and contribute to pollution, but a significant amount of energy is wasted packaging and shipping those bottles. Reverse osmosis is a safe way to allow us to drink tap water.
Myth 4: Reverse Osmosis Systems are Too Expensive
The cost to install a reverse osmosis system varies widely depending on its size, type, and features, but there are many affordable point-of-use options for just a few hundred dollars. Since filters need to be replaced once or twice a year, you should budget $50 to $100 for that. Unless you’re using a whole home system, you probably won’t notice much of an increase in your water bill.
The truth is, even with maintenance costs, a reverse osmosis system will SAVE you money if you’ve been buying bottled water instead of drinking from the tap. With a single case of bottled water often costing between $10-$20, you’ll quickly recoup your costs.
Myth 5: Reverse Osmosis Systems Are Difficult to Maintain
Most reverse osmosis systems include several carbon filters as well as a semipermeable membrane. It’s important to replace them regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the system keeps working the way it’s meant to. Because filter replacement is so important, most manufacturers make sure this is a quick and easy process that only takes a few minutes. Some systems even include maintenance lights or reminders. Although you can’t install a reverse osmosis system and never touch it again, there’s no need to be worried. Think of filter maintenance like changing the battery in your smoke alarm.
Myth 6: Water From Reverse Osmosis Tastes Bland
Pure water is tasteless. But most water we drink has minerals in it, which give it a slight taste. Reverse osmosis removes up to 98% of minerals in your water, even ones that are harmless. Some people find that water to be “flat” or “bland.” If you don’t like the taste of your water after it has gone through reverse osmosis, most systems offer the option of adding a remineralizer filter. This adds minerals back into the water after it’s been cleansed and makes the taste more familiar.
Myth 7: Water From Reverse Osmosis is Unhealthy
Reverse osmosis strips nearly every impurity from water, including minerals that are safe in trace amounts, or might even be beneficial. That leads some to believe that water from reverse osmosis is unhealthy. In truth, water is not the sole or even primary source of these minerals, and the benefits of removing harmful contaminants far outweigh any downside of removing helpful contaminants. However, if this concerns you, all you have to do is choose a system with a remineralization filter, which will put helpful minerals back in your water. The content of these filters vary by brand, but often include calcium and magnesium.
Reverse osmosis can also lower the pH of water, making it slightly acidic. A remineralization filter should help with that as well. Some reverse osmosis systems also include an optional alkaline filter to raise the pH of your water, which some believe has additional health benefits.
No water treatment system is perfect, but in most scenarios, the benefits of reverse osmosis systems far outweigh any concerns. Because there’s such a variety of systems available, Dierolf Plumbing & Water Treatment can help you choose a model that addresses what’s most important to you – such as efficiency, water taste, ease of maintenance, or annual cost. Don’t let critics dissuade you from enjoying clean and safe tap water. Give us a call today!