a man thinking if they should boil RO water with a photo of a NU Aqua RO System and a boiling kettle

Reverse osmosis (RO) purifies water, removing a wide range of contaminants to provide clean drinking water. Traditionally, boiling is used to kill pathogens and make water safe for drinking. However, RO water is already free from many contaminants, including harmful bacteria and viruses. So, is it still necessary to boil RO water?

Reverse Osmosis Water

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a multi-stage filtration method that pushes water through a semi-permeable membrane, effectively removing a broad range of contaminants, including sediments, microbes, and chemicals. The process starts with a pre-filter to catch large particles, followed by the RO membrane that filters out most dissolved substances and microorganisms. Some systems also have post-filters to eliminate any residual taste or odor. The outcome is RO water, which is much purer than tap and other types of filtered water, making it highly safe and suitable for those with health concerns or a need for extremely clean water. 

The Concept of Boiling Water

Boiling water is a traditional method used to make it safe for consumption. The primary purpose of boiling is to kill pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, that can cause illness. When water is heated to a boiling point of 100°C (212°F), most of these microorganisms are destroyed, significantly reducing the risk of waterborne diseases.

In addition to sterilization, boiling can also drive off volatile chemicals and compounds, though its effectiveness in removing chemical contaminants varies. Certain chemicals with higher boiling points than water may remain even after boiling. However, for many biological contaminants, boiling is an effective and straightforward method to ensure water safety.

The need to boil water typically arises from concerns about the quality of the source water. In areas with poor sanitation or where water supplies may be contaminated with pathogens, boiling is a crucial step in making water potable. For households relying on well water, rainwater collection, or water from sources lacking advanced treatment facilities, boiling is often recommended as a precautionary measure.

Is Boiling RO Water Necessary?

Considering the extensive purification that reverse osmosis water undergoes, boiling RO water is generally not necessary for safety purposes. RO systems are designed to remove the contaminants that boiling traditionally targets, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. The multi-stage filtration process, including the RO membrane and post-filtration, ensures that the water is free from these pathogens and safe for consumption straight from the tap.

However, there might be specific circumstances where boiling RO water could be considered. For instance, if the RO system is not properly maintained, there's a risk of contamination post-filtration. Regular maintenance and timely replacement of filters are crucial to ensure the system's effectiveness. If there is any doubt about the system's integrity or if a contamination event is suspected, boiling could serve as an additional precaution.

RO systems also have upgraded versions where a UV filtration can be included. For example, the NU Aqua Platinum Series 6 Stage UV Ultraviolet 100GPD RO System. This system offers advanced water purification through six filtration stages, including an ultraviolet stage that eradicates bacteria and viruses, ensuring exceptionally clean and safe drinking water. 

NU Aqua Platinum Series 6 Stage UV Ultraviolet 100GPD RO System

In households with individuals who have compromised immune systems or special health needs, extra caution might be warranted. In such cases, even though RO water is highly purified, boiling can add another layer of safety to address any potential residual risks, however minimal they might be.

Moreover, in emergency situations, like after a natural disaster or a known contamination of the local water supply, boiling RO water can be a temporary measure to ensure absolute water safety, despite the system's inherent purification capabilities.

While RO water is typically safe and clean enough to drink without boiling, certain situations or health considerations might warrant this extra step. The decision should be based on an assessment of the RO system's maintenance, the local water quality, and individual health needs.

Pros and Cons of Boiling RO Water

Boiling reverse osmosis (RO) water has its advantages and disadvantages, which are important to consider when deciding whether to boil RO water at home.


  1. Extra Safety Layer: Boiling can provide an additional safety net, killing any residual microorganisms that might have bypassed the RO system, especially in cases where the system maintenance is in question or if the water storage conditions are not optimal.
  2. Peace of Mind: For individuals with compromised immune systems or specific health concerns, boiling RO water can offer extra assurance about the water's purity and safety.


  1. Energy Consumption: Boiling water requires energy, and regularly boiling RO water can lead to increased energy usage and higher utility bills.
  2. Potential Loss of Minerals: RO water is already low in minerals, and boiling it can further reduce its already minimal mineral content. While this is not necessarily harmful, it means that the water may lack the beneficial minerals found in other water sources.
  3. Environmental Impact: The energy used to boil water, especially if done frequently and in large quantities, has an environmental impact due to the associated carbon emissions from electricity or gas consumption.

Practical Advice for Consumers

For consumers using reverse osmosis (RO) systems, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Ensure that your RO system is regularly serviced and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions. This includes replacing filters and membranes at recommended intervals to prevent contamination and maintain water quality.

  2. System Inspection: Regularly inspect the RO system for any signs of wear or damage. Check for leaks, cracks, or other issues that could affect the system’s performance and water quality.

  3. Storage Conditions: Store RO water in a clean, sealed container to prevent contamination. Ensure that the storage area is cool and away from direct sunlight to maintain the water's purity.

  4. Testing Water Quality: Periodically test the RO water using a water testing kit to check for contaminants and ensure the system is working effectively. If you notice a significant change in taste, odor, or appearance, investigate and resolve the issue promptly.

  5. Boiling Considerations: Boil RO water if there is a known issue with the system’s performance, during a community-wide contamination alert, or if you have specific health concerns that require additional precautions. Otherwise, boiling is generally not necessary.

  6. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about your local water quality and any potential environmental factors that could affect it. Understanding these factors can help you make informed decisions about water treatment in your home.


Boiling RO water is generally unnecessary due to the high purification level of RO systems. Proper maintenance and monitoring of the system are key to ensuring water safety without the need for boiling.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published