Is Reverse Osmosis Water Bad for Your Health?
The process of reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to filter your water. But how does this filtered water affect our bodies? Some people believe that RO systems remove too many minerals and are ineffective- if not harmful- for us.
Because so many myths surround this process, people have begun to think that reverse osmosis water is not as healthy as tap or bottled water. That’s why we wanted to dive head-first into this subject to get the best idea of the health benefits of pure water.
Tap and bottled water
Ever wonder why tap water tastes a bit different everywhere you go? You can thank the chemicals, minerals, and contaminants that the city municipality failed to remove from tap water, or that were picked up through the pipes. While the EPA has regulations about removing contaminants, enforcement of these policies is lacking.
At the same time, a lot of people also tend to give too much credit to bottled water. The truth is that many bottled water companies lack proper water treatment practices, too. Still, the ones that do filter their water properly might be using reverse osmosis. At the risk of using too much plastic on a regular basis, you’ll want to take control into your own hands and RO your own water at home.
How does RO work?
Some might think of reverse osmosis as a high-tech, scientific process that alters water in unsafe ways, but it’s actually simple:
Water is forced through a semipermeable membrane with holes so small that only water can pass through. This traps all the chemicals, minerals, inorganic compounds, parasites, and other contaminants. This includes arsenic, lead, and chlorine. RO is also one of the only systems that gets rid of traces of pharmaceutical drugs.
So everything you see done on a large scale for bottled water can be done at home with your tap water- and then some.
Good or bad? Debunking the myths
What is described above sounds pretty simple, and maybe even favorable, right? Well even though it might seem like a no-brainer to you now, here’s what people are questioning about RO:
Is RO too clean?
Some argue that because reverse osmosis systems filters water too well, to the point we miss out on even beneficial minerals.
While we need nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, we are not going to get the amount we need of them from drinking water- at least not in adequate amounts. The main source of organic minerals for humans is food. You have to drink a whole lot of water in order to receive the same amount that eating your fruits and veggies provides!
RO filtration removes the unhealthy, inorganic minerals that the body cannot process. The build-up of these kinds of minerals, especially calcium salts, leads to problems such as gallstones and kidney stones.
So does RO filter out possibly too many minerals? Sure, but would you rather have no beneficial minerals in your water or some beneficial minerals at the risk of dangerous ones? Trust us: we’d rather you be safe and get your minerals from food than risk harming yourself drinking too much (possibly unsafe) water.
Does completely filtered water leach minerals from the body?
Actually, quite the opposite. Water is a universal solvent because it loves things to be dissolved in it. The purer the water is, the better it is at taking in and absorbing the minerals and nutrients within your body.
Is RO water too acidic for humans to consume?
When water goes through the RO process, the pH level has a tendency to slightly drop from the neutral 7 to down to 5.5. However, this is not actually a problem. Remember that some of our food is more acidic than 5.5; most fruits have an acidity between 3-4!
Our ability to maintain homeostasis works wonders on our consumption of acidic foods and drinks. The low pH will adjust and change when we ingest it.
Does RO waste a lot of water?
The answer is yes and no. Indeed, RO filtration systems are known to produce a lot of water waste. But this can be seen positively: so much is being filtered out that only the cleanest water will come through at the end.
It is good to know that this 4-8 gallons of wastewater can be recycled. Many systems are built to recycle it. If you end up putting the water down the sink, the water will go to a city treatment site anyway.
Can I afford an RO filtration system?
It will be expensive upfront—from $100-400—but worth it in the long run. Unlike other one-step filters, there is not much need to change the parts continuously. Every year the carbon filters may need changing, and every few years, the membrane. Other than this, the upkeep cost is low.
If you want to ensure that your water retains minerals that are lost in the RO process, there are systems out there that add them back. Instead of the usual 5-stages, these are 6-stages. The last step involves a calcium carbonate filter that will increase water alkalinity (raise the pH) and put back those desired minerals.
In order to ingest the healthiest water you can, reverse osmosis is actually the best way to go.