How Does Reverse Osmosis (RO) Work?
Reverse osmosis is the process of pushing water through a semipermeable membrane to remove impurities and harmful contaminants. A reverse osmosis system does this in a few stages. First, pressurized water goes through the particle filter to remove impurities like salt, sand, and sediment. The water then passes through an activated carbon filter that traps and removes minerals and contaminants such as chlorine, mercury, copper and pesticides. The pressurized water is then forced through the membrane’s tiny holes where the smallest impurities are trapped and only clean water passes through. The contaminants that were removed are flushed away and the treated water is sent to a storage tank to undergo a final activated-carbon filtration to improve taste quality before it’s ready for household use.
What Does Reverse Osmosis Remove from the Water?
A reverse osmosis system will filter the majority of minerals (both healthy and unhealthy) and chemical materials from water, including salt, fluoride, lead, manganese, iron, and calcium.
There is no need to worry about the removal of the healthy minerals. The inorganic minerals in water cannot be digested by our bodies, so removing the minerals does not affect the healthiness of the water. Minerals contained in food are in a form that we can digest.
Do I need reverse osmosis if I have a water softener?
Even with the use of a water softener, impurities may still be in the water you drink and use for washing and cooking food. A reverse osmosis system can remove those impurities, including 98% of the sodium left by the water softening process.
A reverse osmosis system and a water softener combination has additional benefits.
- A water softener protects a reverse osmosis system because removing calcium and magnesium from water is difficult for a RO system. Since these are the minerals found in hard water, the water softener will reduce the water hardness, protecting the reverse osmosis unit and extending its life.
- A water softener will provide soft water throughout your home, but a reverse osmosis system provides purer drinking water my removing most impurities including the salt left behind by the water softener.
- Water softeners can save you money on utility bills because water-using appliances will operate more efficiently, using less energy. Plus, soft water can lengthen the life of those appliances. A reverse osmosis system saves money by eliminating the need for a water service and bottled water.