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Reverse Osmosis- Pros and Cons as Compared to Water Ionizers

Posted by Alkaline Water Plus on 10th Dec 2011

Reverse Osmosis is considered one of the best forms of filtration.  A lot of people have RO machines that think that they are drinking really healthy water.  I would like to shed some light on this subject and relate/compare it to alkaline ionized water, which you would get from an alkaline water machine [AKA… water ionizer].

What is RO?

RO stands for Reverse Osmosis.  This is more easily understood if we define osmosis.

Osmosis is the tendency of a fluid, usually water, to pass through a semipermeable membrane into a solution where the solvent concentration is higher, thus equalizing the concentrations of materials on either side of the membrane.

So, likewise,  reverse osmosis is when pressure is applied to one side of a semipermeable membrane in order to get fresh water out of a solution.  This actually defies the nature of water.

A typical home RO system would include a sediment filter, an RO membrane, a pressurized water storage container, a post filter, and a separate water tap.

Benefits and Disadvantages of RO

This process is well known for the ability to desalinize water.  This is one of the best ways to go about treating brackish water or seawater.  It will remove up to 93% of the sodium dissolved in water.  This is often used when someone uses a whole house softener that uses sodium.  It is considered unhealthy to drink water that has sodium in it as you can easily get too much sodium that way.

Reverse osmosis will inevitably reduce the total dissolved solids(TDS) of the water as well.  The plus side to that statment is that there will not be contaminants in the water.  However, there will also be very little mineral content left in the water after reverse osmosis.  This is not particularly good for the body to drink as water too void of minerals will tend to leech the body of minerals as it circulates around.

Now, some RO systems do come with an inline remineralizer which would add minerals back into the water, or you always have the option of adding a remineralizing filter (and housing) to the line.

Even with the remineralizer added in, reverse osmosis may tend to make the water acidic, which is not ideal for drinking purposes.

There are specific contaminants that RO will get out of the water.

Contaminant Lab Test Field Test

The field test here is for properly maintained units, un-maintained, the amounts could be as little as zero.

Something else to keep in mind is that if there is more than one contaminant in the water, the rejection rate for each contaminant could be reduced or hindered.

There is also quite a bit of waste water produced by reverse osmosis.  You only use 5-15% of the water entering the system.  This is a lot of waste water being produced.

How is Alkaline Ionized Water Better than Reverse Osmosis?

We sell a reverse-osmosis machine, that comes complete with remineralizer, but it's not better than ionized water. Electric water ionizers produce alkaline ionized water is both alkaline and antioxidant-rich!  It helps prevent the effects of food, drinks, stress, etc. in making your body acidic. It will counter the acidic lifestyles that we lead, and help the body get to a homeostasis.

By the way, you can combine a reverse osmosis machine with an alkaline water machine [water ionizer], but you need to know this one thing:  a water ionizer needs minerals in the water in order to ionize it properly. Many people purchase a water ionizer and request that one of the water ionizer’s filters be traded for a remineralizing filter, or if that brand of water ionizer has no internal remineralizing cartridge, then it’s easy enough to buy an external one. We will often include a remineralizing cartridge at no extra cost, so make sure you request this if you plan to purchase an alkaline water machine [water ionizer] to use with your reverse osmosis machine.

There are healthy, alkaline minerals in alkaline water. This is good because this means that the water you drink from an ionizer will not leech the body of minerals. All water ionizers have filters built into the machine. These filters, depending on the machine, will filter a large number of contaminants. There are some contaminants, such as fluoride, amonia, sulphur, and arsenic, which are not as thoroughly eliminated using a reverse osmosis machine as they would be using an alkaline water machine which utilizes specific filter media targeted toward eliminating that toxin. Fluoride is a great example of this. An unfiltered water ionizer [which there are none, but theoretically] will eliminate 85% of the fluoride from the drinking water [because fluoride is acidic]. A reverse osmosis machine will eliminate about 85% as well.

The reason that reverse osmosis is so ineffective with fluoride is that it relies on the size of the molecule to sift the contaminants out of the water. Fluoride is such a small element, it’s right next to oxygen on the periodic table. A slow flow [trickle] of water through a carbon filter will eliminate about 85% of the fluoride as well. The specialized filter media, called activated alumina, will eliminate up to 99% of the fluoride. Why so much better? Because the activated alumina filter media is chemically attracting the fluoride to it and then when it bonds it is trapped in the media and can’t go anywhere.

Besides for Better Filtration, Why Else Would You Want to Combine a Water Ionizer with a Reverse Osmosis Machine?

Alkaline ionized water has an abundance of antioxidants.  Ionized water actually has one of the most basic forms of antioxidant built right in.  This is measured by Oxidation Reduction Potential (ORP).  The lower the ORP the better.  Some of the water ionizers we have tested consistantly get an ORP of -600 to -700!  Normal tap water is a positive 200 or 300 ORP, meaning it will oxidize the body. Even if you handle the acidity problem of reverse osmosis, the ORP is another, separate, issue that reverse osmosis doesn’t handle. RO water is usually around +300 ORP, which is very oxidizing.

For most contaminants, other than sodium, extreme hardness or radium, there is not a big advantage in using reverse osmosis at all. Obviously, good filtration is desirable, but many water ionizers provide you with this. You can go to our water ionizer comparison page to compare various ionizers’ filters. We suggest that the best way to filter city water is to use either the H2 or H3 Prefilter System rather than reverse osmosis. With these filter systems you can customize what filters you need [if any] prior to your water ionizer.  Also, if you have a well and you are concerned about bacteria or viruses there are filters for that specifically.  For bacteria, viruses, pharmaceuticals, nitrates, chlorine, chloramine, amonia, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, the best way to handle is to customize for the water contaminants that you are concerned about.

Cathleen Lograsso

Cathleen LoGrasso

My background is in physiology, teaching, nutrition and weight loss. I have raised 5 children who are all grown now. I have a masters degree in education and was a teacher/principal for 24 years. I created Alkaline Water Plus in 2009 to educate people about the benefits of ionized water.

The very best thing I have ever purchased is a WATER IONIZER, and I've been in perfect health ever since I started drinking ionized water 25 years ago! Understanding and knowing how to control and manage my own body's pH and antioxidant levels at the cellular level has made all the difference in the world in my life, my family's lives and in a countless number of my friends and associates over the years.

Cathie LoGrasso Owner, Alkaline Water Plus

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