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Facts About Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Filters

You do need a reverse osmosis system:

if you live in an area where the water has a severe salt problem.Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Reverse osmosis water filters or commonly known as RO Systems are amongst the most popular water filters on the market. While they do provide benefits, unfortunately there are many disadvantages to the use of reverse osmosis in the home. There is a great deal of scientific documentation that supports such a theory. In the list below we are specifically speaking about use in the kitchen, although the concepts apply for the whole house too.

Whereas it might be effective for some industrial processes that need demineralized water, reverse osmosis is much from perfect for residence water purification systems.

Be ware of superlative praises for reverse osmosis water filters for residence installation and to consider more suitable alternatives instead.     
1. Health risks from drinking dematerialized water:

The subject of minerals and RO created controversy and disagreement among water and health professionals. Till just lately it was believed that the reverse osmosis water filter was the perfect technique for purifying water, however the freshest research show that the pure minerals and metals removed by reverse osmosis actually occur naturally within the water and have a beneficial influence on human health. Suppliers of RO "Reverse Osmosis" water filters claim that:

  • The main source of minerals is always from our food and diet, not from our drinking water and that water contains only inorganic minerals which can actually be detrimental to human health.

  • Some in the RO industry admit that long term consumption of demineralized water is bad for your health and add a remineralization filter cartridge, claiming that it restores minerals removed during the reverse osmosis process.
  1. Minerals - The Facts, backed up by documented studies and research:

    Filtered water from RO systems is demineralized - The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends drinking water that contains a minimum concentration of Calcium and Magnesium (most people do not get enough Magnesium in their diet). Read recommendations here... Demineralized water is not found anywhere in nature because it is not life enhancing.

    Most essential minerals are removed by the semi-permeable membrane of the R. O. system. The proper way to take in minerals is through mineral-rich water; through nutrient-dense foods and beverages. “The number of trace minerals known to be essential to life now exceeds thirty, and some researchers believe that for optimum health we need to take in every substance found in the earth’s crust.”  - reference Weston A. Price Foundation

    The WHO conducted a study that revealed some of the health risks associated with the long term of drinking demineralized water. Just a few of the risks include gastrointestinal problems, bone density issues, joint conditions, and cardiovascular disease. Read WHO report here...

    A Montana State University professor and a team of students have found that drinking water with a high content of minerals might be beneficial to one's health. read more...

    In both developed and developing countries, typical diets are often deficient in calcium and magnesium, essential minerals which are necessary for the development of strong bones and teeth, and for cardiovascular function. At the same time, there is evidence that consuming ‘hard’ drinking-water may be associated with reduced risks for some diseases.

    Proof that RO water is unhealthy

    While the term “demineralized water” sounds innocent enough, is it safe drinking water? Many authorities have gone on record to state that drinking it will adversely affect your health. One of those authorities is the World Health Organization (WHO) which produced a report “Health Risks From Drinking Dematerialized Water”. In it, they state the following: “It has been adequately demonstrated that consuming water of low mineral content has a negative effect on homeostasis mechanisms, compromising the mineral and water metabolism in the body.” Read highlights of the report here...

    Studies show that your body will absorb anywhere fro 6% to 30% of its daily requirement of essential elements from tap water. In a world where our soil is virtually devoid of nutrients from too many crops and not enough recovery time, and where diets are anything but healthy, it is very important to your long term health that you ingest calcium and magnesium from drinking water.

    Remineralization of RO water

    The RO industry is just waking up to the reality that long term consumption of demineralized water is bad for your health. The sellers of RO equipment are now racing around trying to find a solution to making their water healthy. The industry are offering Corosex and Calcite solutions. While Corosex and Calcite will remineralize water, they were never designed to work in with the aggressive acidic water produced by RO systems. As a result, Calcite and Corosex filters can dump more minerals into the water than your kidneys can digest and result in the formation of kidney stones. Calcite and Corosex filters are obviously not the right solution for remineralizing aggressive acidic water produced by RO machines.

    Can you safely remineralize water produced by distillation or reverse osmosis by installing in-line cartridges? Does it reproduce what Mother Nature has created over thousands of years? Probably not. Proof that remineralizing cartridges is effective and NSF certified cat ridges are also hard to find.

  2. The drinking water is acidic.  

    One of the primary reasons R. O. water is unhealthy is because removing the minerals makes the water acidic (often well below 7.0 pH). Drinking acidic water will not help maintain a healthy pH balance in the blood, which should be slightly alkaline.

    In the natural health and medical communities, acidosis in the body is considered an underlying cause of most degenerative diseases. In fact, in 1931, Dr. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for discovering the cause of cancer. In essence, he said it was caused by a lack of cellular oxygenation due to acidosis in the body.

    Medical research has also determined that drinking acidic water (as well as other acidic beverages) will often cause a leaching of essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from the body, especially from the bones and teeth, in order to neutralize the acidity.

    What is the best accepted range for TDS for potable water? read more...

  3. High loss of calcium, magnesium and other essential elements in food prepared in low-mineral water

    When used for cooking, soft water was found to cause substantial losses of all essential elements from food (vegetables, meat, cereals). Such losses may reach up to 60 % for magnesium and calcium or even more for some other micro elements (e.g., copper 66 %, manganese 70 %, cobalt 86 %). In contrast, when hard water is used for cooking, the loss of these elements is much lower, and in some cases, an even higher calcium content was reported in food as a result of cooking (WHO 1978; Haring and Van Delft 1981; Oh et al. 1986; Durlach 1988).

    Since most nutrients are ingested with food, the use of low-mineral water for cooking and processing food may cause a marked deficiency in total intake of some essential elements that was much higher than expected with the use of such water for drinking only. The current diet of many persons usually does not provide all necessary elements in sufficient quantities, and therefore, any factor that results in the loss of essential elements and nutrients during the processing and preparation of food could be detrimental for them.

  4. Taste

    Removing the naturally occurring minerals also leaves the water tasteless. Many people thus have to add liquid minerals to their R. O. water to improve the taste.

    Conclusion - Balance Is Key

    What you want is pure water - water that is clean, balanced, and healthful, neither too alkaline nor too acidic. Ideally, the pH of your water should be somewhere between 6 and 8.  The ideal water for the human body should be slightly alkaline and this requires the presence of minerals like calcium and magnesium.

2. Other most common disadvantages of RO systems are:

  1. Plastic housings, pipes and fittings are prone to failure causing leakage that can damage kitchen cupboards

  2. Plastic leaks toxic chemicals into water which pose a serious health risk

  3. Synthetic chemical substances like herbicides and pesticides molecularly smaller than water can't be removed by reverse osmosis.

    Due to this fact, to be efficient, any reverse osmosis system have to be adopted by a carbon filter and probably by an extremely-violet lamp for disinfection (killing) of any microbes which may escape the membrane barrier.

  4. Reverse Osmosis (RO) units waste a lot of water. For every liter of filtered water produced by reverse osmosis, two to three liters get wasted. The portion of water enriched in contaminants needs to be discarded at a non negligible expense. Given the present and future world concerns for enough availability of freshwater provide, this may occasionally shortly turn into an unacceptable waste.

  5. Although most RO systems available in South Africa are cheap, they are of low quality. Typical problems with lower-priced or lesser quality systems are:

    • Shorter pre-filter life: 4-6 months vs. 1 year, resulting in higher maintenance cost. Regular maintenance of the membrane and replacement of any filters/cartridges are critical factors in maintaining effectiveness and reducing bacterial contaminants of the system. Reverse osmosis (RO) systems, membranes are easily damaged by chlorine in the feed water. Chlorine damage to the membrane can lead to lower salt rejection and poor-quality permeate, which in turn could result in costly membrane replacement and down-time.

    • Made of cheap plastic housings and tanks that can leach toxic chemicals into the drinking water.

    • Filter housings and membranes are not NSF certified resulting in shorter membrane life: need to replace in 1-2 yrs vs. 5-7 yrs

    • Cheap non NSF certified RO systems housings can burst and connection joints can broke loose, resulting in expensive damage to cupboards.

    • Lower rejection rate and possible brine water seeping into pure water side due to poor quality membrane housings!- so water is less pure.

    • Leakage at fittings & auto shutoff device.

    • Poor quality tanks that lose pressure after 1-2 years (plastic tanks)

    • Each system is not individually tested (often are mass-imported)

    • Usually systems are not built in the USA, not tested by FDA or WQA.

    • Cost more to maintain in the long run

    • Little or no ongoing technical guidance and support from the supplier.

  6. To be effective, RO systems require regular expensive maintenance. The pre and post filters and the reverse osmosis membranes must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendation. Manufacturers of RO systems recommend that the desalination membranes and storage tank be cleaned periodically with chlorine to prevent internal growth of bacteria, which most suppliers do not do!

  7. A serious problem for the reverse osmosis process is membrane fouling. Clogging may occur when high levels of harmless minerals, such as calcium and magnesium are present. Regular membrane replacement is needed. Damaged membranes are not easily detected, so it is hard to tell if the system is functioning normally and safely.

  8. If high quality pre and post filters are not used, the water will have strange tastes and be of unknown quality.The inability to detect holes in the membrane leaves the consumer in a state of complete unknowing.

  9. Bacteria and germs, dead or alive, can clog RO membranes. To prevent this clogging, the units need to be disinfected periodically with chlorine or other products provided by the manufacturer.

  10. Systems usually are large and bulky taking up a lot of space.

  11. Flow rates are usually limited to a few liters per day. The slow production requires a large holding reservoir that takes up space.

  12. RO systems require a minimum water pressure. A relatively high water pressure is needed to force the water molecules through the membrane. In an emergency situation where water pressure has been lost, these systems will not function. Low water pressure may also result in premature fouling of the membrane or the need to install an expensive electrical booster pump.

  13. Most need a drain to flush away impurities.

Essentially the most technologically superior system is the carbon primarily based filtration system combined with KDF filter media that removes dangerous chemical and heavy metal substances whereas leaving minerals and pure metals intact.  The chemical compounds that do get removed are organic and synthetic organic pollutants such as pesticides, agricultural runoff, and family cleansers.

These substances are usually not solely carcinogenic but have been scientifically proven to be a factor within the onset of degenerative ailments of the nervous system. There was an enormous enhance in these kinds of illnesses because the dawn of the industrial era, and the reverse osmosis water filters do nothing to address this issue.


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