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What Is Reverse Osmosis, and How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Everyone deserves to have access to clean drinking water, and that is why you might be thinking about installing a water filter or a water softener for your property. There are a lot of options available, and you need to find the right one to meet your needs.

One option you might be considering is a Reverse Osmosis system. Usually shortened to RO, this could be a great way to ensure your house has clean drinking water, but how exactly does this system work?

Reverse osmosis systems are designed to remove contaminants from unfiltered water by relying on pressure that forces the water molecules through a semi-permeable membrane. By applying pressure to the contaminated water, it forces the water molecules through the membrane, trapping and retaining the unwanted contaminants while allowing clean, purified water to pass through.

Take a look at a few important points below, and do not hesitate to reach out to an expert who can help you find the right water treatment for your needs.

An Overview of a Reverse Osmosis System: How It Works

In general, water flows from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. That is why water flows downhill, and everything else, including electricity, ions, and contaminants, generally follows suit. A reverse osmosis system takes advantage of this principle to ensure people have access to a clean supply of drinking water.

First, unfiltered water, which is usually called feed water, is added to an area that has a semi-permeable membrane. This means that the membrane allows certain items to flow through it, but not others. This membrane only allows the smallest particles through, their size being measured in microns.

Then, water will flow from the side with more contaminants, usually called the more concentrated side, to the side that has fewer contaminants. This will create a clean supply of drinking water. Any dirty water that is left over, which is usually called brine, is then disposed of properly.

As water passes through the semipermeable membrane, water will become more concentrated. Because the membrane will block contaminants from entering the less concentrated side, the water will eventually become clean. Then, all that is left is clean drinking water, able to help protect your overall health.

Reverse Osmosis Systems: The Filters They Contain

woman holding a cup of clear water

Usually, a reverse osmosis system has multiple filters that gradually work together to purify the water. For example, the system may have one filter that is responsible for removing larger particles, such as rust, dirt, and dust.

Then there might be a filter that has been made to specifically remove volatile organic compounds. Usually shortened to VOCs, this filter will typically remove contaminants that can give the water a bad odor or taste.

Finally, one of the most effective filters is a semi-permeable membrane. This is a filter that could remove up to 98 percent of total dissolved solids, usually shortened to TDS. All of these filters have to work together to ensure that the water is as clean as possible when it reaches the end of the system. 

How Does the Water Progress Through the System?

Water will usually go through this system stage by stage. For example, it will start in a stage called prefiltration. This stage usually has larger filters that will remove larger contaminants, including chlorine, that could otherwise damage the rest of the system. It is important to protect the reverse osmosis system from harm, as many of the contaminants that are removed early in the process could cause damage to the system later in the process.

Once it has gone through the carbon and sediment filters, it will reach the reverse osmosis membrane. There, dissolved particles, even those that are too small to be seen with a powerful microscope, will be removed.

Next, it flows into a storage tank. There, the water is held until needed. The RO system will continue to filter water and remove contaminants until the storage tank is full. Then, once the storage tank is full, it will shut off.

When the water supply is turned on water will exit the storage tank. This will trigger the RO system to turn on once again and start filtering to fill up the storage tank again. 

There might also be a specific filter that will “polish” the drinking water, likely by adding back some minerals, to ensure it has a nice taste before it flows to the faucet.

All of these components have to work in perfect harmony to ensure that the water tastes right, and everyone is kept safe.

A Reverse Osmosis Membrane: What Does the System Remove?

sulfur water

Clearly, a reverse osmosis system is very powerful. It can remove a variety of contaminants that can not only contribute to a bad taste, but also contribute to significant health problems. Keep in mind that different filters have been specifically designed to remove different types of contaminants, but each filter is responsible for removing something different.

Some of the most common examples of contaminants that as RO system might be able to remove include salt, fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, and volatile organic compounds. This system can also remove sediment, herbicides, pesticides, and numerous other contaminants. They may also remove minerals. Importantly, a Reverse Osmosis System can remove bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that could otherwise contribute to an illness. At the same time, if the water comes from a treatment plant in the local city, then it should already be free of any biologically active compounds that could contribute to a serious disease.

On the other hand, if the water is coming from a well, then an extra step might be required to kill potentially serious bacteria and viruses to make it safe. This is where a filtration system that offers UV disinfection could be beneficial. To be sure, you should have your well water tested.

What Are the Top Benefits of a Reverse Osmosis System?

Because a reverse osmosis system is so powerful, there are several significant benefits it provides. Some of the biggest examples of a reverse osmosis system include:

1. It Reduces the Concentration of Harmful Contaminants

Clearly, one of the biggest benefits is that a reverse osmosis system can reduce the percentage of dissolved solids. It can remove up to 98 percent of dissolved solids, and many of these are contaminants that could otherwise make people sick. For example, this is a system that can remove arsenic, which could otherwise lead to serious health problems. It also contains a sediment filter that can remove larger solids that would otherwise be visible in the drinking water.

It is important for people to test the drinking water to see what contaminants might be present. That way, they can figure out exactly which contaminants need to be removed with the filtration system.

2. It Can Reduce the Sodium in the Water Supply

Some people have been advised to follow a low-sodium diet, particularly if they have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. One of the major benefits of a reverse osmosis system is that it can reduce the amount of sodium in the water supply as well.

Keep in mind that sodium may also be added to the water supply from a water softener. A water softener is great because it can remove calcium, magnesium, and iron that can cause hard water and might otherwise damage the plumbing system, among other benefits. A water softener will usually swap these elements for sodium. While the sodium itself might not impact the taste, it could be removed using an RO system, helping people who need to follow a low-sodium diet.

Continue reading more about water softeners and reverse osmosis.

3. It Can Remove Bad Odors

Some people complain that their drinking water smells bad. One reason why this might be happening is that there are volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, present in the water supply. One of the most common examples is chlorine, and many people know what a chlorinated swimming pool smells like.

Their home’s water supply should not smell like a pool, and a reverse osmosis system can efficiently deal with odor issues. A carbon filter can be used to remove volatile organic compounds from the water supply, which can make a significant difference in the smell and taste of the water. 

4. The System Is More Sustainable

Many people who get tired of dealing with the issues listed above simply go with bottled water instead. However, it is important for us to do our part to protect the environment, and that means identifying a sustainable way to clean up the water supply. One of the most effective ways to do so is to use a reverse osmosis system, and a reverse osmosis system is more sustainable than always drinking bottled water. 

5. An RO System Does Not Require a Lot of Maintenance

Anyone who is interested in installing a water filtration system should consider the maintenance it requires. Another major benefit of using an RO system is that it does not require a tremendous amount of maintenance. It is also very easy to install.

If you want to take full advantage of this system, you should consider reaching out to an expert who can install it properly for you. That way, it will run as efficiently as possible. Be sure to talk to the expert about what you have to do to take care of it, but there should not be a lot of work involved.

6. It Does Not Require a Lot of Space

If space is at a premium, then you are probably interested in a water filtration system that will not take up a lot of space. The vast majority of reverse osmosis systems will fit underneath the kitchen sink. You don’t have to worry about the system taking up an entire room of your house, and you also don’t have to worry about it taking up space that should otherwise be reserved for other appliances.

A Reverse Osmosis Process Is Rarely Used for the Entire House

It is important to think carefully about which water filtration system is right for your needs and where it should be installed. A reverse osmosis RO system is particularly beneficial if you are looking for an exceptional option that will fit underneath your sink. This is typically called a point-of-use system, or a POU system. Many people like to install this system in the kitchen because that is where the drinking water usually comes from. You might want to place your reverse osmosis drinking water system underneath your sink, or you might want to attach your reverse osmosis filtration system to a refrigerator.

On the other hand, you should not use this system to protect the entire house. Unless your house has a specific contaminant that requires this type of system, it is probably a bit overkill. You do not want to spend the money to install an RO system of this size, and it might require significantly more maintenance because of the amount of water it is filtering. If you are looking for a system that can be installed to protect your entire water supply, you might want to go with a water softener or whole house water filter instead of a reverse osmosis water system. Industrial reverse osmosis systems and house reverse osmosis systems might be a bit much for most pure water purposes.

DROP Reverse Osmosis System

Explore the Water Water Filtration Options Available From DROP

It is important for you to do everything you can to protect your drinking water, and that is why a water softener or water filtration system from DROP can be beneficial.

We understand that every home is different, and our experts would be happy to help you find the right option to meet your needs. Take a closer look at the reverse osmosis system, smart water softeners, and water filtration systems we offer, and reach out to us with any questions or concerns you might have.

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