What is Reverse Osmosis?

The History

In the 1950’s America had “doubled down” on science. In a decade that saw the invention of atomic energy, remote controls, home microwaves, velcro, and power steering, the United States sought to apply scientific progress to every aspect of the American life. This even included the water we drink.

In an effort to make fresh water from ocean water research progressed into reverse osmosis. In 1959 at the University of California Los Angeles a student hit upon the discovery of an efficient viable method of reverse osmosis purification.

Today reverse osmosis is used not only in desalination plants but in food and beverage production, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, power plants, the US military, and countless homes.

Reverse Osmosis Explained

The entire Reverse Osmosis process is made possible by the Reverse Osmosis Membrane. The membrane is ultra thin film that allows water pressure to draw water through the membrane the film creates, but blocks even the smallest dissolved solids from coming with it. This process is repeated thousands of times through each layer of the membrane coil until virtually all of the contaminants are removed from the water.

A thin film composite membranes generally have a 95-98% rejection rate of anything that isn’t water. However, with quality efficient filters before and after the membrane this can be boosted to 99.99% of contaminants.

Home Filtration

The average home Reverse Osmosis system mostly takes the form of a five stage under sink filter. The first type of filtration is usually a sediment filter. This eliminates things like dirt, dust, rust, sand, silt, and other sediments from water. While other filters may capture sediment contaminants these contaminants can be very damaging to other types of filters, so a stage dedicated to sediments is ideal. The second and third types of filter are usually carbon filters. Carbon filters efficiently remove chlorine, industrial solvents, and chemicals that cause bad taste or smells. Chlorine contamination can damage an RO membrane, so having carbon pre-filters increases your filtration efficiency and the lifespan of you filters. The fourth stage is the RO Membrane, this handles most of the contaminants you find in water. It’s the most efficient filtration for capturing dissolved solids and many of the hardest to capture contaminants like lead, fluoride, bacteria, chromium, and more. The water is then sent to a storage tank until you turn your faucet on. Once the faucet is on the water travels through one final carbon filter to deliver the best, freshest tasting water possible.

Additional Filtration

A home system can incorporate other filtration stages as well. Generally these would come after the RO Membrane but before the final carbon filter. An Alkaline filter can be added which adds essential minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Alkaline filters also importantly increases the pH level of water to help balance the bodies pH as well as increasing the oxygen content of your water and adding antioxidants.

A UV filtration stage focuses on biological contaminants in water. A UV Sterilizer efficiently kills viruses, bacteria, microorganisms, algae, fungi, e.coli, coliform, and more. A UV light destroys the DNA of these contaminants which not only kills the contaminant but prevents it from producing offspring.

A deionization filtration stage is used for the purest water possible, matching distilled water in purity. This makes water ideal for cooking, aquariums, ice, appliances and coffee. Deionization works through mixed bed ion exchange, which ionically attracts and bonds with any foreign body contamination in your water. This attracts anything that isn’t pure water. However, without prefiltration like the sediment, carbon, and RO membrane, it becomes overloaded and will need to be replaced quickly.

The Bottom Line

Reverse Osmosis is one of the most comprehensive filtration solutions available today. With a base 5 stages of filtration it’s drinking water that’s purer than the majority of bottled water Reverse Osmosis is one of the best filtrations solutions for those who are concerned with the many contaminants not removed by single stage pitcher, faucet, and refrigerator filters.

What Are You Drinking?

What Are You Drinking?

The Big Question

Do you know what’s in your water?
It seems like a simple question, but it brings up a variety of new questions.

Do you know what’s in the miles of pipeline that lead to your community?  Do you know how old that water infrastructure is?
Do you know what your county treats water with? Do you know if they use chlorine, fluoride, chloramine, or something else?
Do you know what kind of water runoff comes from the farms and industry in your area?

Few people can answer even one of these questions.

Maura Allaire, a water economist at the University of California, Irvine says that while America’s water is safe (compared to the rest of the world) year after year problems crop up in specific areas. The contaminant problems can cause stomach flu, or chronic conditions including a variety of cancers and neurological disorders.

When the lead crisis over the water in Flint, Michigan came to the attention of the media almost 21 million Americans in total were getting water from sources that violated government health and safety standards.

While more isolated and rural communities statistically have the highest risk of having “unsafe” levels of contaminants, even large city water sources like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles have legally acceptable level of chemicals like Chloroform, Chromium, Nitrates, Hormones, and Arsenic.

The Answer

If you’re interested in finding out what’s in your water there are a few things you can do.

For a general look we recommend looking up your area here at the Environmental Working Group’s database.

For a more in depth look at the water specifically from your supplier you can review the Consumer Confidence Report they release every year. It will specify which chemicals are added to your water for disinfection as well as information on the regulated contaminants found in your water supply.

The EPA requires these water supply reports to be updated every year by July 1st. You can check to see if you area’s report is available in the EPA’s online database here.

It’s important to note that this report, however, only details regulated contaminants. There are over 200 known unregulated contaminants including Butanol, certain insecticides, herbicides, and industrial solvents, as well as Cyanotoxins, Urethane, and others.

The broadest spectrum and most in-depth information you can get about your water of course comes from actual laboratory testing. We suggest using an accredited independent laboratory. We suggest using a local laboratory, Ward Labs, or another testing lab. Make sure to avoid “testing services” from companies that also sell water filtration equipment.

If you’re looking for a cheaper solution or you’re worried about a specific contaminant in your home’s water you can order a home water testing kit. These will check for one specific contaminant or a small range of contaminants.