Reverse osmosis: the harm and benefits of membrane purification of tap water

Evgenia Kravchenko
Checked by a specialist: Evgenia Kravchenko
Author: Ekaterina Shpak
Last update: January 2020

Are you familiar with the situation when an unclear liquid of dubious composition runs from the tap, which is also not very pleasant? The problem of high-quality purification of tap water is now becoming increasingly important. Agree, risking your health with tap water is unreasonably expensive. And buying bottles of drinking water daily is an expensive activity that takes up a lot of useful time.

To solve the problem, many different filters have been developed. Reverse osmosis plants are in high demand. But at the same time, such systems are shrouded in a series of myths and prejudices. Surely you, like many potential buyers, are concerned about the question of how reverse osmosis works: will harm or benefit to the body be from the use of a “perfectly cleaned” liquid?

We will help you deal with the intricacies of membrane cleaning and find out if pure water is really so harmful, as they say. The article contains the most popular arguments in favor of and against reverse osmosis, provides visual photos and videos to help evaluate the real advantages of purified water in front of tap water.

The principle of reverse osmosis

The ability of filters that perform water purification by reverse osmosis principle, completely rid water of impurities, which is interpreted by specialists not only as a virtue, but also as a disadvantage.

Reverse osmosis as an industrial method of water treatment has been used since the 70s of the last century. First, seawater was desalinated with it.

Thanks to technology improvements, it has become possible to use reverse osmosis filters at home.

The resulting water has a unique degree of purification, in many respects its properties are close to melt. But it is meltwater of glaciers that is considered the most useful and environmentally friendly.

Reverse Osmosis Benefits
Reverse osmosis is by far the most effective method of purifying water. It is widely used throughout the world in various fields.

In the process of reverse osmosis, water is separated from the substances dissolved in it at the molecular level.

A semi-permeable membrane through which liquid passes under pressure passes only water molecules (as well as other particles of equal or smaller size), and the vast majority of impurities traps.

Thus, on one side of the membrane, almost “crystalline” water accumulates.

Reverse osmosis provides a much higher degree of purification of liquids from contaminants than most popular common filtering methods.

Special membranes used in reverse osmosis filters trap mineral and organic impurities, viruses, bacteria, iron, heavy metals, hardness salts, etc.

Being a "molecular sieve", they protect the consumer from all kinds of unpleasant surprises associated with the deterioration of the chemical and organoleptic properties of water.

Reverse Osmosis Efficiency
Reverse osmosis plants have positively proven themselves in both industrial and domestic applications. They are highly reliable and durable.

Filter design and specifications

Household reverse osmosis unit usually includes these key components:

  • prefilters (one or multistage preliminary cleaning);
  • membrane reverse osmosis;
  • post filters (finishing cleaning);
  • storage tank.

The preliminary cleaning stage allows removing mechanical impurities, chlorine, and a number of organic compounds from water. This allows you to maximize the life of the "heart of the system" - a membrane that performs the main fine water purification.

The standard equipment of the reverse osmosis installation will be presented by the photo gallery:

Post-filters are installed for additional deep clarification of the liquid, ionization, improvement of its taste.

Fully “treated” water enters the storage tank, from where it is supplied through a special separate tap for clean water. Typically, a crane is also included with the equipment.

For a reverse osmosis filter to work for a long time, productively and efficiently, a certain amount of water pressure. From 2.8 to 6 atm is optimal.

If the pressure is too low, you need pressure boosting pump, in the opposite situation, care should be taken to install a pressure relief valve.

A properly installed high-quality device has been working properly for many years - without breakdowns, leaks, malfunctions. All that is required of the user is a timely change of cartridges.

The reverse osmosis membrane needs to be changed approximately every 2-4 years. Pre-filters - once every six months, finishing filters - once a year. You can do this work yourself.

Reverse osmosis filter for home
Timely replacement of filters and membranes is the key to the effective operation of the equipment and the health of all family members. This process is usually straightforward.

Harm and cons of installing the system

Together with well-deserved praise, reverse osmosis filters are often subjected to devastating criticism. This method of cleaning, according to many, personifies the saying "the best is the enemy of the good."

One of the key disadvantages of the plants is their low productivity. Filters are very "meticulous" in cleaning - about 1 liter of "initial liquid" leaves for 1 liter of "good" water.

Reverse Osmosis System Installation
Reverse osmosis filters are very wasteful systems. They “drain” up to 75% of the total volume of water into the sewer. This is their major drawback.

Also among the minuses of the devices are:

  • dimension;
  • high cost;
  • additional costs for the system with "incorrect" pressure in the water supply.

But the main "defect" of the installations is their possible harm to health. This fact worries the minds of consumers the most.

It is known that water that underwent reverse osmosis becomes almost a distillate. The conclusions of specialists regarding the harm and benefits of such a liquid have always been and still are.

Soviet scientists adhered to the position that natural mineral substances must be contained in water - otherwise harm to health cannot be avoided.

The usefulness of the distillate can only be said if it is used for a short time. The fact that it is good for research and medical purposes does not make it such for the human body.

Regular consumption of water passing through the reverse osmosis membrane can lead to a violation of the salt balance, which is one of the most important metabolic processes in the body.

He is responsible for the correct combination of the quality and quantity of salts in all anatomical and physiological structures.

Violation of this balance to the greater side threatens the deposition of salts, to a lesser extent - thinning and malfunctioning of tissues.The reverse osmosis membrane is an obstacle for salt ions and other trace elements required by the body.

Lack of salts leads to thinning of bone tissue, resulting in bones becoming fragile. Cartilage tissue is also thinning, cartilage becomes less elastic, painful sensations occur when walking and any movements. Arthrosis may develop.

A lack of magnesium can cause arrhythmias, muscle cramps, periodontal disease, and hypertension. The low content or absence of mineral substances in the water adversely affects the condition of tooth enamel.

Reverse osmosis water is far from ideal; Being crystallized, it does not make any contribution to the total amount of nutrients (nutrients) required by the body. This is confirmed by many modern studies.

Cons of reverse osmosis
Water purified by reverse osmosis plants is often called “dead”, which does not carry the body any good. Despite the fact that water is becoming desalted, such statements are too loud

Enough authoritative data have been collected to claim that a deficiency of calcium and magnesium does not pass without a trace. The risk of not only cardiovascular disease, but also sudden death is increased.

Some scientists argue that the constant use of the so-called soft water with a low Ca content leads to fractures in children, pregnancy complications (preeclampsia), and neurodegenerative changes.

The design of the reverse osmosis unit may include a mineralizer that makes up for “important losses”.

But the fact is that the mineralization of already purified water will not provide the harmonious combination of microelements that was originally present in the liquid.

Probably, none of the existing methods of water enrichment in the world is optimal, saturating it with really all important substances.

Some experts consider it more rational to use those water purification systems that do not require any additional measures to improve the quality and taste of the liquid.

The principle of reverse osmosis
Volatile organic matter, the size of which is smaller than a water molecule, the reverse osmosis membrane does not pick up. She also misses herbicides and insecticides.

The real benefits of membrane cleaning

Despite a number of disadvantages of reverse osmosis, its advantages cannot be belittled. It is a truly effective water treatment system that can handle even the most dangerous pollution.

Water, wherever we take it - city water, open water, wells or wells - contains a large number of harmful and dangerous elements.

Inconsistency of the consumed fluid with sanitary-chemical and sanitary-biological standards has an extremely negative effect on well-being and human health.

The main sources of water pollution are:

  • municipal drains;
  • municipal waste;
  • drains of industrial enterprises;
  • industrial waste.

They are saturated with its various chemical and microbiological contaminants.

Bacteria and viruses that multiply in municipal wastewater can cause many different serious diseases, including:

  • cholera;
  • bacterial rubella;
  • typhoid and paratyphoid;
  • salmonellosis.

Contaminated drinking water may contain toxic substances, worm eggs, nitrites, nitrates.

Stocks of industrial enterprises are "full of" almost the entire periodic table. Formaldehyde, phenol, heavy metals, organic solvents contained in them can cause genetic mutations and cancerous tumors, have a teratogenic effect on the fetus.

Mercury, copper, and lead affect the kidneys. Nickel, zinc and cobalt have a negative effect on the liver. They have a huge negative effect on the cardiovascular system.

Needless to say, the constant use of water with such a “rich composition” is extremely detrimental to the human body? Therefore, the use of domestic water treatment plants is not a whim, but a necessity.

The degree of purification of water by reverse osmosis
Laboratory studies show that drinking water is most often contaminated with iron, calcium salts, organic contaminants, manganese, fluorides and sulfides.

Conventional flow-type filters, nozzles, jugs reduce the amount of harmful impurities in the water, reduce their concentration. The taste of the liquid becomes more pleasant, the smell and color disappear.

But to cope 100% with all the pollution with their help, unfortunately, will not succeed. Only a household reverse osmosis filter can help.

Devices with a reverse osmosis system are some of the best systems for treating household water. They "cope" with more than 98% of harmful impurities. None other filter for home use not capable of this.

Real high efficiency makes this equipment more and more popular. People refuse to freeze and boil water in his favor.

Despite its impressive size, the reverse osmosis installation is completely invisible in the kitchen, as it is installed wash filter.

The only detail indicating its presence is a separate chrome plated spout for supplying purified liquid. This faucet is mounted either on the countertop or directly in the sink.

The benefits of reverse osmosis more harm
The device does not create any trouble at all, it works quietly and practically does not remind itself of anything

Osmosis filters - equipment that works for the benefit of the whole family. Adults, children and elderly people can without hesitation drink the water that has passed through the treatment system. On it you can safely cook, breed with it mixes for newborns.

Reverse osmosis water is also good for washing, bathing babies in it. It does not cause irritation and allergies, great for sensitive skin prone to rashes.

The purified liquid extends the life of household appliances (irons, coffee machines, etc.).

Reverse osmosis systems remove components from the liquid that interfere with the disclosure of the true taste of dishes. And especially drinks. The purified water produces a very aromatic coffee, excellent cocktails.

Reverse osmosis water provides an impeccable quality in alcoholic beverages, packaged juices, etc.

The absolute safety of the purified liquid is a key advantage of reverse osmosis plants. This is an important acquisition for a healthy life.

Reverse osmosis system for washing
The quantity and quality of treated water depends on factors such as pressure in the water supply, temperature and degree of contamination of the liquid, membrane performance

Many reputable sources argue that with the proper full-fledged, varied diet, you should not worry about the low mineralization of the liquid. After all, the “lion's share” of useful substances enters the body precisely from food, and not from water.

The subtleties of mounting reverse osmosis

In order for the fluid filtration to be really high-quality, the choice of system must be approached very responsibly.

A selection of photos will familiarize you with the standard stages of assembling the reverse osmosis system:

An important factor is the composition of the raw materials used for the manufacture of the plastic body of the product. The appearance of the structure should "inspire confidence", from it in no case should come from an unpleasant chemical smell.

A filter made of second-rate raw materials is microcracks, splits, souring inside the case and no health benefits.

Be sure to pay attention to the quality of connections and fittings - the reliability and durability of the equipment largely depend on them. The best manufacturers of these components are Johnguest and Organic.

The membrane - a key component of the installation - must certainly be very good. The better it is, the higher the degree of purification of the liquid and the safer its composition.

The best deals on the market are membranes. Filmtec (expensive, but with a large resource) and Tfc (optimal ratio of price and reliability). Their service life can reach 5 years.

Products of Chinese manufacturers usually "do not reach" even to an average level of quality, being extremely short-lived.

The filter life is usually 4-15 thousand liters, the average daily output is 170-250 liters. Devices with a resource of 5000 liters will last for a family of 3-4 people for about 2 years.

Few people know that a reverse osmosis system can be done independently. Step-by-step instruction can be found in this stuff.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Comparative analysis of the effectiveness of flow filters and reverse osmosis plants:

There is no consensus on the dangers and benefits of reverse osmosis. Even competent specialists disagree. But still you should not be afraid of “like fire” reverse osmosis filters, because the pollution contained in tap water is much more dangerous than the imbalance of its mineral composition.

And with the removal of hazardous substances, the devices do really well. And this is a powerful argument in favor of their acquisition.

Thinking of purchasing a reverse osmosis filter? Or do you already have experience using reverse osmosis plants and would you like to share it? Please leave comments at the bottom of the article. You can also ask a question about the topic of the article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Alexander

    The method and the system itself are not bad. But due to low productivity, “consumables” often have to be changed + they take up a lot of space under the sink, which is a huge minus for small rooms. Also, a lot of scammers appeared, doing apartment-by-apartment detours, deceiving grandmothers and taking the last money to install such systems (and not the fact that they will install high-quality ones), which completely discredited the idea of ​​installing the system in the eyes of many.

  2. Eugene

    I have very old pipes in my apartment. Already dirty and rusty inside. Replacing the plastic with the work goes into the penny. I had to try many water filters. It is not possible to drink, when washing the clothes even turned yellow. Therefore, I decided to spend some time and buy a filter with osmosis. in the end, it still turned out less pipe replacement. Water has become potable.

    • Expert
      Evgenia Kravchenko

      Hello. Do not count for impudence, just advice. “Very old pipes” for responsibility for the condition lie on the shoulders of the owner of the apartment. If you live in an apartment on the 1st floor, you will most likely not have such problems. But if it is higher that the leak caused by them, as I understand it, with an extremely worn condition, will fly you into a lot more penny than a replacement. Moreover, plastic pipes are not so expensive, and you can even replace them yourself. Believe me, I soldered the pipe wiring with my own hands, I know that this is not difficult.

      The only thing is buying a soldering iron - for 1 apartment, a budget device for a thousand and a half is enough. I sincerely advise you not to wait for the emergency, but to replace the piping, having previously gone to the UK and made accurate calculations for the cross sections. And old pipes can still add some trouble to you, including blockages. Good luck

  3. Reverse osmosis is so merciless that it removes everything from the water, including useful elements. Cleaning is ideal, but such sterile water is also not good. Should I buy such a system? It is, especially if you live in contaminated areas or in a house with old pipes (for St. Petersburg with its old housing stock this is especially true). With reverse osmosis, neither rust nor pesticides with sticks will be scary. But there will be little benefit from such water, although it will not bring harm, which is already good. If, after osmosis, water is returned to the beneficial that it lost during the cleaning process, then it can safely be consumed). But in most cases, reverse osmosis is an overly aggressive means.

  4. Nikolay

    I appeal to those who say that water after osmosis is “dead.” You are deeply mistaken that there is something useful in drinking water. There are no vitamins there. There are microelements, but they are not absorbed by the human body. In order to close the need for water, you need to drink 8 liters per day.

    Long-livers (Okinawa, Yakutia, mountain Azerbaijan) drink the water that comes from melting glaciers. At the same time, the channels of mountain rivers along which melt water flows are not polluted even by sandy deposits. As a result, any impurities are excluded. All other water in the world passes through formations with a huge content of minerals and salts of heavy metals, which gradually settle in the body.

    Type on the Internet info about the long-lived people of the “hunza”.

  5. Ruslan

    No need for horror stories about water from the OO filter. In water, the low level of essential elements for humans. A person receives these elements from food. The diet should be balanced. If you eat only sandwiches, then no water will help. I have been using OO water for 12 years, my wife’s pregnancy, growth and development of children have passed on it. Proper nutrition is the key to health. And food from OO water is tastier because of better extraction of elements from products.

  6. Larisa

    I just use it with mineralizers and everything is fine for as long as 8 years.

  7. Alexei

    Paul Bragg lived to 94, drank discs. His native 4 generations drank discs.

    • Peter

      Read about this scammer on the Internet, he even changed his date of birth for many years and died of illness.

  8. Alexander

    The water obtained after filtration by reverse osmosis becomes acidic, in the literal and figurative sense, so it cannot be of quality like meltwater, because melt water is alkaline. The article is clearly misleading about this.

  9. Nikolay

    Even if the water after reverse osmosis is acidic, it can be easily alkalized, for example, with lemon in tea)

  10. Do you know that over time, mucus from the microorganisms you drink accumulates on the inner walls of a rubber bulb, praising reverse osmosis?

    • After 6 years of use, I specially sawed the tank and looked, and there everything was as if there was no mucus, nothing. So, let’s without tales, only experience!

    • Expert
      Evgenia Kravchenko

      Yes, indeed, for reverse osmosis, the formation of a biofilm from microorganisms on the surface of membranes and the walls of the protective casing is an urgent problem. There is no need to panic and terrify people. Although photos from the Web can do this quickly and without unnecessary words (I will add for clarity, but I will make notes).

      First of all, you need to understand that the formation of film, algae in cartridges is a natural process, but for such cases preventive measures are provided.

      There is a special tool to remove the film from microorganisms in the membranes, called Dutrion, based on chlorine dioxide. In fact, it is a gas dissolved in water, penetrates through the pores of the membrane without problems and completely destroys the biofilm from microorganisms and algae. The substance is neutral to the materials of which the membranes are made, and its concentration in water is minimal and not harmful to humans.

      Attached photos:
  11. Vitaliy

    10 YEARS we use the entire family of osmosis water purification ... very satisfied. And if we talk about tap water, it’s disgusting to drink it - smell and taste are just POISON! Everyone who considers clean water to be harmful, I think that such people do not think about their health and loved ones all the more! All good health and do not hesitate for a long time - get osmosis cleaning and recommend it to others!

  12. Alexei

    Good afternoon! I apologize in advance. Separation of water occurs 50/50, and not 1/3 - this is when you need to change the membrane. It all depends on the quality of the water.

    People do you eat only water? Or do you believe soup, borscht, dumplings? And do not add salt to food? You do not eat meat? Dill, onions, garlic, nuts, fish? Yes, that means the whole problem is in the water.

    Forget about clean tap water. Type it in any village well and boil it. And here are your kidney stones and bile. Good luck.