General Reverse Osmosis Questions

In this article we answer the common reverese osmosis questions. If you find this useful, don’t forget to share it with your family & friends. We want everybody to be as informed as possible, especially when we talk about water.

1. How much do reverse osmosis systems cost?

As with just about anything product you are searching for, the answer to the question, the answer is that the price of a reverse osmosis system varies. 

Just like when you purchase a vehicle, your goal is to have a car that will get you from point A to point B. 

You could buy a Ford Fusion that costs about $23,000 brand new, or you could purchase a Porsche that starts around $75,000. 

Both of these cars will get you from point A to point B. The same is true with a reverse osmosis system. You can purchase a unit that will sit on your Countertop Water Filter Systems for as little as $100.

Or, you could buy a whole house reverse osmosis system and spend as much as $10,000. Both of these options are going to give you clean water to drink. 

The reality is, most of us will spend somewhere between the Fusion and the Porsche. 

The homeowner installs most Reverse Osmosis Systems under the kitchen sink, and those systems are less than $500, with the majority around $350. 

So for a very reasonable cost, for the surety of clean, pure water, the average homeowner can have peace of mind for themselves and their family.

2. What is the pH of reverse osmosis drinking water?

Reverse osmosis water is slightly more acidic than pure water. Pure water has a pH level between 7 and 7.5. 

Water that has gone through the reverse osmosis process has a level between 6 and 6.5.

What does that mean? It is best to know just what pH is, which helps you understand what the levels mean.

2.1. What Is pH And What Does It Mean?

pH is a measurement of electrically charged particles in a substance and an indicator of acidic or alkaline (basic). pH stands for potential of hydrogen. 

The pH scale used to specify the acidity of water or other solutions containing water goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.

Acidic water has a pH lower than 7. The substances with the most acidity have a pH of 0, like battery acid.

Alkaline water has a pH of 8 or above. A substance that has the most, such as lye, has a pH of 14. Pure water has a pH of 7 and is neutral, as it has neither acidic nor alkaline qualities.

2.2. The Environmental Protection Agency And pH Recommendations

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of the Drinking Water Regulations. They monitor public drinking water quality across the United States. 

The pH of drinking water is not a quality monitored by the EPA, as they consider it an aesthetic quality of water, not a health issue. 

However, the EPA has recommended that municipal drinking water supplies keep their water supply between a pH of 6.5 to 8.5.

Freshwater pH levels can vary across the world, depending on weather, human activity, and natural processes. Water with a very low or very high pH can indicate chemical or metal pollution in the water.

If water is alkaline and above the 8.5 recommendations, it isn’t necessarily unsafe. However, it can have an unpleasant smell or taste, and it can damage pipes and appliances that carry water, like a dishwasher or refrigerator.

Water with a pH of less than 6.5 is more likely to be contaminated with pollutants. Water below that range is acidic and probably unsafe to drink. It can also corrode metal pipes.

Although the EPA does not monitor it, some municipal water suppliers will test their water voluntarily to monitor pollutants. 

A changed pH level can indicate pollutants are present in the water, but it is up to the municipality to check at their discretion.

2.3. Use A pH Kit To Test Your Water At Home

While it is good to have confidence in your community government, it is smart to check for yourself. 

You can get a testing kit with 100 strips for under $15, so it is worth getting a kit and testing your water from time to time yourself.

Here is what the pH scale looks like:

These are what pH strips look like. You can see that you would simply dip a strip in your tap water and watch to see what color the strip turns. 

Match it to the pH scale to see if your water is in the recommended neutral range.

Here are some examples of solutions and their pH levels.

  • pH level of 0: battery acid, hydrofluoric acid
  • pH level of 1: hydrochloric acid in your stomach lining
  • pH level of 2: lemon juice, gastric acid, vinegar
  • pH level of 2.5: Coke and Pepsi, liquor, chocolate
  • pH level of 3: grapefruit juice, orange juice, ginger ale, jams, and jellies
  • pH level of 3.5: Apples. Dr. Pepper, blueberries, cherries, grapes
  • pH level of 4: tomato juice, acid rain, beer, 7-Up, mayonnaise, honey
  • pH level of 5: black coffee, Pepto Bismol, bread, sugar
  • pH level of 6: urine, milk, butter and cream, soft cheese, ground beef, ham, potatoes
  • pH level of 6.5: chicken, turkey, salmon, clams
  • pH level of 7: pure water, blood, whey, goat’s milk, shrimp, fish
  • pH level of 7.5: shampoos, eggs, crackers
  • pH level of 8: seawater
  • pH levels of 8.5: perm solutions
  • pH level of 9: baking soda, toothpaste, hand soap
  • pH level of 10: great salt lake, milk of magnesia, mild detergent
  • pH level of 11: household ammonia and cleaners
  • pH level of 12: soapy water
  • pH level of 13: bleach, oven cleaner
  • pH level of 14: liquid drain cleaner, caustic soda

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, gives us the chart below to visualize what the levels mean.

3. What Is The Difference Between Reverse Osmosis Water and Filtration Water?

Water from a reverse osmosis system and filtration water (water run through a filter) has one thing in common; both are filtered. 

The difference between RO water and filtration water is that RO water has a dramatically reduced number of contaminants compared to filtration water. 

There are various water filters, and they contain one or more filtration media to reduce contaminants in water. 

The most common type of filtration media is activated carbon. Activated carbon is a special type of charcoal treated with oxygen. 

This treatment increases the surface area of the carbon. This is an essential aspect of both water filters and reverse osmosis systems, as it is the surface area that attracts and traps contaminants. This process is called absorption. Activated carbon is porous, and that gives it lots of areas where contaminants are trapped. 

Both filtration water and RO systems use filters with activated carbon. However, activated carbon filters are excellent at removing organic compounds but cannot reduce other contaminants. 

Only the RO system also has a membrane that filters through pressure, chemicals, pesticides, and bad taste and odors. An RO system will also remove heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

Much like filtration water, an RO system starts with filtering water through an activated carbon cartridge. 

A reverse osmosis system goes to the next step in the purification process by pushing the filtered water through a fine membrane that removes almost all contaminants. 

This includes lead, total dissolved solids (TDS), fluoride, sewage water, and more when your water goes through an RO process of filtration that reduces about 98% of all contaminants in your tap water.

4. What Is The Difference Between Reverse Osmosis Water and Water Softener Water?

A water softener reduces the hardness in your water. It does this by using ion exchange to replace minerals that cause hardness with sodium or potassium, making your water soft. 

When you have softened water, your clothes get cleaner, as do your dishes. Your water-suing appliances last longer as there are not mineral and rust deposits building up from the water hardness. 

Your showers will be easier on your skin, and your hair will feel smooth and silky when showering with softened water. 

A reverse osmosis system will soften your water, too, but that is not its main function. 

A RO system removes contaminants from your drinking water. Although there are whole house reverse osmosis systems, most users have an under the sink model that is sufficient for their needs. 

Going back to the opening remarks about a Ford Fusion and a Porsha, both are vehicles, and both will get you where you want to go. 

But you are not going to pick up your eight-year-olds soccer buddies after practice and run them through MacDonald’s drive-through in your Porsha. You will take the Fusion and not care if the fries get spilled. 

In this case, the water softener is the Ford Fusion. It is a workhorse that you can run your entire house’s water through, and it will do an excellent job for you. 

The reverse osmosis system is the Porsha that you will install under your kitchen sink. It will also be a workhorse that will remove contaminants from the water you drink and cook with. 

It would be a waste to shower or wash clothes in RO water. In this case, it is not a matter of one or the other, but a matter of both. 

An RO system will purify your water, and if you have hard water, install a water softener too. 

And always keep the Porsha in the garage.

5. What Is The Difference Between Reverse Osmosis and Distillation Water?

Both RO and distilled water are purified. Distillation is an energy-intensive process that involves capturing the condensation of boiling water. 

Reverse osmosis forces water through a series of fine membranes to remove particles and chemicals. Therefore, the process between the two systems is different, but that is not the only difference. 

Water going through the distillation does get filtered; however, such volatile chemicals like chloramines remain. There is a big difference between Reverse Osmosis and Distilled Water when using your home process. It is not practical to try to distill water for your use at home.

6. Pros and Cons for Reverse Osmosis Water

6.1. Will Reverse Osmosis Remove Healthy Minerals From Drinking Water?

There are many harmful contaminants and chemicals that a reverse osmosis system will remove from your drinking water. 

It will, at the same time, remove calcium and magnesium, which are healthful minerals. A reverse osmosis system will also remove trace minerals like fluoride, copper, iron, and zinc. 

On the surface, this might seem troublesome to have needed minerals removed from your water. 

However, most people who maintain a healthy diet get their minerals from the foods they eat. 

If this removal is concerning to you, it is possible to add the minerals back into the purified water with mineral drops. If you take supplements, this step is probably unnecessary. 

What is more concerning is the contaminants that tap water can hold. Calcium and magnesium are easily added back in or obtained through your diet or supplement intake.

6.2. Will The pH Of Reverse Osmosis Affect My Health Long Term?

The answer to this question is yes. We just talked about the valuable minerals that the RO process removes from the water. 

Those minerals need to be replaced. If you don’t get those minerals from another source, it will have consequences for your health. 

Water is essential to your health, too. Pure water is even more critical. So if you know that RO water has calcium and magnesium removed, make sure you get them from another source. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there are HEALTH RISKS FROM DRINKING DEMINERALISED WATER when those minerals are not added back into a person’s diet. 

WHO states that: “Demineralised water that has not been remineralized, or low-mineral content water – in the light of the absence or substantial lack of essential minerals in it – is not considered ideal drinking water, and therefore, its regular consumption may not be providing adequate levels of some beneficial nutrients.” 

In this case, they are stating the obvious. RO water has contaminants removed and good minerals removed. 

You don’t want to replace the contaminants, but you do want to replace the minerals. 

Either add them back into the water using mineral drops or take supplements to assure you are getting enough calcium and magnesium. It is a simple solution.

7. Is A Reverse Osmosis System Too Big To Fit Under My Countertop?

No, a reverse osmosis system fits under a standard kitchen sink. Granted, it will take up most of the room, as you can see in the picture below. 

Depending on your sink unit’s size, you will have more or less space than the system below. 

Some reverse osmosis users with basements in their homes have chosen to mount the RO unit directly below their kitchen sink in the basement. 

Some have mounted a shelving type unit on the wall directly below that area and run the system from the basement. 

Whichever way you decide to install a RO system, the benefits of pure water outweigh the space it takes up.

8. Do I Have To Install A New Faucet Or Should I Buy A 3-Way Faucet?

Most reverse osmosis systems come with a dedicated faucet, like the one on the right in the picture above. 

If for whatever reason, you prefer not to (or can’t) put another hole to accept a dedicated faucet, you can choose to use a 3-way faucet. 

For example, if your sink is cast iron, you may need to go to a faucet that will deliver hot, cold, and filtered water from the same faucet. 

The faucet will have dual control levers for both regular and filtered water through a dedicated tube in the spout. 

Using one of these faucets will eliminate the need for a separate drinking tap for RO filtered water. 

These faucets are readily available at Amazon or a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

9. Do I Have Enough Water Pressure For A Reverse Osmosis System?

The answer to that is probably, yes. Normal water pressure or pounds per square inch (psi) for a home is between 45 and 80 psi. 

A reverse osmosis system needs 40 psi to operate, and the ideal water pressure for optimal efficiency is 60 psi. 

If you are unsure what your home’s water pressure is, you can find out by using a water pressure gauge. 

Hook up the pressure gauge to an outside water spigot. Turn the water on. You will get a reading from the gauge that tells you the psi.

10. Is Maintenance Too Expensive For A Reverse Osmosis System?

The cost of maintaining a reverse osmosis system is tied up primarily in the filters that need to be changed. 

Those filters will need to be changed, depending on your water usage, about every three to six months. 

You will need to change the membrane itself every two to three years. The filters can cost about $30 apiece. A new membrane will cost between $100 and $200, depending on the system you have. 

The cost of a reverse osmosis system is relative. You can pay for filters and have clean, pure water. Or you can take the chance of having contaminants in your drinking water and pay with poor health or trips to the doctors. 

The choice is yours of whether the peace of mind of pure water is worth the cost. One way you have the assurance of safety, the other way you rely on municipal sources to maintain safe water on your behalf. 

Getting back to the Ford Fusion and Porsha, you might not get an extended warranty on the Fusion, but you sure will on the Porsha. 

If the Fusion breaks down, the chances are that you might be able to fix it yourself. 

The Porsha is something you don’t want to take a chance with. It is a precious and high-performance machine. So is your body. 

If you are only taking a risk that contaminated water might ruin an appliance in your home, you might take the chance. But when it comes to your health and well-being, it is a totally different matter.

In Conclusion

Reverse osmosis systems have been used commercially since the early 1970s. It is an amazing process used around the world for drinking water. 

With this technology, you can be sure you have pure drinking water. And it is far better to have control over clean water in your own hands.

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