Filtering water by reverse osmosis effectively eliminates dangerous contaminants and delivers fresh, pure drinking water. So why is it that there is so much negativity about it in the public eye? This entry is dedicated to telling the truth about RO water by covering the facts, the pros and cons, and finally answering the question “is reverse osmosis water safe to drink”. The answer might surprise you….
If you’ve been doing research about buying a filtration system for you and your family, you’ve undoubtedly come across information that paints RO water in a negative light. This leads many to believe that reverse osmosis water is dangerous or, as certain publications might suggest, totally “dead” and without nutrition. Neither of those conclusions are correct, though there are some important facts you should know about totally pure water. The truth is that water filtered by reverse osmosis is 100% safe to drink, but there are a few things you need to know before you install a filter on your home’s tap.
Tap Water: Too Much Contamination, Not Enough Regulation
The majority of us don’t think twice about the water we drink from the tap. We turn it on, drink the water, and get on with our day. But the truth is that the water coming from the tap is not nearly as safe most of us think it is. In the wake of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, public water has come under scrutiny, and the findings have made many uneasy.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, nearly 77 million people were served by community water systems that were in violation of the Safe Water Drinking Act in 2015 (source). This is nothing new, though. The New York Times reports that companies including chemical factories and manufacturing plants have violated regulations and pumped the environment full of harmful chemicals over half a million times (source) in a recent study.
Even well-regulated tap water can contain harmful toxins, chemicals, and other contaminants that can put children and adults at serious risk.
Filtering your water effectively eliminates the risk of exposure to lead, parasites, viruses, herbicides, and more.
Get Educated: Water can be full of hidden contaminants. Read up on which ones are commonly found in your water on the Water Quality Association’s website.
What is Reverse Osmosis Water?
Reverse osmosis is a process that takes contaminated water and forces it through a semipermeable membrane (meaning the membrane only allows certain substances to pass through and not others). The process forces the water though these membranes and exerts enough pressure on it to remove impurities, large molecules, and minerals. The membranes are designed to have holes small enough to allow only water to pass through, catching all of the larger substances in the process. What’s leftover is completely pure water. In fact, it is one of the most common ways of producing fresh water for drinking and cleaning around the world.
So if it’s so good, why is there so much negativity surrounding it?
We’ll get to that next. First, let’s cover the benefits of drinking RO water.
Did You Know?: The Environmental Working Group found more than 200 unregulated chemicals in drinking water?
The Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Water
Keeping your body hydrated by drinking enough fresh, pure water is the single most important aspect of human health. Reverse osmosis removes impurities from water and greatly reduces the risk of contamination. Here are a few major benefits:
- RO water contains no lead, reducing the risk of high blood pressure and kidney/liver issues.
- RO water contains no parasites. Water parasites, especially cryptosporidium, can get into the digestive tract and cause stomach pain or other gastrointestinal issues.
- RO water contains no sodium, making it perfect for those on a limited sodium intake diet.
- It’s cleaner and fresher. Since the water is removed of all impurities, it tastes better and is even better for cooking.
Aside from the direct benefits, you also get the added benefit of saving money on buying bottled water any time you want fresh, great tasting water. That, in turn, has the environmental benefit of creating less waste.
Health, financial, and environmental benefits—what’s the catch? Why is there so much negativity surrounding reverse osmosis water? Is it actually safe to drink?
Is Reverse Osmosis Safe to Drink? | Debunking Common Myths
For all of its great benefits, reverse osmosis water is not perfect. There is a major drawback that is a source of negativity: it is totally purified. While that might sound great at first, it’s not actually as good as it sounds. Since water contains hundreds of nutrients, some of them are bound to be good for you. In fact, water contains healthy amounts of many essential nutrients. This leads many to believe that reverse osmosis water is not safe to drink or at the very least inadequate.
Myth #1: Reverse osmosis water isn’t safe because it has no nutrients
This is wrong. Yes, RO water doesn’t have many of the essential nutrients you need for your health. But neither does normal tap water either. The amount of these healthy nutrients is in fact very small. The contaminants, on the other hand, are much more numerous. The missed nutrients can easily be made up for in your diet or from supplements. Is it worth exposure to hundreds of contaminants just to get a small dose of nutrients that could easily be found elsewhere? No.
Myth #2: Reverse osmosis water is too acidic to drink
Another issue that leads people to believe RO water is not safe is that many claim that it is acidic and could lead to stomach problems. Normal water has has a neutral Ph level of 7. When reverse osmosis removes some impurities, the Ph level can drop below 7, making it acidic. Since the water is more pure, it naturally wants to grab more CO2 from the air, which makes it more acidic when it bonds together.
Don’t worry, this is perfectly fine. It’s because the Ph level will return to normal when it comes in contact with food in your stomach. In general, the Ph level will drop to around 5.5, which is far less acidic than the acids in your stomach. So if you are drinking it on an empty stomach, the acid in your stomach is far more acidic than the water you are drinking. That means it will not have any effects.
Myth #3: RO Water is Scientifically Altered
The term reverse osmosis is not very common in daily life. This leads a lot of people to think that the water has been treated in some way or another and that it has been modified by an unsafe process. The truth is that reverse osmosis is just a simple filtration process (involving very complex science) like any other filtration system you’ve ever come across.
Reverse osmosis uses a film membrane and high pressure to push the water through the membrane. Water molecules are small enough to pass through the membrane, contaminants are not. Simple as that. Once the water passes through the filtration system, the only thing that’s left is pure water, nothing else. There’s no alteration done to the water. When you drink a glass of RO water, you are drinking water in its purest form.
Although RO water is not perfect, it is perfectly safe to drink. Despite claims that it is not nutritious enough, too acidic, or genetically modified in some dark laboratory beneath the surface, none of those are grounded in reality. When the water passes through the membrane during the process, the product on the other end is totally clean water without any impurities. Yes, reverse osmosis water is 100% safe to drink.