Advantages and Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis

We probably heard about tons of water brands bragging about their bottled water being filtered by RO or how an RO water purifier provides you with germ-free water in different households. But little do we know about the technology behind the working of an RO and its pros & cons.

The sheer abilities of RO can be amazing and, in this blog, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the reverse osmosis technique, including its working, benefits associated with RO water, and the disadvantages of the same.

What Is Reverse Osmosis Filtration?

Today, because of the expanding levels of contamination and the spread of water-borne infections, water purifiers are a must-have for every household. There are numerous water purification methods, and Reverse Osmosis is perhaps the most developed and broadly utilized technology these days. Reverse Osmosis can be defined as a special kind of filtration process that uses membranes (porous or semi-permeable) to filter out any type of impurities or contaminants present in the water. Reverse osmosis blocks all kinds of hazardous chemicals and pollutants, including pesticides, ions, etc. One of the most significant advantages of reverse osmosis is that the process leaches out the substances that are completely dissolved in water that other purification technologies cannot do.

Also Read: Best Water Purifiers Under 10000

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work? 

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Reverse Osmosis technology first came into action when in the late 1950s, the U.S. Government thought of it as a possible technique for the desalination of seawater. And since then, it has been one of the most evolved and fascinating forms of water filtration technology. The working principle of a reverse osmosis system involves the utilization of a high-pressure pump to increase the pressure on the RO’s salt side, forcing water to pass through a semi-permeable membrane. This leaves behind most of the dissolved salt in the membrane. The amount of pressure needed is dependent on the concentration of salt in the feed water. More pressure is required for overcoming the osmotic pressure if the concentration of feed water is more. 

The water that gets demineralized or desalinated, or purified is called permeate water. The water stream carrying the concentrated pollutants that are left behind is called the reject stream. The semi-permeable membrane utilized in the process eliminates the contaminants basing upon their shape and size and the impurities that are not visible to the naked eye.

Advantages Of Reverse Osmosis 

Advantages Of Reverse Osmosis

1. Cost-Effective 

You can avoid buying bottled water or paying for a water jug delivery service by investing in a Reverse Osmosis purifier. In addition, bottled water is neither safe nor has a guaranteed manufacturing date. An RO can serve you with pure and fresh water with the click of your finger for pennies per gallon. RO water filtration technique has proven to be unmatched regarding eliminating pollutants from water productively and cost-effectively. 

2. Effectively Treats Hard Water

Hard water can be determined as water that contains calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. One of the main benefits of RO water is that it effectively treats the hard water making it safer to consume. An RO system guarantees the removal of 95% of mercury & fluoride, 99% of asbestos & lead, and 97% of arsenic & chlorine. It is hands down the best technology for treating residential area water and the water for light commercial facilities. This makes RO purifiers one of the solutions to treat borewell water.

3. Removes Heavy Metals 

Heavy metals are metallic elements having a high molecular weight and that are hazardous to health. The harmful effects of drinking water that has heavy metals dissolved in it are very severe. Even at low concentrations, if the heavy metal contaminated water is consumed regularly, it can prove to be highly poisonous to human beings. The utilization of reverse osmosis is considered to be efficacious in heavy metal removal from water. It has also been reported by several researchers that RO manages to remove 98% of Copper and 99% of Cadmium from water. The RO water purifiers are the best protection that can be employed against Heavy Metals in drinking water.

4. Sustainable Alternative To Bottled Water

It is a fact that plastic bottles are harmful to the environment. Hence, another advantage of reverse osmosis is that it is safer than the disposable bottles we tend to use and throw daily. Reverse osmosis filtration allows you to filter water as per your needs. You don’t have to purchase, store or buy bottles of water in advance. You can fill jugs or bottles by just pressing the lever or button and take them anywhere. All of this is far more eco-friendly, convenient, and healthy than bottled water.

Also Read: Best Under Sink Water Purifiers In India

Disadvantages Of Reverse Osmosis 

Disadvantages Of Reverse Osmosis

1. Wastes More Water 

One of the main disadvantages of the RO water purifier is that it uses more water than it produces. When compared to the production of filtered water, a greater amount of water is flushed out during the purification process as wastewater. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated that the water utilized by the RO devices is almost three times the amount of water they purify. It has also been proven that the RO purifiers only recover 5-15% of purified water. It can be said that the whole purification process needs approximately 4 gallons of water to give out 1 gallon of purified water.

2. Removes Essential Minerals 

Reverse osmosis can remove more than 90% of all pollutants in drinking water, including essential minerals. This topic has even caused controversy between water researchers as well as healthcare professionals. It happens because the molecules of minerals are much larger in size than molecules of water itself. RO water purifier filter outs dissolved impurities while removing natural minerals like magnesium, iron, sodium, and calcium which are significant to the human body, resulting in a deficiency of minerals in the body. As natural minerals get leached out, the water becomes de-mineralized, and as a result, the taste of the water also gets affected.

3. Doesn’t Kill Bacteria And Virus  

Despite purifying the water by filtering out almost every kind of contaminant, an RO system fails to kill bacteria and viruses that cause water-borne diseases. The probability of microorganisms passing through the RO membrane is high. It is therefore recommended that the RO water be treated with a UV water purifier. Moreover, a degradation in the membrane quality is also seen due to bacteria which ultimately leads to contamination through pinhole leaks. This is why you will very rarely find a water purifier that only uses reverse osmosis. The best water purifiers in India will use RO and UV to produce safe and drinkable water.

4. Causes Some Pressure Drop 

The drop of pressure from the feed to the concentrate end is termed as pressure drop, and it is a result of resistance in the flow of water. A lot of people using RO systems experience a reasonably significant pressure drop in their water flow. The pressure drop might increase due to the blocking of feed channels by debris, scaling or fouling in a system, or excessive feed flow. This can cause many problems as it causes membrane stretching, inefficiency in the working of an RO purifier, and overall performance degradation.

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Can You Rely On RO Water Purifiers For Drinking?

Due to the increased pressure on natural water resources, water quality around the world is continuously deteriorating. Therefore, a water purifier has become a must-have for every household. Fortunately, water purification technologies, especially reverse osmosis purifiers, can offer high-quality, germ-free freshwater. RO has paved its way to the top by becoming the most efficient form of water purification technology. The benefits of RO purified water are many. It is one of the most proven technologies for effective water purification, making it useful for industries needing deionized or demineralized water and common households. Proper maintenance and monitoring of the reverse osmosis system are essential to avoid costly repairs and unplanned maintenance. But with an appropriate system, experienced technical support, and maintenance plan, an RO purifier system should be able to provide years of highly purified water.

Akanksha is a fond food critic and a wellness enthusiast, aiming to always look on the brighter side of life. Aligning with her interests, she has pursued a masters in hospitality and hotel management. She believes that the effects of ageing can be significantly controlled if we monitor the quality of our food accurately. Through this blog, it’s her aim to share what she’s learned through the years across these domains. Follow her on Facebook