Ultimate Guide to Reverse Osmosis Filtration Systems

Yes, I know many of you know that a reverse osmosis filters water. However, do you know how it filters water?

What contaminants it will filter from the water?

How to install a reverse osmosis system?

If you should use other filtration methods with it?

If you have ever wondered about those things, then don’t worry we will answer those questions, and more, in the following guide.

How does a reverse osmosis system work?

The first step to understanding a reverse system is understanding how they work.

Reverse osmosis is actually a fairly simple process to understand. Basically, water passes through a very fine membrane. Contaminants get stuck in the membrane. The water downstream of the membrane is clean water. Contaminated water stays upstream of the membrane in a holding tank. When the holding tank is full the tank is flushed down the drain.

Reverse osmosis systems use no electricity because they use a mechanical process that simply does not need it. However, they do waste a lot of water. On average, for every gallon of water filtered through a reverse osmosis membrane four gallons will be flushed down the drain.

This still works out cheaper because electricity costs less than the same amount of water. You should keep in mind though that this is not a “free” source of water filtration though.

What is in a reverse osmosis system?

The typical system will include a sediment filter pre-filter, the reverse osmosis membrane, the storage tank for contaminants, and a carbon filter.

What type of contaminants does it filter out?

Reverse osmosis filtration removes just about every type of inorganic material from water. It also removes salt, which most other filtration types cannot (efficiently) remove. Salt removal makes these systems very popular in locations that have brackish water. Brackish water is actually a problem for those that live near the beach.

Reverse Osmosis Filtration Process

The specific contaminants that a reverse osmosis membrane removes will vary depending on the filter size selected. However, the following process will explain all the contaminants that the various filters on the system remove.

Sediment Filter: The first step of the process involves the water passing through a sediment filter. This removes sediment from the water as the name suggests. Examples of sediment include sand, dirt, rust (ew gross… I know), and other particulates that you can physically see in your cup of water. We definitely don’t want any of this stuff in the water.

Activated carbon filter: The water next passes through an activated carbon filter. This activated carbon filter is the same kind found in a normal water pitcher filter. The activated carbon will remove chlorine, pesticides (!), and all kinds of other chemicals that you DO NOT want in your water. In addition, these chemicals can damage the membrane of your reverse osmosis system, so they definitely have to go.

Reverse Osmosis Membrane filter: This stage removes everything else from the water. This includes salt too as mentioned earlier. Simply put, anything bigger than a water molecule will not pass through the membrane. This things remove a lot of contaminants.

Mineralization stage: The filtration process works so well that it removes just about every mineral, which makes the water a little more acidic. This includes minerals that have some benefit to humans (such as calcium and magnesium). Some reverse osmosis systems will add those minerals to the water and make the water less acidic.

Storage Tank: The filtered water will then collect in the storage tank for use when a faucet is turned on. This means you will not have to wait for the whole filtration process each time you want to use water.

Optional Filtration: This optional phase is when you can have the water move through other filtration steps to remove further contaminants. One popular step is to have the water move through an ultraviolet light filter to remove any kind of microbes, bacteria, fluoride, or other contaminants that the previous filters do not remove.

Post-filtration carbon filter: The final step involves the water flowing through one last carbon filter. This removes any dissolved rubber from the storage tank and guarantees the absolute purest water you can find.

Reverse Osmosis Efficiency

Reverse osmosis systems will remove just about everything from water as stated earlier. However, this comes at a cost. These filters are relatively slow compared to a whole house filtration system.

Keep in mind that the storage tank for filtered water greatly increases the speed of the filtration process.

A reverse osmosis filter efficiently uses electricity as they use zero electricity. They do use quite a bit of water (4 gallons of water per 1 gallon of filtered water), but water is much cheaper than electricity. Just keep that in mind before purchasing a system.

Where to install a reverse osmosis system?

Most homeowners install the system underneath their kitchen sink and have a little hose that they use to fill up their water pitcher. There is not much purpose in whole house water filtration with a reverse osmosis system unless you drink from the bathroom sink on a regular basis or you like to shower in ultrapure water.

A specifically designed whole house water filter will work better and more efficiently for filtering water for the whole house.

How to install a reverse osmosis system                                                          

Our suggestion is to have a professional install the system to ensure everything works properly and no accidental contamination occurs. However, if you insist on installing it yourself, then the following video will help you out in that process.

Note: A written step by step guide just doesn’t work for explaining the process. You really have to see it to properly understand how to do it.

Is a reverse osmosis system right for me?

Only you can decide. If you like ultrapure water, then you should consider purchasing a reverse osmosis system.

We won’t lie to you and tell you that “everyone needs a reverse osmosis system.” These units use a lot of water compared to other filtration methods. However, if you really value ultrapure drinking water, then a reverse osmosis might be the right choice for you.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *