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How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Posted by Brian Inami on Oct 25th 2018

How does reverse osmosis work header

How Does a Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Filtration System Work?

Clean, safe water is crucial to the health and wellbeing of you and your family, and the water you provide for them should be of the highest quality. Unfortunately, water quality is inconsistent across the globe and conditions vary from one area to the next. Different cities, towns, geographic areas, and countries all have their own sets of standards, challenges, and advantages when it comes to clean drinking water, meaning it can be really difficult to know for sure what’s in your water unless you check it for yourself. Though municipalities like big cities have better technology and more resources than rural areas to devote to healthy drinking water, you can never be sure, and when it comes to the most important commodity in sustaining life, why even take the risk?

Thankfully, in today’s era of rapidly evolving science and technology, you no longer have to live with the consequences of sub-par water treatment or incompetent civil management. For you and your family, a premium water filtration system like a reverse osmosis water filtration system can mean the difference between safe and healthy drinking water versus chemical-laden and contaminated water.

Defining a Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Many people have heard about reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration technology but find themselves intimidated by the mechanics and science behind this water cleaning technology. Before getting down to the nuts, bolts, feed hoses, and drainage lines, let’s cover the basics. RO technology works by forcing pressurized water through a semipermeable membrane – a super filter if you will – and removing nearly all contaminants in the process.

Reverse Osmosis Water Purifiers are easy to use, maintain, and require very little time spent with your head beneath the sink. They’re also easy on the bank account when compared to water delivery services and water bottles with similar purity standards.

Having an exceptionally safe and healthy source of clean, contaminant-free water has never been easier than with RO filters. After installing one and ridding your water of potentially harmful chemicals and contaminants, you’ll not only feel healthier but will also find that your water looks, tastes, and smells exponentially better!

Common contaminants found in many water sources – both municipal and rural – are bacteria, sulfates, pesticides, arsenic, pharmaceuticals, nitrates, MBTE, VOC’s, PFAS, lead, and that’s just to name a few! A reverse osmosis filtration system can help remove these contaminants as well as chlorine and chloramines.

How Does Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Work?

Now for the fun part! We know you’re dying to get down to the ins and outs of reverse osmosis, but before we get into that or forward osmosis, osmotic gradient, or Ozzy Osbourne’s 1995 studio classic Ozzmosis, let’s just review how good ole’ regular osmosis works… This spontaneous molecule migration occurs when a fluid with a lower solvent concentration passes through a selectively permeable membrane into a fluid with a higher solvent concentration until both sides of the membrane have an equal amount of solvent molecules.

Reverse Osmosis works the opposite way and requires an external force to get the job done, which, in the case of water purifiers, is the pressure. Rather than balancing the concentration to be equal on either end of the membrane, reverse osmosis water filtration systems push solvent molecules and contaminant-rich water through a semipermeable membrane, effectively stripping the water of all dissolved solids, pollutants, and chemicals.

How does RO water purification work

The Steps of the Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier Process

Although water purifier brands may be slightly varied in the processes by which they clean your water, the four steps of reverse osmosis systems are always filtration, reverse osmosis, draining, and storing.

• Step 1 – Filtration - Water under pressure passes through the first-stage particle filter, removing pollutants like sand, sediment, and salt. The water then proceeds through an activated carbon filter removing minerals, mercury, chlorine, pesticides, copper, and more.

• Step 2 – Reverse Osmosis - Water under pressure then passes through the semipermeable membrane, filtering out even the tiniest contaminants, allowing only water through.

• Step 3 – Drainage/Discharge – The residual water that does not pass through the RO membrane along with the concentrated contaminants are drained away and the purified water moves into storage.

• Step 4 – Storage – Water is stored in a small tank until needed, at which time it passes through a final stage of filtration via an activated carbon filter for premium quality and taste.

How does reverse osmosis water filtration system work

Reverse Osmosis Removes Chemicals, Contaminants, and Pollutants

While a Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System does not remove 100 percent of the dangerous impurities from your water, here is a list of those which can be removed by RO.

• Fluoride (RO systems are one of the only water filtration systems that reliably remove and reduce fluoride in your water)

• Cysts (common water-borne microbiological cysts are Cryptosporidium or Giardia cysts can enter water systems from sewage and animal waste)

• Chloramine (an ammonia byproduct which makes water taste and smell strange)

• Mercury (a chemical which damages the brain, kidneys, and developing fetuses)

• Lead (without scent or taste, lead can only be discovered through testing. It is unsafe to be consumed at any level!)

• Chlorine (not necessarily harmful to health, chlorine makes water taste and smell bad)

• Hexavalent Chromium (aka Chromium-6 and a well-known carcinogen which has been linked not only to cancer but asthma, reproductive problems, and more)

• Plus, more than 90 other known contaminants

It’s very important to consult the RO system’s performance data sheet for exact specifications on contaminant removal and overall performance.  Only systems that are certified by reliable 3rd party institutions like the Water Quality Association (WQA) or NSF International are legit and trustworthy in their performance data claims. Look for the WQA or NSF logo on the packaging or inside the performance data sheet.

The Necessity of a Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier

By now, you no doubt feel the urge to abandon this article, run out to the nearest dealer, and hook your household up with the best possible, RO-filtered water one can enjoy! With an RO system, known contaminants will be removed and safe, healthy drinking water will be provided for your home with ease.

At Brondell, you’ll find the finest Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems, complete with NSF and WQA-backed promises to keep you and your family safe and healthy today and in the future. If you’re ready to make the switch to clean, contaminant-free water, reach out today and find the ideal reverse osmosis water purifier for your home and family.