Updated: April 16, 2021 by Zac Harding
In recent years, people have begun to question whether or not reverse osmosis systems negatively affect drinking water.
This is partially due to a World Health Organization report which highlighted the potential drawbacks of drinking reverse osmosis water.
So, there is a lot of debate around whether or not it is ok to drink reverse osmosis water. Overall, the answer is yes, reverse osmosis water is safe to drink.
But there are lots of things to consider before installing a reverse osmosis system in your home.
To help you make the right decision for you and your home, here’s our guide to the findings and opinions presented on reverse osmosis water.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Before we get into the benefits and drawbacks of reverse osmosis, let’s go over exactly what reverse osmosis is.
Osmosis is the process by which particles move through a permeable membrane. So, reverse osmosis is when a non-permeable membrane stops certain particles from moving through it.
This is how reverse osmosis purifies water. A reverse osmosis system will essentially interrupt your water supply and prevent certain particles from carrying on through the system.
Reverse osmosis systems are a lot simpler than they might look. And because of this, they can’t differentiate between types of particles. This means that reverse osmosis purification systems will be able to filter out harmful substances.
But in the process, they can also filter out all the great minerals and vitamins that are also inside water.
So, the answer is yes, it is okay to drink reverse osmosis water. But, as with any kind of system that interferes with your water supply, there are a few factors to consider before you install a reverse osmosis system.
The Benefits of Reverse Osmosis
One of the major reasons for the use of reverse osmosis is to sanitize water to remove bacteria and other microorganisms and make it safe to drink. But you can achieve the same result by boiling your drinking water. But RO filtration also takes out other chemical contaminants such as pesticides.
It is also regularly used in the military to turn saltwater into freshwater in order to make it safer to drink.
Some of the things reverse osmosis can remove are:
The removal of some of these minerals, especially those with a high concentration, can be good for you. If your water is very hard (read on or scroll down to the next section to find out more about hard and soft water), then you might want to soften it.
Hard water isn’t bad for your health. But it can dry out your hair and your skin. It can also produce a film over your hands when you wash them. The high mineral content can also show up as spots on glassware and even on your clothes.
This is one good reason for using a reverse osmosis water purification system. But, this should only really be if the water in your area is so hard that it is causing big problems. Remember, hard water itself is not bad for you. It can even taste better.
The Drawbacks of Reverse Osmosis
One of the main criticisms of reverse osmosis water purification is that it can remove good things as well as bad things. The removal of contaminants is of course a good thing.
But freshwater also includes a huge number of minerals and vitamins that are vital for our health. We often think of water as being a neutral liquid that doesn’t really contain anything. But water contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and zinc.
Some areas will have a much higher presence of minerals than others. These are divided into areas containing either “hard” or “soft” water.
The hardness of water is usually determined by the presence of minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. Soft water is water that has a much lower presence of these minerals. Hard water and soft water have little to no difference in terms of health. But, it’s definitely arguable that these minerals are good for you.
Reverse osmosis can also impact food when you use it to cook. Demineralized water can also cause the loss of important elements in foods such as vegetables, meats, and cereals.
Is Reverse Osmosis Water Safe?
One of the main reasons why reverse osmosis is criticized is due to several reports from the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO is the body to trust on what is and isn’t healthy for you.
So, if you have the time and are really concerned, you can check out the official reports on the potential health risks of demineralizing water.
To summarize, the potential health risks are:
- Direct effects on the intestinal mucous membrane, metabolism and mineral homeostasis or other body functions.
- Little or no intake of calcium and magnesium from low-mineral water.
- Low intake of other essential elements and microelements.
- Loss of calcium, magnesium and other essential elements in prepared food.
- Possible increased dietary intake of toxic metals.
Reverse osmosis water is not itself dangerous to drink. The main reason why it is avoided by some is due to the fact that it can reduce your intake of some important minerals. Water, and the minerals it contains, are absolutely essential to your overall health.
Overall, it’s important for you to make your own decision about installing a reverse osmosis system. If you live in a rural area and are concerned about pesticides and insecticides making their way into your water, then it might be a good idea.
But, if you live in an area in which the local water supply is already purified and filtered before it reaches your home (which is very common), then it’s not really necessary.
Reverse osmosis can also remove minerals and vitamins that are great for you. So, while it is not necessarily bad for you, it also can’t be claimed to be especially good for you.
So it’s okay to drink reverse osmosis water. But, it is not a process that you should invest in unless it’s absolutely necessary.