Updated: April 16, 2021 by Zac Harding
The benefits of alkaline and RO (reverse osmosis) water are both raved about by health fanatics, but it can be difficult to understand the differences between these two water filtration systems and to decide which one is best suited to your needs.
Whether you’re hoping to balance out the acidity in your body, or you’re worried about contaminants in your local water supply, we’ll explain the differences between alkaline and RO water, and will conclude which one comes out on top.
What is Alkaline Water?
Alkaline water basically has a higher pH level than normal drinking water, and because of this, some say it can have a neutralizing effect on the acids that build up in our bodies.
A pH level is a number that indicates how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. For example, a very acidic substance could have a pH level of 1, whereas something with a pH of 13 would be considered very alkaline.
Normal drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7, whereas alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.
That said, pH level alone isn’t enough to make a substance alkaline. Alkaline water must also contain alkaline minerals and negative oxidation-reduction potential, also known as ORP.
The more negative the ORP, the more anti-oxidizing it is.
What is Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water?
On the other hand, Reverse Osmosis uses a semi-permeable membrane system to remove ions, particles, and molecules from water. It produces extremely clean and safe drinking water, as this intense filtration technology filters to micron size of 0.0001.
People drink RO water because it’s stripped of the hundreds of thousands of contaminants that are harbored in normal drinking water, including chlorine, fluoride, pharmaceutical drugs, excess minerals, heavy metals, microplastics, and unregulated or emerging contaminants.
These are all removed by Reverse Osmosis Technology, which uses hydraulic pressure to push the water through the system and separate the molecules, and due to this, electricity is usually required to power this form of filtration.
RO Water vs Alkaline Water: What are the Differences?
In order to determine which is better, RO water or alkaline water, let’s study the differences between the two.
Alkaline Filtration Doesn’t Require Electricity
Alkaline filtration is usually a lot less complex and won’t require electricity, whereas RO usually requires electricity to generate the hydraulic pressure required to treat the water and achieve such a high level of filtration.
Generally, alkaline water is more economical and it’s usually in the form of a countertop filter which is a lot easier to set up than a RO system.
Reverse Osmosis Removes Minerals
As we said previously, RO removes particles as small as a micron size of 0.0001, and while this produces super clean water, it doesn’t make it the healthiest.
The process of RO reduces the total dissolved solids count to 0 but this also completely strips away minerals, and demineralized water is not recommended for consistent human consumption because it can lead to dilution and deficiencies if you’re not getting those minerals elsewhere in your diet.
You could possibly remineralise the water, but this adds another step to the process, and you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
On the other hand, an alkaline filter can enhance the mineral content of drinking water and add electrolytes which allow for better hydration capacity – so these will actually help increase the amount of minerals your body absorbs.
This makes alkaline water a great choice for maintaining mineral and electrolyte
RO Wastes More Water
The more water that is pushed through an RO system, the more back pressure that is created which leads to more water being wasted. This also means that vast amounts of wastewater are supersaturated with all of the removed particles.
This does depend on the model you choose, but retention rates in RO systems can be as low as 20%. On the other hand, newer technologies that claim to have created zero waste systems tend to be very expensive, though this is likely to improve in the future.
Alkaline water systems produce next to zero waste, so they’re a far more environmentally friendly – and economical – solution.
Alkaline Water Filters are Smaller
Like we said previously, alkaline water filters tend to be countertop units, whereas RO systems tend to be particularly bulky due to the technology involved in filtering the water.
An alkaline water filter is shaped like a jug and can usually fit in your fridge meaning it takes up a lot less space. Plus, they’re usually a lot cheaper than RO systems, too, as they don’t require electricity to operate.
Reverse Osmosis Increases Acidity
Alkaline water has a higher pH level than normal drinking water, whereas RO water removes all of the minerals from your water, which can actually have an adverse effect on the pH level, making it more acidic.
You can improve the pH level of your water and remineralize it by using an ionizer machine, but as we said earlier, this adds an extra step to the process and is going to cost you more money.
Final Verdict: Which is Better — Alkaline or RO Water?
There are benefits to both alkaline water and RO water.
RO water tastes great and is super clean – ideal if you are worried about specific contaminants or you live near an industrial plant, mine, or agricultural farm.
You can rest assured that your water has been thoroughly purified if you opt for RO.
However, the downside of this is that it’s also stripped of the minerals that can be good for you, meaning the acidity levels of RO water are usually higher than normal drinking water.
On the other hand, alkaline water is supposedly great for balancing out acidity levels in your body and this filtration system won’t strip the water of its minerals.
Alkaline water is also way more economical and environmentally friendly. Usually, alkaline filters can fit in your fridge and won’t take up much space, and they won’t waste vast amounts of water as RO units do.
For this reason, alkaline water comes out on top. It’s simpler, more sustainable, and is more affordable and accessible.