In recent years, awareness regarding clean and safe drinking water has increased manifold. Gone are the days when it was considered safe to drink tap water. Even seemingly safe looking tap water may contain harmful micro-organisms as well as detrimental chemicals like chlorine, lead, mercury, and cadmium.
Reverse osmosis systems are now a common feature in schools, hospitals, offices, and government organizations. In fact, in modern homes, whole house reverse osmosis systems are fast becoming a norm.
So how useful are reverse osmosis systems? Does reverse osmosis remove chlorine? How does reverse osmosis work? Read on the answer all your questions regarding reverse osmosis systems.
How does reverse osmosis (RO) work?
Reverse osmosis can be an intimidating term to understand. Basically, reverse osmosis means reversing the process of osmosis. The simplest meaning of osmosis is the passing of water or other liquid solvents through a semi-permeable membrane which allows the water to pass easily while blocking the passage of dissolved solutes. In osmosis, water passes from a low concentration gradient to a high concentration gradient.
Reverse osmosis is the opposite of osmosis. So, a solvent like water is made to pass through a semi-permeable membrane but from a higher concentration gradient to low concentration gradient.
This process of reverse osmosis requires external pressure. So, additional pressure or force is very important for reverse osmosis. With the help of this extra force, smaller water molecules easily pass through the semi-permeable membrane while larger molecules of contaminants are left behind inside the membrane.
A good RO system has a four-tiered filtration system. Even whole house reverse osmosis systems follow this fantastic filtration process.
Step 1: Pre-filtration:
In this step, water passes through the first cartridge (filtration column). It helps remove the larger residue and few dissolved solids. This first cartridge contains a carbon block filter that also helps reduce chlorine in the water. This step also helps in protecting the other membranes of the RO system.
Step 2: The Reverse Osmosis Membrane
It is in this stage that the actual reverse osmosis process begins. Water is passed through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure. This remarkable membrane is made of synthetic high-grade plastic and allows for easy passage of water. On the other hand, thanks to its unique design, it does not allow materials like chlorine, calcium, sodium, bacteria, viruses, glucose, and urea to pass. Harmful chemicals like lead, copper, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and chromium are left behind in the membrane while water enters the next stage of filtration.
Steps 3: Post Filtration
In the third stage, the filtered water is made to pass through a second carbon filter, to ensure complete removal of any residue contaminants.
Step 4: Finishing Polish:
In this stage, the water is passed through a filter with activated carbon to ensure that it feels fresh and is devoid of any smells that may come from its storage tank.
It is important for governing and municipal bodies to disinfect drinking water before it is supplied to our homes. One of the most common disinfectants used to disinfect water is chlorine as it eliminates the growth of dangerous bacteria like Giardia and E-coli.
However, drinking chlorine water also has its own hazards. One of the most alarming dangers of drinking chlorine water is that it has carcinogenic effects.
A recent study by the U.S. Council Of Environmental Quality found out that people drinking chlorinated water have a 93% higher risk of cancer as compared to those who drink water that does not contain chlorine.
So how does reverse osmosis remove chlorine?
Good quality reverse osmosis systems are able to remover chlorine as well as other dissolved contaminants due to its multi-level filtration process. Removal of chlorine takes place at each stage of the filtration process.
In the first pre-filtration stage, the carbon-block filter works as a sieve and blocks the entry of chlorine into the semi-permeable membrane. This carbon filter is very essential as it protects the life of the membrane from the damaging effects of chlorine.
In the second stage, the extraordinary design of the membrane blocks the chlorine and other harmful sediments inside, allowing only water to pass through it.
Any remaining chlorine or other residue is once again subjected to the second round of carbon filtration to ensure complete removal of harmful substances.
And last but not the least, the filtered water is passed through a final filtration process before it pours out from the faucet and into your glass.
During this final phase, water is passed through a filter of activated carbon to ensure freshness and ensure almost a 100% safe drinking water.
A reverse osmosis faucet is a tap or faucet that connects you with your reverse osmosis system. A lot of times, most reverse osmosis systems come with a faucet, but if you are looking to match your reverse osmosis faucet with the rest of your kitchen accessories, make sure you invest in a faucet which is compatible with your reverse osmosis system.
The two main types of reverse osmosis faucets are air-gap faucet and no air-gap faucet. By rule of thumb, an air-gap faucet is recommended if your reverse osmosis system is located beneath your kitchen sink. On the other hand, no air-gap faucet works well for reverse osmosis systems that are not located away from the kitchen.
Contaminated water is a hazard not just for drinking. It can lead to serious dermatological problems as well. A lot of people are complaining of skin trouble, hair related problems, and health issues as a result of long-term exposure to chlorinated water or water containing harmful and carcinogenic substances. With massive improvements and developments in technology, it is time to protect your loved ones with the magic of a whole house reverse osmosis system.