What is the Difference between Reverse Osmosis (RO) and Distilled Water?November 18, 2015
Reverse osmosis and filter water pitchers appear to be quite popular these days as methods to get cleaner water. People clearly want better quality water, but may not understand that different methods generate different results. All water filtration methods are not equal.
There are many ways to improve water quality. One popular method is to use a pitcher with a filter. These filters are carbon based and can remove some chemicals, particularly organic chemicals. This improves the smell and taste of the water for many consumers, but there still may be a variety of contaminants left behind in their drinking water.
Another method of filtration involves reverse osmosis. RO, as it is often called, uses high pressure to force water through a semi permeable membrane. It will remove some dissolved salts, organics, bacteria and pyrogens. Reverse Osmosis involves cross filtration rather than standard filtration. In standard filtration, the contaminants are trapped in the filter media, while in cross filtration contaminants are swept away to avoid build up and to keep the membrane clean. RO is fairly good at removing dissolved salts when the membrane is new, but cannot be relied upon to remove bacteria or viruses, especially when the water has no residual chlorine present. As RO membranes age, the pores in the membranes become larger and allow more and more impurities of all kinds to pass through into the treated water.
By far, the most effective water purification method is distillation. Distillation mimics the hydrologic cycle in that, water evaporates through boiling leaving contaminants behind, then condenses similar to how clouds form, and then the water collects in a jar or tank in the way that rain falls. Water that collects after distillation is 99.9% pure. No other filtration or purification system can compare. No other system can improve upon the natural processes that govern the hydrologic cycle, which has supported life on Earth for billions of years.
As global warming begins to affect weather more and more, water quality is becoming more of an issue. With an increase in natural disasters striking around the world, how do we protect our water? Last year alone, thousands of boil alerts went out. Having a distiller provides the highest quality water; better than simply boiling where toxins can build up. During a boil alert, those with RO or pitchers would still need to boil their water.
During chemical spills, water filters or RO will not be able to remove contaminants completely. Boiling water concentrates contaminants. Often times, distilled water would be safe to drink. Additionally, many spills are found after people have already been exposed. Drinking distilled water is the only way to truly protect oneself from unknowns in the water supply, whether they be chemical or biological for that matter.
Bottled water, while generally safe, although not pure, is always a go to solution for disasters of any kind. However, it may be difficult to go to get bottled water during a time of such high demand. In normal times, using bottled water on a regular basis creates trash in landfills at an epic rate. Did you know that it is believed that over 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away each day? 80% of all plastic bottles are not even recycled. Besides all of this, bottled water can cost up to 1000 times more than tap water!
Many who live in rural areas know the struggle of clean water. Arsenic, nitrates and other chemicals have been found in amounts that are simply unsafe to drink, especially long term. Well water increasingly needs to be purified to drink. City dwellers are faced with similar threats. Each city is faced with the need to provide large quantities of water for the lowest cost. While the water is considered “safe” by the government, there are still contaminants present. The reality is that distillation is the only proven method to remove these contaminants at a lower cost with better results and without waste. What more could you ask for?
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