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What Is Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration?

Minerals and other impurities can affect how your water smells and tastes. Fortunately, there are several different ways to remove those unwanted contaminants. One option is a reverse osmosis filtration system, which is a popular choice for both residential and commercial applications. Understanding how reverse osmosis works may help you decide if this type of filtration system is best for your home or office.

How Does Reverse Osmosis Filtration Work?

It’s often easier to understand reverse osmosis by studying osmosis first. Essentially, osmosis is a natural, spontaneous process, but reverse osmosis requires added pressure.


diagram of osmosisOsmosis refers to the natural process of a solvent (e.g. water) moving through a semipermeable membrane from the side with the lower concentration of solutes to the side with the higher concentration of solutes. The goal of this spontaneous process is to equalize the concentration of solutes on both sides of the membrane. Osmosis occurs often in nature. For example, a plant’s roots draw in water through osmosis, because the plant has a higher concentration of solutes than the soil does, so the water naturally crosses the roots’ membranes to balance out the solute concentration.

Reverse Osmosis

diagram of reverse osmosisIn reverse osmosis, external pressure is applied to make the process work backwards. In a desalination plant, for example, extreme pressure forces salt water (which has a high solute concentration) across a semipermeable membrane. The pressure pushes pure water molecules through the membrane while salt and other contaminants are left behind. The same process happens in a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Water that contains undesirable contaminants and minerals is forced against a semipermeable membrane that only allows pure water molecules to pass through. Many reverse osmosis systems also have pre-filters and post-filters. The pre-filters generally remove large impurities such as sediment, and the post-filters help capture tiny contaminants that make it through the semipermeable membrane.

What Are the Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Filtration?

According to the CDC, reverse osmosis filtration systems are highly effective against the following contaminants:

  • Bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella)
  • Viruses (e.g. Norovirus, Hepatitis A)
  • Salt
  • Chloride
  • Protozoa (e.g. Giardia)
  • Lead
  • Nitrates
  • Fluoride

These common contaminants can make water taste and smell bad, and many of them can cause health problems if consumed. Fortunately, reverse osmosis systems are extremely useful for removing these types of impurities.

Is Reverse Osmosis Better Than a Carbon Filter?

The main difference between a reverse osmosis system and a carbon filter is the type of impurities that each can remove. Carbon filters can remove impurities such as chlorine, volatile organic compounds, and sediment that can affect the smell and taste of water. While this is useful, a reverse osmosis filter can do more. These systems can remove dangerous bacteria, viruses, parasites, and metals. The best filter for your home or office is the one that is effective against the specific contaminants you are dealing with.

Get Pure Drinking Water for Your Home or Workplace

If you’re not happy with the quality of your tap water, you may want to install a reverse osmosis filtration system to remove the contaminants that make your water taste or smell unpleasant. It’s easier to live a healthy lifestyle with access to pure, delicious water. If you’re not sure which filtration system is right for your home or office, contact the Dr. Johns H2O team. Our experts will conduct a free water analysis and help you find the perfect solution. Schedule your appointment today.