A Reverse Osmosis (RO) system will give you clean tasting drinking water that's free of fluoride, chlorine, chloramine, detergents, lead, pesticides, nitrates, sulphates and much more.
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Your household water pressure pushes tap water through a semi-permeable membrane and dissolved inorganic solids (such as salts) are removed from your water.
You can remove a number of impurities using a reverse osmosis system, such as fluoride, chlorine and chloramine, detergents, lead, pesticides, nitrates and sulphates.
After all those impurities have been removed via the membrane and any additional filters, such as a sediment or carbon filter; you're left with clean-tasting drinking water.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary - semantics. However, to water treatment professionals the difference is huge.
Very briefly; RO membranes let through water molecules to give 'purified water' and the waste water with the contaminants goes down your drain. The resulting 'purified' water has up to 99% of everything taken out - including all the good elements.
The water filters use ativated carbon block cartridges targeted at a range of threats typically found in public water supplies. Particulates are removed mechanically and chemicals are adsorbed by the media electrokinetically. These filters waste no water and leave the good elements in your water.
A typical four stage reverse osmosis system has the following process:
1: Cold water Line Valve: The water source for the reverse osmosis system. It's a valve that fits onto the cold water supply and there's a tube coming out of it that attaches to the pre-filter.
2. Pre-filter(s): Cold water enters the pre-filter, which is normally either a sediment or carbon block. The sediment pre-filter will remove sand, silt, dirt and other sediment that could clog the system and affect the ro membrane. If a carbon filter is used, this will remove chlorine and other chemicals and also improve the taste and smell of your water.
3. Reverse Osmosis Membrane: This is the heart of the system and where the magic happens. Your water passes through a semi-permeable ro membrane and a variety of aesthetic and health related contaminants are removed. The treated water is then stored in a pressurised storage tank.
4. Storage Tank: A standard tank will hold between 2-4 gallons of water and is roughly 12" diameter and 15" tall, so it will fit nicely in the cupboard under your sink. A bladder inside the tank keeps your water pressurised until its ready to be pushed out into the post-filter.
5. Post filter(s): Before your water gets to the ro tap, it flows through a final 'post filter'. This is usually a carbon block and it's where the taste and odour of your water are further improved, giving you pure, safe and beneficial drinking water.
6. Automatic shut off valve (SQV): When the storage tank is full, the SQV closes to stop anymore water from entering the ro membrane. It saves your water and stops it unecessarily flowing down the drain. As soon as water is drawn from the ro tap, the pressure in the tank drops and the SQV re-opens to let some more water in so that it can pass through the membrane and continue on its journey.
7. Check valve: this is located in the outlet end of the ro membrane and its purpose is to stop the backward flow of treated water from the storage tank.
8. Flow restricter: This maintains the flow rate to give you the highest quality drinking water on tap. It also helps maintain pressure on the inlet side of the membrane. Without the additional pressure from the flow control, most of your water would simply flow down the drain and be wasted.
9. Tap: Where your pure, safe drinking water comes from. You would normally install this on your kitchen sink and enjoy the benefits of fresh tasting drinking water that's free of any contaminants.
10. Drain line: This runs from the outlet of the ro membrane to the drain and it's used to get rid of your contaminated water that's been through the reverse osmosis system.
It's true that reverse osmosis removes some unhealthy contaminants such as arsenic, nitrates, copper, lead, sodium and fluoride from your water, but is it healthy? Here's a few things to think about when you're considering buying a reverse osmosis system.
Yes, RO systems can waste around 3 parts to 1 part purified at best. If you were to use 10 litres of purified water, at least 30 litres will go down the drain. There may also be a need for a pre-filtration stage.
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