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Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Minerals?

By: David Trinh
Last Updated:
does-ro-remove-minerals

Have you thought about installing a reverse osmosis system at home?

It’s hard to overlook RO filters since they remain one of the most effective options for point of use water treatment.

That said, you probably stumbled across some concerns about the systems removing minerals from water, including the healthy ones.

Does reverse osmosis remove minerals from drinking water?

Yes, it’s true that RO filters remove 99.9% of total dissolved solids (TDS) from tap water, including some good minerals.

While it may seem concerning that reverse osmosis removes healthy minerals along with the harmful contaminants it’s a good idea to step back and look at the big picture.

Some people remain wary of reverse osmosis filters because minerals can be easily absorbed through water intake. However, we can actually consume foods that contain the beneficial minerals in larger quantities so it’s not a huge deal.

To help you make the best decision for your household, let’s break down everything you need to know about reverse osmosis and mineral removal.

What Healthy Minerals Do You Get From Tap Water?

All tap water contains a plethora of natural minerals from the rocks and earth, including some that we need to grow and thrive.

You can certainly get the same healthy minerals from fruits and vegetables. Actually, many foods contain essential minerals in far greater quantities than you can get from a glass of tap water.

However, minerals can alter the taste of water, and it’s also easier for our bodies to process some minerals through the water.

Let’s take a look at the beneficial minerals typically found in tap water and what makes them so helpful.

Calcium and Magnesium

ca-mn

Have you ever wondered about the difference between hard water and soft water? Water hardness has a lot to do with calcium and magnesium levels, which also help humans function.

Calcium, also found in leafy greens, contributes to bone and tooth health. Magnesium helps your body convert food to energy and manage your weight, but it’s not always easy to get enough through your diet.

Potassium

potassium-k

No matter what your tap water looks like, you won’t get much potassium from your drinking water.

Most potassium comes from foods that contain larger quantities to meet our needs. Potassium is a critical element for human health because it balances fluid levels in the body and helps maintain organ health.

Sodium

sodium

Sodium, commonly known as salt, keeps human bodies functioning properly. It facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses and balances fluid levels in the body.

Additionally, sodium helps muscles contract and relax, as any athlete can tell you. Of course, excessive salt intake isn’t healthy, but drinking water generally contains safe quantities.

Copper

copper

Copper often gets a bad rap, but it’s important for bone, blood, and nervous system health.

Drinking water usually doesn’t contain excessive copper because public health systems monitor levels in the water supply. Consuming too much copper can be toxic, but people rarely ingest enough to reach toxicity.

Zinc

zinc

Who takes zinc at the first sign of a cold?

Zinc does boost the immune system, but it also supports healthy blood function and DNA synthesis. Like other minerals, too much zinc can be harmful, but most drinking water contains minimal amounts unless stored in zinc-coated containers or pipes. Public health systems generally monitor zinc levels as well.

Phosphorous

phosphorus

Phosphorus is another useful mineral when ingested in appropriate quantities, like in drinking water. It helps you make protein, convert carbohydrates effectively, and supports bone health.

Don’t expect to get too much phosphorus from a glass of water because it is closely monitored to ensure levels remain in safe ranges.

Fluoride

flouride

Fluoride in water remains a hot topic for many people. Some states actually enhance community water with fluoride because it’s considered essential for dental health.

The actual benefits have been a point of contention for decades, so if you prefer your water without fluoride, an RO system could remedy that for you!

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Healthy Minerals?

removes-tds

As noted above, reverse osmosis filters remove 99.9% of TDS from drinking water, including healthy minerals. Yes, RO removes minerals.

To remove contaminants from water using reverse osmosis requires some give and take. We would lose effectiveness against harmful minerals if we tried to save the helpful ones.

Reverse osmosis filters remove healthy minerals, but the result is better water because it lacks harmful contaminants. Trading trace amounts of helpful minerals seems worthwhile when you learn that you also avoid viruses and metals. 

How Do Reverse Osmosis Systems Remove Minerals?

Understanding how reverse osmosis works to remove minerals may clarify why it’s challenging to separate the good from the bad.

Reverse osmosis filters rely on multiple filtration levels and a semi-permeable membrane. The filters remove contaminants as the water passes through each one.

First, a sediment pre-filter sifts out larger particles, like dirt and rust.

The water then passes to the second level and pushes through an activated carbon filter that absorbs tastes, odors, and certain chemicals, like chlorine.

Most filtration systems feature the first two filter types to capture the larger contaminants.

It’s the third level that sets RO systems apart and gives them a notable edge. The third level is a partially permeable membrane made of a thin composite that can filter out 98% of particles. The semi-permeable membrane can remove TDS as small as 0.001 microns.

It sounds like a complex and time-consuming process, but RO is quick and efficient. Further, if you test your water after reverse osmosis you’ll have a nearly untraceable level of TDS.

You can always test a system’s effectiveness by testing your water before installation to see what contaminants plague your water. When you see things like lead, arsenic, disease-causing bacteria, and pesticides in your tap water, it’s easy to see how sacrificing some beneficial minerals could be worthwhile.

Reverse osmosis remains the most efficient and effective way to purify your drinking water. It’s a unique process that gives you clean, pure water that you can feel good about and enjoy.

What Quantity of Minerals Does a Reverse Osmosis System Remove?

removes-particles

Reverse osmosis filters remove over 99.9% of particles from your drinking water.

Even though they can be invisible to the naked eye, minerals like salt and iron are larger than water molecules. Anything larger than a water molecule cannot pass through the final membrane of reverse osmosis cycles.

Again, it is crucial to note that drinking water doesn’t contain massive quantities of beneficial minerals.

You won’t end up mineral-deficient by drinking water purified by reverse osmosis filters because you can ingest everything you need through food.

The only thing you might miss is the taste of mineralized water, but many people prefer drinking the clean, contaminate-free version.

Do I Need to Remineralize My RO Water?

Obviously, there are many benefits to drinking water from reverse osmosis systems, and the minimal loss of health benefits is a small price to pay.

However, if you miss the taste of alkaline water you may want to know if you can add those minerals back in at the end of the process.

It is entirely possible to get the best of both worlds.
You can choose a reverse osmosis filter with an alkaline water filter that reintroduces some beneficial minerals into the water before you drink it. You can also add minerals yourself with mineralization tablets or drops.

Don’t forget that eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and legumes can give you all the minerals you need. Since most food contains larger quantities of healthy minerals, you don’t need to drink mineral-enriched water to survive.

On the other hand, drinking purified water means you don’t ingest harmful chemicals and bacteria.

Investing in a new reverse osmosis filtration system may seem like a huge step but usually pays off in the long run. With all of the contaminants entering our water systems, it’s tough to put a price tag on drinking pure water. The best RO systems produce impressive results and can give you peace of mind with each glass.

FAQs

Do you still have questions? We thought you might. These frequently asked questions may fill in the blanks and round out your knowledge.

Do All Water Sources Have the Same Contaminants?

No, all water sources have unique compositions, including contaminants. Some areas have higher concentrations of some minerals that may be scant in other regions. Removing all particles from drinking water through reverse osmosis means you don’t have to worry about any contaminants or health issues.

How Are Organic and Inorganic Minerals Different?

The key difference between organic and inorganic minerals is their point of origin. Organic minerals come from living sources, like plants and animals. Conversely, inorganic minerals originate from non-living sources, like metals and stones. It is more common to find inorganic materials in water sources thanks to weather systems and erosion pushing and pulling the particles from the soil and rocks.

Do You Get Normal Water from Reverse Osmosis Filters?

The quest for “normal water” tends to be a confusing one. There are no set criteria as to what qualifies water as “right” or “normal.” One water source may contain higher sodium levels while another has more plant matter because of the local vegetation, but those levels would be normal for each source.

The simple fact is that every water source has a unique composition based on the location, local ecosystem, and weather patterns. Any disruptions to the water source can alter contaminate and mineral levels.

That’s why choosing an RO system is the best way to regulate your drinking water by removing everything that could harm you. Even if the metal or contaminant levels rise in your local water supply, reverse osmosis can make it safe for you to drink. No matter what your definition of “normal water” is, you can trust an RO filter to deliver a safe, purified version.

What Are the Drawbacks of Using Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis filters deliver purified water and require minimal maintenance. You need to replace filter cartridges occasionally, and some last several years. However, there is one drawback to note.

Since RO filters eliminate so many particles, they produce some wastewater. The excess water contains the contaminants that go down your drain. Some systems expel three to four gallons of wastewater for every gallon of purified water. Modern RO systems produce significantly less waste than older iterations, but you can still expect to offload some waste with every gallon of water you filter.

Additionally, the wastewater issue may not be as bad as it sounds. Unlike other wastewater, you may be able to use the excess from your RO system in other ways, like irrigation and flushing toilets.

How Can I Use Reverse Osmosis Water?

Reverse osmosis water is pure enough to drink and cook with, but you can use it however you want, even for bathing. Many people find that choosing an RO system creates better drinking water, which cuts down on the need to rely on single-use plastic bottles. It saves money and reduces the negative impact on the environment.

Is Reverse Osmosis Water Better Than Bottled Water?

Aside from the environmental impact of choosing an RO system over single-use bottles, there are some concerning facts about bottled water. One study found that 93% of bottled water contains microplastics. Some bottled water contained more microplastics than untreated tap water!

Even more disturbing is the fact that companies don’t have to tell you where the water originates. There is no mandate to test the water or provide quality reports. Conversely, the entities that provide tap water must complete regular testing, provide water quality reports, disclose where the water originates from, and meet established EPA standards.

Your tap water may have contaminants you don’t want to drink, but you can invest in an RO system to correct that issue. Bottled water may give you some healthy minerals with a solid dose of microplastics. Relying on bottled water could ultimately cost you much more in the long run – both financially and physically!

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AUTHOR
David Trinh
David is an expert in all things plumbing, heating, cooling, and water treatment. He got his start in the plumbing business working on fixing all types of home improvement issues including water leaks, broken toilets, appliance installation, and more. Over time, he learned a ton about installing and choosing the correct water treatment products for homeowners. He nows spends part of his time servicing local clients and part of his time educating consumers about water treatment and other household appliances.