Reverse Osmosis wasn’t the first type of water filtration system, nor is it the only type of water filtration system used today. There are dozens of alternatives that you can in invest in for cleaner water. However, how does reverse osmosis stack up against other water filtration systems? Does it get water cleaner than any other alternative?
Distillations is one of the oldest ways of water purification. Using this method, the water is heated up to boiling and as the water vapor rises, it is sent into a condenser where it is cooled, condensed, collected, and stored. The bacteria is killed in the boiling and any contaminants stay behind when it is in its initial liquid phase.
How Does It Compare? –
There is a reason you only find distilled water used in industrial processes. It is a very acidic water, and often referred to as “hungry” water. It lacks oxygen and minerals which gives it a flat, almost cloying taste. While distillation purification is highly reusable, it does require a lot of energy and even then some contaminates can carry over into the condensation process.
In deionization, water is percolated through a bead-like spherical resin where ions like hydrogen or hydroxyl are exchanged for other ions like cations or anions.
Deionized water is a popular drinking water because it still has the minerals that makes water taste good, but it removes all the harmful particles, or at least that is what people believe. In essence, deionization is actually kind of terrible at removing pathogens and bacteria from water, and those contaminates can actually ruin the resin in the deionizer. Essentially, deionization is great, but only after the water has been put through some other initial filtering.
Ultrafiltration is actually very close to reverse osmosis. In it, water it put through several different filters such as screen, depth, and surface filters in order to remove a number of particles. As ultrafiltration systems use different filters that each function to remove specific things, you get some good high-quality filtering. However, they don’t use carbon filters and typically don’t come with whole systems. Ultrafilteration are more like you common Brita filter systems.
Many people prefer ultrafiltration systems to reverse osmosis systems because they provide the same quality of filtering for a fraction of the price. However, the major disadvantage of ultrafiltering systems is that they don’t last very long. Reverse osmosis systems, once installed, have filters that last for about a year. However, ultrafiltration filters last a couple of months, at most. This means that you need to replace the filters more often and, well, we both know that you’re going to forget to do that.
Ultraviolet radiation has come to be widely believed to be an effective germicidal treatment for water. In UV treatment, mercury low pressure lamps that generate 254 nm UV light are shined onto water in order to kill whatever is in it. The absorption of the UV light by DNA and proteins in the microbial cell of contaminants result in the inactivation of the microorganism.
How Does It Compare? –
Obviously there is one clear downfall of UV radiation treatment of water. While it can kill basically any and every bacteria that is present in your water, it does absolutely nothing for contaminates like heavy metals. Since there is no filtering technology involved, UV radiation is best used with other filtering techniques. In fact, many of the more upscale models of reverse osmosis systems actually come with UV radiation stages after the filtration process to make sure that any bacteria that did get through is quite dead.
Filtering it All Together
As you can see, there are really only two kinds of filtering systems worth investing money into if you are worried about the quality of your water – ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. Other systems like deionization and UV radiation treat very specific water concerns, but don’t do a sweeping catch for everything.
So between ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis, which is worth the investment?
If you are just casually worried about your water, ultrafiltration systems are cheaper and work just as well as reverse osmosis systems. If you are really responsible and can remember to change the filters, then they are a fine investment. However, reverse osmosis systems are a permanent solution to something that is a permanent problem.
A great benefit of reverse osmosis systems is that you won’t have to work hard to find one that also addresses your specific filtering concerns. If you buy into the theory that deionized water is better for you, then you can get perfectly filtered water that has also been deionized.
Similarly, if you want UV radiation to make sure that all bacteria has been killed, many reverse osmosis systems also come with the option even though it is kind of superfluous after the filtering process, but it can give peace of mind if nothing else.
Essentially, unlike ultrafiltration systems, reverse osmosis systems give you the kind of flexibility that you want in order to get the cleanest and best-tasting water delivered to you from your tap. It is why they have become the filtration system of choice for so many homes.