The Truth About Reverse Osmosis – Is it Safe to Drink the Water?

Have you ever asked the question, can I drink the water out of my tank? If so, you have probably done some research online. You probably still have a lot of questions too.

While opinions differ greatly on the benefits of different water filtration methods, reverse osmosis seems to often get targeted unfairly by articles written and posted online. Why is there such negativity towards reverse osmosis water treatment and can we trust these articles to be accurate? Are they telling the truth or just spreading misconceptions and lies?

In this lens, I will discuss both the positives and negatives of RO systems to help you sort through all the myths, half-truths, and falsehoods associated with the technology.

Myth #1 – Reverse Osmosis Water is Unhealthy to Drink

Truth: Reverse Osmosis water is very clean and good for our bodies.

Reverse osmosis has been called dead water because of its purity. Detractors say it is man-made, unnatural and unhealthy. They claim that RO water can only be used for industrial applications and not for human consumption. They say that RO water is too pure and clean to be good because such perfectly clean mineral-free water does not exist naturally on earth. They forgot about a little thing called RAIN.

Rainwater is water that has been stripped of all minerals and is one of the purest and cleanest water on earth. Human beings have relied on drinking rainwater for thousands of years without any negative health effects. Only recently has rainwater been polluted by the industrial age and man’s pollution of the skies. Ask yourself this. What can be more natural than mother-nature’s life giving rain?

With all the scientific research that has been done over the years on reverse osmosis water, none has ever documented any negative health effects from water treated by this method. In fact RO technology was actually invented by the US military and our military personnel still use it currently for drinking water.

Some more facts to consider.

1. Bottled Water = RO Water

When you drink many brands of bottled water, you are actually drinking RO treated tap water.

2. Soft Drinks = RO Water

When you drink soft-drinks and soda, you are drinking mineral-free treated RO water. Vitamin water, sports drinks & energy drinks are also made from RO purified water.

3. Tap Water = RO Water

Some US city and municipal water facilities (Orange County, CA) are already providing RO treated water to their communities. Los Angeles county is also considering RO systems as we speak. Even Beverly Hills 90210 is using RO water. Hey if reverse osmosis is good enough for the OC and the Hollywood elite that must tell you something!

4. GE & DOW water = RO Water

General Electric and DOW chemical are two of the largest and most respected companies in the scientific community and both sell and endorse reverse osmosis technology for drinking water.

5. Arrowhead & Culligan water = RO Water

Arrowhead, Culligan, Aquafina and Dasani are just a few brands that sell reverse osmosis water.

6. Google Campus Water = RO Water

Google employees have on-site doctors, massage therapists, nutritionists, yoga classes and volleyball courts at their finger tips. They also have delicious reverse osmosis drinking water too.

The truth is many of us have been drinking reverse osmosis water all our lives without even knowing it.

Myth #2 – Reverse Osmosis is Some High-Tech, Scientific, Frankenstein Water

Truth: Reverse Osmosis is just a simple film based filter, nothing more.

Some people will have you believe that RO water is some high-tech, super, genetically altered water that could one day destroy the world. Nothing is further from the truth.

Reverse Osmosis is just a normal film based filter that pushes water through a film-membrane from one side to the other. It works just like every other filter mechanism you have ever seen throughout your life. Water vapors and molecules are small enough to pass through the semi-permeable membrane, contaminants are not. Simple enough right? The only difference is that the RO membrane is much more refined which means it restricts more contaminants than other filter systems.

There is nothing scary, complex or unnatural about reverse osmosis water.

Reverse Osmosis is just a filter with much smaller holes than other filters.

Reverse Osmosis technology has been used widely in the food industry for many years. It is used in the dairy industry for the production of whey protein powders and for the concentration of milk to reduce shipping costs.

Reverse osmosis is used globally throughout the wine industry for many practices including wine and juice concentration, taint removal; such as acetic acid, smoke taint and brettanomyces taint; and alcohol removal. Known users include many of the elite classed growths (Kramer) such as Château Léoville-Las Cases in Bordeaux.

Myth #3 – Reverse Osmosis Removes Healthy Minerals from Water

Truth: Reverse Osmosis removes inorganic minerals which are UNHEALTHY.

RO systems do remove minerals from tap water. However, we humans get the vast majority of our minerals from the foods we eat, not from drinking water. For example, 1 glass of orange juice has the same amount of minerals as 30 gallons of tap water. Try drinking that for your morning breakfast!

Another thing they don’t mention is the type of minerals found in water. Tap water contains only inorganic minerals which cannot be properly absorbed by our bodies. Human beings need organic minerals which are only available from living organisms like plants and vegetables and are easily absorbed by our systems. The inorganic minerals found in water has little to no benefits to people and in fact are actually detrimental to our health.

It is estimated that over a 60-year lifespan, a person drinking tap or mineral water will be ingesting about 200 to 300 pounds of rock that their body cannot use. (These are the so-called “healthy minerals” that RO detractors complain are being taken out of the water!) While most of these minerals will be eliminated, some will be stored in our tissues becoming toxic. The primary culprits are calcium salts and over time they can cause gallstones, kidney stones, bone & joint calcification, arthritis, and hardening and blocking our arteries.

“What the human body cannot utilize or excrete, it must store. Consequently, the inorganic salts (inorganic minerals) are stored and in time take their toll in the form of hardening of the arteries, stones within the kidneys, urethras, gall bladder, joints and an etiologic factor in enlargement of the adipose cell (fat cell). To be one hundred percent healthy, the human body must be free of inorganic minerals.”

Paul C. Bragg, N.D., Ph.D.

World Renowned Nutritionist, Pioneer in America’s Wellness movement

Paul promoted and drank mineral-free water all his life and died at age 81 from complications after a surfing accident!

Revere osmosis water purification simply delivers the cleanest, purest drinking water on the market. In fact, reverse osmosis is the only purification system that can remove dangerous Pharmaceuticals & Drugs from our drinking water. According to AP news reports provided by USA Today article & Fox News report – “Reverse Osmosis removes virtually all pharmaceutical contaminants”.

According to the WQA & WHO(Water Quality Association – World Health Organization) we get the vast majority of our minerals from food not from drinking water.

Water Quality Association (WQA) Technical Services Consultant Regu Regunathan, PhD, and WQA Technical Director Joseph F. Harrison, PE, CWS-VI, both spoke at the April symposium. Harrison said he agrees with the WHO report’s major conclusions:

1. Both calcium and magnesium are essential to human health.

2. Food is the principal source of both calcium and magnesium.

3. Suppliers of water – including municipal, purified bottle water, and POU/POE treatment water providers – may make information on the mineral content of their water available to the consumer.

The lack of minerals in your water should not keep you up at night. The increasing amounts of chemicals and drugs found in tap water should!

Water is essential, but it has little nutritional value.

Myth #4 – Reverse Osmosis Leaches Minerals from the Body

Truth: Reverse Osmosis water cannot leach minerals from the human body.

This is just another scare tactic and lie created by competing water filter companies to discredit the RO market.

Water is called the universal solvent as it always “wants” to have substances dissolved in it. The purer the water, the more aggressive it becomes in attacking things that can dissolve. This doesn’t hurt the human body, because our physiology quickly obtains homeostasis using saliva, stomach fluids, etc. to equilibrate all bodily fluids.

Reverse Osmosis technology was created in the 1970s and has been scientifically tested in every conceivable way since then. There has never been any documented evidence to prove that reverse osmosis treated water can leach minerals from the human body.The US Navy has used water with less than 3 parts per million total dissolved solids (TDS) for more than 40 years, according to a 1993 Water Quality Association (WQA) report, which also said the Army’s field personnel drinks RO water.

In early July, 2008, the Brighton Standard Blade, a Colorado newspaper contacted the EPA at their readers request to find out if RO water leaches minerals. The EPA spokeswoman said that their organization does not support this idea. The WQA also rejects the idea that RO water can leach minerals in a 1993 report titled,’Consumption of Low TDS Water’. Their extensive research presented evidence that suggests water with low amounts of total dissolved solids (TDS), such as distilled water and reverse osmosis treated water has no ill effects on humans.

Water Technology Magazine also disagrees with this myth giving a list of sources that dispels the false water propaganda.

Reverse osmosis water is very clean, and its purity will actually help improve the absorption of all nutrients including good organic minerals. No more ingesting of bad inorganic minerals (rocks) means the body will no longer be stressed and taxed with trying to absorb something that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. Cleaner water will also improve the elimination of wastes at the cellular level and increase your body’s metabolic activity.

Would you rather get natural organic minerals from this?

Or rock based inorganic minerals from this?

Myth #5 – Reverse Osmosis Produces Very Acidic Water with Low pH

Truth: Reverse Osmosis produces mildy acidic or neutral water

Reverse Osmosis may reduce pH levels somewhat as it removes unhealthy inorganic minerals from tap water. However the reduction is not certain and would be very small and not detrimental to human health. The truth is, water pH will automatically change when it is ingested and comes into contact with the food in your stomach. Even on an empty stomach, your stomach acid alone is already several times more acidic than RO water with a pH level of 2.

The human body regulates pH levels constantly to find balance and equilibrium. Therefore under normal conditions it will always maintain a neutral 7.4 pH balance. Even eating very acidic foods (very low pH) only alters the body’s pH by a very tiny amount and only for a short time. The healthy body is very robust and it will restore homeostatic pH fairly quickly and easily.

As long as you eat a well balanced diet which includes vegetables and fruits, you can pretty much drink whatever you want without ever worrying about your pH balance.

Water pH Levels (May Fluctuate)

Sea Water = 8.6 pH (alkaline)

Mineral Water = 7.4 pH (mildly alkaline)

Tap Water = 6-8 pH (Varies constantly)

RO water = 5-7 pH (Depends on pH of input water)

Beverages pH Levels

Sodas and Cola Drinks = 2.5 pH

Sports Performance Drinks = 2.9 pH

Orange Juice = 3 pH

Coffee = 4 pH

Beer = 4.5 pH

Milk = 6 pH

Healthy Human Body pH levels

Blood = 7.4 pH

Stomach = 2 pH

Mouth = 6.7 pH

Myth #6 – Reverse Osmosis Wastes A Lot of Water

Truth: Reverse Osmosis does use a lot of water but the water can be recycled.

Of all the false characteristics attributed to RO water filtration, this one is the only one based in truth.

For every gallon of clean water produced by a RO system, 4 to 8 gallons of water is wasted. Some people have claimed the ratio is as high as 1/20 but don’t believe this. Mostly home systems have a water to waste ratio of 1/4 – 1/6.

That is still a lot of waste water but it just shows you how well the system works at creating pure healthy water. Remember, RO systems clean your water and remove thousands of unhealthy contaminants from tap water that countertop and tap filters cannot.

Will RO Waste Water Cost You a Fortune?

Reverse Osmosis waste water is the equivalent of an extra 3 to 4 toilet flushes a day. You actually waste more water each day when you wash your dishes or clothes than from a RO system. You will probably pay a extra 25 to 50 cents a month from RO waste water.

Waste water from RO systems is actually pretty clean and similar to tap water in purity levels. It can be channeled for use in gardens watering plants or stored and used for other household applications.

Is RO Waste Water Environmentally Unfriendly?

Water that flows down the sink is not wasted and can be recycled into clean water. Orange County, California already recycles their waste water, turning it back into their city tap water.

The truth is, there is no “New” water on this planet. All water is old water that has been recycled continuously for millions of years. We are actually drinking the same water that the dinosaurs drank, recycled obviously by Mother Nature.

Most water molecules are never destroyed, but continually go through a cycle of where they go… down your throat, down the sink, into a river, up into the sky, down as rain, into the ocean… etc. And it’s been doing that for millions and millions of years over and over and over again. And so the very same water molecules have been around since the dinosaurs and long before that!

Myth #7 – Water Experts Disapprove of Reverse Osmosis Systems

Truth: Water Experts = Affiliate Salespeople!

Do not trust the majority of articles posted online by so-called “Water Experts” that attack RO water filtration as unhealthy. About 90% of them were written by the sales affiliates of a single countertop filter company which competes directly against RO sellers.

How do I know this? Well 90% of these articles all link back to websites that sell and promote only one brand of countertop filter. Their articles are posted all over the internet with the sole purpose of pushing people into buying their filters. They never back up their claims with sources or links because the primary purpose of these articles is to make money for the affiliate.

As stated above, the water scientific community believes that RO water is healthy to drink. So who are you going to trust? The EPA & WQA, or a bunch of affiliate salesmen on the internet?

THE SHOWDOWN! – Reverse Osmosis VS Countertop & Faucet Filters

No nonsense facts regarding the leading water purification technologies.


Finally, let’s take a brief look at the primary difference between a reverse osmosis system and simple countertop water filters.

Countertops are particle filtration systems and have a 1 micron rating. This means that all the nasty materials smaller than one micron such as asbestos, insecticides, pharmaceutical drugs, and human viruses will not be filtered out by countertop filters. The RO membrane filter by itself has a .0001 micron rating, is classified under nanofiltration technology and would filter out all of these contaminants and thousands more that would be missed by countertop filters. Combined with its other 4 stages of filtration, reverse osmosis delivers the cleanest drinking water available on the market with a 90-95% contaminant rejection rate.

Countertop and faucet filters DO NOT remove the following contaminants from tap water. Reverse Osmosis does filter these and many other contaminants missed by counter-top filters.

Viruses – Infection, common cold, influenza, SARS, hepatitis

Bacteria – Tetanus, typhoid fever, syphilis, tuberculosis, salmonella

Pesticides – Poisoning, cancer, miscarriages, birth defects

Arsenic – Cancer(bladder,lung,kidney,skin), Diseases, Diabetes 2

Fluoride – Neurotoxin, alzheimers disease, IQ & brain damage, skeletal fluorosis

Drugs – There are thousands of different drugs and chemicals!

Cryptosporidium – Gastro-intestinal illness, diarrhea

Mercury – Poison,



Heavy Metals

Radioactive Materials

These are scientific facts that even countertop filter supporters cannot deny. They know that carbon filtration can never compete against reverse osmosis when it comes to water cleanliness and purity.

My Personal Rating for Water Filtration Technologies.

City tap water: Poor – Average
Wholehouse filters: Average
Faucet filters: Decent
Countertop filters: Decent
Distiller filters: Good
Reverse Osmosis filters: Excellent

Reverse Osmosis VS Countertop Filtration – A Real Life Analogy Just for Fun

Let’s say that you are a police officer and your different layers of clothing represents the different water filter layers of a RO system. The dangerous elements you face everyday patrolling the streets represent the contaminants in tap water.

In this scenario the sediment filter is your officer’s jacket. It is handy to have around when you need it to protect you from the occasional raining or cold day. The carbon filters represent your shirt and pants which you should wear everyday to keep warm and block out the sun & wind. The RO membrane is your Kevlar bullet-proof vest, it can stop bullets and protect you when a simple shirt or jacket just won’t do.

A reverse osmosis system is like an officer wearing his full uniform including a Kevlar vest, helmet, shirt, pants and jacket. He is fully protected from 95% of the dangers that the world can throw at him. A countertop/faucet filter is like an officer wearing just a normal shirt & pants without any other protection. Sure it will be enough in many cases, but watch out when the bullets start flying.

THE RO MATRIX-You’re saying I can dodge bullets?-I’m saying when you have a reverse osmosis system, you won’t have to.

ps. Drinking tap water without a filter would be like walking around in public naked!

Reverse Osmosis VS Bottled Water

Truth: Bottled water can contain dangerous plastic chemicals

You have probably heard about the negative health effects associated with plastics chemicals leaching into bottled water. Unfortunately this is a real fact of life as plastics are all around us, and the toxicity levels of some plastics can have a detrimental effect our health and well-being.

Many types of plastics are made of chemicals that are toxic or poisonous to living organisms. Fortunately plastics are labeled by numbers to represent their polymer makeup and to make them easier to identify for recycling purposes. As a general rule, try to avoid plastics numbers 3, 6 & 7 while opting to choose type #5 (polypropylene)if possible. Bottled water usually use types 1 & 2 which are okay for only short-term, one-time use as long as you keep it away from sunlight and heat. For more information on plastics visit this Plastics Toxicity Lens.

Since 90% of bottled water comes in a plastic bottle, I would recommend people to get a reverse osmosis machine and bottle their own water in a stainless steel, aluminum or glass bottle. It is good for the environment and your health.

Share your personal reverse osmosis knowledge and experience.