What Are Some Reverse Osmosis Water Benefits?
First of All, What’s Osmosis?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary tells us that osmosis is the movement of a solvent through a semipermeable membrane into a solution of higher solute concentration that tends to equalize the concentrations of solute on the two sides of the membrane. (1) Well, non-science majors or those for whom high school was a while ago may need a tutorial. Let’s see if we can break that down.
Imagine that sitting on the table in front of you is a glass of water. Water is a solvent — that is, it is able to break down other substances. To your solvent, add a few tablespoons of regular table sugar; this is the solute, the substance dissolved in a solvent.
Now imagine that you have a clear plastic box that’s open on top, and dividing that box into two equal sides is a semipermeable membrane with tiny holes in it. The holes allow water vapor to pass through, but liquid to stay out. You pour the sugar water into one side of the box, and into the other side, you pour plain water.
This is when the natural process of osmosis happens. The level of liquid in the sugar-water side will slowly rise as the solvent (water) moves through the membrane to make both sides more equal in a sugar-to-water ratio because water wants to find equilibrium. One side is crowded with sugar, so pure water from the other side decides to move over to make the concentration more equal or until the osmotic pressure (the pressure that happens as the molecules move) is reached. So, osmosis is when a solvent of low concentrated solute solution moves through a membrane to get to the higher concentrated solution, thus weakening it. (2)
Plants employ this process to draw water from their roots to their leaves. Toward the top of the plant, the solute concentration is greater, which causes water to be drawn up in an effort to equalize the solution (water). This keeps the plant hydrated and prevents water loss from evaporation. (3)
What, Then, Is Reverse Osmosis (RO)?
To recap, in osmosis, a lower-concentrate solution will filter its solvent to the higher-concentrate solution. In RO, the process is reversed, but this time, instead of it being a process that requires no work or energy, pressure must be applied. Pressure, in this case, is measured in “atmospheres” (1 atmosphere is equal to the air pressure at sea level, or 14.7 psi). (3)
When pressure is applied to the higher concentration solution, the solvent filters out into the lower concentration solution, leaving the solute behind, so instead of an equal balance of solvent and solute in both solutions, RO separates solute from solvent. (3)
Again, let’s look at an example. One of the main uses of RO is desalination, meaning to remove salt from water. Desalinated water can be used for bathing and agriculture and sometimes drinking (to make it potable, the water may need to be further filtered). What happens in RO to get it to this point is this: controlled pressure of approximately 60 atmospheres is applied to a solution with a high solute concentration — seawater, for example, whose main solute is salt. As the seawater is forced against the membrane, the membrane passes the pure water molecules through, leaving salt behind because its molecules are too large to fit through. In this way, we get clean water. (2, 3)
The Uses and Importance of RO
- Recycle water contaminated by chemicals used to preserve metal
- Concentrate liquids such as fruit juices and milk
- Dealcoholize alcoholic beverages
- Remove minerals from boiler water in power stations
- Filter the blood in hemodialysis treatments
- Produce pharmaceutical-grade water for injections and use during surgery
Perhaps the most important use of RO concerns water. Around 60% of the adult human body is water. According to the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and heart comprise 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, the muscles and kidneys 79%, and the bones 31%. (7, 8) Clearly, having water that is fit to drink is imperative.
Water is a finite resource; what we have is all we have. The water that’s here now has always been here because the earth replenishes water through the water cycle — the continuous movement of water through the air, ocean, and earth. Of all the water on Earth, 97.5% resides in the oceans. This leaves 2.5% as fresh water, 79% of which is locked up in glaciers and ice caps, and 20% is groundwater. Just 1% is easily accessible surface freshwater. (9)
To break it down even further, of this 1% surface freshwater, 52% resides in lakes, 38% is in the soil, 8% is in the atmosphere, 1% resides in living organisms, and the remaining 1% comprises rivers. (9)
The problem is that all sources of water can become contaminated, including the freshwater sources that humans and animals use most: groundwater and surface water. Contamination further limits the supply of drinkable water. (7, 10) Consequently, RO is a crucial process for creating potable water because it removes contaminants like salt, heavy metals, biological organisms, pharmaceuticals, and toxic chemicals. Currently, over 21,000 RO water plants are in operation in 120 countries, mostly focused on desalinating seawater. (11)
How You Can Take Advantage of RO at Home
If you want an RO system in your home to filter impurities out of your water, you won’t have to convert your spare bedroom to an industrial RO plant.
One small-scale option is an under-the-counter system that connects to the water supply under your sink. The water will pass through several filters to achieve purity and is then stored in a storage tank (also under the sink). A faucet is then installed on your sink, fed from the storage tank below. RO countertop filters are a second option. (2)
The following are the RO filtering stages (12):
- Removal of rough particles, sand, and rust
- Removal of chlorine and chemicals
- Removal of dissolved solids and everything larger than the water molecule itself (RO stage)
- Remineralization of the purified water to improve taste and introduce healthy minerals
This is a great start to healthier water for everyone in your house, including pets. But did you know there’s something you can do to improve your water quality even more? Combine your reverse osmosis water benefits with those of Antioxidant Water™.
Echo Antioxidant Water™
Echo Antioxidant Water™ is purified water that has been infused with molecular hydrogen, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. Just 0.5 ppm of molecular hydrogen dissolved in water provides many therapeutic benefits, including improved gut health, increased brain function, increased energy, and reduced oxidative stress due to free radicals (learn more here).
At Synergy Science™, we have created a machine that will fit in perfectly with your existing RO or other whole-house filtration system: the Echo H2 Server™. This machine can connect to your fridge and sink simultaneously using a T-Adapter and provides 1.5 ppm of hydrogen, guaranteeing that you’ll receive a therapeutic dose without changing your water’s pH. The Echo H2 Server™ makes it possible for you to experience Echo Antioxidant Water™ benefits along with your reverse osmosis water benefits.