The Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

So what is a reverse osmosis filter:

A reverse osmosis uses the science based on osmosis but as stated in reverse, what is the idea behind this. It creates an ideal pressurized environment for particulates to pass through a filter once overcoming osmotic pressure. The goal is a more purified water with particulates and bacteria taken to waste.

Where is a reverse osmosis filter used:

This can water can be used in many different systems from laboratory's to cleaning applications. It is used in labs as it is a cheaper way to produce purified water than distilling the water. Whereas in cleaning applications like window cleaning it stops the production of streaks due to there being no deposit made on the windows. Domestically it can be used as cleaning and drinking water (not always, i will go into this more).

Why would I want a reverse osmosis filter:

It is nice to have a purified water tap in your house but I would just use this for cleaning purposes, purchase a filtered water tap instead. The reason behind this is down to the reverse osmosis process, the idea of this is to remove as much out of the water as possible and tap water contains some good within it that R.O. does not, as an example tap water contains calcium which is removed during the R.O. treatment process.

Is drinking reverse osmosis water bad for me:

In the short term, no, however if you are planning on only drinking reverse osmosis water this can be bad for your health due to the lack of minerals that are provided from tap/filtered water.

So should I own a reverse osmosis filter:

Domestically, it is a resounding no, go and get yourself a filter tap, unless it is for cleaning or laboratory equipment.

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My opinions are my own and do not reflect

Reasons To Get A Softener

So what do softeners do:

The basic understanding of a softener is to remove certain metal ions within the water (Calcium, Magnesium and others).

Why would we want to do this:

There are multiple reasons to do this depending on the application you want to use it for. 

Scale: The main reason that people buy softeners for their house is due to Scaling on taps, heat generation equipment (boilers) and surfaces. When the calcium is removed from the water it is replaced with sodium, this means that when water evaporates it will not leave behind those dreaded water marks that take time and money to clean.

Luxury: Owning a water softer is a luxury experience and can make the water physically feel softer, also you do not need to use the same quantity of shampoo, shower gel etc. that you would usually use.

Economy: If you are producing water you do not require the same quantity of cleaning material. This is very common in dry cleaning and industry's where dishwashers are key, especially when it comes to washing glasses. The removal of scale stops glass from becoming watermarked saving money on replacements and expensive dishwasher fluids/tablets.

Do I need a water softener:

This can depend as a large portion of areas already have ideally soft/softened water. If you check your local water providers website you can usually get a report that will tell you how hard your water is. If you have 80 ppm (mg/l) or less then a softener is not necessary a requirement for you as this is idealistic water quality already. Anything above this is the ideal conditions for an install.

You can always test your water quality yourself by buying a water test kit especially for calcium, this usually involves putting droplets into water until it changes color (more often than not 1 drop = 10 ppm).

Different types of water softener:

Manual water softener: These softeners require no electrical connection and are fed from the mains pressure

Semi automatic water softener: These are the same as the manual application although they will regenerate based on time i.e. (every other night) so your salt consumption may be higher with this installation.

Fully automatic water softener: They have a water meter installed that will check how much water is being used and regenerate based on that. You can get systems with both a timer and a meter, so if you want the unit to only regenerate at night you can set this up after a sum of water has passed through the unit.

So, do I need a water softener:

From my professional opinion, yes, these machines will keep you household equipment from breaking and keep your surfaces cleaner.

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Water Conditioners Explained

So what do Water Conditioners do:

The main goal of a water conditioner is to form scale, now why would we want to achieve that? When we form scale within the water we are creating small undissolved crystals (invisible to the human eye) within the water. When scale forms within the water it will pass through the system without attaching itself to the pipework and flow through the tap.

A common misconception of water conditioning is that the water will become "softened", this is in fact not the case as the overall goal is to keep the water wholesome (Drinkable) which means in essence that nothing is added or taken away (Except Electrolytic more details below). Softening is the process of removing calcium ions from the water not creating crystals. The magnetic water conditioning units are often referred to as physical water conditioners due to a force they are using on the ions within the water so in essence are physically moving the ions together.

So if the water is not softened then it means the calcium is still present within the water and can form on surfaces where evaporation can occur or where water is met at boiling point. So if the purpose of using your water conditioner is to remove scale from taps, sinks, showers etc. then you are best opting for a softener.

Why cant I use a Softener:

In most European countries the use of a softener is often prohibited on a drinking water supply and conditioning is the only option without adding or removing anything within the water.

Within the water that comes out of your taps there is a certain quantity of calcium which is good for you to drink whereas in softening the water replaces the calcium ions with sodium ions. It is not dangerous to drink soften water and in many cases will not have an affect on personal health unless you are on a critically controlled sodium diet for medical reasons.

Types of Water Conditioners:

There are a few different types of water conditioner available to you:

Magnetic: Usually clip on devices for smaller pipework and domestic usage, they will condition a very small percentage of the water for a short period of time. Essentially they will affect scale formation but with minimal effect.

Electrolytic: Non electrical devices primarily used for domestic applications. The method used here is by adding a trace of Zinc (or Iron) to the water supply. The unit has a sacrificial anode which will slowly wear down and will eventually run out and with this unit being non electrical it can be hard to tell how much Zinc it is adding to the water or when it has actually run out.

Electromagnetic: Using electromagnetic force to two ions together so they will form a crystal within the water and pass through the system without binding on the pipework or in the heat generation plant. This is most commonly found commercially as the units cost a vast quantity of money, most of these suppliers will require a water sample before suggesting the placement of the device.

Electro-Chemical: Cartridge based systems, often very large in size and always require a power source. This uses ceramic beads and heat to create the scale within the unit itself before releasing the created seed crystals into the pipes. Very commercial based system and not advised for domestic use.

Electrostatic: Claims that using static electricity created from the flow of water through the pipes will increase the production of seed crystals.

How do I know its working:

Unless you have an electron microscope lying around the house you cannot. The best method to find out is if there is a general improvement in the lifetime of the system as many people look for a unit once something has broken down already.

Should I install one in my house:

It depends what you are using it for, if it is a large domestic property with a heat generation plant then it would be the perfect environment for protecting your system. Or even in the central plant location of a flat block.

When it comes to smaller to medium scale domestic applications you will be best to install a water softener for protecting your equipment and run a separate untreated water feed to a tap (usually located in the kitchen).

If you are looking at getting rid of the scale left behind after a shower or on your basin (or that luxury marble you just imported) water conditioning will not have an effect due to this being an evaporative area and when water evaporates it leaves minerals behind. For the luxury feel also a water softener would be best.

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