If you’re dealing with limey build-ups, scummy showers, and funky smells, you’re probably looking for an easy solution to your water problem. When searching for the right water filtration system, you’re almost guaranteed to come across these two popular options: reverse osmosis unit and carbon filters.
The most common types of water filters, reverse osmosis and carbon filtering both offer a way to treat your drinking water but yield different results.
Does reverse osmosis remove minerals? The short answer is “yes.” And as for carbon filtration? Unfortunately, that’s a “no.”
However, there’s a lot more to understand when it comes to mineral filtration and reverse osmosis. In this guide, we’ll go deep into minerality, the fundamentals of filtration, and the way to determine the best drinking water systems for your situation.
We’ve touched a little on water filters vs reverse osmosis, but it’s important to grasp the fundamentals of water filtration as well.
Before diving into these two methods in more detail, you need to understand some basic facts about water filters:
These facts apply to both reverse osmosis and carbon filters.
A reverse osmosis filter is a great option if you want to filter out every possible contaminant in your water.
While reverse osmosis certainly sounds like a topic from biology class, it’s perfectly understandable when broken down into a few steps.
Reverse Osmosis or RO is a physical filtration process involving a semipermeable membrane typically made of cellulose acetate, polysulfone, and polyamide. The reverse osmosis membranes are solvent resistant, meaning they won’t be damaged or made less effective by water.
RO, in its simplest terms, works like this:
In short, the reverse osmosis membrane acts like a bouncer at an exclusive club, water is the VIP, and contaminants are not on the guest list.
The process of reverse osmosis has been popular for more than 50 years and was invented more than 100 years ago. Over the course of several decades, reverse osmosis technology has been refined to filter smaller and smaller ions—we’re talking filters with a pore size of .0001 microns.
In case you don’t know how small a micron is, the diameter of a single human hair is on average about 70 microns. So, .0001 microns is quite literally microscopic.
That means a reverse osmosis system can filter out minerals, dissolved solids, and much, much more.
A modern Reverse Osmosis filter is capable of filtering out:
Most importantly, for this guide, RO is the best way to make sure your water is mineral-free. In a 2009 study, it was shown that “Reverse Osmosis (RO) removed more than 90-99.99% of all the contaminants including minerals from the drinking water supply.”1
Minerals just can’t make it past the membrane.
As we mentioned earlier, you most likely stumbled across carbon filtering when researching water filtration options. You may even already own a water pitcher with a charcoal filter, or have one attached to your sink. You might be asking, is this capable of removing minerals as well?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
What you’re looking at is a carbon filter, one of the most common types of water purification and filtration systems for residential use, and likely the method you’re most familiar with. After all, carbon POU filters are affordable and can certainly improve taste.
Despite its commonality, carbon filtering is not always ideal, though it’s important to know why.
Carbon filtering involves the use of Granular Activated Carbon or GAC. GAC is made from oxygenating carbon to create a highly porous, black material with a large surface area. Water passes through the carbon particles, which filter out impurities and contaminants.2
Activated carbon filters out:
Because some water may remain in the filter, GAC filters require cleaning and replacement. If left unattended, the stagnant water has the potential to grow bacteria which is not only a little gross but a potential health risk.
It’s also important to be aware of what activated carbon doesn’t filter, including:
GAC is highly effective for some materials, but smaller molecules can pass through it. While carbon filtering is a sensible choice for some filtration needs, it ultimately isn’t the best option if you’re looking to remove minerals from your drinking water.
The facts are simple: if you want to remove minerals, only an RO water filter will do.
So, is minerality really the source of your water woes? To make a decision, you’ll need to understand water hardness.
Determining the hardness of water might sound like figuring out the wetness of sand, but don’t fret, hard water simply refers to water with a high concentration of minerals in it.
Water hardness is determined by a ratio of milligrams of calcium carbonate to liters of H20.3
If you’re staring at a glass of tap water trying to determine the level of hardness, you might have a hard time figuring it out. The mineral content of your drinking water is typically invisible to the naked eye, though sometimes you can see a slight discoloration.
There are a few ways to test water hardness, but most often it’s easily detectable by taste, touch, or smell.
It’s important to note that mineral contaminants in your drinking water do not pose a serious health threat.
That said, they often do:
If these issues sound familiar, an RO filter is the best option to safeguard your water.
If you’re tired of funny tastes, spotted silverware, and stains on your clothes and fixtures, it’s time to consider a water softener or a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Experts agree you should be drinking 2-4 liters per day, so why settle for less than excellent?4
There are certainly a lot of benefits to reverse osmosis at a personal and a commercial level, and with the right system, you could be pumping gallons of clean, great-tasting water in no time.
Now that you know a little about Reverse Osmosis and its mineral filtration abilities, it’s time to put a plan into action, get your feet wet, and dive right in.
If you’re looking for a smart solution to your water filtration issues look no further than Rayne Water. We’ve been providing water systems to individuals and businesses for over 90 years, and can match you with your perfect system to keep unwanted particles out of your home for good.
Contact Rayne Water today to schedule a water test. We’re here to help provide the purest water for every situation. Check out our products and services, and remember to stay hydrated!