Does Reverse Osmosis Strip Out Minerals?

Does Reverse Osmosis Strip Out Minerals?
QUESTION: We are customers of an RO System from US Water.  Speaking with a long time plumber familiar with these systems he stated ours is a very good unit but RO would strip the water of important minerals?  Is this true or false? Our unit is: If above is true, what is your recommendation for adding this stripped minerals back into the water prior to reaching the drinking faucet?
ANSWER: Yes, an RO system will strip out the minerals… it will also remove a plethora of chemical and bacterial contaminants. So often, people get fixated on the wrong thing.  Reverse Osmosis removes the largest spectrum of contaminants of any water treatment process and it does remove the minerals. However, water is not a significant source of minerals.  Let me say that again: Water is not a significant source of minerals. If you drank a bathtub full of water a day you might get 10% of the minerals your body needs.  You get minerals from foods and supplements. It’s an illogical argument: "Let’s get less than 1% of the minerals my body needs but leave in chemical contaminants that have been proven to be cariogenic?"  Some people add minerals back to their water with special filters and go to great length to re-mineralize or attempt to make alkaline water.  IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO YOUR BODY!  Once the water passes through the cell wall, whether the pH is 6.0 or 8.0, it becomes the pH of your body and on top of that, the minerals you can add are but a drop in the ocean. Let me break it down even more.  Ask these questions:
  1. Are minerals in the water good for you?  YES!
  2. Is water a significant source of these minerals?  NO!
  3. Is water a significant source of cariogenic chemicals?  YES!
In short, it is best to remove the chemicals and minerals and just eat a good diet!  Take a supplement if you want, but try as you might, you cannot get the minerals from the water you drink, and raising the pH of the water to make "Alkaline Water" has become a Billion Dollar Industry that is built on a scientific misconception.  Water that is truly alkaline may have some medicinal benefits but simply raising the pH by remineralization and thinking that makes your water is alkaline is as erroneous as thinking you can defy the law of gravity. Instead of being focused upon the lack of minerals in RO water, you should be more concerned with contaminants the Reverse Osmosis system is removing.  Things like lead, chlorine, chromium 6, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, TCE, THM, PCB, GenX and hundreds of other chemicals and contaminants... some that we may have yet to hear about.  That's one of the best things about reverse osmosis: even if there is some "emerging contaminant" that we have not heard of, the odds are that Reverse Osmosis will remove or reduce it. I always say "Buy a Filter or Be a Filter" and while reverse osmosis is lot more than just a "filter," you simply cannot utilize better technology in treating your water.  Of course, some people are going to say that "Reverse Osmosis is wasteful - it wastes 3 gallons for every gallon it makes."  That is true... and in most homes families use 2 or 3 gallons of water a day, so they might waste 6 to 9 gallons. Your dishwasher and washing machine waste a lot more than that, and all they are doing his cleaning your clothes and dishes.  A RO system is cleaning your water, so that you aren't the filter, storing carcinogenic chemicals in fat cells.  Yes, it wastes a little bit of water, but it adds a lot to a healthy lifestyle.  Some people say "I don't want to waste water, so I have bottled water delivered."  The bottled water plant wastes the water when it makes it and the smog-emitting truck that delivers it is good right? If you are thinking about a reverse osmosis system - get the facts and remember, all of our US Water Systems are built right here in in the USA at our factory and we also have the only systems that also kill bacteria.  We think that is very important, and so every US Water Systems RO system includes the Pulsar Quantum Disinfection Polishing Filter which also eliminates the bacteria. Cheers!
July 30, 2017
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November 28, 2017 at 1:01 PM
Hello everyone! I’ve been drinking “purified drinking bottled (reveres osmosis only) water for 2 years. I found out recently that drinking this water is dangerous for health. After I found about it I taught to quit drinking purified water and start to drink spring water. I tried one day for couple of hours and I had high blood pressure. I stopped it. Right now I am still drinking purified water only Total Dissolve Solids (TDS) only 5. My question is this, how can I quit purified water, safely, and start to drink normal (spring, tap..) water. Please, tell me step by step how to do it. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
December 3, 2017 at 10:50 AM
Feel free to believe what you want, but there is no credible evidence that drinking water purified by reverse osmosis is dangerous to your health. There is no "normal" water. Many people drink high TDS water and live into their 100's and many drink low TDS water and live into their 100's as well. In my opinion, the most important thing is to remove the contaminants from the water and reverse osmosis removes a wider spectrum of contaminants than any other water treatment process.
Sammy Peac5
February 8, 2018 at 11:32 PM
Concerning pH in RO water, what is the expected pH value? We have a very old Water Care RO unit, from the 90's, which has had the carbon filters changed, but no new membrane, until now. We just replaced it with a new one made by Omnipure. We also have a counter top Zen re-mineralizing filter. Before replacing the membrane, we checked the pH of our tap water, around 7.5, our RO water, around 6.3, and our Zen water about 7.2. After we installed the new membrane, the RO water checks about 7.5, pretty much the same as the tap water. We have a Rainsoft water softener, so the tap water has been softened. Is this what we should expect to see for a new membrane? Does the higher pH indicate that the RO membrane is not removing minerals? What other reason would account for the higher value? Concerning the age of the original membrane (25 years), what is the normal failure mode for a membrane, other than rupture, or reason they should be replaced? Is there more to this than just a mechanical screen that should work indefinitely, as long as it is not clogged or ruptured? We are looking at newer unit options and found your site. Any advice or comment would be appreciated.
Mark Timmons
February 10, 2018 at 12:42 PM
With any RO, you need a TDS Meter to determine it's effectiveness. I recommend this: Most RO is going to deliver a pH of 6 to 7. A RO membrane is not a screen. It is a literal membrane and after 25 years, there's no way it was working. pH is not a measure of alkalinity and the pH of the water you drink probably has no correlation with alkalinity whatsoever. Enter the work alkaline or alkalinity into the search bar on nthe blog and you will have plenty to read about this issue. Increasing the pH of your water likely won't hurt you and is definitely won't help. It will just mean you have less dollars!
March 27, 2018 at 12:14 PM
I have been drinking RO water for the past 11 years. I am now very deficient in minerals and my health and energy are declining. My healthy diet remains the same or is even better than 10 years ago. Everything is pointing to RO water being the issue.
Mark Timmons
April 1, 2018 at 2:34 PM
Verna, If it makes you feel better, blame it on the water, but that is silly... and impossible! If you drank a bathtub of water a day, you would get but a small portion of the minerals your body needs. You need to look at your diet and/or supplements!
April 21, 2018 at 12:25 PM
Hello, I want to get a RO filter, not just for getting rid of heavy metals but the endocrine disrupting pharmaceuticals in tap water. But some sources mention the filtration unit is partially made of plastic and so it still leaves plastic residue in the final product. What are your thoughts on that?
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018 at 11:02 AM
We have a very large division in our company that does LAB WATER where they can be NOTHING in the water and we use plastic. It leaches nothing if you use the right types and ours does.
Julie Conkle
August 6, 2018 at 7:49 AM
Hello. I have been using RO water through bottling my own at our local Walmart for years and years. I also eat a healthy diet, take supplements, and feel I am fine. I cannot tolerate the chlorine taste of tap water, and I am a tea snob, and it ruins tea to use tap water. I also started using Himalayan pink salt exclusively in cooking and on my food, which adds a lot of minerals I know I need. Thank you for this article.
August 13, 2018 at 4:32 AM
This article contains a lot of misinformation especially his ridiculous baseless claim that water isn’t a significant source of minerals. This is false. Our water isn’t a significant source of minerals is right but ideally water should be a significant source of minerals. I rely very much on whatever is said here since it’s purely for personal gain.
Mark Timmons
August 18, 2018 at 11:30 PM
What you just said is so devoid of fact (water should be a significant source of minerals) that I wonder if you are a stand-up comedian. Come on man, do better research!
April 14, 2021 at 4:38 PM
Hard water can contribute about 1/3 or 36% of your recommended daily allowance(RDA) of certain minerals. Most households do not have hard water but do have mildly hard water. Also, we are talking about RDA amounts that should already be met or exceeded by dietary intake of foods or multivitamins/supplements that many take already. And for most Americans that overeat...well they get plenty of minerals! Point being, water can provide minerals but water is not a "necessary" source of is met by others means.
Aaron crandall
August 29, 2018 at 8:50 PM
Most definitely unless you live in agricultural fields covered in chemicals & fertilizers you should not be drinking RO water. It will suck & deplete all metals from your bones & organs. If you like Russian Roulette go for it. I’ve been in water treatment & a Plumber for 25 years. Ask a plumber what happens to a water heater anode rod when soft or acidic or RO water enters a heater. Case closed. If you drink RO water mix if 50% with natural spring water. Good health to you!!!!
Mark Timmons
September 3, 2018 at 5:30 PM
That's silly! How is is going to <em>suck & deplete all metals from your bones & organs</em>? When water penetrates the body's cell wall, it becomes the pH of your body. That's an old wives tale like Chocolate Causes Acne, Cracking Your Knuckles Will Give you Arthritis, Food a Cold - Starve a Fever and if your mom saw a rat when she was pregnant, you will be a hairy back. What happens inside the human body is nothing like a water heater. Stick to plumbing...
October 7, 2018 at 12:25 PM
Yea but here's my concern with purified water. If you remove all the electrolytes from the water and you try to drink a bathtub full of that water it will kill you. When someone is trying to increase their water intake, particularly when fasting its important to keep your electrolytes up. Its true that Water isnt a significant source of Minerals, but it keeps the water safe for people who drink tons of it.
Mark Timmons
October 7, 2018 at 10:33 PM
<strong>FLASH</strong>: It will kill you even with the electrolytes in it. How much you drink and whether it has electrolytes has nothing to do with making the water safe.
Fred Carter
October 7, 2018 at 12:48 PM
Drinking hard water quenches my thirst whereas striped or chlorinated water does not
Mark Timmons
October 7, 2018 at 10:31 PM
Drinking hard water leaves me with a horrible aftertaste as does drinking chlorinated water. I prefer RO water every day of the week. The point is: Taste is highly subjective and you usually like what you are used to drinking.
Aidan Roche
November 15, 2018 at 8:43 AM
RO System is the only way forward. Water is for hydration and should be as pure as can be. Your body don't need these metals, if they do go and eat something metal, minerals can be sourced from good healthy foods. Alot of bull being talked. Mr Timmons is speaking sense.
Anne Butler
January 3, 2019 at 5:01 AM
A lot of the text information in this article conflicts with this chapter from the World Health Organisation I understand that minerals from water are absorbed much better than minerals from food, and de-mineralised water is linked with several health concerns. I agree that getting rid of the toxins is a good idea. Plenty of RO systems introduce minerals to the water so I'll look at these next.
Mark Timmons
January 10, 2019 at 9:28 AM
Just bear in mind that most of the RO's who claim to "remineralize" do no such thing. Generally it's just a trick. We have tested them all and they do very little. We will have a new one shortly that is pretty good, but just remember "Water is not a significant source of minerals." Making your water "alkaline"? Now that is something very important. We have a new product coming for that.
The Dimitry
February 17, 2019 at 10:49 AM
"Water is not a significant source of minerals." You keep saying that, but where is *your* proof? Is this based on some research or did you just pull it out of your rear end? How about the article linked by Anne Butler: That's some research and its conclusion is: "Drinking water should contain minimum levels of certain essential minerals (and other components such as carbonates)."
Mark Timmons
March 6, 2019 at 8:34 PM
I can find all kinds of stuff on the internet... some say drinking sea water is good. Go away, troll!
The Dimitry
February 17, 2019 at 10:54 AM
In your article you state: 'and raising the pH of the water to make “Alkaline Water” has become a Billion Dollar Industry that is built on a scientific misconception.' Yet in your last comment you say: ' Making your water “alkaline”? Now that is something very important. We have a new product coming for that.' So, what, you decided to join the Billion Dollar Industry based on a scientific misconception?...
Mark Timmons
March 6, 2019 at 8:31 PM
Is English your second language? Simply raising the pH does not make water Alkaline. Making the water Alkaline is important. Can you comprehend that? Of course, we are not joining anyone in misconceptions.
August 31, 2019 at 10:33 AM
I have a question about RO stages, if you don't mind. I'm planning on installing a new softener (water is only moderately hard but I don't like the buildup) plus RO to the fridge for drinking water and ice. I'll have a sediment filter before the softener. With that, what stages do I need before the RO? I don't need another sediment filter, right? Just a GAC filter > RO membrane > GAC polishing? Thanks.
Mark Timmons
September 2, 2019 at 12:44 PM
If it were me, I would use a 5-stage RO system like this: The first stage is a sediment depth filter, and even if you have a sediment filter before the softener it should be a pleated filter. A sediment depth filter protects the RO system, and it only costs a few dollars. It comes standard as a 5-micron filter, but you could change it to a 1 micron which would extend membrane life and water quality. Our system uses two carbon block filters which a much better than just GAC. We use two because with many water supplies the amount of chemicals is much higher. If your city uses chloramine, you can change the second one to a chloramine block.
Roger McClellan
October 15, 2019 at 1:42 AM
Linking to a scientific study conducted by the World Health Organization is considered trolling? The irony is you're clearly biased and trying to sell a product. Peddle your snake oil somewhere else.
Mark Timmons
October 15, 2019 at 10:50 PM
You are really dumb! We don't have just one product. We have hundreds including filters that don't remove minerals. We don't sell products - we sell solutions. I'm sorry to call you dumb, but what you said is really, really dumb! You, sir, are the snake and I don't want your oil!
November 8, 2019 at 11:18 PM
Water treated already ( municipal water) does not need RO unit further in house for drinking water, only ordinary water purifier ( uv , carbon filter etc. ) is sufficient for making drinking / potable water. RO system may be required for deep tube well water, other raw water depending on area like gangetic region, hilly area, sea side area etc. For all cases RO system is not required. Actually person / user are influenced/ convinced by sellers and all are not aware of drinking water treatment and what unit to be selected for their water to be treated.
Jhon Martin
February 9, 2020 at 4:33 AM
Nice blog. The efforts you have put in to create the posts are quite interesting. Looking forward to seeing you soon in a new post. The presence of lead and other minerals in water is a common problem. It poses many health complications that make it necessary to remove the lead from your drinking water.
March 10, 2020 at 8:52 AM
Water is a basic need of any humankind to live. but purity in water is a major concern, so always use purified water.
Mark Timmons
March 15, 2020 at 12:33 PM
Dr. Bob
March 25, 2020 at 2:56 PM
Thank you for the good sense in this article. I once brought up the water waste issue with our R/O man. He said that if I'm interested in saving that much water, I could shorten my daily showers by a minute or two. BTW, do your systems kill bacteria because the bacteria pass through your R/O membranes? I always figured that bacteria were too large to pass through. Please advise. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
March 27, 2020 at 1:43 PM
A RO membrane will stop bacteria, but there is a mechanical seal that (if compromised) can allow bacteria by. You should not rey on an RO Membrane for Bactera Removal. Here’s what we recommend:
July 12, 2020 at 2:11 AM
I am absolutely floored by what I am reading on this Q&A page. I just purchased a RO water filter and was doing research on the "minerals " that are depleted from our water when using such a filter. I was curious: What minerals and how much? hmm. What I found amounts to what almost seems like a conspiracy. There are So Many websites and even governmental organizations that are using scare tactics to try and prevent people from getting such a needed device. Before I even read about what minerals were being removed and if this is harmful, I knew, I mean, common sense DICTATES that you can easily get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from food and supplements. It's mind boggling how so many here and in general think that somehow taking that tiny bit of minerals out of water is a threat. I can only assume that the media and the powers that be want to keep the status quo when it comes to everything that is in our drinking water. Mark, I've been reading a lot of your answers here. Thank you for what you do. Wow, your patience is undeniably impressive. It seems the only beneficial "minerals" in water is calcium and magnesium. I take a magnesium supplement and a calcium supplement (with Vitamins D + K) anyway so this not an issue. The other Major vitamin we are missing consistently even with a balanced healthy diet of greens, is potassium. I recommend Potassium Citrate or Chloride in powder form. They are on Amazon. Also, make sure you get a calcium supplement with vitamin K. Viactiv is a good brand that does this. Listen, water should be pure. I can't believe people are worried about a few minerals instead of/versus the fluoride, pharmaceuticals and other extremely harmful contaminants. It makes me think that some of these posters are trolls....
Ryan m
December 1, 2020 at 9:17 PM
If RO is so bad, why do my beta fish live so long with it ?