What Is The Difference Between Water Softeners And RO Systems? Reader’s Questions 02

Questionmark on board

Welcome to the second part of the reader’s questions series, where we answer frequently asked questions submitted by our readers. In the last part we addressed how reverse osmosis systems work in general. This time we are going to answer the question: ‘What is the difference between water softeners and ro systems?’

Water Softeners And Reverse Osmosis Systems

The comparison between water softeners and reverse osmosis purification systems does not make much sense to begin with. This has to do with the fact that, in contrast to ro systems, conventional residential water softeners don’t filter the water they process in any way. What a water softener does is, it softens the water by removing calcium, magnesium and certain other metal ions. This removal is usually achieved using ion-exchange resins.

Why Soften Water?

You might ask, why it is necessary to soften water in the first place. There are a couple of reasons to do that. First of all metal ions like calcium and magnesium cause a variety of problems, if they are dissolved in water in large amounts (also called hard water). Hard water can lead to the buildup of limescale, which might foul your plumbing system and household appliances (washing machine, dish washer) and promotes corrosion.

Soft water on the other hand is more compatible with soap and other washing detergents and makes it easier for your dish washer and washing machine to do their job.
hand under tap water

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis systems filter water by removing dissolved contaminants and pollutants that might be harmful to our health. Unfortunately the filter membrane does not differentiate between good and bad substances and therefore also removes nutrients that would benefit us. There has been an ongoing discussion about the advantages and disadvantages that come along with a residential ro filter system. You can read more about this discussion here, if you like.

A Combination

A combination of a whole house water softener to protect the plumbing system and household appliances and a ro purification system to remove chemicals, bacteria, viruses, etc. from your drinking water makes the most sense to me.

In case you don’t have the budget or don’t want to pay for both, make sure to not confuse a water softening device with a purification system or you will end up disappointed. Before you purchase anything, get all the info you need in order to be able to make an informed buying decision.

How Does A Reverse Osmosis System Work? Reader’s Questions 01

Microscope

Frequently Asked Questions

Many of our readers send us their questions via email or use our contact form or live chat app on our website. Some of these questions get asked over and over again, which is why we decided to dedicate one blog post at a time to answer each and every one of them (at least the ones that we think make sense). Naturally, we are going to address the most frequently asked questions first. And today we are going to answer: ‘How does a reverse osmosis system work?’

Let’s get Scientific (not)

‘Reverse Osmosis’ (short: R.O. or simply RO) is a technology that utilizes the natural movement of molecules in a liquid (or gas) called ‘osmosis’ to remove dissolved substances from water that could cause damage to human organs and therefore make it drinkable.

Although ro isn’t the most complicated process, we know that many people are allergic to anything that has to do with chemistry and biology, so we are going to try to describe and explain the process in the easiest way possible. Our goal with this blog post is NOT to create another wall of text that can only be understood by scientists.
Let’s imagine we have two solutions of water with the same volume. Both solutions contain a specific amount of dissolved table salt. Solution 1 contains twice as much salt as solution 2. Both solutions are separated by a special membrane. What makes this membrane special is the fact that only water molecules, but no salt molecules can pass through it to the other side.

If we would let these solutions sit for a couple of hours, water molecules would pass through the membrane from solution 2 to solution 1. Or in other words, water molecules would move from the solution with lower salt concentration to the solution with higher salt concentration. This naturally occurring phenomenon is what scientists call osmosis.

A ro water purification system reverses the osmotic movement of molecules (in our case water molecules) by applying pressure. And due to the fact that at the heart of every ro system also lies a special membrane, water molecules pass through it from the solution with the higher concentration of dissolved solids (dirty, unfiltered water) to the solution with the lower concentration of dissolved solids (purified, filtered water). So in a sense the water is leaving the dirt behind.

water drop

Reverse Osmosis Applications

Due to the fact that reverse osmosis works so well and needs only a small amount of energy (the pressure in the plumbing system of your home is already enough), it gets applied in various industries apart from residential water filtration, such as:

  • Dairy Industry: RO is used for the production of skim milk.
  • Wine Industry: The technology is applied for alcohol reduction and must concentration.
  • Bottled Water Industry: Bottled water companies utilize reverse osmosis technology to clean feed water an make it drinkable.

Pros And Cons Of Reverse Osmosis Water Purification

Numerous Water Taps Next to each other

Seeking The Truth

If you are thinking about getting your own reverse osmosis water purification unit and you have spend some time online, you certainly are confused about the advantages and disadvantages that are said to come with such a device. In short, advocates and opponents have been fighting each other for years about the benefits and harms ro water has on the human organism.

Claims have been made by both sides – some of them true, some falls and many of them are no more than myths. In this blog post we will try to clean up this mess and once and for all put an end to the ongoing discussion about whether or not it is a good idea to install a reverse osmosis purification unit under your kitchen sink…

Pros Of RO Water Purification

Let’s take a look at the pros of ro water purification first. True claims are marked in green, false claims in red.

  1. Contaminants Removal – Reverse osmosis purification systems remove the majority (up to 99%) of harmful contaminants from the water they process including bacteria and most viruses. Other contaminants that get removed are pesticides (endrin, heptachlor, lindane, Pentachlorophenol), particles (asbestos, protozoan cysts) and ions and metals (arsenic, aluminum, cadmium, calcium, chloride, copper, fluoride, lead, magnesium, nitrate, potassium, radium, sodium, sulfate). (Source: University of Nebraska)
  2. Improved Water Flavor – One cannot argue against the improved taste of purified ro water. The funny and unpleasant taste, aftertaste and odor your water might usually have will be gone after it was filtered by a reverse osmosis system.
  3. Tried and Tested Technology – Reverse osmosis technology has been applied in the wine (wine concentration, taint removal), supplement (production of why protein), dairy (milk concentration) and first and foremost bottled water industry (soft-drinks, soda, energy drinks) for many years. It is a safe method to process foodstuff and when you drink many brands of bottled water, you actually drink reverse osmosis water.
  4. Filtered Ice – Some models let you connect your fridge or icemaker to them.
  5. No more Plastic Bottles – Once you’ve purchased your own water filter system, you don’t need to go to the supermarket to buy bottled water every again. This saves money, time and the environment will thank you for not polluting it with even more plastic bottles.
  6. RO Purification Consumes no Energy – It’s a false claim that a reverse osmosis system does not consume energy in order to function. Even if you don’t have to connect a system to the power supply, it still utilizes the energy derived from the pressure in your house’s water sysytem, which is the reason why the water comes out of the system much slower than it goes in.

Filling Glass of Water

Cons Of RO Water Purification

Now let’s take a look at the cons of ro water purification first. Again, true claims are marked in green, false claims in red.

  1. Dead Water – It is true, reverse osmosis purification systems don’t filter out harmful contaminants like pharmaceuticals residues only, but also all important minerals that are essential to the human body. BUT according to the World Health Organization and the US Water Quality Association 95% of the required daily intake of most essential minerals derive from our food. The only exception being calcium and magnesium. About 20% of the required daily intake of both elements comes from the water we drink. (Source: World Health Organization)
  2. Worse Smell/Taste – In the pros section we already pointed out that ro water has a very pleasant taste. But it is also true that cheap purification systems or defect filters can worsen the smell and taste of your water. So be careful what you buy and keep in mind to maintain your system regularly.
  3. Up-front Costs – The up-front costs for some of the higher-priced ro purification units can be quite shocking. There are point-of-use systems that will cost you almost a thousand dollars. In addition to that, if you are not an experienced plumber, you might run into problems when you try to install your newly acquired system. Hiring a professional plumber would further increase costs.
  4. Maintenance – You have to maintain your purification unit regularly, meaning you have to clean it (about once per year). This requires time and even more money goes into the replacement of pre- and post-filters and the semi-permeable membrane.
  5. Water Wastage – For every gallon of purified ro water, an average of 6 gallons of wastewater go down the drain unused. Of course this adds up to the costs. Adding a permeate pump to your system can help to reduce wastewater by up to 85%.
  6. Lengthy Process – Depending on the water pressure in your house, you have to be patient and wait a whole day to fill the empty water tank of your system, since only a trickle of water flows out of it.
  7. Reverse Osmosis Water Leaches Minerals – One myth that stubbornly persists is the claim that reverse osmosis water leaches minerals from your body. We were unable to find any scientific evidence that supports this claim. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that the organization does not support the idea either.
  8. RO Produces Acidic Water which is Harmful – Reverse osmosis filters out almost all dissolved minerals and metals. What’s left is slightly acidic water. RO opponents claim that acidic water is harmful to the human body. But again, we were unable to find any scientific evidence to support this claim. By the way, here are some types of beverages and their pH-values: Coca-Cola: 3, Apple Juice: 3-4, Wine: 4, Coffee: 5, Milk: 6,5

Conclusion

So there you have it. Make sure to take a thorough look at both sides of the argument and decide yourself, if you want to opt for a ro filtration system or not. If you ask me, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Of course you have upfront and maintenance costs and of course the system will waste a good amount of water, but if you get unlimited access to clean drinking water in exchange, that’s well worth the hassle to me – but that’s just my humble opinion.

Top 4 Water Based Moisturizers

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It doesn’t matter what type of skin you have, you still need to use a moisturizer cream to keep it hydrated. Many women, especially those who have an oily skin, make a fatal mistake when they skip this step. While water can already do wonders, you still need additional care, to keep that natural glow and healthy appearance.
If you take care of your skin and it’s healthy and vital, you have the advantage that you don’t need tons of makeup to cover your imperfections. If you are looking for that special touch, we can recommend you four best moisturizers that will make your skin shine…

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer

The Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer is an excellent product for all people who suffer from an oily skin. Combined with SPF, it will additionally protect your skin and it won’t leave a greasy layer on its surface. The Neutrogena moisturizer is cheaper than many other moisturizers and it will lasts for quite some time. The cream gets absorbed very quickly, leaving your skin soft and radiant. It is also paraben and fragrance-free, making it the perfect choice for sensitive skin.

Woman with Skin Moisturizer

Philosophy Hope In A Jar

If you are looking for something that will keep your skin hydrated throughout the whole day, then Philosophy Hope In A Jar should be your #1 choice. Apart from providing the much needed moisture, this product has an anti–aging effect as well. It contains glycolic acid which will exfoliate your face and bring a fresh and clean look.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel is a lighter product, since it’s based on water and will make your skin super smooth and give it this supple appearance we are all looking for. Hyaluronic acid, which prevents aging and wrinkles, keeps your skin hydrated and fresh. Glycerin smoothens your skin, therefore you can very well use this moisturizer as a primer before makeup. It minimizes pores and balances skin oiliness.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer is also often described as airy and lightweight. When you apply it on your skin, it gets absorbed very quickly, leaving your skin all moisturized and smooth. For people with acne or skin that’s prone to acne, this is an excellent product. It will restore and heal your skin and give it a natural glow.

More great moisturizers for oily skin can be found in the following video:

3 Important Effects Water Has On Your Skin

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Nowadays everyone seems to be carrying a bottle of water with them. Finally, people have become aware of how strong the effect is that water has on their body. In the past, we were willing to neglect the influence of water, replacing it with other beverages such as lemonade or coffee – but not anymore. Especially women (me included) take extra care to intake a lot of water because they want to have a healthy and good looking skin. But what exactly does water do to us and how can we use it ideally?

Your Skin Will Become More Elastic

A proper daily intake of water, approximately two liters per day, will bring in the much needed nutrients to keep your skin moisturized, soft and elastic. By the way, we are not only talking about the face here, but the whole body, especially your neck, stomach and legs. At the end of the day we all want our skin to be elastic to avoid or rather postpone aging and wrinkles, therefore keep an eye on your everyday water consumption habbits and make sure to drink at least 2 liters every single day (as stated above)!
Woman Showering

Water Replaces Expensive Anti-Aging Treatments

When a woman hits the age of 30, she starts noticing the first signs of aging. This can be quite a little shock for many, and the solution most of us come up with, is to rush to the local pharmacy or drugstore to buy expensive skincare products like essential oils and moisturizing creams. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place and a time for all of them, BUT many of these products won’t work, because we fail to achieve the most fundamental task in the first place and that is to drink enough water.

But we are still going to buy skincare products, because we don’t know better and we saw them in a great commercial promising miracles. Let me give you this advice: If you want to take proper care of your skin, then stay hydrated throughout the day and if you still feel like skincare products would benefit you, test them out; but don’t skip the first step!

Water Can Cure or Improve Many Skin Conditions

Nowadays, allergies and various skin conditions such as psoriasis are very common among people. Some of them you simply can’t cure, but still you can control or improve the situation with the help of water.

Water stimulates the human metabolism, helping to flush out environmental toxins, which we ingest through the food we eat and the air we breath.

Find 10 more beauty benefits of water in the following video:

Just Water, No Shampoo – Does This Work?

Shower Head

Many people struggle to keep their hair clean, especially if they have oilier skin. They have to wash it every day. Unfortunately, many shampoos contain aggresive chemicals that can damage your scalp and make things worse. A while ago, a new trend appeared among women, beauty gurus, and YouTubers – washing one’s hair with water only. Advocates of this new trend promise that this method will keep your hair clean for at least a week. But does this really work?

The Initial Steps

When you decide to try out the no-shampoo method, you need to be prepared for several things. During the first two weeks, your hair will look like a mess, dirty and oily just like a bird’s nest. The good news is that the longer you apply this method, the better your hair is going to get.

No-Shampoo How To

When you start your no-shampoo experiment, it is important to brush your hair every time before washing it with a wide brush. The reason for that is that you want to evenly distribute dirt and skin oils, so you will be able to clean the hair much faster.

For the cleaning itself, it’s necessary to use warm water. Simply use it to remove dirt and natural oils that your scalp is producing as a conditioner (this might feel weird in the beginning, especially because there is no foam to work with). This will make your hair stay hydrated, without the need to use any products. What’s great about the no-shampoo experiment is that, compared to other methods, you don’t get in touch with any unnatural substances that could damage your hair, nails or skin. Once you’re done, rinse your hair with cold water.

Woman with Brown Hair

Adding Bicarbonate Soda?

Despite all warnings, many women use bicarbonate soda instead of shampoo to wash their hair. Please be aware that experts strongly advise to avoid this technique, because it can significantly damage your scalp and disturb your skin’s pH-levels. On the other hand, if you read online reviews, you can see a large number of satisfied women who managed to solve their greasy-hair problem this way. Of course you always have the possibility to try it out and if this method does in fact damage your skin, you can still switch to water only.

Accessories To Use

If you want additional hydration for your hair, apply coconut oil while your hair is still wet.

Rona demonstrates her ‘No Shampoo Water Only Hair Routine’ in the following YouTube video, which provides lots of helpful tips: