Thursday, May 8, 2014

Is my Tap Water Healthy?

How healthy is tap water?
It is generally believed that water coming from a public water system in the United States, such as one run and maintained by a municipality, is safe to drink. Such water is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which enforces certain health standards regarding the contaminants in drinking water. Thus, when drinking water leaves a treatment plant, it has to meet strict safety standards. 

However, tap water is not without its problems. According to an article published in EarthTalk, the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested municipal water in 42 states and detected about 260 contaminants in public water supplies. Of these, 141 were unregulated chemicals for which there wasn’t any safety standard at all.

Thus, despite high compliance in enforcing standards, the basic problem is an inability to identify the myriad of contaminants that can be present in water, and then establishing standards for regulating their presence in public water supplies. There has been an alarming increase in the types of contaminants entering our water supplies – from chemical industries to agriculture, to urban runoffs.

Especially vulnerable to the risks posed by contaminated water are pregnant women, children, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, and those with weakened immune systems.

Given this situation, it makes a lot of sense to invest in a good quality water purification system that can take care of all types of contaminants in drinking water – whether identified by any agency or not. The overall economics of such systems have been found to be much cheaper than anticipated earlier. Consider, for example, a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system. The cost per gallon of water coming from a household RO system can be as little as 6 cents over a five year period.

As a health conscious individual, I always strive to ensure that my family gets the best and the healthiest products to eat and drink. I avoid taking chances, and I have an RO system in my home since a few years ago. Likewise, I would also urge you to go ahead and get yourself an appropriate water purification system, to ensure that the water you are drinking is safe for you and your loved ones.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to install a Reverse Osmosis system?

After going through the various water filtration/purification systems available in the market, you have finally decided that Reverse Osmosis is the best option for you. RO systems, once purchased, generaly allow a DIY (Do It Yourself) type of installation. Some people feel that installing such a high-tech system may not be an easy task, and refrain from installing it themselves and opt for a professional service. Through this article, I want to convince you that installing an RO system yourself is a fairly simple job, and you CAN do it yourself. Apart from saving money that would otherwise be spent on a professional service, there are couple of other advantages of installing your RO system, yourself. First, while installing the system, you will get a good understanding of how the system works – this will make you familiar with the operation of the system. Secondly, you will be better able to maintain the system yourself; thus, if at some point of time you think that the water output from the system has slowed down a bit, you do not have to call a plumber, but try to gain an understanding about which of the various filters is getting blocked, and simply buy that filter, and replace it yourself! Isn’t that cool!!!

Here are the steps towards installing your RO system. This article is focused on the installation of an “under the sink” RO system. The steps and the tools required will be broadly similar for other types of RO systems as well.

1. Tools required: the regular tools used for plumbing such as a screw driver, a wrench, a knife, a drilling machine with various sizes of drill bits, and Teflon tape are required for installing an RO system. Gather them all, and have them ready at one place before starting your work.

2. Carefully read the instruction manual that comes with the RO system. If required, do go through it twice to make sure that you’ve understood it entirely.

3. Remove all items from under the sink, and put them in an alternate place.

4. Remove the RO system from the packing; check that all items are there and no parts are missing. Generally, all the filters will be pre-assembled, except the RO membrane itself, which will be separately sealed. Do not remove the RO filter from its sealed package until you are ready to install the system.

5. Select a location for the RO faucet on your sink. Ensure that there is enough space under the sink before you drill the hole.

6. Drill a hole at the selected location, and install and tighten the faucet. Be sure that the faucet is thoroughly secured and tightened before going any further, because once you have installed the complete system, accessing the faucet from under the sink will become a difficult task. Once the faucet is firmly in place, connect the plastic water line to the faucet, and tighten it firmly.

7. Turn off the cold water supply valve that will be used by the system, and connect the saddle valve, per instructions given in the manual.

8. For waste water line: drill a hole in the drain pipe (be sure about the size of drill bit required for each type of drilling – always cross check from the instruction manual before beginning your drilling exercise). Install the valve provided with the system on top of the hole. Install the plastic drain line into the fitting on the valve, and tighten securely.

9. Assemble all tee and elbow fittings per instruction.

10. Choose the locations for placing the bank of filters and the water storage tank under the sink. Ensure that there is easy access, so that it is easy for you to replace the filters or clean the water storage tank whenever required.

11. Place the bank of filters and the storage tank, and connect the water lines, per instruction.

12. Check the system with the line diagram in the instruction manual, and slowly turn on the cold water supply to halfway position. Also turn on the RO faucet to allow for an open system. Look for leaks across the water lines. Leaks are very common at this stage, and be prepared with towels or sponge. Identify the exact locations where leakage is happening, close the water inlet supply, and tighten the water lines. Try again until all leakage is eliminated.

13. Close the RO faucet and let the storage tank fill.

14. Remember to flush out all the water after the first fill of the storage tank. This helps to get rid of any impurities in the storage tank, and also across the water line.

15. Your RO system is ready, and you have safe, pure drinking water readily available in your kitchen.

Sounds interesting and inspiring? Get an RO system for your home, and experience the benefits yourself.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How can I save money on drinking water?

When I moved in to my new house, I knew that the water there wasn’t good enough to drink without filtration. So, I went ahead and bought the most basic (and probably the cheapest) kind of filter – the faucet-mounted "activated" charcoal filter. However, I soon realised that this filter didn't meet my needs – the water tasted bad, and I noticed some health issues that I had never had before. After some thinking, I decided to go with the easiest option – bottled water. I opted for a water delivery service and started drinking bottled water. The water tasted good, I had the satisfaction that I was drinking clean water, and the supply was virtually uninterrupted. I was happy.

But then, one of my colleagues installed a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system in her house, and she insisted that installing an RO system – though it has some upfront capital costs – is much cheaper in the long run, compared to bottled water. Before this, I had never thought of the “economics” of bottled water. After all, who cares when you spend less than $25 a month on bottled water? But after listening to my colleague’s argument (she seemed to have done her bit of research on this), I decided to do my own research to understand the economics. Here is my “research” in a snapshot.

Bottled Water
Let’s begin with the economics of bottled water. As I mentioned earlier, I am spending little less than $25 a month on the water delivery service. To be exact, I am ordering 5-gallon jugs, 3 times a month. Each 5-gallon jug costs me $8.25. So, I am spending ($8.25 x 3 jugs) $24.75 per month. 
Each gallon of bottled water is costing me $1.65. 

Reverse Osmosis Water
Now let’s look at the cost of installing an RO system. Since I want only my drinking water to be treated (there are also “Whole House RO Systems” that supply RO treated water to all faucets in the house), I decided to go with an “under the sink” RO system. These systems are placed under the sink, are quite compact and hence occupy a small footprint. More details are available here. These Under the Sink RO systems seem to be quite easy to install. Check out this blog. I zeroed-in on the Nelsen 4-stage RO system. This system costs $195 and can deliver 50 gallons of purified water per day. The manufacturer recommends changing the filters once a year, and a replacement filter set costs $89. Factoring in the cost of the annual filter replacement, and calculating for an average daily usage of 5 gallons per day (please note that this usage is much higher than my present usage of bottled water), over a five year period, 
the cost of RO treated water turns out to be only $0.06 per gallon! 

I also created a chart that compares the yearly cost of having bottled water delivered at home vis-à-vis installing an RO system. By the end of the first year, I have already paid the water delivery company $297, whereas I could have bought a brand new RO system for $195, and gotten many more gallons of purified water than I got from the water delivery company!

I was amazed at this stark difference. Considering all the advantages of RO-treated water – RO treatment removes virtually all contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, selenium, bacteria, viruses, etc. and even complex contaminants such as chemicals, drugs, carcinogenic compounds and radioactive minerals from water – installing an RO system under my kitchen sink seems to be the smartest thing to do.

There have been some concerns with the “absolute purity” of RO treated water – RO treatment strips off almost all dissolved matter from water, including the “good” minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are essential to humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) has clarified that the majority of essential minerals needed by the human body are obtained from food, and not from drinking water. Moreover, bottled water is also RO treated water. If we are OK with bottled water, then there should not be any concern over RO treated water.

Now I am totally convinced of the idea of buying an RO system, and have in fact already placed an order for the Nelsen 4-stage RO System. I recommend you to do the same. Rest assured, this will definitely be a smart decision.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What is the Difference between Distilled water and RO water?

Difference between distilled water and reverse osmosis water
Distillation and Reverse Osmosis are water purification technologies. The principle of operation of both these technologies are fundamentally different. Here is a brief overview of the difference.


Distillation uses a heat source to heat the water and vaporize it. Water has a lower boiling point than salts and other contaminants present in the water. Hence, the vapour contains only water, which is condensed using a condenser, and converted back to its liquid form. The salts and contaminants, whose boiling points are too high to evaporate, are left behind as sediments. Often, the condensate is re-distilled to ensure that all sediments are left behind and the water is free of all contaminants.

Advantages: Distillation is a well-known process that has been practised for ages that generates pure water. In fact, many alcoholic beverages (brandy, whiskey) are distilled with apparatus that is very similar to the water distillation setup.

Disadvantages: Distillation involves a heat source, and requires time to first vaporize the water then condense it (and then re-distil it if required). Thus, high maintenance expenses and time requirements are two major limitations of distillation systems. Moreover, distillation is virtually ineffective in removing volatile chemicals that have lower boiling points than water.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis (RO) uses a semi-permeable membrane to allow only water to pass through the membrane, while blocking all other contaminants that are larger than the water molecule. RO requires a driving force for the water to pass through the membrane. This can be achieved by the pressure of the incoming water through the pipes, or by using a simple pump. Thus, the energy requirement of an RO system is miniscule. RO is capable of removing a wide variety of contaminants from water – bacteria, viruses, chemicals, pharmaceutical contaminants, arsenic, cyanide, and even radioactive substances. Some people have been concerned about the loss of essential minerals following RO treatment. Recent studies, however, have suggested that the requirement of essential minerals by the human body is fulfilled primarily by food sources, and there isn’t any need to rely on drinking water for these essential minerals.

Advantages: RO can handle all contaminants that are larger than the water molecule. It can remove volatile compounds unlike distillation. RO consumes very little energy, and has high productivity (takes much less time to generate purified water).

Disadvantages: RO creates a large proportion of reject water – the efficiency of a typical RO system is 25%. However, the reject water can be used for non-potable purposes such as washing, flushing toilets etc. to avoid the reject water from simply being wasted.

Thus, both distillation and RO produce pure water. The only difference are the maintenance expenses and the time required to produce pure water. These are definitely the main reasons why RO turns out to be the more preferred technology for water purification, especially in domestic households.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Does Reverse Osmosis Filtration waste a lot of water?

Reverse Osmosis water systems work by passing pressurized water through a semi-permeable membrane, so that the permeate water (purified water) is stripped off of almost all the dissolved salts and other impurities, thereby purifying it. The reject water with high concentration of solutes is eliminated. To give you a fair idea of the amounts of water rejected, a typical domestic RO system will generate about 10 gallons of purified water from 40 gallons of raw water – this means 75% of water is rejected.
However, “rejected” water may not always mean “wasted” water. The reject water with relatively high concentration of solutes may not be suitable for drinking purposes, but it definitely finds several other uses – this water can be used to wash clothes, to wash dishes, to wash cars, to flush toilets. All you need to do to make good use of the reject water is to connect the reject water pipeline to a suitable reservoir, and use this water. In order to improve the efficiency of RO systems, some very intelligent systems have been introduced to the market that reuse the reject water so that the efficiency of the RO system increases from 25% to 50%. You may opt for such systems if you are conscious about the high proportion of reject water generated from your RO system. There are also RO systems that feature a built in “reject water tank” to hold the reject water. This could be a very practical and handy way to collect the reject water and use it for activities like mopping floors or washing dishes. Such RO systems ensure “zero water wastage”.

RO is a revolutionary concept in the field of water purification. It ensures contaminant-free, pure water for your family, and at very affordable costs. If you are worried about an increase in your water bills because of the lower efficiency of RO systems, rest assured, the system does not use enough water to show up in your water bill. After all, how much water does one consume in a day? If you buy a 10 gallons per day (GPD) system, the total water used by this system would be only 40 gallons. If you hold an eco-friendly perspective and are worried about water being wasted, you still need not worry about the water efficiency of such systems, since with little effort, you can use the reject water and make your own little contributions towards saving water.

Get yourself an RO system, and ensure good health for you and your family, without worrying about water wastage.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Do Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters remove healthy minerals from water?

Reverse Osmosis, popularly known as RO, is currently the most advanced technology for water purification. RO works on the basic premise of removing all molecules that are smaller than a water molecule. RO is a powerful method to remove all kinds of contaminants from water – be it salt, fluoride, bromide, mercury, copper, cyanide, lead, bacteria, viruses, protozoa – everything. Thus, it also removes the “healthy”
minerals such as calcium and magnesium. This created some amount of confusion and disagreement within the medical and water communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) then clarified that the majority of essential minerals needed by the human body are obtained from food, and not from drinking water. Only a few minerals in natural waters have sufficient concentrations and distribution to expect that their consumption in drinking water might sometimes be a significant supplement to dietary intake in some populations. An illustrative example: one glass of orange juice has the same amount of minerals as 30 gallons of tap water. Relying on drinking water to fulfil the requirements for these minerals does not hold much ground. In fact, tap water, in addition to these healthy minerals, has a large variety of other minerals that the human body has difficulty absorbing. These (inorganic) minerals are suspected to cause many diseases such as hardening of the arteries (due to deposition of these minerals along the arteries), arthritis (due to deposition of minerals in the joints), kidney stones, gall stones, glaucoma, cataract, and hearing loss. The high concentrations of minerals, found especially in “hard” tap waters, are poorly absorbed by the body, and if not removed from the body, can cause obstructions to the regular functioning of critical body parts such as the arterial flow, and cause internal damages.

RO effectively removes all these harmful inorganic minerals. The body no longer ingests substances that it is incapable of absorbing and assimilating. This saves the body from a lot of stress and metabolism issues, and helps in maintaining good health. As per the International Water Association (IWA), consumers should not be concerned about the removal of minerals by RO systems. As pointed out by the WHO, the human body receives essential minerals through food, and does not need to rely on drinking water for this requirement. Although certain minerals in water may be useful in providing essential micronutrients, such as calcium, magnesium and zinc, so far there are no guidelines on minimum concentrations of these minerals in drinking water. Moreover, RO helps in removing a myriad of unhealthy, harmful minerals from drinking water, and hence it is recommended that RO systems be used for treating drinking water.

Reverse Osmosis is the only technology that can remove dangerous pharmaceuticals and drugs from drinking water. It can even remove radioactive substances and poisonous compounds such as cyanide. The increasing amounts of complex contaminants such as chemicals, drugs, carcinogenic compounds and radioactive minerals in water necessitates the requirement of a powerful and effective water purification system such as RO to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reverse Osmosis Purified Water for the Whole House

Reverse Osmosis, popularly known as RO, is currently the most advanced technology for purifying water to make it suitable for drinking. RO can purify municipal water, well water, and even sea water! Actually, one of the main applications of RO technology has been desalination of sea water. RO technology is particularly suited for water from wells or bore-wells. Ground water is hard (water becomes “hard” when it has high amounts of minerals such as bicarbonates and sulfates of calcium and magnesium in it), and RO removes these minerals from the water, making it “soft”.

Hard water is generally not harmful to one’s health, but can cause serious problems in domestic settings. Hard water does not generate enough lather to wash clothes efficiently; bathing in hard water can make your skin and hair extra dry and brittle due to the deposition and retention of the minerals on your hair and skin; the minerals in hard water deposit on the walls of water heaters, utensils and storage vessels, and develop “scales” thereby necessitating special measures in getting rid of these scales. Hard water is also not good for plants, and can affect their health adversely. Thus, it makes sense to soften hard water for everyday use – not only for drinking, but also for other domestic uses. And it makes all the more sense to purify the hard water, while softening it. The whole house RO system is the perfect solution for this kind of application.

How does the Whole House RO system work?

Whole House RO systems are typically fitted to the main water line, before the water enters your house. These systems are capable of handling large amounts of water, and are a good fit even for commercial use (for e.g. in hotels, restaurants, offices, etc). The whole house RO system works in the same way as any typical RO system would work – only on a much larger scale. When planning on buying a whole house RO system, it is worthwhile to have an estimate of the gallons per day (GPD) of water you use every day, so as to decide on an optimum size of RO system.

With pertinent technological advancements, it is now possible to purify even the most challenging of water issues, and bring the best quality of water to every faucet of your house. The whole house RO system is an excellent solution to the water woes faced by people living in areas with water problems, people having family members with significant immunity issues, and people using ground water as their primary water source. Have a Whole House RO system installed, and ensure good health for your family.