UNITED STATES—We usually take for granted the fact that all it takes is turning on a faucet to have clean running water. However, that’s not the case when you live in an area where clean water is scarce or if you are building a new house and want to make sure your filtration system is on point. One of the most efficient water filtration systems currently available is the reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis (RO) can clear up to 98% of dissolved solids and considerably reduces other contaminants that affect the taste and smell of water. Read on to find out more about reverse osmosis filtration and how it works.

Different Stages of Filtration

There are different kinds of RO filtration systems. However, they all contain pre-filters and post-filters depending on where they are located compared to the main filter, the semi-permeable RO membrane. The semipermeable membrane is responsible for filtering the dissolved solids that can be as small as viruses and bacteria. As the high-pressure water moves from the feed source (well or municipal network), it passes through the following stages as explained below:


On the prefiltration stage, a carbon filter is used to remove chlorine and other contaminants that can destroy the RO membrane and affect its efficiency.  The activated carbon chemically reacts with chlorine molecules to produce non-oxidizing chloride ions.

RO Filtration

The thin, porous membrane traps dissolved solids and salts during the RO filtration stage. However, given that this is the most important stage in RO systems, you need to understand that not all  RO membranes have the same efficiency. As suggested in this guide, you need to compare different RO systems as per your needs and budget. In general, the RO membrane will need to be replaced every 2-3 years to ensure the maximum efficiency of your entire system. 

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Water Storage

Your RO system will continue working until the storage tank is filled with ready to consume water before it finally shuts off. Storage tanks are usually installed under the sink. However, there are new more aesthetic models that you can install as a standalone unit on your countertop as they come with a separate faucet. 


This is the final stage where the RO filtered water goes through a post-filter or more to be polished before you can drink it. More advanced systems use post-filters made out of coconut shells to enhance the flavor of the water.  

RO Filter vs Regular Filter

The main difference between an RO filtration system and a regular one is the semi-permeable RO membrane that works on trapping contaminants that a regular water filter can’t. However, since RO filters are relatively higher in price, you should first make sure that you actually need one to begin with. Having your water analyzed is a good place to start in order to identify the kind of contaminants that you need to eliminate. 

RO filters have proven to be highly efficient for those who don’t have access to good-quality water. RO-filtered water is also an excellent replacement and more eco-friendly option for people who are used to drinking bottled water. Furthermore, you can also use it in your shower water if your hair and skin are not taking well to your otherwise hard water. Based on your specific needs, you can decide if you need an RO filter system or not.