Many of us have heard of reverse osmosis water, but might not be completely clear as to what it actually is.
The process of producing reverse osmosis water is a vital one. Over the years, it has meant that people in dire circumstances across the world can drink clean water. Troops and civilians in battle-torn countries that have lost every semblance of organized infrastructure can use reverse osmosis to make pure, drinkable water.
But how? Exactly what is the process? Well, imagine that you’re in a situation where there’s only brackish or dirty water available to drink. Drinking untreated, contaminated water like that will temporarily slake your thirst, but will almost certainly expose you to the risk of water born diseases.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?
Reverse osmosis works by forcing the impure water through a series of semi-permeable membranes which effectively ‘clean’ the water. And it is the case that once water has been subjected to that process, it is very, very clean. Too clean, in fact.
Too clean? How can that be the case? Surely the best water for us to drink is water that’s completely unpolluted and pure?
In the case of reverse osmosis, the water really is too clean. The filtering process removes all of the contaminants; but it also removes the good things that we need for our bodies to thrive.
Are You Drinking Dead Water?
Essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium are removed, which are vital for healthy teeth and bones, among other things. As a result, reverse osmosis water is often referred to as ‘dead water.’ Many people report that it doesn’t even seem to quench thirst properly.
And it’s not only the fact that the reverse osmosis water doesn’t deliver those things; the worst part – and certainly the most dangerous from a health point of view – is that the water itself becomes opportunistically parasitic.
That sounds like a dramatic description but the picture it paints is accurate. It’s a complex process, but essentially, reverse osmosis water wants to remineralize itself, and so to achieve that, once it’s inside your mineral-rich body, it will start to actively seek out and leach minerals from you, in order to enrich itself.
“Demineralised water that has not been remineralized, or low-mineral content water – in the light of the absence or substantial lack of essential minerals in it – is not considered ideal drinking water.”
National Institute of Public Health,
When it’s done taking the available minerals, the water is passed by your body in the form of urination and the minerals are lost. If you drink reverse osmosis water over an extended period of time, there is a real risk that you would experience mineral deficiency as a result. And we’re not talking about after years of drinking low-mineral water; the effects would make themselves known after only a few months.
It’s not only drinking reverse osmosis water that can impact on your health. Cooking with low-mineral water can cause the food to lose over half of their essential nutritional elements.
“Since most nutrients are ingested with food, the use of low-mineral water for cooking and processing food may cause a marked deficiency in total intake of some essential elements that was much higher than expected with the use of such water for drinking only.
The current diet of many persons usually does not provide all necessary elements in sufficient quantities, and therefore, any factor that results in the loss of essential elements and nutrients during the processing and preparation of food could be detrimental for them.”
National Institute of Public Health,
There are other risks; reverse osmosis water carries a greater risk of bacterial infection, and because of its inherently unstable nature, low-mineral water can have a dissolving effect on metals. This means that any pipes, holding tanks or containers for reverse osmosis water can become corroded by the water, with dangerous metals – including lead in some reported cases – leaching into the water; which is then consumed.
What The World Health Authority Thinks
Reverse osmosis water is very acidic. It is possible to treat the water with minerals to stabilize and remineralize the water, which should increase its alkalinity. This is frequently achieved by the addition of limestone. However, the mineral composition of limestone is itself variable, with quantities of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate as well as other minerals. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously expressed concern in a report that the minerals used for stabilizing low mineral water are not always food-grade quality.
The WHO have previously made their advice plain, stating that reverse osmosis water, “has a definite adverse influence on the animal and human organism.”
Despite all of this, reverse osmosis water has enormous value as a short-term fix for millions of people who do not have access to clean water. But it can never be considered a long-term solution. The health risks are well-documented and impossible to ignore.