What Is the Best Water to Drink? Is Reverse Osmosis 100% Pure?

Tuesday Jul 23, 2013 | BY |
| Comments (40)


After last week’s conversation on water, I wanted to address a few more topics…

Is Reverse Osmosis 100% Pure?

“Does reverse osmosis remove all of the mineral ions? I heard it was more like 90% pure, and distilled water would be closer to 99% pure. In that case, would reverse osmosis water be different than distilled?”

Distilled water is heated and the steam is cooled. So if there are volatiles in there, it will not get rid of them. In fact, it can concentrate those chemicals. There is also the danger that some of the contaminants can be carried in the steam and get re- dissolved into the water. But assuming that does not happen, distilled water will be very pure or have little contaminants.

I believe that RO can achieve the purity levels that is found in distilled water but it depends on what is there to begin with.

The RO process uses a membrane, and this works, partially on the size of the pores so it restricts those big molecules. It also works through ionic exclusion. So the greater the charge, the better it is at keeping the ions out. So it is better at removing ions like Calcium which has a charge of 2+ than Sodium which has a charge of 1+. RO is also better at removing volatiles than distillation.

So is there a difference? Yes. The process is different. As to purity, it will depend on the source you’re starting with.

What Is the Best Water to Drink?

“If a person wanted to have a good source of water available instead of tap water, what would be the best method:

- distilled
- reverse osmosis
- carbon filter
- bottled water

Again, it will depend on what you’re working with. I think it is best to get the water analyzed and choose the best one from what you find. You also have to take into account the technical requirements.

Distilled water requires a lot of energy to produce. RO requires the water to pass trough the membrane at high pressure. It is also slow, so you may need some sort of storage mechanism.

Carbon filtration will remove volatile chemicals but won’t remove heavy metals.

“Can you give some pros and cons of each method ?”

Distilled Water Pros

– Can remove viruses and bacteria
– Can remove salts, like sodium, magnesium, heavy metals like lead, arsenic and mercury


Won’t remove volatiles.
Is energy intensive.
Is slow
A lot of water is wasted to produce the distilled water.
Strips away trace minerals. Will also affect taste.

Reverse Osmosis Pros

The membrane will remove organic compounds, including volatiles, salts and minerals. Will remove bacteria and viruses


– Some chemicals can pass through as the sizes of their molecules are smaller than the pores of the membrane. As they lack a charge, they won’t be excluded as the ionic salts. This includes some pesticides and herbicides.
– Strips away trace minerals. Will also affect taste.
– RO needs high pressure water. So if this is a large system, some infrastructure needs to be in place to be used, though there are some table top devices.

Carbon Filter Pros

– Can remove most chemical compounds like pesticides and herbicides and volatiles.
– Retains trace minerals
– Not energy intensive and is low cost.


– Slow.
– Effectiveness of filter reduces over time
–  Effectiveness also depends on the type of filter used and how long it passes through the filter. So this depends on whether the filter has large or small pores or if the water passes through quickly or slowly.

Bottled Water Pros

– Convenient if you’re on the go


– Uses or is sold in a plastic bottles.

Besides the use of being wasteful, some plastics can leach VOCs into the water. Check the type of plastic your bottle contains to see if it’s safe.

How to Choose Plastic Bottles

Finally,  let’s address the toxicity in plastic bottles. There’s a real concern about toxic elements leaching out of our water bottles.

To avoid this problem, it’s best to use a reusable stainless steel water bottle for traveling and/or drinking water in your car or at work.

But you might be traveling some place where you have to get a bottle of water. If that’s the case, check the bottom of the bottle. The type of plastic used may be one of seven types:

  1. The ThPET/PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate (water & soda bottles, cooking oil bottles)
  2. HDPE: High-Density Polyethylene (detergent bottles, milk jugs, vitamin bottles)
  3. PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride (shower curtains, shrink wrap, building materials, toys)
  4. LDPE: Low-Density Polyethylene (shopping bags, six-pack rings, cd/dvd cases)
  5. PP: Polypropylene (bottle caps, dishes, candy containers, yogurt containers)
  6. PS: Polystyrene (Styrofoam cups, take-out food containers, peanuts, egg cartons)
  7. Other: Polycarbonates + many others (Reusable water bottles, baby bottles, Tupperware)

The numbers to avoid are 3, 6 & 7. These are the plastics that contain hazardous chemicals that may leech in the water.

The safer ones (but not necessarily environmentally-friendly) are:

1, 2 — for these plastics, make sure they are not exposed to heat or UV light, as they may breakdown and release chemicals in the process. #2 is considered safer.

5 — this plastic is considered very robust and safe. So is #4.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998. He is the author of several books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies.

He was named Best Health Blogger of the year in 2011 by Renegade Health. Frederic has experimented with many diets and specializes in raw food, vegetarian and vegan topics, as well as how to balance a healthy diet in the real world. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Scott says:

    Fred – how do you feel about alkaline water (Kangen)?

  2. Christina says:

    The problem with R/O and distilled water is that it is acidic on the pH scale and oxidizing to the body. It is also not found anywhere in nature. Humans thrive on fresh, filtered, alkaline water, which is why I drink water that has been pre-filtered using a modified reverse osmosis nano filtration system that keeps the healthy alkaline minerals in, while filtering all contaminants out. I then use a water ionizer to make those alkaline minerals bioavailable. I noticed immediately that ionized alkaline water does not leave the heavy bloated waterlogged feeling that distilled and R/O waters do, which makes it easier to drink enough to stay properly hydrated.

    • For the record, I personally stick with tap water filtered through a good quality carbon filter (and other filtering agents).

      • caroline jackson says:

        I am looking for a good carbon filter and an ionizer…I am interested in what brands you might reccommend…its so hard to know!

        thanks millions!!

        • Christina says:

          Hi Caroline,
          I use and recommend the Chanson Water brand. They are the only manufacturer I know of that offers the modified reverse osmosis Nano filtration system which keeps the alkaline minerals in.

    • I agree with Frederick on this. As a general statement one can say that a good quality RO will remove 98% or more of contaminants and all of the minerals. You can then make the water alkaline by adding a calcite filter but the filters that are sold which are supposed to add minerals don’t do so. Whatever system you are refering to sounds like it is either not reverse osmosis or not doing what you were told it does.

      • Christina says:

        It does sound too good to be true, but I personally know the man who designed it. Again, it is a *modified* R/O system, not a traditional R/O system, so no, the alkaline minerals are not being removed and then needing to be re-added with a separate filter as you assumed. It uses high pressure created by an onboard motor to separate contaminants from the water supply. Water is forced through a membrane that has tiny holes which are no larger than .0001 micron. This causes VOC’s, SOC’s, bacteria, viral contaminants and a host of other unwanted water pollutants to be removed. They do offer magnesium and calcium remineralizers for those who are using traditional R/O systems or water softeners or live in a place with soft water, but these remineralizers are not part of the Nano filtration system itself because the alkaline minerals are being left in the filtered water.

  3. Safiya says:

    What is the difference between reverse osmosis and ionized water? In Japan, a water ionizer is considered a medical device. A water ionizer can produce acidic water, which is strong enough to be used in Japanese hospitals as a disinfectant to clean hospital floors and counters. This machine can also produce sweet, alkaline water with the same pH as our bodies, or somewhat more alkaline, which can be used to improve one’s health, according to patient testimonials and scientific research.

    What’s your opinion?

    • I believe that Safiya and Janet are “spot on”. For myself, I have been studying water and hydration at the cellular level for over 5 years and rejoice that I ever stumbled upon the Kangen Water (r) ionizer. Have not so much as had a headache in that length of time. If we change our water, we truly change our lives. My best to you all, Alen

  4. Janet Feinberg says:

    You didn’t include the option of ionized water. I have a Kangen water filter which I feel it the best of all the options for drinking alkalized, filtered water.

    • Jim McMahon says:

      Alkaline ionizers can be a dangerous choice if your water containts contaminants and you do not remove them with appropriate filtration. See link above for a discussion on this topic.

  5. sheri says:

    What about spring water from a natural source? We have several not too far, and they have minerals, naturally carbonated, and we notice we feel better, plus are free, just the gas to get there. We use glass bottles.

    • Spring water is great, if you have access to it and it’s tested to be clean.

    • Teddy says:

      Spring water is better than tap water as long as it is pure and not contaminated. However, according to water experts like Culligan, Carlson Wade and Donsbauch, who state that the minerals in well or spring water are inorganic which makes the water known as hard water with a hardness reading in the industry as TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) These hard inorganic minerals eventually cog the human circulatory system and we get old and stiff fromn the build up of thes inorganic minerals that were never assimilated in the first place and mixed along with plaque. Distilled water or any other pure water removes these inorganic minerals. They also state that water rarely, if ever, have organic minerals and that they are always inorganic. If we could live from these we could eat ground rocks and dirt which is basically the source of all vitamins except those occurring in food which are of course organic meaning they have carbon moleculesinstilled by the plants photosynthesis from the inorganic minerals from the soil. The best water to drink, and the ancients all knew this because they had miles of aquaducts for both drinking and bathing, is rain water (distilled water with absorbed sun light) which can not only prevent but heal bad bones as well as heal all maladies. The Indians would go jump in the river to heal their disease much to the dismay of early USA doctors and their drugs. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians all used this healing rain water and absorbed sun light to both drink and bathe. They did not use the dead ground water with the tight 104 degrees angle of the bond of oxygen and hydrogen. Living water has the larger 9 degree angle of this bond. There is one electric water distiller by Clear Water by John Ellis in N.Y. which not only removes the volitile gasses but turns it into living water by heating and cooling every 20 second cycle (this happens in nature by cool nights and hot days) whereas all ground water and especially boiled water has the tighter bond referred to as dead water. Solar dislillers work great and immitate Mother Nature’s rain water (distilled water) if placed in the sun afterwards. Boiling water continuously tightens the angle by 5 degrees making dead water.
      When traveling by car I buy bottled distilled water, transfer it from plastic to glass, ozonate it to oxidize the impurities and place it in the sun for a day or two if possible. So sun tea has more healing benefits than was usually thought.

      • Jim McMahon says:

        The issue of minerals in spring water is a matter of degree. A low level of minerals is beneficial and can be used by the human body. I prefer a mineral level (known as tds) between 30 and 200 or 225 parts per million (ppm or mg/l). Higher minerals levels cause the water to be less hydrating and may have negative health effects. See the link just above for a discussion about drinking spring water.

      • Stefan Wolgeng says:

        you made an important point, because we oxidize with every breath we take and this is why ozon is a good method to do so. But what if when we use chlorine dioxide CLO2 instead of ozon O3 because it has a minor oxidizing potential ? At least it would be better to use CLO2 if you use it to make a body internal water purification. This is why the new MMS/CDS protocol works so well with any disease. I use mountain crystals and charge them with sunlight as well to and i can prove that with a bovis scale and a pendulum that this improves water quality (quackery for the scientifically inclined but i works for me). But there are so much more to talk about, but i won,t bother here with quackery.

  6. Betty Amrine says:

    Then there is Kangen water. Kangen water is alkaline because of the minerals that it contains. I have heard the pros and cons on that, but the bottom line is—what will it do to your body? Look at the studies which compare RESULTS. Having read some of the studies, I put my water through my Berkey (after I have blessed it), then I put it through the Vitalizer, which puts the water into a vortex (simulating water running over the rocks in a stream), oxygenates and mineralizes it. This is the water that I use to drink, after I have added a little lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of borax. This tastes great and normalizes my concentration of minerals. I also drink out of glass, unless far from home and out of my homemade brew.

    It is good to make certain that you get out all of the toxic chemicals, flouride, chlorine, heavy metals, but also it is important to be aware that you are doing what’s best for your body. Kangen water does a great job of hydrating your body. Reverse osmosis water may be free of particulates, but that makes it hungry water, so that it washes the minerals out of your body. So, either take a mineral supplement or add it to your water. I do both. Water hydrates us better when it contains healthy minerals. One study found that distilled water reduces the electrical strength of our electrical beings, as does RO water.

  7. Anna says:

    So you’re saying distilled reverse osmosis water is the best? Hah.

  8. Liz H says:

    The biggest concern we have here is the fluoride. From what I’ve read only distilling & reverse osmosis will remove it. If anyone knows differently, I would love to hear about it.

  9. Joe says:

    I read this article a little while ago, but wasn’t going to add anything until I came across a 62oz pitcher that saturates water with oxygen, while flipping through a catalog. My question is, have you heard of this so called oxygenated water and what do you think? I also want to add, that this pitcher is very expensive @222.00$, well at least I think it’s very expensive.

  10. Florin says:

    The subject of water is complicated. It’s obvious that when it comes to skin it cleans it(well, with the help of soaps an scrubbing). When you drink water, it’s to ‘hydrate': we all agree on that , but we’re not exactly sure of what that means… But there’s a possibility that water cleans your inner organs too…So I guess, the cleaner the better. Yet we still have to figure out what the best ‘soaps’ for our inner organs are. Some people say chlorophyll(raw greens). What is for sure, at least with my body, is that after I drink plain water my urine is yellow and smelly(hence it seems the body does some cleaning); yet after some watermelon or orange juice(or other watery fruit), my urine is clear and smell free(hence the body took out all minerals and vitamins from it, yet it let that clean water go!
    Depending on your diet(raw, SAD, etc), and lifestyle(office job, inside with conditioned air/ heat, or construction worker, 8 hours in the sun/cold) we need a certain amount of water. There is no universal formula. When you’re thirsty you drink water. Whatever you can find/afford, the cleanest you can. I’d say try different types and see what works best for you. I have a RO system, and so far it seems to do the trick when it comes to thirst. But I also buy water when I’m out, unprepared and thirsty ;)
    Anyway, what is the best water to drink? I’d say clean cold water ;) with no smell and no taste…
    When it comes to minerals, it’s debatable: the best water with minerals is in fruit and veggies I think. But that’s just my guess. I have no science to back my opinion, just some common sense.
    Also some of the best water I drank was the water in caves(deep down in mother earth’s belly). Again, no science to back that up. Maybe I was just tirshty from going up and down those ropes for hours ;)
    Listen to your body, not to the suggested amount of water of some article even if written by scientists. Some of their work is sponsored by big water seller companies.
    Just my two cents.

  11. Darryl Turner says:

    Using the right distiller will remove volatiles through an orifice just after the distilling pot before the water vapor enters the cooling tubing.

  12. Ann says:

    I remember a time when we just drank water and that was that. It’s It’s a shame we have to spend so much time and money in some cases to feel comfortable with what we drink. And, still, even after that, we are not 100% sure if what we are drinking is actually good or healthy?

  13. Steve Grubowski says:

    I would suggest researching Pristine Hydro; There is something very unique here. http://www.pristinehydro.com
    I am impressed.

  14. Jan Landman says:

    The supervisors in my county, in the state of California, are reviewing information whether or not to fluoridate our drinking water. I and many others have joined together to work against fluoridation. If they decide to fluoridate, do any water purification systems remove fluoride? Thanks.

  15. gary says:

    The World Health Organization has proposed a draft paper that outlines the health effects of drinking RO water.
    It has been shown to cause disease. Typical of such things, the paper will not be published for years to give governments time to prepare.

  16. what about natural spring water? says:

    I can’t believe that real, local spring water wasn’t mentioned. Granted not everyone has nearby access to pure spring water but it’s worth looking for… http://www.findaspring.com

  17. Michelle says:

    after 9 years of drinking Adya water, I’ve found that any other water I’ve tried tastes and smells odd. It is simply the best, cleanest, natural water I’ve ever tried. Water snob? yep! We all need to go back to Nature the best way we can. The only product I know that the oxygen stays stable…oxygenated…why wouldn’t you! The water isn’t “ionized”, the minerals are…..

  18. Michelle Greenwell says:

    Why did you stop your assessment with the four you did? What about the Nikken Water system, or the Kangen water system to name a few? How about a Britta filter? There is so much more to water and its importance in the body. As well, what does the body need? How much water? When? I would love to see you do some more indepth assessment that really provides meaningful information for people.

  19. Christina says:

    What about alkaline systems?

  20. Truella Hicks says:

    I understand that some RO units gets fluoride out but some don’t. Do you know which ones do? You can’t count on alumina fluoride filters getting out fluoride for very long. A good bone char filter gets it out but the water has to run thru it very slowly and even then you need two of them for it to have time to absorb enough of it. We have had kangen water analyzed and there was even more fluoride in it than the tap water than ran thru it.

  21. Thank you Frederick for continuing on this subject….some good healthy comments and questions !
    I’d like to add that the Water Quality Association (WQA) an international not-for-profit has awarded Enagic’s Kangen Water (r) the top certification. If one is wanting to see how this water is generated, my friend Bo Gridelli and Pat Boone demo it at http://www.kangendemo.com Also see http://www.kangenconnection.org if you wish. Yes ….technically you are right Michelle….only water with mineral (the minerals themselves) are ionized. Can’t ionize sterile “purified” water !! Alen

  22. Joe says:

    What about radiation contamination filtering?

  23. Susan says:

    great info..Thanks. I just saw “The Great Culling: Our Water”, talking about flouride, and it seems that even in all the bottled waters they were testing, there are bad amounts (any amount, as far as I am concerned, is bad…) of flouride found and more being found daily… as if it is being put in or perhaps is getting there from the rain ( I have also heard that it is confirmed to have been included in the sprays they use in Scandanavia for GeoEngineering—chemtrails—so they could be doing that world wide now too). Are you aware of the best filtration system for reducing fluoride? I think it is a particularly small particle, especially if it is used for the sprays they use in the air…thanks. Susan

    • ….Susan….so interesting to me that so many are addressing the fluorine issue. And yes, the fluoride molecule is so small, it is displacing the Iodine molecule in the thyroid and that is serious !! Fortunately, my studies are leading me to believe that the best ionizers are filtering out some of the fluorine and then neutralizing some in the electrolysis process. A word of caution, we would not want to compromise on the technology and I would suggest one look into Enagic’s devices (www.kangenconnection.org Hope Frederic continues this dialogue

      • Stefan Wolgeng says:

        what do you think the NWO is all about ? The united states company (former virginia company of london) want that their interest rate slaves (FED) don,t have capacity to think clear. The best way to achieve that is a nazi proven method an that is called fluoric water contamination. They are pretending to be a government for the people but they are not you have no choice. For that reason your life has only a value for them if you are sick and take pills from you MD to get better. This only renders revenue for the industry and this is a worldwide scam like the CEO from Nestle Peter Brabeck stated in his last interview. Privatization of the water (latin privare – to loot) is today and the next step probably is that you pay for the air that you breathe, with your corporate fiction from your genuine flesh and blood called your strawman.

  24. ezra sonia Leyba says:

    What do you think about micro structured aGUa ?

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