You might be looking for ways to have your watered purified. Some will suggest that you look into the distillation process and have your water distilled. You might be familiar with distilled water, and you will think of choosing that, but then there will be some that will suggest that reverse osmosis could be the much better option to purify your water.
To give you a better idea of whether you can choose reverse osmosis water in place of distilled water, you will need to understand how the two methods work.
Understanding the differences and similarities between the two processes/ methods will give you the factors you can consider if one process/method can be a substitute for the other one.
Both reverse osmosis and distillation are processes/methods used to purify water. Water purification is a process in which water gets rid of contaminants. Let us have a look at distillation first.
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Distillation is a process that produces distilled water, water which has been free of a significant amount of contaminants, which makes it safe for drinking. However, this also involves the removal of minerals and salts (demineralization), which eventually gives the distilled water a bland taste.
The process is accomplished by boiling water, capturing the steam that rises, and then transferring the steam to another container until it fills it up as water again. To better understand, you can try to imagine the way the Earth water cycle works. The sun heats the body of water, then evaporates it, next is condensation, until the precipitation occurs again. That is how the distillation works. To put it more simply, it is turning liquid water to gas, then turning the gas back to its liquid form.
However, like all the other filtration methods, distillation cannot remove all the contaminants in the water on its own, but they do reduce a significant amount. Since the main point of distillation is separating contaminants from water through the process of boiling, it is hard to remove chemicals and impurities that have a boiling point that is quite similar to water. That is why distilled water has to go through more filtration processes if you want to have them removed.
Distillation can remove substances like minerals and salts that make water hard. These substances are dissolved solids in water, causing water hardness, which can eventually lead to scaling. Distillation also can counteract certain microbes from the water like giardia and Legionella.
There are certain types of equipment and machines that require distilled water for their operation because water contains minerals that can cause damage to them.
Distillation can remove more contaminants than reverse osmosis, but the difference is only slight and not that significant. Distilled water has a neutral pH because it removes elements like magnesium and calcium, which makes the water hard and alkaline.
The biggest drawback or disadvantage of distillation compared to reverse osmosis is that it requires far more energy to run (making it cost more), and it takes more time to have water purified.
Ro is a water filtration method that uses membrane as the main base of its action. The water goes through a consecutive number of these membranes, which are the ones responsible for the filtration.
To better understand Reverses osmosis, let us first try to understand osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of a solvent(like water) from a lower concentration of solute( less concentrated solution) through a semi-permeable membrane to a solution of higher solute concentration (more concentrated solution). The process makes use of osmotic pressure to execute this action. This process balances both solutions and equalizes their concentration level.
As its name suggests, reverse osmosis works differently or has the osmosis reversed. Instead of seeking equilibrium and balance, this process seeks the opposite. It works to unbalance the concentrations in the solutions between two sides of the membrane. The ones that will pass through the semi-permeable membranes will be the pure water, and the ones that did not will be the filtered part containing all the contaminants. This action is by forcing the movement of water from higher solute concentration(more impurities) through a semi-permeable membrane to a lower solute concentration(less/ almost no impurities)
This water filtration method is commonly used, both in industrial and residential settings. A lot of people prefer this method to have their water cleaned and filtered. This method can even make seawater turn into freshwater.
RO is usually used in an industrial setting to increase control of soil’s pH, produce medicines & pharmaceuticals, and also in the production of food and beverages.
This process is also commonly used for residential purposes, more so than the distillation process. RO systems require less electrical energy and produce more filtered water at a much faster rate. It is quite effective in removing heavy metals from the water and also can eliminate some viruses and pathogens.
This system works in two types of configuration. The first one, which is the more common type, is the POU or Point-Of-Use system. This type of RO system supplies filtered water in a specific area of the house where you need it. It is usually small enough that it is possible to install in places with limited spaces (example are in kitchen sinks)
The second type of configuration is the POE or the Point-Of-Entry system. As its name suggests, it filters water from its point of entry to the house. This type makes it possible to have filtered water supply throughout the house, making it ideal for whole house water treatment.
Similarities of Distillation and Reverse Osmosis
Both processes provide clean and safe drinking water. Because they both remove minerals, both methods are said to make the water taste flat.
RO is filtered water, while distillation is boiled water, condensed, captured, and then turned back into the water.
Both processes do purify water, but distillation requires far more electrical energy and takes much more time because it involves capturing the condensation of boiling water.
Most plants prefer neutral or acidic soil, making both processes ideal to use for water plants because they both have a pH near 7.0, which makes them both neutral. However, these processes also remove magnesium and calcium that are present in the water, two elements that are necessary to most plants for growth. (You can add these elements directly to your plant or by other means)
Distillation and Reverse Osmosis have their separate advantages and disadvantages. They work in different ways, but their functions are quite similar.
To answer the title question, yes, you can use Reverse osmosis water in place of Distilled water, and sometimes no, you can not substitute one for the other. The answer depends on the situations, situations like what water you need, and where you will be using it.
Do not be afraid to ask for professional help if you ever get confused and if you need to have any information verified.