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Water Ionizer vs. Reverse Osmosis – What System Is Better?

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Y ou are likely already aware of just how contaminated tap water can be, households all around the world dealing with the same issue – poor water quality that puts their health in peril. As the need for water purification systems is at an alarmingly growing pace, more and more companies release systems for this purpose, trying to draw the attention of customers and earn money.

Two of the most sought-after types of water purifying systems are water ionizers and RO systems. Each produces water with a specific set of traits, and what both have in common is that they pass the water through filtration before it reaches your glass so that you can finally hydrate under the safest of circumstances. Learn in the following everything there is to know about each system type to see which is the better performing of the two and draw an informed decision that you will reap only benefits from.

Introduction to Water Ionizer

This is a home appliance that uses the process of electrolysis to raise the pH of drinking water. It separates the incoming stream into alkaline and acidic parts, each having its purpose and benefits in specific circumstances. Drink the right amount of alkaline water each day and you will hydrate better and faster, even see results when it comes to skin beauty, whereas, you can use the acidic water produced to clean dishes and for household disinfecting.

The electrochemical process of electrolysis utilizes an electric current to split the stream and form hydrogen and oxygen. Water that is siphoned off near the cathode contains more hydroxide, which increases its pH, meaning that it is more alkaline (pH is at a minimum of 8). On the other hand, water that is siphoned off near the anode is more acidic.

One common trait of water ionizers is that the machines let you pick the pH of the water that ends up in your glass. Widely seen as the best alkaline water ionizing machine to date, the Tyent UCE-11 puts a total of 9 pH settings at your disposal to select from, so customization is the strong point of this product. Moreover, as aforementioned, these machines even filter out impurities. With this specific example that we chose, the contaminant elimination process is quite hard to beat seeing how there are two filter systems set in place to deal with as many impurities as possible, improving the taste, smell, and cleanliness of the water you drink.

See here our collection of the best water ionizers available right now! These machines filter the impurities in your tap water and pass it through electrolysis to provide you with super-hydrating alkaline ionized water most efficiently and effectively.

How to Make Alkaline Water at Home

While it is true that you can buy alkaline water just as easily as you buy regular bottled water, this is the most expensive manner to obtain it for the purpose of hydration. Not to say that there are repercussions on Mother Earth as well, seeing how plastic bottle pollution is one of the main environmental issues to date. If alkaline is the way you want to go and are looking for a temporary solution to obtain it until you gather the many for a machine, here are a few useful tips to make it at home:

  • Use baking soda: To make an 8-ounce glass of alkaline water that you drink on the spot when you are thirsty, just add 1/8 tablespoon of baking soda in it. Easy to prepare and beneficial for those who suffer from heartburn and indigestion, this recipe is recommended for everyone except those who are on a low-sodium diet, or who suffer from diabetes and kidney problems.
  • Use lemons: Beneficial for the brain and bones, the healthy lemon is another viable means to prepare alkaline water. Fill a pitcher with water, put a few lemon slices in it, and let the mixture sit overnight. The next day, you can start hydrating using this health-boosting citrus fruit.
  • Use pH drops: If you want a more hassle-free method to make it, just add pH drops that have alkaline minerals in their componence.
  • Use alkaline sticks: A much more ingenious option is to use the sticks as you can even carry them around to drink healthy alkaline water when you camp, for example. Place the stick in a bottle of water, wait a few minutes, or as instructed in the manual for the specific model you are using, and the pH of your drinking water will rise to the needed level for it to become alkaline.

Test the water using pH strips before you pass it through the process and after. The neutral water you used at the beginning is likely going to be pH 7, whereas, after you pass it through the process, the pH should be of at least 8 for it to qualify as alkaline.

Learn more about making alkaline water from this article where we expand on the methods described in short here. Cost-effective recipes that all work, they provide a more ingenious means to hydrate with the high-pH water.

Pros and Cons

Although it is considered safe, ionized water can be bad for you under specific circumstances. For one, if you exclusively hydrate with alkaline water and don’t alter between it and filtered regular pH water, you can lower the natural acidity of your stomach, which means that pathogens have a higher chance of entering your bloodstream. Skin irritations have the potential to appear as well, another side effect that you must take into account. As you agitate the normal pH of your body, this could lead to alkalosis, some of the symptoms that appear with this condition including confusion, nausea, vomiting, and hand tremors. The condition can cause free calcium to decrease as well, which affects the health of your bones.

However, the benefits of ionized water outweigh the side effects. As long as you drink the recommended amount of alkaline water per day and you make sure to switch between alkaline and filtered regular water, you have only perks to reap from the dietary change. Some of these benefits include:

  • Your cells absorb it much easier and quicker than they do regular water as the clusters are considerably smaller in size. Thus, you hydrate faster and better by drinking the high-pH water.
  • As the liquid antioxidants it contains are more rapidly absorbed by the body, it helps fight the aging process, helping you look younger and healthier.
  • Superior hydration helps detoxify your body too, which leads to an improvement of skin health and appearance, as well as a better overall functioning of your immune system.
  • Fights free radicals that are at fault for the appearance of cancer. While not a miracle worker in this specific area, it does help reduce the chances that you fall prey to the dreaded disease.
  • Aids in weight loss much more than regular water as your cells absorb it quicker.
  • If you opt for the pH level to stand from 8.8 to 9, consuming the water will help inactivate pepsin, which is the main enzyme at fault for acid reflux.
  • Aids lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure to improve your health stats.
  • Consuming the high-pH water after a hearty workout reduces blood viscosity almost twice as much as regular water does.
  • Some systems, like the Next Generation M11, even use UV light technology to kill bacteria in the water, sanitizing it to further protect your health.
  • Increases beneficial mineral content in the water you consume.

Looking for a cheap yet convenient solution to have alkaline water on demand? Then make sure you take a few minutes to check out the best alkaline water pitchers available right now! Easy to use and easy on the wallet, these are a budget-friendly alternative to ionizer machines.

Introduction to RO System

Available for commercial use since the 1960s, reverse osmosis systems produce highly purified water for consumers to hydrate with. Reverse osmosis, or RO, is a filtration process that uses a thin, semi-permeable membrane with small-size pores that trap dissolved salts, bacteria, and other impurities from the water that passes through it. This is a chemical-free method that works opposite of the principle of osmosis, which is the natural tendency of water that contains dissolved salts to flow through membranes of low to high salt concentrations.

In RO systems, the pressure is used to bypass the osmotic pressure and feed it through the membrane where a high percentage of impurities are removed. Cross-filtration is utilized, which means that the clean water goes toward the tap outlet, whereas, the contaminated water takes a different path.

Pros and Cons

Let’s start with the negative aspects of RO water. Woefully, a lot of water is wasted during the filtration process, the average RO system using an estimated three times more water as they treat. With a bad effect on the environment as well as the bills, this is likely the most notable downside to using RO filtration. Another issue that most customers complain about is that they notice an instant drop in water pressure after installing the system. The flow rate is affected, which can be quite inconvenient as more time is lost to pour yourself a glass of water. There is the problem of mineral deficiency to consider as well. As opposed to water ionizers that generally return beneficial minerals into the water you drink or at least don’t filter them out, the RO technique deprives the water of these minerals, which means that you won’t hydrate in as a healthful manner as you should.

But it is not all bad news with RO water. Otherwise, it would not be one of the preferred options for people worldwide. Some of the benefits it provides include:

  • The tiny openings in the membrane ensure a high level of impurity filtration, which makes the RO system among the most effective for water purification.
  • It produces water of a regular pH, so it does not produce an imbalance in your body. This, in turn, means that you can drink it on a daily basis without any repercussions on your health. Bear in mind that its lack of minerals can pose an issue if you exclusively hydrate with it.
  • Among water contaminants it helps remove we have the likes of lead, dissolved organics, radium, and asbestos.
  • Removes approximately 93% of sodium in the water, which makes it perfect for those who must follow low-sodium diets.

Tip: If you do opt for a RO system, look into a model that features an inline re-mineralizer so that the healthy minerals are returned to the water you drink. This way, one of the main downsides to daily hydration with it is canceled and you mostly reap only benefits from the switch from regular unfiltered to RO filtered.

Cost Considerations

As both RO systems and water ionizers need maintenance work performed on them regularly and feature parts that require replacement, there are variable costs that you must take into account beforehand, aside from the upfront costs. Depending on the exact model that interests you, a RO unit can cost from $300 to $3,000, while water ionizers can cost from $400 to $3,500. As you can see, the upfront costs are pretty much the same.

In the long-run, however, it is the ionizer that wins the fight as most of these systems are warranted against defects for a lifetime by their manufacturing companies. Moreover, aside from routine filter replacements, there is not much else to do that would cost you money and that isn’t covered by the warranty agreement already. With RO systems, membranes and cartridges need periodical replacement, which can end up costing even up to $200-$400 per year, depending on the model.

If you seek a budget-friendly water ionizer, we recommend that you check out the Jupiter Athena JS205 reviewed here to see what this economic machine has to offer. Easy to use and backed against defects for a lifetime, it is an option worth looking into.

Water Ionizer vs. RO System – Comparison

Water Ionizer Machine Reverse Osmosis Machine
  • Contaminants removal rate: 9/10
  • Water waste: 10/10
  • Health benefits: 10/10
  • Water taste improvement: 10/10
  • Versatility in use: 10/10
  • Maintenance: 9.5/10
  • Upfront & upkeep costs: 9.5/10

Ionizer machine overall score: 9.7/10

  • Contaminants removal rate: 10/10
  • Water waste: 7/10
  • Health benefits: 8.5/10
  • Water taste improvement: 10/10
  • Versatility in use: 9/10
  • Maintenance: 9/10
  • Upfront & upkeep costs: 9/10

RO system overall score: 8.9/10

Conclusion

Although both systems do more than a great job at filtering out the impurities and providing you with clean water to drink, RO systems scoring a bit better in this department, it is the water ionizers that reign supreme in the end. The fact that they don’t deprive the water of beneficial minerals is one of the main advantages had by these systems over RO units.

Other benefits make them the better option too, including the fact that you can pick the pH of the water that is outputted, and there is not much maintenance work required in the long-run either. Costs are pretty much the same with both machines, so this is not an argument to take into consideration. Analyze your options while keeping in mind what you learned here, and you are sure to invest in a water purification system that will satisfy all of your needs and expectations.

If you want to opt for ionizer machines, first look at the best under sink water ionizers before you decide if this is your preferred setup as here, you find the top-tier models that install under the counter and don’t take up any actual space in the kitchen.

Tobey Hunter
Tobey Hunter
Tobey is the editor-in-chief at Optima Institute, his prior experience as a niche product reviewer in air quality improvement systems helping shape his path to conduct thorough research toward selecting and analyzing products so that customers are satisfied with the provided recommendations. During his carrier, Tobey also gathered technical input that makes him well versed in understanding advancements in modern systems, helping readers in turn to better understand how modern devices help improve life quality.