Updated April 19th, 2024 at 19:57 IST

Which is better reverse osmosis or alkaline water?

This in-depth guide will compare alkaline water and reverse osmosis across several factors to help you decide which is right for you.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Which is better reverse osmosis or alkaline water? | Image:Open Source

Are you unsure whether reverse osmosis or alkaline water is better? With conflicting information online, it can be difficult to parse fact from fiction when it comes to the claimed benefits of these two popular types of filtered water.

This in-depth guide will compare alkaline water and reverse osmosis across several factors to help you decide which is right for you. We'll look at:

  • How each water filtration process works
  • Taste and mineral content differences
  • Potential health benefits of each
  • Safety considerations and risks
  • Cost comparisons for home systems

What is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. Pure water has a neutral pH of 6. Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.    

Alkaline water benefits

Drinking alkaline water is claimed to provide many health benefits, though currently there is limited robust research to support most claims. Proponents say the higher pH of alkaline water may help slow aging, provide better hydration, promote weight loss, remove acidity from the body, strengthen bones, improve digestion, and boost immunity. Small studies show alkaline water may help with acid reflux and hydration. However, there is still a need for more rigorous, large-scale human studies to truly determine the tangible health benefits attributed to alkaline water consumption.

How is alkaline water different from regular water?

This alkalinity is achieved through ionization, electrolysis, or adding alkaline minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The higher pH gives alkaline water properties some believe provide health benefits, though more research is needed. Ultimately, the key distinguishing factor is the pH level, as shown below:
By altering the pH, alkaline water becomes more basic and less acidic than regular drinking water. Too high of a pH can create an unpleasant taste.

Alkaline water at home: how to get it?

There are several methods to produce alkaline water from your home's tap water. Pitchers with built-in filters range from ₹1,500-₹2,000. Adding alkaline drops or minerals to water is inexpensive but can change the taste. More costly under sink systems with reverse osmosis and remineralization range from ₹13,000-₹20,000. For those with high-quality tap water, a simple pH testing kit for around ₹850 can determine if water alkalization is needed. 

What is a reverse osmosis system?

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a common water filtration technology used in many homes. It works by pushing water through a semipermeable membrane that filters out contaminants and minerals.

An RO system applies pressure to force water through this filter membrane while blocking dissolved salts, metals, and other impurities from passing through.
The result is nearly pure H2O without minerals that can affect taste, Odor, or colour. However, the RO process also removes healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.


The mineral content of drinking water after RO filtration

Reverse osmosis removes up to 98% of dissolved mineral salts and compounds from water. This includes healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that give water some taste and nutritional value. The result is nearly pure H2O with zero minerals, also called demineralized water. While this is safe for most healthy people in the short-term, long-term consumption of completely demineralized water can leach minerals from the body. Moderate mineral levels are ideal. Remineralization filters can add some beneficial minerals back after reverse osmosis.


Mineral - Percentage Removed by RO

Comparison Between Alkaline Water and RO Water

One of the biggest differences between these two types of water is their mineral content.

Differences between alkaline water and RO water

The key distinction between alkaline and reverse osmosis (RO) water is their pH levels and mineral content. Typical alkaline water pH ranges from 8-9. Meanwhile, RO filtration removes nearly all minerals, leaving pure H2O with a neutral pH around 6.5. 

Alkaline water often tastes smoother with a full mouthfeel, RO water tastes neutral and lighter. Costs also differ, with alkaline with RO much more expensive than basic under sink RO systems.


Alkaline water vs. RO water: which is healthier?

There is no consensus on whether alkaline or reverse osmosis (RO) water is healthier. Claimed benefits of drinking alkaline water like increased hydration, improved bone health, and reduced acid reflux. However, limited research backs up these claims so far. RO water has the benefit of removing contaminants, but lacks minerals needed for optimal health. The ideal approach may be moderation - lightly remineralized RO water or alkaline water with a pH around 8. Very low and very high mineral levels could both negatively impact health over time. For most people with decent tap water, neither highly filtered nor alkaline water is essential for good health.


Cost comparison: Alkaline water vs. RO system

Compared to alkaline Reverse osmosis systems tend to be more affordable. A basic counter top RO system can cost ₹5,000-15,000 plus ₹2,000 yearly for new filters. In contrast, alkaline ionizers range from ₹15,000 for countertop models up to ₹80,000 for under sink systems. The higher maintenance costs of filters for alkaline systems also adds up over time. For the average Indian household, a simple RO system is the cheaper option for filtered water. However, alkaline pitchers or adding pH drops can mildly alkalize water at a lower cost too.


Published April 19th, 2024 at 19:57 IST