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Water Ionizer vs. Reverse Osmosis: What's Best?

Updated: Feb 22

Water is a fundamental element for life and having access to clean and safe water is essential for good health. Two popular methods of water purification are water ionizers and reverse osmosis (RO) systems. Both methods have their pros and cons, they operate on fundamentally different principles and produce water with distinct characteristics.

Reverse osmosis system versus WaterAg water ionizer

We receive a lot of questions, how does WaterAg water ionizer differentiate itself from RO system? We think it would be good to share it with you in one post. Let's compare water ionizers and reverse osmosis systems to help you make an informed decision for your hydration needs.

Understanding Water Ionizers

A water ionizer, also known as an alkaline water machine, is a device that creates alkaline ionized water. It passes tap water through an electrolysis process, as a result splitting tap water into acidic and alkaline water. Alkaline water has a high pH level and is intended for drinking, while acidic water can be used for disinfection and skincare cleaning. Alkaline ionized water with its higher pH and rich with its ionized minerals helps to neutralize acid in the body and promotes a wide range of benefits, such as improved hydration, enhanced energy levels and antioxidant properties. The popularity of alkaline water ionizers continues to grow, driven by positive user experiences and the desire for a proactive approach to overall health and hydration.

Electrolysis process
Electrolysis process

The Reverse Osmosis Process

The reverse osmosis system takes a different approach. It purifies water by forcing it through a semi-permeable membrane. This membrane removes contaminants, dissolved solids, and most minerals. This process produces reverse osmosis water, which is praised for its purity. Reverse osmosis is very popular for its exceptional filtration system, reducing lead, arsenic and other organic compounds. As a result, you get clean and safe purified water that many consider a healthier option.

Reverse Osmosis process
Reverse Osmosis process

Water Quality

Let's compare the produced water first, which type of water is better?

Reverse osmosis water

Reverse osmosis effectively removes a wide range of pollutants, showing great results in water filtration. However, at the same time, it removes very beneficial minerals for your body like calcium and magnesium, leading to a bland taste and the need for mineral supplementation. The demineralization aspect of reverse osmosis water has sparked a debate about its impact on health. Some suggest that the absence of essential minerals might not be ideal for long-term consumption. Calcium, for example, is essential for healthy teeth and bones, muscle contraction, and the nervous system. Important to note, that some reverse osmosis systems actually address this problem and reintroduce these minerals back into the water post-filtration, bringing additional maintenance costs.

Man pouring glass of water from tap with osmosis filter in kitchen.

Alkaline ionized water

Water ionizer removes bad minerals, such as chlorine, sulfur, phosphorus, etc, by separating them in acidic water section. At the same time, water ionizer collects beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the alkaline water section, which can contribute to the taste and water benefits. Its approach mainly focused on drinking water, due to its promising hydration and antioxidant effects.

Man pouring water in the glass pitcher from WaterAg water ionizer
WaterAg water ionizer

Water Ionizer is Multifunctional

Water ionizers can balance the pH of the water to make it alkaline, which may have potential health benefits such as reducing acidity in the body and improving digestion. In contrast, Reverse Osmosis systems do not adjust the pH of the water and may produce acidic water if the system is not properly maintained. In addition to alkaline drinking water, some water ionizers like WaterAg have pre-set to produce water for disinfection, beauty (skin), plants and food. Maybe you want to try an effective method for removing pesticides from your purchased fruits with 11 pH alkaline water? (the results are great) 


Long story short – RO filters remove all minerals from your water, including minerals such as calcium and magnesium. If you use an RO filter system, you will need to add those minerals back in to make your water beneficial to you.


Costs: Investment, Maintenance, and Longevity

When considering a water ionizer for water, or reverse osmosis system, cost is a significant factor. This section examines the financial implications of each option to help you make a budget-friendly choice.

Initial Investment and Installation

The upfront cost of a water ionizer can vary widely, with high-end models reaching into the thousands. These devices are often seen as an investment in one's health, offering to drink alkaline water with any desired alkaline pH at the touch of a button. Installation typically requires minimal plumbing knowledge, unless you purchase a WaterAg water ionizer, that only requires an electrical outlet in creating alkaline water. 

Reverse osmosis systems, while also varying in price, generally fall within a lower initial price range than premium water ionizers. However, the requirement of a professional installation may add to the overall cost of the Reverse osmosis system.

Man installing Reverse osmosis system under the sink

Ongoing Maintenance and Replacement of Water Filters

Maintenance is a crucial consideration for both systems. Alkaline water machines require regular cleaning and occasional replacement of filters to maintain optimal performance. The annual cost of replacement filters is relatively manageable for most households. As an example, WaterAg alkaline machine replacement cartridge cost is $26.50 and it may last you for 6-12 months, depending on water consumption.

Reverse osmosis systems also demand maintenance, including periodic replacement of the pre and post-filters and the semi-permeable membrane. While the membrane typically has a longer lifespan than the filters, the combined cost of maintaining a reverse osmosis system can accumulate over time.

Longevity and Durability

Both water ionizers and reverse osmosis systems are designed for longevity. With proper maintenance, water ionizers can last over a decade, making them a durable option for those committed to alkaline drinking water. Similarly, reverse osmosis systems are built to last, with many units providing upwards of 10 to 15 years of reliable service.


Environmental Impact

When choosing between an alkaline water ionizer and a reverse osmosis system, environmental and practical factors also play a significant role. Water ionizers boast an eco-friendly profile with its minimal waste. In contrast, reverse osmosis systems produce a significant amount of wastewater, which can be wasteful and costly to dispose of. Your water bill will likely be higher due to wasted water from the reverse osmosis process. However, compared to the environmental impact and expense of bottled water, both offer a more eco-friendly and cost-effective solution for long-term access to high-quality drinking water.

Making a Choice: Ionized Alkalinity or Purified Simplicity?

Choosing between a water ionizer machine and a reverse osmosis system comes down to personal preferences, cost, environmental impact and health priorities. If you're drawn to the potential health benefits of drinking alkaline water and prefer water enriched with minerals, an alkaline water ionizer might be the best choice. These machines also allow for pH level customization, offering flexibility in the type of water you consume.

On the other hand, if your priority is removing as many contaminants as possible, a reverse osmosis system will likely serve you better. But you might need to supplement your diet with minerals lost in the RO process.

By weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each, you can choose a system that not only meets your hydration needs but also supports your well-being and aligns with your values. Remember, investing in one of these water systems is an investment in your health and the health of the planet, providing access to clean, safe, and nourishing drinking water for years to come. WaterAg water ionizer is one of the options you may pick. It's a portable device, that doesn't require any plumbing, installation under the sink and can be used straight after the purchase. It is easy and affordable for anyone to maintain. 

Stay tuned for the next sections, where we will delve deeper into FAQs and provide structured data. It will help further guide your decision-making process in choosing the ideal water purification solution for your home. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Is Reverse osmosis water the same as distilled water?

A1: Reverse osmosis (RO) water is created by pushing water through a semi-permeable membrane, while distilled water is made by boiling water into steam and then condensing that steam back into liquid form. While both methods produce high-purity water, reverse osmosis retains some minerals and can be more efficient for household use. Distilled water is mineral-free and often used in medical or laboratory settings where absolute purity is required.

Q2: Does reverse osmosis water lack essential minerals?

A2: Yes, reverse osmosis systems remove most minerals from water, including beneficial ones like calcium and magnesium. Some systems feature remineralization filters to add these minerals back, addressing concerns about mineral intake from water.

Q3: How often do I need to replace filters in a water ionizer or reverse osmosis system?

A3: The frequency of water filter part replacement varies by model and usage but typically ranges from every 6 months to 2 years for water ionizers and every 6 months to 1 year for reverse osmosis systems. As an example, it takes 5 seconds to replace the WaterAg Ionic cartridge and it should be replaced every 6-12 months. Regular maintenance is crucial for both types of systems to ensure optimal water quality. WaterAg provides a cleaner spray to clean the cathode electrode regularly. It will ensure the accurate pH level of alkaline water for years ahead.

Q4: Are there environmental benefits to using a water ionizer or reverse osmosis system over bottled water?

A4: Yes, both systems offer environmental advantages by reducing reliance on plastic bottles, which contribute to pollution and waste. Water ionizers produce minimal waste, while modern reverse osmosis systems are increasingly water-efficient. It makes both of them more sustainable options than bottled water.

Q5: Is alkaline water from a water ionizer safe for everyone to drink?

A5: Alkaline water is generally considered safe for most people. However, individuals with certain health conditions or those taking specific medications should consult with a healthcare provider before making significant changes to their water consumption habits.



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