This article is about what you need to know to use the “reverse osmosis with water ionizer” method of making ionized alkaline water.
No matter your reason for choosing to use reverse osmosis filtration with a water ionizer, there are a few things you need to know. More than just mineral content, beyond the RO filtration benefits, no matter your reason for using reverse osmosis filtration with a water ionizer you should find this article helpful.
The information in this article is based on work and research I have done on behalf of customers. In some instances, reverse osmosis was a fixed option. These people needed to know what it would take to make the “reverse osmosis with water ionizer” configurationwork.
Some customers were considering reverse osmosis pre-filtration to ensure the most effective and complete contaminant removal possible. These people needed to understand the pros and cons of using a reverse osmosis filtration system with their water ionizers.
I learned a lot about using water ionizers with an RO system and I wouldn’t know as much about this subject as I do today were it not for some very special customers.
You only need two basic elements to make a water ionizer work. The first is simple. Electricity. Every kitchen and bathroom countertop will have an electrical outlet nearby for plugging in small appliances.
The second element, water, seems simple enough but it’s actually a little more complicated than just “water.”
You need water with sufficient mineral content at a sufficient rate of flow.
If you have some type of whole-house reverse osmosis system, chances are flow rate issues were addressed as part of the system itself. If you are working with a “point of use” reverse osmosis system with a small reserve tank – like most people – then you know the water flows from the reverse osmosis faucet at a significantly slower rate than water that comes straight from the tap.
This can create a problem with your water ionizer’s ability to work properly.
Most water ionizers will have an internal sensor to ensure that the electrodes are not receiving any type of electrical charge if there is no water flowing over them. This prevents overheating and damage to the electrodes.
If you do not have sufficient water pressure to get the water through your water ionizer’s filtration system and on to the electrolysis chamber, your water ionizer is likely to shut off automatically. Some water ionizers rely on water making it into the electrolysis chamber to complete an electrical circuit which “turns on” the unit. If the water is not flowing through at a high enough rate, the unit may not come on to ionize or may only work for a few seconds before shutting down.
If you already have an RO system there is an add-on solution. It’s called a booster pump. It is a small pump “boosts” the rate at which water flows from your RO reserve tank to the ionizer. These are small devices, they typically run between $150 – $250 and you will need to have an electrical outlet nearby to power the pump.
If you do not already have an RO system but are planning to get one to use with your water ionizer, you should make sure a booster pump is included in your RO system package. You should also look for a larger reserve tank. I recommend at least a six gallon reserve tank. Even with a good booster pump, if you’ve only got a two gallon reserve tank you can still have flow issues during high-use times as the tank empties faster than it refills.
Your water must have sufficient mineral content for effective ionization. A good reverse osmosis system will remove 95+% of minerals from your source water. In fact, excess mineral content is one of the reasons some people choose reverse osmosis filtration. The mineral content of their water is so high that it causes damage to plumbing and appliances and removal is the last working option available.
Within the past couple of years, more and more RO systems are being sold with “alkalizers” or “pH balancers” which put some minerals back into the water to improve the taste. Rarely do they supply enough minerals, or the proper balance of minerals, for you to be able to produce good quality ionized alkaline water.
Still, most water ionizer companies are aware that many customers are using RO systems with their water ionizers and have created special “remineralizing prefilters” designed to add sufficient minerals back into the water for proper ionization.
Depending on how good a job your RO system is doing, you may need to replace your remineralizing prefilter as often as once every three to four months – or it could last as long as 12 months. If you’ve just serviced
your RO system and replaced the membranes and any prefilters that work with it, chances are you’re going to go through your mineral filter faster.
The more that is removed from the water, the “hungrier” it becomes. I had one customer that needed to replace her mineral filter in less than 4 months. She had a new RO system and was using the same remineralizing prefilter that several of my other customers were using and they were only replacing the filter cartridge every nine to 12 months.
Plan to test your water every three to four months to ensure you’re remineralizing prefilter hasn’t been sucked clean of the minerals needed for your water ionizer to work properly.
So you plan to use an RO system with your water ionizer for effective contaminant removal. I get it. Everything is being filtered out of the water so the filters that come inside your water ionizer don’t matter, right?
Well, they kinda do.
Every water ionizer will have an internal filtration system. If you’re using an RO prefilter, that’s great. There shouldn’t be much left in the water for your water ionizer’s filtration system to remove. Still, those filters need to be replaced at least once a year.
The filters in some water ionizers have an electrode that connects directly to the “brain” of the machine, counting down the remaining life of the filter based on the amount of water that has been filtered. Once that electrode counts all the way down, the water ionizer will stop working until the filter has been replaced.
Another reason you will still need to maintain the filters inside your water ionizer is “freshness.” The filters inside a water ionizer don’t just filter out contaminants. They prevent bacteria from forming in the damp darkness of the filter media. No matter how much you use your water ionizer, once the filter media is saturated, the anti-bacterial properties start working and they keep on working until they have nothing left to give.
If the filters are not changed at least once a year, you may start noticing a foul smell or taste in the water. Reverse osmosis or not, plan on changing the filters inside your water ionizer at least once a year.
If you decide to purchase a reverse osmosis system to use with your water ionizer I suggest getting that RO system from a company that sells them to work with water ionizers. There are a couple of options available out there.
AlkaViva has an RO system that includes a booster pump and remineralizer. The booster pump ensures that you have sufficient water pressure for use with your water ionizer. Their remineralizer is a proprietary blend minerals developed specifically for creating the proper mineral balance for ionization.
Chanson USA developed a Nano-Filtration system. They have two versions – one is “powered” and requires an electrical outlet, the other is non-electric and comes with a 3+ gallon storage tank.
Chanson’s nano filtration system passes water through a .0001 micron membrane which removes up to 50% of the mineral content and effectively removes or reduces other common contaminants that are missed by traditional prefiltration options.
If you’re still shopping for the right water ionizer and are likely to use it with an RO system, I suggest looking at some of the models that offer internal remineralizing cartridges. This will reduce the filter bulk under your counter. It can also save you a little money.
You’re going to have to add minerals back into the water and you’re going to have to maintain the filters inside your water ionizer – having an internal mineral filter option addresses both of these. Just be aware that, depending on your RO system, you may have to replace those internal mineral filters more often than the machine’s filter life indicator may tell you.
If you don’t already have an RO system but are looking for one to use with a water ionizer, I recommend the RO system bundle from AlkaViva or going with Chanson’s Nano Filtration system. Both of these are designed to work with a water ionizer.
AlkaViva’s system includes a remineralizing filter. Chanson’s Nano Filtration System doesn’t need a remineralizer unless you go with their non-electric Nano system, which has an option to add a remineralizer.
Another important thing to consider when using reverse osmosis filtration with a water ionizer is the ongoing maintenance cost. I’ll cover the cost of maintaining a “reverse osmosis filtration with water ionizer” system in a separate article.
Do your research, make sure that reverse osmosis filtration with your water ionizer is really worth the extra expense and cabinet space. Remember, you’re going to have the RO filtration, the storage tank and the remineralizing prefilter all sitting in a cabinet under your sink.
If reverse osmosis filtration is a “must have” for you, just take the steps necessary to ensure you have sufficient water pressure coming from the RO system and a good remineralizer so that you can enjoy the full benefits of owning a water ionizer.