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Reverse Osmosis vs. Distilled Water

A common question we at the BC Team hear is what water filtration system is better? So we’re going to pin two methods together to explain the pros and cons of both. In today’s blog, it’s reverse osmosis vs. distilled water.

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Reverse Osmosis is a popular water filtration method because it can be used to filter your whole home, or a specific sink. It removes contaminants from your water by forcing the water through a membrane. That semi-permeable membrane only allows clean water through — it blocks contaminants and flushes them away down the drain.

Reverse Osmosis can remove:

  • Fluoride

  • Chlorine

  • Chloramine

  • Lead

  • Detergents

  • Pesticides

  • Nitrates

  • Sulfates

It usually works in four stages. The first stage pre-filters the water to strain out sediment, silt, and dirt. This step is essential as the main reverse osmosis membrane is fragile and can be damaged by any harder debris, such as dirt or rocks.

The second stage is the carbon filter, which removes chlorine and other contaminants. This filter helps improve the taste and odor of your water as well.

The third stage is when the water hits the reverse osmosis membrane. This is what removes any additional contaminants that passed through the first two filters.

Finally, your water is moved through a final carbon filter — known as a polishing filter — to further remove any lingering taste or odor.

At the end of the process, your family can enjoy clean water without any worry.

Pros of Reverse Osmosis

One huge positive for reverse osmosis is that it can filter water for your whole house, or just one sink. The choice is yours.

A whole-house Reverse Osmosis system, which is called a POE (point of entry) system, filters water for every sink, shower, and appliance in your home. It is tied to your main water line and is generally installed in your garage.

If your reverse osmosis system is installed under a sink, it filters water that exclusively comes out of that tap. Called a POU system (point of use), these are popular options for kitchens, refrigerators, and ice machines. Top POU systems can produce up to 75 gallons of clean water a day!

Cons of Reverse Osmosis

Unfortunately, whole-house systems may not always be an available option due to the upfront cost, and regular maintenance and service schedules.

Reverse osmosis systems also aren’t 100% efficient. They do flush a small amount of water away with any of the debris and contaminants, meaning they do waste some water.

Maintenance wise, you will have to replace filters and the reverse osmosis membrane regularly.

How Does Distillation Work?

Distillation mimics the natural water cycle to produce clean water. It relies on evaporation instead of filters and membranes (though filters can be added).

It’s quite simple — the contaminated water is heated in a large tank to form steam. The contaminants have a different boiling point than water, therefore they do not evaporate with it. The steam is pure water, which is caught and condensed into pure water.

Distillation is highly effective and can remove all of the following:

  • Bacteria

  • Viruses

  • Pesticides

  • Lead

  • Arsenic

  • Nitrates

  • Chlorine

  • Salt

  • Uranium

Distillation units, or stills, generally consist of a boiling chamber, where the water enters, is heated and vaporized; condensing coils or chamber, where the water is cooled and converted back to liquid water; and a storage tank for purified water

Note: Distillation is not boiling water! Boiling water will kill off the organic impurities in water, but does not remove chemicals or certain bacteria. Distillation produces cleaner water than simply boiling.

Pros of Distillation

Distillation units are usually installed as point-of-use (POU) systems. They are generally placed at the kitchen faucet and used to purify water for drinking, cooking, steam irons, or steam mops. There are also portable units available for those who love camping or outdoor activities.

The water produced through distillation is extremely clean and pure compared to traditional tap water.

Cons of Distillation

Unfortunately, distillation is extremely inefficient. One unit can only produce between 3-11 gallons of clean water per day. Because of this, it can’t be used for a whole home and may not even be enough for one kitchen faucet.

Additionally, distillation often removes all taste from the water. Many with a system notice the water seems flat or bland.

Distillation systems are also costly and may not be worth the investment.

Reverse Osmosis vs. Distilled Water

Let’s put the two side by side for a quick comparison.

Reverse Osmosis:

  • Whole-house or point-of-use

  • Improves taste and odor

  • Removes contaminants

  • Filters require regular maintenance


  • Unbeatable purification

  • Point-of-use only

  • Inefficient

  • Doesn’t produce a lot of clean water

  • Produces flat/bland water

If you need pure and clean water for your whole home, there is no comparison. In the battle of reverse osmosis vs. distilled water, the former takes the cake. But if you need portability, look into a portal distillation system. At the end of the day, the important thing is you have access to clean and fresh water whenever and wherever you need it.

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