In the past, the best way for people to get their hands on 100 percent clean, drinking water was to buy a water bottle from the local store. Much has changed from the 1960s onwards as water treatment methods became better and more commonplace than ever before. Today, a simple household that chooses to do so can find the means to clear their tap water with contaminants and harmful microbes.
The trick is ‘reverse osmosis’: a process conducted within special devices that tap directly to the household’s water supply. Reverse osmosis is essentially a form of diffusion or a phenomenon where molecules in an area of low concentration spontaneously migrate to an area of high concentration. In the context of water treatment, this migration takes place using a semipermeable membrane which, in theory, could filter out tiny particles from the water.
Reverse osmosis is unique because it exerts force to one side of the system. Rather than filter out the particulates, this results in a phenomenon where water molecules migrate to the opposite side, thus leaving the undesired substances behind.
The effectiveness of reverse osmosis in treating contaminated water tends to vary, but it can generally be counted on to remove most contaminants from the water supply. As it stands, reverse osmosis is reliable enough to filter out as much as 88 percent of total dissolved solids, 30 percent silver, 40 percent nitrate, and 98 percent of sulfate found in a typical household’s water supply.