Since we got our start way back in 2010, interest in reverse osmosis systems as a filtration method in homes has consistently increased. For some it’s because they are putting a water softener in their home and the only way to remove the added salt is with a reverse osmosis system. For others, it’s either because the quality of our drinking water has gotten worse or our level of trust in others to keep that water safe has declined.
Whatever the reason, more people are adding reverse osmosis into their homes. Of those people though, only a small percentage think about how reverse osmosis also removes the naturally occurring minerals we need in our water before they make the purchase and install. That puts them into a bit of a bind.
They’ve made the water cleaner, but not healthy. Maybe worse initially, they’ve replaced the nasty taste of chlorine with the stale taste of RO water. Which puts them on the search for a way to add minerals back into their water. If that’s you, here are the 5 leading ways to do so. We’ve detailed each below with the pluses and minuses of each approach.
Option 1. Cheap calcium filtersThis is BY FAR the most common way we’ve seen the problem addressed and it’s what all the big name companies who sell water softeners and reverse osmosis systems advise. Many of the ROs you’ll find on Amazon or other retailers will have these added as an additional “stage” to their RO.
You can recognize these by their ingredients. Calcite, sometimes called calcium carbonate. This type of calcium is extremely cheap to manufacturer and makes it the preferred choice in a wide range of applications. You’ll find them in industrial applications, water treatment plants, and any place where a low pH will cause issues with the pipes and plumbing in a facility. It dissolves quickly and they do a great job making the water less aggressive and destructive.
But they aren’t made with human plumbing in mind.
The upside to these is the price tag as you can often find them for $30-40. If you do a quick TDS test after installing, you’ll see an increase in PPM as well. So they do work in that respect.
But the goal of adding minerals into your drinking water isn’t to keep it from degrading the RO storage tank or protecting the home’s plumbing. It’s to increase your hydration, improve the taste and give your body a form of minerals it can utilize. A form and variety that isn’t just cheap calcium.
Calcite filters are the equivalent of the cheapest vitamin you can find. If your home has low pH water and you’re worried about the copper plumbing, then by all means, use the calcite in a whole-home cartridge. It works great for that. But as an add on to your RO right before the water hits your glass?
Option 2. Mineral dropsThese have become more popular the last few years and they work well. Many of them add a variety of minerals, not just calcium, and they are very convenient to add to a glass of water.
At least if it’s only 1, maybe 2 people, utilizing them. More than that and you’ll quickly find you’re spending $50+ a month on bottles of drops. You’ll also notice that you’ll be selective where you use them. They’ll be saved for your glass of drinking water only. They won’t be used when making tea, filling up the coffee carafe or a pot of soup, etc and if you’ve not noticed yet, stale RO water makes for an awful cup of coffee.
We recommend these to keep in a purse or a suitcase when traveling. Grab a bottle of water at the store and add a couple drops. The flavor isn't too noticeable. They work great for those needs and are more like a supplement than just balancing the water out. Heck, even better would be a single serving powdered green like these as they offer a wider range of benefits for roughly the same cost.
But at larger volumes and for more people they don’t make a lot of sense.
Option 3. Salt and/or baking soda
We see this all the time via questions in the inbox. It's the cheap DIY approach. In a lot of aspects, these are very similar to the drops above. They have their place and when used appropriately, can be effective. At most though we recommend using this in 1-2 glasses a day max. They don’t make for a very flavorful glass of water and in the case of baking soda, too much can have you urgently running to the bathroom with some explosive results.
A glass of warm water with a small amount of high quality mineral salt and/or baking soda can be a great way to start the day, but all day is not recommended.
Option 4. Alkaline pitchersThese are good options with a couple of caveats. First, most of these pitchers are more about increasing the pH of the water (and for some the ionization/antioxidant levels as well) than they are adding minerals. Secondly, they are meant to be used with tap water and don’t have a lot of space in the filter cartridge for added minerals. They have to remove chlorine and bad tastes and therefore have at least half of the filter full of carbon. The other half is typically a ceramic ball of some sort that boost the pH via reaction with water.
With that said, you won’t often see a significant increase in TDS with these pitchers. They are relying on the source tap water to provide those levels.
You’ll also find they aren’t real easy to fill up from your RO faucet because of how tall they are verses the faucet. You’ll have to spin the faucet and put the pitcher in the sink, or fill up a glass at a time and dump it in the reservoir.
If money is an issue (although look at replacement filters in that assessment) or you’re in a pinch, they help, just not as much as our last option.
Option 5. The REMINThis is by far the most recommended and full disclosure, it’s what we sell and it’s what all of us at Vitev use in our homes with our MAXX RO systems. We designed this for a reason.
The REMIN provides a mix of calcium, potassium, magnesium and potassium in our water. The 4 big alkaline minerals. We use the only eco-safe version of coral calcium available and it’s from a small US company. They harvest in an above the sea method (think mowing your grass) in the carribean. It’s made up of 74 trace minerals all available to see here.
In addition to the added TDS, it also increases the pH AND the antioxidant level of the water. You’ll see lots of bubbles of molecular hydrogen in the water that help protect us from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.
It can be installed right after the membrane (preferred) or directly after the tank and will therefore work with all ROs.
All of the water that comes out of the tap will be treated, not individual glasses. So all of your cooking and most importantly coffee will have a better and richer taste.
It’s recommended replacement is annually, so you’ll spend about $10 a month to provide better water for everyone in the family. If you have more than 5 in the family, you might have to replace it more frequently, but that’s the case with everything in a large family.
Lastly, to replace it, it comes with quick connects installed at each end. You’ll simply turn off the supply valve and the tank valve, remove the tubing from each end and plug in the new REMIN. FIlter changes take about 1 minute.
There is no better way to put minerals back into your RO water and make it not only clean, but healthy. If you have any questions, we’re also only a phone call or email away. We all use this same recipe in our homes and trust it with our families. We can talk from experience and have thousands of customers just like you we’ve helped.
The bottom line is no one should be drinking stale, demineralized water, the choice of how you choose to fix that though is a bit more complicated. All but the cheap calcium filters are viable options, the choice comes down to convenience, price and how good you want your water (and everything made with that water).