RO water filters are massive scams of our generation. A lot of people are not aware that it’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Please observe their adverts very closely. In those, these water companies seem to have genuinely shocked with your lack of common sense, which, unfortunately, has made you drink poison called TAP WATER!! As a solution, they send drinking water experts such as Hema Malini and Sachin Tendulkar to counsel you. And get this., they want you to drink battery grade, lab distilled – H2O!
The fundamental premise of these adverts is fearmongering. They will tell you that consuming tap water can cause an array of medical conditions, screw with the happiness of your kids and elderly. And hence, you would regret till eternity for not having invested in 14 stages UF + UV+ RO+ Taste Enhancer + Alkaline + Copper and what not.
Full disclosure – even I did succumb to this gimmick a few years ago. I did not know that it was a scam during them, and they fooled me. But you know – that’s how scams work!
I had bought one when I moved to my current city. I chose the one which was sold by the lord Sachin Tendulkar. It costed me around 17k for a problem which could have been resolved by a water kettle worth 250 bucks. Anyways, the installation guys tested the water; were appalled by our TDS level 350; congratulated me for having invested in ‘my health’ set TDS for about 20 and left.
Let me take a slight deviation from my story to explain to you what things they lied to me about:
- The utility: RO is designed as a survival instrument rather than household utility. It’s definitely a boon where only water available is very hard/salty. At a regular residence with municipality supplied water, this pretty much useless and harmful. In a gist, most of the households does not need a RO filter, unless they are on a ship (Ahoy Sailor!).
- The Health benefit: They will tell you TDS at any level is very bad for you. Basically, TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) is everything that is dissolved in water, including essential metals & minerals such as Na, Fe, K, Mg, Ca etc. Low TDS water has none of this good stuff, the absence of which will have health consequences, more than another way around.
- Ultrafiltration (UF): The biggest joke is UF filter along with RO. RO can do everything a UF can do and more. They still sold you a UF!
- The standard: They would recommend that TDS should always be set at 25 or less. This is way less than the guidelines provided by the World Health Organization (WHO)
The presence of dissolved solids in water may affect its taste (1). The palatability of drinking-water has been rated by panels of tasters in relation to its TDS level as follows:
excellent, less than 300 mg/litre;
good, between 300 and 600 mg/litre;
fair, between 600 and 900 mg/litre;
poor, between 900 and 1200 mg/litre; and
unacceptable, greater than 1200 mg/litre (1).
Water with extremely low concentrations of TDS may also be unacceptable because of its flat, insipid taste
I could not find a good investigation report from India; but found a Canadian one, have a look.
Okay, back to my story.
After all this research, we called the servicing guy and asked him to set for 250ppm. Again, he was shocked and said something hilarious “Sir, I can set it to 250 – but I cannot guarantee the well-being of your family “. You see that? Suddenly from being a RO water serviceman, he became my health insurance advisor, dietitian, and my grandmother. It followed by a long argument, calling managers etc. Long story short, they don’t like me anymore.
Fast-forward now, I spend my time educating people on RO water purifiers. Its kind of my Karma, giving back to society on lesson learned.
- RO purifiers waste more water than it purifies, sometimes 4 to 8 times. This should not matter in a ship, but for the house, its a criminal waste.
- Government of India is trying to implement a ban on such filtering where TDS is <500. Read the report
- Health is the main reason why you should be worried about low TDS in drinking/cooking water. Due to the absence of expertise, I will refrain from explaining the health issues associated with low TDS.
- My grievances are specific to RO filters, not UV filters.