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Sweetwater's Custom

Reverse Osmosis System


 Sweetwater's custom reverse osmosis system


Sweetwater's Custom Reverse Osmosis System is designed to provide high purity water


There are situations where the appropriate drinking water treatment consists of reverse osmosis. This is generally due to the presence of pharmaceuticals, radioactive metals, nitrates, arsenic, fluoride, or high levels of total dissolves solids (minerals, aka tds). These contaminants can only be removed by the use of a reverse osmosis system.

I start with a 5 stage NSF certified reverse osmosis system manufactured by Watts Water. I modify this by adding a KDF/catalytic carbon filter to oxidize arsenic 3 and remove chloramine and a calcite filter after the system to raise pH and improve taste. The tds of the reverse osmosis water will be about 30, similar to mountain water in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, or NYC.

Reverse Osmosis is poorly understood by most consumers and some individuals feel the need to say negative things about the technology. Two issues stand out:

Doesn't a reverse osmosis system 'waste' water?

This is a very human centric view. We only find water to be used efficiently when we pee in it. Reverse Osmosis systems do use more water than simple water filters and have a waste stream. The waste stream cleans the membrane while purified water is being produced. The following illustration shows the technology:


Some people object to the use of reverse osmosis systems due to the alleged water 'waste'. My view is that the water is used to provide you with highly purified water for drinking and so it is not wasted anymore than any other water you may use. Your choice is often to either purify the water or drink extremely harmful contaminants. You can read more here. There are tools, such as pumps you can use to reduce the waste water stream but I generally recommend against buying them - because plumbers often install them incorrectly and they add to the complexity of a system that is otherwise pretty simple and easily maintained by a homeowner/consumer.


The second objection relates to the first one. That is, that reverse osmosis water contains no minerals and drinking it will strip minerals from your body. This is nonsense. The body does not work this way. Reverse osmosis systems do remove minerals from water, along with dangerous contaminants. This will result is a sharp, crisp tasting water with low pH. I counter this objection with the addition of a calcite filter that raises the pH, adds alkalinity and a bit of calcium. Minerals in water do not matter. Just think for a minute about the citeis I mentioned above; Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Portland, and Denver all have extremely low levels of minerals and there are no health concerns in those cities that are related to their water.


Still others claim that reverse osmosis water is 'dead'. This is more nonsense. There is no such thing as dead water. Please read my comments on this topic here.


In fact, Sweetwater's customized product provides water with a high level of purity. It eliminates contaminants from your water that ordinary water filters do not. In many situations reverse osmosis water is your only option: either that or continue to drink contaminants in your water that may lead to cancer or other cellular disorders. Please take a moment to read this article about the dangers of drinking water containing pharmaceuticals. Be sure to look at the European studies which show these to affect cell function. Pharmaceuticals in drinking water are not regulated in the United States yet. And they are present in your water anytime your water source is a river with cities upstream.

Sweetwater's custom reverse osmosis system consists of a total of six stages, though I often refer to it as five stages plus calcite filter. This is because almost everyone asks about pH or remineralizing filters so by mentioning it separately I hope to point out that it is included. The stages are as follows:

5 micron sediment filter - removes dirt from pipes

KDF/catalytic carbon - creates an antibacterial environment, oxidizes arsenic 3, and removes chloramine

Coconut carbon block - removes the remaining chlorine and chlorine byproducts

reverse osmosis membrane - this is the actual reverse osmosis process. It removes numerous impurities including metals, nitrates, pharmaceuticals, etc.

The water then goes in to a storage tank which holds up to 3.2 gallons. After leaving the storage tank:

Inline carbon filter - to remove impurities and improve taste

Calcite filter - to raise pH and improve taste

Read my comments on my competitors 'remineralizing filters'.

Sweetwater's custom reverse osmosis system sells for $485 plus $46 shipping.

You may request the specifications for the reverse osmosis system I sell here:

 Send me your reverse osmosis specifications and pricing


Here are two examples of mounting options for Sweetwater's custom reverse osmosis system. The first photo shows a typical under sink installation:



This next photos shows an installation in the basement just below the kitchen sink:


If you're wondering whether you need a reverse osmosis system or a simple water filter stat by looking at your local water report. The contaminants i've mentioned above can only be removed using a reverse osmosis system.


Request my reverse osmosis system specifications and pricing here


Buy Now

There are NO REFUNDS for online sales. If you have a question, email for specifications or call 

My name is James P McMahon and I bring healthy water to people one family at a time


ecologist James P McMahon




9 AM - 6 PM Mountain Time

Monday thru Friday


Sweetwater's Kitchen Defender®

Water Filter

3 stage Kitchen Defender® water filter


Are you looking for a water filter that is effective at removing the contaminants in your city water? 

Sweetwater's Kitchen Defender water filter is designed to remove the contaminants added by public utilities to otherwise reasonably good water. The 3 stage system will remove chlorine, chloramine and their carcinogenic byproducts, the trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids (look for these in  your local water report), pesticides and other volatile organic compounds (vocs).

Cities add chlorine to water in order to eliminate water borne diseases. When chlorine interacts with organic material in the water (leaves, debris, etc.) it creates a group of carcinogenic compounds known as the trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAA5). An effective filter will remove these carcinogens as well as chlorine. Learn how dangerous these are here.

Some cities are now adding chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, in order to reduce the level of the regulated byproducts (THMs and HAA5s). Unfortunately chloramine creates its own byproducts which are equally toxic but currently unregulated (and therefore not listed in your local water report which you can find here). In any case if your goal is to drink water free of carcinogens then you need a filter that is designed to remove all of them, not just chlorine. Most companies brag about their filter's ability to remove chlorine and fail to mention these other harmful compounds. You need more carbon to remove these chemicals which is why I use a 3 stage system. Some people wonder about having two stages of carbon but I am using different types of carbon in each stage and they are performing different functions. You can read more about this below in my description of each stage.

Many cities also add fluoride. Unless you want to drink fluoride you want to look for a product that claims to remove or reduce fluoride. This metal is difficult to remove and effectiveness can be limited by other characteristics of your water.

Generally unlisted in a water report will be other chemicals added by cities generically refered to as coagulants. These can contain sodium, alumina, ammonia or other chemicals which they will not mention specifically.

The Kitchen Defender water filter is designed to remove these chemicals while leaving in minerals and having no affect on the natural physical characteristics of the water. Physical characteristics include mineral content, alkalinity, hardness, and minerals.

Examples of locations where the Kitchen Defender is ideally suited would be Seattle, San Francisco and East Bay, Portland, Boston, and New York City. Such locations have protected water supplies which are renewed by rain and melted snow. We can check your local water report to see if you can use the Kitchen Defender where you live.

The Kitchen Defender does not remove contaminants such as nitrates, pharmaceuticals, radioactive metals, or high levels of dissolved solids (aka minerals or tds). If your water contains these contaminants you need to use Sweetwater's custom reverse osmosis system which you can see here.

The Kitchen Defender is an effective water filter because it consists of three stages and four technologies as follows:

Stage 1: An alumina oxide filter intended to remove (or reduce) fluoride. It will also reduce arsenic and barium if present. Fluoride is a difficult metal to remove and actual results will depend on factors beyond your control, including the presence of bicarbonate, as well as pH, water temperature, and flow rate.

Stage 2: starts with one pound of high quality KDF® media. KDF consists of copper and zinc granules which create a tiny electrical charge when in solution (water). This electrical charge creates an anti bacterial environment within the filter system. I do this because bacteria tends to build up on granular carbon surfaces. KDF also eliminates selected heavy metals and creates an oxidation/reduction reaction which ionizes the water. The alumina oxide filter does not release aluminum, in case you're wondering, but if it did the KDF would pick it up.

Also in stage 2 is granular catalytic carbon. This is the ONLY carbon that will remove chloramine. GAC filters do not remove chloramine. Catalytic carbon is the most effective carbon on the market.

Stage 3: consists of a coconut carbon filter with 5 micron filtration. This sweetens the taste of the water by polishing it, by that I mean removing any remaining chlorine and chlorine byproducts or pesticides.

Together these combine in a synergistic effect to create the most effective water filter on the market today. Bar none. Customers tell me that their water tastes sweet and delicious. I am quite proud of what I have developed.

Don't be Fooled!

Most single stage and refrigerator water filters only remove chlorine. Water filters are only tested for the removal of chlorine and companies touting thier effectiveness will talk about chlorine removal. Removing chlorine will make the water taste better but it will not make the water healthy to drink.

The Kitchen Defender water filter comes in a kit ready to assemble:


 Sweetwater's Kitchen Defender with optional UV light

The system also includes its own separate faucet as treated water is delivered to a drinking water faucet that is separate from your regular kitchen faucet.

There are two faucet options:

 The faucet on the right is standard and on the left is an upgrade version.

The Kitchen Defender fits under your sink, connects to your cold water supply and delivers filtered water it's own designated faucet. You can see it here:

Kitchen Defender water filter


The under sink dimensions are 17" long, 16" tall, and 6" wide and easily fits under any sink.

For detailed specifications and pricing please request them here:

Yes! Send me your Kitchen Defender specifications

The Kitchen Defender water filter sells for $360, plus $24 shipping.


Buy Now

There are no returns for online purchases. When in doubt call me first

When choosing a water filter to treat city water with chlorine or chloramine and fluoride, the Kitchen Defender is an excellent choice. It is reasonably priced and effective at removing the contaminants added by cities in their attempt to protect you. The Kitchen Defender is far more effective than single stage filters which may remove chlorine and make the water taste better but they will not remove the other carcinogens in city water, including the trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, both of which require more contact time with the filter media (carbon) to acheive removal.

Request my specifications today and you'll be quite please with the results.

My name is James P McMahon

and I provide healthy water one family at a time

All orders are by phone


9 AM - 6 PM, Mountain Time

Monday thru Friday



Only natural, only the best



My Bottled Water Review

This is a list of the bottled water I would personally choose to drink when traveling.

First and foremost I recommend that you drink bottled water that comes from the region in which you live.  This eliminates excessive energy costs associated with transportation.

Next, I recommend natural spring water that has certain physical characteristics that I think are healthy.  To compile this list I have reviewed each of the company’s water quality analyses and looked for contaminants I would be concerned about.  Absent these, I look at pH, which in my view would ideally be 7.2 or higher (up to a point) and total dissolved solids (TDS) which in my view should be between 30 and 220.

Finally, if you can find a local spring water packaged in glass then I think that is better than plastic.  The benefit of plastic and the reason it has become so common is that it lightens the payload of the trucks that move the product around, thus saving transportation energy.  And it doesn’t break.  Still, glass won’t leach chemicals into your water.  Plastic might.  Pthalates and Bisphenol-A may leach from plastic bottles.  These contaminants should be taken seriously and drinking water from plastic bottles should be limited. To be on the safe side, keep any water bottled in plastic out of the heat.  In my view, low pH increases the likelihood of leaching.

There are numerous criticisms of bottled water and in particular water bottled in plastic.  I think that bottled water has an appropriate role when traveling and in a few other instances.  These suggestions are not meant as an endorsement of bottled water or to belittle the criticism, though some of the criticisms are exaggerated or biased.  Drinking bottled water is a lot better for you than drinking soft drinks.

The following are spring waters that I recommend you drink when traveling:


Northeast –


Summit Spring – Natural Maine Spring Water – apparently this water is untreated in any way.  The test results show a pH of 6, which is low, and a tds of 59.


Poland Spring Natural Spring Water, owned by Nestle’, bottled from springs in Maine. pH may be acidic to slightly alkaline. TDS is low.



East and Southeast –


Deer Park Spring Water, owned by Nestle’, was originally bottled from a spring in Deer Park, MD, but is now bottled from springs ranging from Maine to Florida and Tennessee.  pH is acidic to alkaline. TDS is good. Nitrates are marginal in one or more of the sources.





Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water, owned by Nestle’, bottled from 3 springs in Florida. pH is alkaline. Tds is good.  Nitrates are marginal at 2.1 in one of the sources.



South – Georgia and Alabama


Springtime Artesian Water – apparently still a relatively small bottled water company, Southern Beverage Packers, Inc. in Appling, Georgia, bottled from ‘the deep crystalline rock aquifer’ in the Appalachian Foothills.  They provided me a test (via snail mail) which shows a pH of 6.5 and tds of 120.  Traces of fluoride, manganese, and barium.



South/Midwest –


Mountain Valley Spring Water – bottled in glass, originates from springs in Arkansas. pH is alkaline (8) with a tds of 220. pH is a tad high.

Based on their water quality report and glass packaging they would receive my highest rating.


Ice Mountain Spring Water – originates in a variety of springs in MI, PA, MD, and TN.  pH varies from acidic at 6.2 to alkaline at 8.2. TDS varies from 40 to 230.  These characteristics are all acceptable although it would be nice to have a specific report for each local source.



Upper Midwest –


Arctic Sol – originates from springs in Jackson County, MI.  A family owned business. pH is 7.2 and tds is 320 (somewhat high).   More info at:



Rocky Mountain States –


Biota Colorado Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water, sourced from a spring outside of Ouray, Colorado. pH is 7.3, TDS is 200, calcium and sulfates are a tad high but Biota gets my highest rating.


Eldorado Natural Spring Water, sourced from a spring in Elodorado Canyon outside of Denver, pH of 7.2, TDS of 88, would qualify this water for my highest rating except that it is bottled in plastic.


AquaVista - owned by Aqua Vista Bottling Company in Worland WY. Water is from an artesion well at the base of the Big Horn Mountains. I'd seen a water report in the past that made me decide to add it to this list but I do not find it now on their website.





Ozarka Spring Water, now owned by Nestle’, bottled from a number of springs in east Texas. pH is low, tds is good, nitrates are borderline at 2.0 in some of these sources.



California –


Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, owned by Nestle’, originally bottled from springs in the San Bernadino mountains, but now sourcing from numerous springs in California. pH is slightly acidic to alkaline and TDS ranges from low to 260, which is slightly high.    


Northwest -


Earth H2O, owned by Sweetwater Co Inc, a small business based in Culver, OR. Water is bottled from Opal Springs. pH is 8.2, so alkaline, and TDS is 100. Distribution region is the Northwest. The water is in 100% recycled PET bottles that we produce here at Earth2o.



Water reports for bottled waters by Nestle’:



Notes to the Reader:


I have not been paid to develop this list.  The Nestle’ company owns a number of the bottled waters I recommend due to their having purchased independent brands over the years.  While this is unfortunate it has nothing to do with the quality of the water and therefore has not influenced my selection.

Another company, DS Waters, has also been buying up local spring water companies. Unfortunately I’ve called this company at least a half dozen times and can only reach a salesman.  They have one generic report for all of their bottled water and are apparently incapable of providing greater detail. Therefore I am unable to recommend any of their brands even though some might be good.

The idea of bottled water has been criticized heavily by some environmental groups including Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  Both of these groups exaggerate greatly the alleged dangers of drinking bottled water and have really scared the public into thinking it is dangerous.  Bottled water is rigorously tested and generally safer to drink than tap water, which is carcinogenic.

Drinking bottled water is expensive both economically and environmentally.  I only drink bottled water when I travel and then only when I don’t take my filtered water from home with me.  It is for this reason that I have provided you with this brief guide on the waters I would select myself.

There are numerous bottled waters.  If a particular brand is not on this list, then I do not recommend that you buy it.  If you know of a brand that you think should be on the list you can email me the link to its water quality report and I’ll consider adding it unless I’ve already considered it but I don't have time to respond to individual queries about bottled water. In my view the best water is appropriately filtered water from your tap. 

Here is a more detailed description of the differences between various types of bottled water. I use these criteria in determining what I recommend:


Which Bottled Water Is The Best?

Buy your stainless steel water bottle here:

Now you can carry your filtered water with you whereever you go.

20 ounce stainless steel water bottle with sports cap

and Sweetwater LLC logo: $12. plus shipping ($13 for one or up to five)


 Sweetwater's Stainless Steel Water Bottle



Limit of 5 per customer


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Homepage Last updated: 2013, January 16

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Home Water Purification Systems – designed by ecologist James P McMahon to provide healthy water for your family
Sweetwater Product Reviews
About Jim
Which Bottled Water Is The Best?
What can I do to make my tap water healthy?
Best Water Filter - Which Water Filter Is The Best?
How Important Are Minerals in Drinking Water
The dangers of alkaline water ionizers
Water Purification Systems - Water Purifiers - Water Filtration designed by ecologist James P McMahon
Urban Defender Whole House Water Filter designed by ecologist James P McMahon
Kitchen Water Filter and Water Purifier designed by ecologist James P McMahon
Commercial Water Purification Systems - Water Purification Systems for Business
Revitalized Water - Natural Energized Vortex Water - Original Water Revitalizer
Water Quality Report - Water Report
Whole House Water Filter Comparison
Well Water Purification Systems - Well Water Treatment - Well Water Filtration - designed by ecologist James P McMahon
Iron Removal Systems - Remove Iron From Well Water - Iron Water Filter
Arsenic Removal Systems by Sweetwater, LLC - Remove Arsenic in Drinking Water
Disinfecting a Contaminated Well
Whole House Reverse Osmosis by Sweetwater LLC
Well Water Test Kits - Well Water Testing by ecologist James P McMahon
Rainwater Filtration and Rainwater Purification by ecologist James P McMahon
Indoor Air Purifiers by Sweeetwater LLC
Five Steps to Healthy Water
Purchase Ecologist James P McMahon's Ultimate Guide To Selecting the Perfect Water Treatment System
Customer Review of Sweetwater LLC
Urban Defender Product Reviews
Kitchen Defender Product Reviews
Reverse Osmosis Product Reviews
Whole House Product Reviews
Air Purification Product Reviews
Custom Treatment Product Reviews
Misc Product Reviews
James P McMahon, Ecologist, Owner of Sweetwater, LLC
Biography of James P McMahon
Resume of James P McMahon
Closing The Loop - Reflections on Recycling, an Idea Gone Astray
home_page_reviews/ 1 pages
Home Page Reviews
blog/ 1 pages
Sweetwater Product Reviews
resources/ 1 pages
The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman
water_purification_systems/ 1 pages
Fluoride Filter designed by ecologist James P McMahon
well_water/ 2 pages
Remove Nitrates From Water
Radon Aeration System
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