what is alkaline water

Alkaline water has been a trending topic in recent years. Celebrities from Beyoncé to Miranda Kerr to Tom Brady have all extolled the benefits of alkaline water, and in 2019, the global sales of alkaline water are expected to reach $1 billion.

Many people have heard about alkaline water and the health benefits it is purported to provide. But what is alkaline water, exactly, and what are its health benefits? Below, we’ll explain more about this new trend in hydration.

To understand what alkaline water is, we first have to understand what acids, bases and pH are.

The pH Scale

The pH scale, a negative logarithmic scale, is a measurement of the concentration of positively charged hydrogen ions a substance gives off in water. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. Pure water has a neutral pH of 7. This number means the concentration of hydrogen ions in the water is roughly 10-7 moles per liter, or .0000001 — a tiny number. Because the scale is logarithmic, each number on the scale represents a concentration that is ten times higher than the one below. So a substance with a pH of 5 gives off 10 times as many hydrogen ions a substance with a pH of 6.

Acids and Bases

Acids are on the lower end of the pH scale, and bases on the higher end. If the pH of a solution is lower than 7, that solution is an acid. Both milk, with a pH of between 6 and 7, and earth’s precipitation, which ranges in pH 5 to 7, are slightly acidic. Precipitation is acidic because it has some dissolved carbon dioxide in it. Vinegar, with a pH of about 3, lemon juice, with a pH of about 2, and battery acid, with a pH of about 1, are all extremely acidic. Most acids have corrosive properties — they can be used as cleaners, and they can also eat through other substances when they exist in high enough concentrations.

If the pH of a solution is higher than 7, that solution is a base. Seawater, with a pH of between 7 and 9, is slightly basic. Ammonia, with a pH of about 12, is very basic, and lye, with a pH of about 13, is more basic still. All alkaline substances, which are typically metal salts, are basic. Bases can be used to counteract the effects of acids.

Acidic Water vs. Alkaline Water

Acidic water is low-pH water, typically with a pH below 7, whereas alkaline water is high-pH water, typically with a pH above 7 — usually up to 8 or 9 when sold commercially. Alkaline water also typically contains alkaline substances such as silica or calcium deposits.

When sold commercially, alkaline water can be naturally alkaline — say from an alkaline natural spring — or pure, neutral water can be ionized to become alkaline. During ionization, an electrical current runs through the water and separates the acidic molecules, which have a negative charge, from the alkaline molecules, which have a positive charge. Then the acidic molecules are removed, leaving behind the more alkaline water. Adding alkaline substances such as minerals and salts is a way to enhance the water and make it even more alkaline.

What Are the Health Benefits of Alkaline Water?

Cup being filled at faucet

Though alkaline water is far from a miracle cure for any medical condition, it has several potential benefits.

One thing alkaline water does not do, however, is change the pH of your bodily systems. A healthy body has chemical systems in place to regulate its pH. Your stomach acid and your alkaline pancreas secretions do much of this work. Your kidneys and liver keep the pH of your blood within a very narrow range, between 7.35 and 7.45, because all necessary enzymes are designed to work at a pH of about 7.4. Blood that is too acidic or alkaline is a sign of lung, kidney or liver disease or diabetes.

Even if you ingested nothing but acidic water, the pH of your bodily systems would not change appreciably. And when you ingest alkaline water, it becomes neutralized as your body processes it.

Many alkaline water producers claim that their products improve hydration, promote proper digestion, strengthen bones, boost energy and more:

  • Acid Reflux Reduction: In a laboratory setting, alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 has deactivated pepsin, a digestive enzyme that is found in the stomach and implicated in acid reflux. More research is needed to show whether this same effect takes place outside the laboratory, in the human digestive system.
  • Bone Strengthening: Preliminary studies have found that drinking alkaline water with sodium bicarbonate added to it reduces the concentration of markers of bone breakdown. Some alkaline water may contain silica or a high calcium concentration, both of which would be beneficial for bone health. Further research is necessary to prove these claims. Currently, because of insufficient evidence, the USFDA denies companies the right to claim the benefits of alkaline water for bone health.
  • Increased Longevity: One study also found that mice that drank alkaline water lived longer than mice that drank neutral water, with mortality rates of 88% and 92% after almost two years versus 96% for the control group.
  • Better Exercise Efficiency: A small 100-person study funded by an alkaline water company found that drinking alkaline water after exercising in the heat created a small decrease in blood viscosity. The researchers in this study hypothesized that having thinner blood could help the body take in oxygen more effectively.
  • Improved hydration: Another small study funded by an alkaline water company found that people who drank alkaline water had lower urine outputs compared to people in a control group who drank regular bottled water. Participants in the study reported their own fluid intakes, however, potentially inadvertently altering the results. It’s also not clear that reduced urine output was a direct consequence of better hydration. More research is necessary.

Solutions for Getting Alkaline Water

If you want to try drinking alkaline water for its potential health benefits, you have a few different options:

  • Reverse Osmosis System with an Alkaline Filter: A Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) System uses filters and a semipermeable membrane to remove harmful contaminants and dissolved solids from your drinking water. However, this process can also remove beneficial minerals from the water and can make the R.O. water more acidic. By adding an alkaline water filter to a Reverse Osmosis System, the water once again becomes alkaline.
  • A Microbiological Filter System: A Microbiological Filter System is EPA certified to filter harmful microorganisms like bacteria and viruses out of your drinking water. With a Microbiological Filter System, you don’t need an extra alkaline filter as the water you get from your system is always alkaline.
  • An Acid Neutralizer: If your water has a low pH, it is acidic. You can install an acid neutralizer if the pH of the water in your home is below 6.8. Pinhole leaks in pipes and water-using appliances and blue/green stains are signs that the water in your home has a low pH.

Contact Long’s EcoWater to Get Alkaline Water in Your Home

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Whether you desire alkaline water treatment, want to filter out contaminants like iron or chlorine, need to purify well water or are just looking to pump fresh, clean, great-tasting water into your home, Long’s EcoWater has solutions. We have residential and commercial solutions, both big and small, from water refiners to water softeners to whole-house filtration and purification systems.

Our eco-friendly outlook means that we reuse and recycle water wherever possible. It also means that our water filters, purifiers and softeners use less energy than comparable equipment, so they’re easy on the environment. Contact us today to learn more.