You’ve probably heard about alkaline water and how it’s better than tap water or typical bottled water.
But you may wonder…
In this article, we’ll tackle all these and everything else you need to know about alkaline water.
It has been one of the most trending topics in recent years, especially in the bottled water industry with proponents claiming it has many health benefits as well as disease-fighting properties.
If you are not yet aware of this or wondering what’s the buzz about it, you are in the right place. Keep reading to find out more.
What is alkaline water?
Alkaline water is water that contains alkali minerals (alkaline) which produce hydroxide ions when they are dissolved in the water. The hydroxide ions make the pH level of water higher than 7 by reducing the hydrogen ion molar concentration in water to lower than 10-7((-log(H+))<10-7M).
Water is a combination of hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH-) ions which form the H2O formula. The number of (H+) and (OH-) ions are equal in pure water (neutral).
Alkaline water falls in the basic category because it has a lower hydrogen ion concentration and a pH greater than 7.
But, what is actually alkaline?
Alkaline only comes from alkali minerals when they are dissolved in the water to produce hydroxide ions (OH-)
Alkali refers to ionic compounds that contain alkali metals such as sodium (Na), potassium (K), lithium (Li), rubidium (Rb), cesium (Cs), and francium (Fr) which form hydroxide ions (OH-) when dissolved in water. It reduces hydrogen ions (H+) concentration and raises the pH of water.
If there are no hydroxide ions (OH-) created in the water, then it’s not alkaline. If there are OH- ions created, but the hydrogen ion molar concentration is not lower than 10-7, then the water is also not alkaline.
The pH of alkaline water?
The pH of alkaline water is greater than 7. It usually falls between 8 or 9, and even some bottled alkaline water in the market is often advertised to have a pH of 9.5 or greater.
Water with a pH of 10 or higher usually has an unpleasant smell and taste. They are not ideal for drinking as they exceed the recommended range of pH which is 6.5 to 8.5.
Alkaline vs. Basic
According to the Bronsted-Lowry definition, basically refers to any substance that’s able to reduce the hydrogen ion concentration in water and increase its pH – also known as a base.
They are usually metal oxides or metal hydroxides. Metal carbonates and metal hydrogen carbonates are also considered basic.
Alkaline solutions are also known as basic. However, while the terms alkaline and basic are often used interchangeably, they don’t have the same meaning, that is, alkalis are bases but not all bases are alkaline.
The difference is that alkalis are bases that are soluble, or can dissolve in water to form alkaline solutions.
They produce hydroxide ions (OH-) once dissolved in water. On the other hand, many bases (such as copper oxide) are insoluble or don’t dissolve in water, thereby they are not alkaline and should only be referred to as basic.
- Sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are bases, and also they are alkali metal salts and are soluble in water, hence they are alkalis.
- Calcium oxide and magnesium hydroxide are bases. They are also salts of alkaline earth metals but they are not soluble in water hence they are not alkalis.
- Ammonia is also a base and it’s soluble in water. However, it’s not a salt hence it’s not an alkali.
So, we can say that for a substance to be alkaline/alkali:
- It must dissolve in water
- It must be a salt of alkali metal or alkaline earth metal
- It must produce hydroxide ions (OH-) in the water (or the aqueous medium)
Alkaline Water vs. Hard Water
Alkaline water and hard water are closely related. Hard water has high amounts of dissolved alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium.
These alkaline minerals are commonly present in hard water as mineral carbonates like calcium carbonates and magnesium carbonates which usually give it an alkaline pH.
On the other end, the most common minerals present in alkaline water are calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They are the same alkaline minerals found in hard water but they dissolve in water to form hydroxides.
Therefore, hard water rich in carbonates of these minerals can also be considered to be alkaline water provided the pH is greater than 7.
However, it’s not exactly like alkaline water because of the minerals (alkali metal and alkaline earth metals) found in alkaline water which form mineral hydroxides.
Alkalinity of Water
The alkalinity of water or a solution is the quantitative capacity of that solution to buffer or neutralize acids. In other words, alkalinity is a measurement of water’s ability or capacity to resist changes in pH upon adding small amounts of either acids or bases.
In most waters, alkalinity is caused by the buffering bases which are primarily bicarbonate (HCO3–) and carbonate (CO32-) ions. These ions serve as the buffers in water.
Buffers are solutions to which acids can be added without resulting in a change in the concentration of available hydrogen ions (H+) appreciably. They buffer the water against abrupt changes in pH.
They do this by releasing hydrogen ions (H+) when the water is basic and absorbing the excess hydrogen ions (H+) when it’s acidic thus maintaining a fairly stable pH level.
Water with a high level of alkalinity contains higher levels of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is able to decrease the water’s acidity and protect it from fluctuations in pH.
To put it simply, water with high alkalinity contains higher levels of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), thereby, it will not experience much change in its acidity, for example, when acidic water, like an acid spill or acid rain, is introduced into it.
One thing to note is that alkalinity doesn’t refer to alkalis the way alkaline does. Alkalinity is a quantitative measurement of water’s or a solution’s ability to neutralize an acid or to resist changes in pH while alkaline (alkalis) refers to water or a solution with a pH greater than 7.
Alkalinity is generally expressed in units of mg/L (milligrams per liter) or meq/L (milliequivalents per liter). When in mg/L, the measurements refer to the bicarbonate (HCO3–), carbonate (CO32-), or calcium carbonate (CaCO3) concentrations.
Alkaline Water Sources
In general, there are two sources of alkaline water – Natural and Man-made
Natural Alkaline Water Source
The first one is natural sources which include alkaline lakes (soda lakes), streams, aquifers, and artesian wells.
Alkaline lakes have high concentrations of dissolved salts (carbonate salts), usually sodium carbonate and other related salt complexes which give rise to their alkalinity. They typically tend to have a pH value of 9 to 12.
Natural alkaline water or “naturally alkalinized water”, can also occur from springs. In this case, as water passes through a spring/stream, it flows and rubs against rocks where it naturally picks up and absorbs various alkaline minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
Their presence of these minerals in the spring water increases its pH hence making it naturally alkaline. Unlike alkaline lakes, alkaline water from springs usually has a pH of 8 or 8.5, which is healthier for our bodies compared to alkaline water found in alkaline lakes.
Man-made Alkaline Water
The second source of alkaline water is from several different man-made or artificial processes like through the use of a mineral filter (alkaline filter), ionization process, or bottled alkaline water.
The mineral filter, it’s an alkaline remineralization filter containing mineral stones that restore alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium to water hence raising its pH and making it alkaline.
The ionization technique involves passing tap water through a machine called a water ionizer which is able to raise the pH of the tap water to makes it more alkaline. These machines can raise the pH of water from 7 to extreme levels of 12 or even 13.
Bottled alkaline water, on the other hand, is manufactured by companies using either a special machine that changes the chemical makeup of water or adding nutrients to the water in order to change its pH. Bottled alkaline water typically has a pH level of above 7.
Alkaline Water Benefits
Alkaline water consists of four major essential minerals which are beneficial to the overall health of our bodies:
- Calcium – an important mineral for bone health plus heart, nerve and muscle function
- Magnesium – essential for over 300 biochemical reactions that take place in the body and also help turn food into energy
- Sodium – helps regulate blood pressure and volume as well as supports nerve/muscle function
- Potassium – a type of electrolyte that’s quite essential for muscle function and also promotes healthy digestion.
According to claims from various proponents of alkaline water, there are a few health benefits associated with drinking alkaline water. While these claims are notable, there’s still a lack of proven scientific research to ascertain them.
However, several studies suggest that drinking alkaline water might somewhat be helpful for certain conditions. These benefits include:
Can Soothe Acid Reflux
Acid reflux occurs when the stomach’s contents (which are acidic) splash back up the esophagus (food pipe). When it keeps happening for a long period, this condition can cause damage and as well lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.
While drinking lots of water is a good idea in general if you have acid reflux, a study published in 2012 looked at the possibility of alkaline water being a supplement treatment for acid reflux disease.
It found that, unlike conventional drinking water, alkaline water that has a pH of 8.8 can irreversibly deactivate pepsin – the enzyme that mainly causes acid flux. Furthermore, its acid-buffering capacity exceeds that of regular drinking water.
Therefore, drinking alkaline water may potentially have therapeutic benefits for those with acid reflux disease. The study is based on lab research though, not actual humans. Thereby, more research is still needed to support these findings or draw any real conclusions.
Improves Bone Health
Osteoporosis is a disease that results in weak and brittle bones as people age. In line with this, some research has been carried out on the effects of alkaline water intake on bone, particularly whether it can help prevent osteoporosis or improve bone health.
A study published in Science Direct (a scientific journal) found that consumption of alkaline water that’s rich in bicarbonate has an effect on bone resorption which is the process where the old bone cells get broken down and then replaced by new ones.
Generally, less bone resorption plus more mineral density leads to better bone strength. The researchers concluded that a bicarbonate and alkali mineral water rich in calcium reduced bone resorption more than acidic mineral water that’s rich in calcium.
The researchers have postulated that this bone health effect could be a result of the higher calcium content of silica which is present in some alkaline water. Higher consumption of silica (a mineral found in quartz) is connected to higher bone density.
However, the effect was found to be small and again, there’s insufficient scientific evidence to prove that drinking alkaline water can really improve bone health or help in preventing osteoporosis.
Benefits those with Hypertension, Diabetes and High Cholesterol
A study carried out by scientists in Shanghai suggested that drinking alkaline water may be of benefit to those with hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes (high blood sugar), and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol/high blood lipids).
The scientists observed the changes in blood pressure, blood sugar as well as blood lipids 3 to 5 months after consumption of alkaline ionized drinking water.
The results found from the study were that there was a significant decrease in the levels of blood pressure and blood sugar after the 3 to 6 months of drinking alkaline ionized water. The levels of blood lipids reduced significantly too.
From these results, the scientists concluded that alkaline ionized water could be used as an accessory therapeutic method for essential hypertension (primary hypertension – most common type of high blood pressure), diabetes mellitus (mild level of increased blood sugar), and in cases of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).
Since alkaline water contains minerals like sodium and potassium which are electrolytes, several studies suggest that it can help enhance hydration or help athletes hydrate better.
One study published in the journal PLOS One in November 2018 examined 16 athletes and found that taking alkaline water had a positive effect on hydration in comparison with regular drinking water.
Another study published in 2016 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looked at 100 adults and found that there was a significant difference in blood viscosity after drinking electrolyzed high-pH alkaline water compared to regular purified water, after a strenuous exercise.
Viscosity is the measurement of how efficiently blood flows through vessels. According to the research, blood viscosity was reduced by 6.3% for those who consumed alkaline water compared to standard purified drinking water which reduced viscosity by 3.36%.
This means that blood flowed more efficiently with high-pH alkaline water which might help increase oxygen delivery in the whole body and also help reduce cardiovascular strain as a result of dehydration.
However, there’s a need for more research beyond these small studies since they may not translate to the general public or on a larger scale.
The Potential Side Effect
Drinking alkaline water, particularly natural alkaline water, is considered safe because it contains natural minerals. However, drinking highly alkaline water, especially artificial alkaline water, for a very long period may have negative side effects. Some of them include:
May Lower Natural Stomach Acidity
Drinking water that’s too alkaline can decrease the natural stomach acidity which is essential in helping kill bacteria and viruses as well as in expelling other undesirable pathogens preventing them from entering your bloodstream. Thereby, reducing stomach acidity means your body is more vulnerable to bacteria and also viruses.
Gastrointestinal issues and Skin Irritations
Consumption of highly alkaline water for a prolonged period can lead to excessive alkalinity in the body or bloodstream. This may cause problems in your gastrointestinal tract and as well lead to skin irritations which usually happen when your bloodstream is very alkaline.
Can Cause Metabolic Alkalosis
Drinking excess alkaline water (especially with high amounts of bicarbonate) may agitate the body’s normal pH which can lead to metabolic alkalosis.
This a condition that may produce symptoms like vomiting, nausea, muscle twitching, hand tremors, confusion, and tingling in the extremities or face. In more adverse cases, alkalosis can lead to shock or even coma.
May Lead to Mineral Deficiency
Although alkaline water may have some minerals, ionized or artificial alkaline water is likely to have low mineral content or even lack the essential minerals which need to flourish especially if it has been distilled or filtered through reverse osmosis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against regularly drinking water with low mineral content since it can not only negatively affect your digestive system but also cause mineral loss.
Overall, the issue that most health professionals have with the consumption of alkaline water is not really its safety, but rather some of the health claims made about it such as, that it can slow the aging process or be used to treat cancer. There is almost no clinical or scientific evidence to support or disprove these claims.
However, if you have any of these health conditions due to drinking alkaline water or if you are under any medication and you are interested in taking alkaline water, you should consult your doctor first for more advice.
How To Make Alkaline Water?
Electrolysis or ionization is an electrochemical process where water is broken down or split into hydrogen and oxygen ions by passing an electric current through it. The technique uses a machine known as an ionizer which produces both alkaline and acidic waters.
The device: Water Ionizers
Water ionizers are basically home appliances or machines that utilize the process of electrolysis or ionization to produce alkaline and acidic water.
They are typically connected directly to the main source of water, like your kitchen faucet, or installed to your cold water line using an under sink kit.
The main components of these machines are the power supply and the electrolysis chamber which contains two platinum-coated titanium electrode plates.
The power supply is often either a switch-mode power supply or a transformer and it’s the one that provides the electrical current which is delivered to the water. Several ionizers can also allow you to set the precise pH levels that you want your alkaline water to be.
How does it work?
The source water from the tap first flows into the ionizer where it enters the electrolysis chamber which is designed to split water into two separate streams of ionized water.
A small electrical charge is then introduced into the water through the platinum-coated titanium electrode plates. The water molecules are forcibly split into cations and anions by the electrical current and then pushed over the oppositely charged electrode plates.
The positively charged ions (cations) move to the negative electrode where they receive electrons to create reduced water which basically concentrates the available alkaline minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium from the source water.
This water gathered at the cathode side (negatively charged electrode) contains increased levels of hydroxide ions (OH–) hence has a higher pH making it more alkaline (ionized alkaline water) and it’s drawn or siphoned off for drinking and cooking via the main spout.
The negatively charged ions (anions) move to the positive electrode (anode) where they lose electrons and become oxidized creating oxidized water which basically concentrates the acid minerals like nitrates, chlorides, fluorides, and sulfides from the source water.
This water gathered near the anode has increased levels of hydrogen ions (H+) making it acidic (ionized acidic water) and it’s discharged out into the sink. The acidic ionized water is claimed to have a myriad of external uses. It’s particularly useful for household disinfecting.
Expectation water (what added/removed/changed)
Water ionizers do not add any chemicals to the water during the electrolysis process. They just split the source water into high pH water (alkaline water) and low pH water (acidic water).
If the concentration of minerals in the source water is sufficiently high, the pH of the alkaline water can be 8-12 while the pH of the acidic water can be 4-6.
Besides changing the pH of water, a water ionizer machine is able to reduce the water’s electron millivolt (mV) charge which creates ORP properties or negative oxidation-reduction potential properties. This turns the ionized alkaline water into an antioxidant liquid.
Larger water clusters (water molecules) are also broken down into smaller clusters (micro-clusters) with 4 to 6 molecules per cluster.
- Turns ordinary water into alkaline water without adding chemicals
- Gives water oxidation-reduction potential properties turning it into an antioxidant liquid that can remove free radicals from the body
- Reduces large water clusters to micro-clusters which help increase hydration of your body
- Produces acidic water too which can be useful as a household disinfectant
- The ionizer machine attaches to the tap hence doesn’t require a plumber to install it
- Some water ionizers can be a bit over-effective increasing the pH level up to 12, which is too high for drinking
- Most ionizer machines tend to be expensive, costing from around $1000 to $6000. Nonetheless, compared to buying bottled water regularly, they are the more affordable option in the long term.
What is remineralization?
Remineralization is the addition of healthy minerals back into the water to improve its pH balance and alkalinity. It’s another successful way of making alkaline water and fortifying it with minerals like calcium, sodium, and magnesium which are important essential minerals that our bodies require.
How to remineralize alkaline water:
Remineralizing alkaline water is important especially for people who use a water softener or have an under sink reverse osmosis system unit installed. Below are some of the different techniques for remineralizing water.
Adding baking soda is a popular method of turning regular drinking water into alkaline water. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which is an alkali salt with a pH of around 8.3.
Adding 1/2 teaspoon of it into a gallon of purified water is enough to raise its pH and alkalize it. With a thorough stirring or shaking of the mixture, the baking soda becomes dissolved and you have yourself alkaline water ready for drinking.
Keep in mind though that baking soda is quite high in sodium, so if you are sensitive to sodium, then you may not want to take the risk. The taste of the alkaline water produced by this method may not be that pleasing too due to the high sodium content.
Adding pH drops is another effective and straightforward method of remineralizing water to make it more alkaline. pH drops are liquids comprising highly concentrated alkali minerals and electrolytes.
You only need to add several drops to each glass of your normal drinking water to increase its pH and make it alkaline. Most pH drops can raise the pH level of the water to about 8 to 10 which is almost similar to a water ionizer.
The drops are usually flavorless but some may contain fruit extracts for taste. They come in small handy bottles that are very portable – you can carry them with you everywhere and you can use a single bottle on hundreds of glasses of water.
While lemon juices are acidic (having a pH level of 2 or 3), they are part of the alkaline diet and contain minerals that can very well create alkaline byproducts when digested and metabolized.
Like baking soda, adding just a 1/2 teaspoon of it into a gallon of normal drinking water can make it more alkaline once your body digests it. The best part is that diluted lemon juice is not only safe but also tasty to drink plus it adds some vitamin C to your drinking water.
Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
This is yet another popular and cost-effective option for those looking for ways to make alkaline water at home. Most alkaline water filter pitchers work almost the same way.
They often contain at least two filters. The first one filters the water to reduce chlorine, odor, tastes, and other impurities present in the water. This significantly improves the taste and smell of the water.
The second filter is an ion filter containing alkaline minerals which it adds to the water. These minerals increase the pH of your water and make it more alkaline.
The downside with pitchers though is that you have to wait a little while before you can get the filtered alkalinized water. Therefore, they may not be ideal for large households but they are very affordable.
Alkaline Water Filter
An alkaline water filter is a water remineralization filter and often comes as part of a multi-stage filtration system like under sink RO systems or whole house RO filtration systems.
It can also be a stand-alone filter cartridge that you can add to your existing home filtration system. The work of the alkaline filter is typically to change the purified RO water into alkaline water.
It usually contains natural mineral stones that add back essential minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sodium, which were removed from the water during the RO filtration process.
These filters are effective and can raise the water pH level to around 8 to 9.5 besides adding back the essential minerals. For the overall best results, you should invest in an alkaline water filter that’s part of a multi-stage water purification system such as an RO system.
This way you will be able to eliminate all harmful and undesirable contaminants from your drinking water supply before it is finally remineralized, thereby giving you clean, purified alkaline water for drinking and cooking.
Expectation water (what added/removed/changed)
Mos remineralization methods like alkaline water filter pitcher and alkaline water filter work by adding alkali minerals back into the water to make it alkaline and raise its pH.
Therefore, the alkaline water you get is bound to have essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sodium which are beneficial to our bodies.
Besides adding back the minerals, the two remineralization methods can remove various contaminants and pollutants like chlorine, fluoride, tastes, and odors which makes the alkaline water cleaner.
- Add back essential minerals into the water
- Increases the pH of the water and makes it taste better
- Fairly affordable method of making alkaline water
- Simple and straightforward to carry out
- Most methods are only ideal for small-scale use
While normal purified water is completely safe and highly recommended for keeping us hydrated, alkaline water is safe too for consumption.
With alkaline water, you can have a blend of calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium which are essential minerals required by our bodies. They also make the water taste much better than plain purified water.
However, be sure not to think that alkaline water is a cure-all solution. It might be good for your health but keep in mind that there’s insufficient scientific evidence to back up most of the claims made about the health benefits it offers.
It’s generally recommended that you seek a doctor’s advice before switching to it.
If in case you think your home water source is highly alkaline or hard, we have water conditioners and water descalers which are alternative water softeners that can effectively tone down the alkalinity and soften your water.
We also have alkaline filters and RO systems with a built-in alkaline stage as well as bottled alkaline water for sale should you choose to switch to drinking alkaline water.