Learn the untold truths of water's pH, a crucial factor that controls whether it is acidic or alkaline and has a significant impact on our daily life. Join us as we explore the many ways in which this fundamental component affects everything from flavor to environmental effects.

What is pH?

The first thing you should know about pH is that it's an important chemistry concept that gauges the amount of hydrogen ions present in a solution made of water. The pH scale runs from 1 to 14, with lower values indicating more acidity (more hydrogen ions) and higher values indicating more alkalinity (less hydrogen ions) in the liquid.

What is pH?

The pH scale runs from 1 to 14

In simple terms, a pH of 7 is considered neutral and represents pure distilled water. Anything below 7 on the pH scale is classified as acidic, while anything above 7 is considered alkaline or basic.

For instance, vinegar has a pH of approximately 2, making it very acidic, but bleach has a pH of approximately 13.5, making it quite alkaline. It's crucial to remember that this pH scale only applies to liquids with a water base.

How does pH affect water?

The pH level significantly influences the characteristics of water-based liquids. It can impact the availability of certain elements like minerals and metals, making them more or less accessible to the body. Lower pH levels in water can increase the toxicity of heavy metals, while higher pH levels reduce their toxicity.

Additionally, pH can be used to detect the presence of bacteria or other pollutants in a liquid. Extreme pH readings, whether they are very high or very low, might make the water unusable for particular purposes.

This can be seen in "hard water," which is extremely alkaline due to its high mineral content. The buildup of these minerals in pipes and appliances can impede water flow and lessen the efficacy of soaps and detergents.

Conversely, water with a low pH can corrode metal pipes, releasing harmful metal ions into the water, making it unsafe for consumption and household use.

For safe drinking and usage, most water providers aim to maintain a pH level close to the neutral point of 7, with slight variations being acceptable. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a pH range of 6.5 to 8.5 for drinking water, and many U.S. states enforce these guidelines.

Read next: 15 Benefits of Drinking Water Maybe You Missing

Risks and benefits of acid vs. alkali

Underlying risks

    There have been possible effects on health aspects linked to water and various water-based beverages with varying pH levels.

    Alkaline water and other goods have been increasingly well-liked recently as a result of a new health fad. Drinkers of alkaline beverages contend that chronic illnesses are caused by acidic conditions within the body, which can be avoided by consuming alkaline beverages.

    The theory suggests that consuming alkaline water can lead the body to become more alkaline, potentially preventing certain diseases, including cancer.

    It is important to highlight that these statements are only partially supported by science. There is no concrete evidence that consuming alkaline water significantly modifies the body's pH, while it may momentarily alter the pH of the urine or mouth.

    The body has a rigorous pH management system, and any notable changes in internal pH, such as those in blood pH, could have serious negative effects on organs and tissues. Therefore, attempting to change the pH of the body through diet may not be safe.

    Potential Benefits 

      Alkaline water may still provide certain advantages for some people, though. Due to the minerals and electrolytes it contains, alkaline water typically has a greater alkaline level. As a result, drinking this water after working out or when sick may help maintain the balance of minerals and electrolytes, preventing dehydration.

      Related: The Best Drinks to Keep Your Hydration

      Additionally, preliminary results from smaller studies suggest that drinking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may provide comfort for those who suffer from acid reflux disease. This kind of water appears to inactivate a heartburn-related enzyme permanently, perhaps easing symptoms.

      Further research has shown that people with diarrhea as their primary symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may benefit from consuming water with a pH range of 8.5–10. After 8 weeks, people who drank water in this pH range had better quality-of-life ratings than those who didn't.

      Recognizing that these are small-scale studies and that additional human research is necessary to confirm these preliminary findings is crucial.

      How to conduct a pH test

      Performing a pH test can be done using litmus paper, although, for precise measurements, laboratories rely on electronic pH meters. Litmus paper, readily available online and in select stores like health food stores and pet supply shops, offers a simple method to estimate pH levels.

      Sensitive strips in Litmus paper react to water-based liquids by changing color. An approximate reading of the liquid's pH can be obtained by monitoring the color shift. It is important to keep in mind that these estimates are not very exact and that the liquid's true pH may differ from the reading on the litmus paper.

      Drinks and their pH

      The pH of a beverage plays a crucial role in determining its acidity or alkalinity, and this characteristic is greatly influenced by the ingredients present in the liquid. It's fascinating to observe how slight differences in the composition of drinks can lead to notable variations in pH levels.

      Drinks and their pH

      The pH of a beverage plays a crucial role in determining its acidity or alkalinity

      For instance, two seemingly identical types of water sourced from different locations or processed through distinct methods might exhibit differences in pH due to the varying mineral content or filtration processes. Similarly, in beverages like fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks, the presence of natural acids, artificial additives, or carbonation can significantly impact the pH profile.

      Read more: 5 Wonderful Health Benefits of Mineral Water

      Understanding the pH of drinks is not only essential for taste and palatability but also has implications for their effects on our bodies. Acidic beverages may lead to potential tooth enamel erosion or acid reflux issues, while highly alkaline drinks might affect the body's acid-base balance.

      Moreover, the pH of certain beverages can also impact their shelf life, stability, and overall quality. Manufacturers carefully control and adjust the pH levels to ensure the safety and longevity of their products.

      As consumers, being aware of the pH levels in the drinks we consume can help us make informed choices that align with our preferences and health considerations. By appreciating the influence of pH on various beverages, we can savor a diverse array of flavors while making conscious decisions about our beverage selections.

      Key Points on Water pH

      Maintaining the appropriate pH of water used for drinking and household purposes holds significant importance. Extreme alkalinity or acidity in water can lead to damage to pipes and appliances and is generally not suitable for consumption.

      In its natural state, water typically falls within a pH range of approximately 6.5 to 8.5, which is considered normal and safe for drinking. Water that deviates significantly from this range may pose potential health risks.

      For some individuals, consuming alkaline water with a pH higher than 8.5 might be beneficial, especially for those dealing with certain digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that more extensive and high-quality studies are required to validate these claims before experts can draw broader conclusions about the potential advantages of alkaline water.

      July 27, 2023 — Four Leaf

      Leave a comment