Your first encounter with the term "water pH level" probably occurred in one of your early science labs. The teacher passed out a variety of liquids (perhaps even a few fruits) and pieces of paper called litmus strips. From there, you were directed to dip the strips into the liquids and record your results.
Lemons turned the strip red. Dish detergent turned it blue. If your teacher was the cool kind, they might have even asked you to place a strip on your tongue to see what happened.
This may have inspired a few students to become scientists, but most of us probably haven't thought about pH or litmus strips since that day. However, as the world changes and we look for new ways to stay healthy, keep our families safe, and become more efficient - new trends arise.
One new trend that is a constant topic among doctors, coaches, and everyday people revolves around water pH level. There is a current debate about the best pH level for our drinking water - many people believe we benefit from higher levels, others prefer to drink a lower pH, and some say it ought to be somewhere in the middle.
What is the pH Level of Water and Why Does It Matter ?
Pure water has a pH level of 7. Knowing the pH level of the water we use and consume helps us determine whether that water is hard or soft. We consider a water pH level lower than 7 to be acidic while a higher water pH level is defined as basic or alkaline. Water that leans toward acidity is more likely to corrode pipes, damage fixtures and irritate skin.
We measure water pH level on a scale of 0 to 14. To better understand water pH level, we can compare the pH of common household liquids: apple juice 3, orange juice 3.5, coffee 5.5, milk 6.2, baking soda 8.5, soapy water 10, bleach 12.
What is a Healthy Water pH Level?
Every type of water has its own pH. Tap water pH level varies, but is usually 7.5. Distilled reverse osmosis water ranges from 5 to 7. Common bottled waters can have a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Bottled waters labeled as alkaline typically have a pH level from 8 to 9. Ocean water pH level is 8 and acid rain can measure in at 5 to 5.5.
Water in surface systems typically has a pH between 6.5 to 8.5. Groundwater systems usually have a pH of 6 to 8.5. Even though the human body maintains pH equilibrium on its own, consumption of excessively acidic or alkaline water can be harmful.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, drinking water should be at a pH level of 6.5 to 8.5. The EPA monitors public drinking water quality across the U.S. However, they do not regulate water pH level as they consider this an aesthetic quality.
Water that falls outside of "safe" levels determined by the EPA is not necessarily unsafe - especially if it is alkaline, but it might taste or smell unpleasant. However, a water pH level of less than 6.5 is likely contaminated by pollutants and should be treated immediately.
Does Drinking Alkaline Water Have Health Benefits?
Alkaline water has become an increasingly popular choice for consumption. Believers say it can help fight cancer, cleanse the colon, and support your immune system - though there is not enough research available to treat these theories as fact.
However, some studies have shown that consuming alkaline water with a pH level between 8 and 9 can improve certain medical conditions. In 2012, a study found that drinking naturally carbonated artesian-well alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may help deactivate pepsin, the main enzyme that causes acid reflux.
On the other hand, a 2001 study from Shanghai determined drinking alkaline water may be beneficial for people with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. A more recent study conducted in 2016 found greater results.
The study of 100 people discovered a 6.3 percent reduction in blood viscosity in alkaline water drinkers as opposed to 3.36 percent in the subjects who drank standard purified water. Viscosity is the measurement of how efficiently blood flows through our vessels.
This means those who drink a higher water pH level have more efficient blood flow, allowing for increased oxygen delivery throughout the body. This could be a reason to choose alkaline water before, during, or after a strenuous workout.
Despite these finds, the only way to know for sure if alkaline water has the healing, antiaging, slimming and detoxifying powers that people claim, is through more research and studies on larger groups.
What Are the Risks of Drinking Alkaline Water?
There is such a thing as too much alkaline water. Excessively drinking alkaline water with higher pH levels may reduce stomach acidity, leading to gastrointestinal complications. Our stomach's natural acidity level helps fight bacteria and block harmful pathogens from entering our bloodstream.
Drinking water with a high pH level can also lead to alkalosis - a metabolic condition caused by a shift in the body's natural pH. Systems of alkalosis include nausea, vomiting, hand tremors, muscle tingling, twitching in the extremities or face, confusion, and - in worse cases - a decrease in calcium.
What Type of Alkaline Water is Best for Me?
Not all alkaline water is created equally. Naturally occurring alkaline water reaches its high pH level by passing over rocks and collecting minerals. However, most people purchase alkaline water that goes through a chemical process called electrolysis.
During electrolysis, an ionizer raises the pH of regular water with an electrical current that separates the acidic water molecules from the more alkaline molecules. The acidic water gets funneled out. The alkaline water gets bottled and shipped out to your local store.
Since ionization uses acidic water, it is imperative that the original water source is safe - or you risk having contaminated drinking water. To purify the water beforehand, experts suggest using reverse osmosis (which removes the mineral content) then ionizing (which raises the pH level and adds minerals).
As long as your drinking water is decontaminated, re-mineralized, and comes from a quality source, there is no evidence to suggest that too much alkaline water is bad for you.
Where Can I Find Alkaline Water?
You can find bottled alkaline water at grocery stores, health shops, and online. Many chain stores sell water ionizers. To make your own alkaline water, try squeezing a lemon or lime into your glass (or pitcher). Baking soda or pH drops are also effective ways to alkalize drinking water.
How Do I Know If My Water Has the Right pH Level?
Weather patterns, human activity, and natural processes all affect water pH levels. Chemical or heavy metal pollution can create an unbalanced, acidic water pH level. Because of this, it is standard practice for municipal water companies to test and monitor their water pH level for pollutants regularly.
A slippery feel and baking soda taste may indicate high pH water that can leave deposits on your pipes. Bitter, metallic-tasting water is acidic and likely to corrode (wear down) fixtures and surfaces.
How to Test Water pH Levels at Home
We recommend testing your water pH level if you suspect contamination. Signs of contamination include rusty red, white, or blue pipes, foul-smelling or tasting water, and discolored water. If you see signs of buildup or damaged, worn pipes - call a professional to fix the problem immediately.
There are many types of home test kits that are fairly easy to use and are inexpensive. One of the most popular types of testers is the water quality tester pen. Dip this pen into a sample of drinking water to receive an instant (and accurate) water pH level reading.
If a reading returns abnormal results, call your local drinking water company. They will run secondary tests to confirm your home test. If their equipment also reads a highly acidic or alkaline water pH level, they may have to follow up with additional tests to help identify possible contaminants. Once testing is complete, they will be able to treat the source of the problem. To solve a water pH level problem on your own, we also suggest using a pitcher for your drinking water - Brita is a popular choice - or install a filtration system.
While there are thousands of different opinions regarding the most efficient water pH level for our everyday lives, one truth remains the same - our bodies know what is best.
If you still have trouble deciding between alkaline water with a pH of 8.5 or sticking with your favorite pH level 7 drink after doing your own research, do yourself a favor and listen to your insides.
It will take years of scientific study before there is solid proof of the best drinking water for optimum health, beauty, and performance.
Trends come and go, so do what you feel is right for your own health.`
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