I still get lots of questions about Alkaline Water and Water Ionizers in particular. I was getting ready to write a blog about that issue when the question popped into my head: “How can I write anything better than what Robert Slovak did on this subject? The answer is that I cannot, so I am going to publish a blog he did back in 2012. Essentially, the ionizer industry is a scientific misconception that has spawned a billion- dollar industry. Enjoy, but if you have an Ionizer, you are not going to like it. The truth hurts.
Late-Breaking Scoop On The Truth Behind The Alkaline Water Marketing Hype
Alkaline Water Ionizers: The Hype
The reason people are convinced to buy an alkaline ionizer is that they are told there is a premium on neutralizing acid in the body to make the proper acid-alkaline balance. And according to the alkaline ionizer theory at least (and I accept this), the alkaline water has the ability to neutralize stomach acid temporarily.
You may have been taught that during the neutralization of stomach acid, that your body will recover by replenishing the acid in your stomach and allowing your body to produce an equal amount of bicarbonate buffer (alkaline buffer) into your bloodstream.
So let’s accept that this is a positive reaction: your body has released bicarbonate buffers, and you’ve alkalized your blood stream, which will have the consequence of alkalizing your tissues and the organs, etc.
Unfortunately, the science is much more complicated than that…and drinking water from alkaline ionizers may do more harm than good.
Alkaline Water 101: 2 Basic Must-Know Science Concepts To Help You Understand How Alkaline Ionizers Work
Concept #1: Alkaline Water and pH
Here is a place where terminology is almost everything. The term alkaline water is referring to the pH of the water.
Alkaline has a pH of over 7. So if the water is 7.5, you can say it’s alkaline water. If it’s 8.5 it’s alkaline water. If it’s 9.5, it’s alkaline water. If it’s 13, it’s alkaline water. So it’s just a term that means what’s the pH of the water.
What pH really Means:
- You may already know that pH actually stands for the potential for hydrogen. That’s what the P and the H mean. So it determines a certain quantity, referred to as hydrogen ions in the water.
- pH is a parameter that can be applied to anything: there’s the pH of the skin, the pH of the hair, the pH of water, the pH of milk, anything.
- A lot of hydrogen ions = an acid pH.
- Few hydrogen ions or none = an alkaline pH.
Concept #2: Electrolysis
Alkaline ionizers use a process called electrolysis. If you were to take a battery and hook it up to a glass of water and just put two terminals in the water, you’ll see the bubbles coming out of the water. And this is the process of electrolysis.
In alkaline ionizers, the electrolysis process separates the constituents of the water into two parts or sides, so to speak:
- One side is alkaline minerals – this stream of water is reserved for drinking and consumption and the pH is over 7.
- The other side is acid minerals – this stream of water has a pH below 7 and is reserved for other purposes.
So when water goes through an alkaline ionizer, two streams of water that emanate from this device.
Now that you know these basic concepts, let’s move on to alkalinity of water.
Alkalinity of Water: Alkaline Water Does Not Mean It Has Substantial Alkalinity
People are convinced that alkaline water is sufficient to neutralize the acid, but it’s just not true.
The only thing that neutralizes acid is alkalinity, not the water being alkaline. So let me rephrase that: Alkaline water does not mean that it has substantial alkalinity. There must be alkaline minerals in the water — to begin with — in order to produce alkalinity in your water.
So if someone is on a water supply that is marginal in the amount of alkaline mineral content, such as Seattle, Washington, Albany, New York or Denver, Colorado or any of the thousands of towns and cities wit low alkaline mineral content water…an alkaline ionizer (or the electrolysis process), can make it have a high pH, but it doesn’t mean that your water will have a high alkalinity.
The truth is, people are being hoodwinked into thinking that this high pH is guaranteeing the neutralization of the acid in their stomachs, but in fact, it’s not doing anything at all! It’s simply being neutralized in just seconds. Only a drop of acid would neutralize, say, a pH 9 water produced on a water supply in Seattle, Washington.
Clearly there is a deception going on here. And the marketers have convinced the entire customer base that alkaline water is the same as water with alkalinity when in fact it is not.
I find this reprehensible, although I don’t know if it’s intentional. As a scientist, I’m really trying to decipher why alkaline water sellers can just say, “Hey, if your pH is over 9, you’ve got it covered.”
Because when you look at the science, it’s just totally untrue.
Don’t Be Duped…Alkaline Ionizers Don’t Make Safe Drinking Water
Most people don’t realize that the actual source of water is important when it comes to using an alkaline ionizer.
In fact, the source of water you attach your alkaline ionizer to is critical.
High Potential For Unsafe Drinking Water Because Alkaline Ionizers Don’t Remove Contaminants
Here are common contaminants you may find in alkaline water:
- Chemical Contaminants – The quality of water alkaline ionizers produce is very dependent on the water it is put on. Are you using tap water, well water or bottled water? Learn more about the type of water you’re using in your alkaline ionizer.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified hundreds of contaminants that are allowed to be in your water, such as aluminum, fluoride, chlorine and more. These are contaminants that the EPA considers must be in water to keep it safe and healthy on their terms, not our terms. To learn more about drinking water safety and contaminants in your water, click here.
- Mineral Contaminants – Alkaline ionizers have to re-mineralize the water with filters. And even though it’s beyond the scope of this discussion, I’m very skeptical of re-mineralizing filters. Re-mineralizing filters typically use natural minerals for various reasons. And those natural minerals, which are from the earth, can also contain contaminants that are re-released into the water, creating yet another complication.
So alkaline ionizers just don’t make good water purifiers. They don’t have sophisticated technology and they have very limited filtration, which sellers overhype.
Why Alkaline Ionizers Are An Expensive Proposition And What You Can Do Instead
So let’s face it, if you are reading this article, you are likely interested in safe drinking water. You want the highest quality and healthiest options.
If you were considering an alkaline ionizer, like Kangen, Jupiter, Life Ionizer, IonLife, etc., and you wanted truly pure water, you’d have to add a reverse osmosis water purifier to your water source, then connect the alkaline ionizer. And those who can economically afford it are tending to do this, but now you’re looking at somewhere between $5,000 – $7,000 for a water system.
This is expensive and unnecessary.
There are easier, more affordable and better solutions for restoring the acid-alkaline balance in your body. Here are a couple of simple solutions:
- Use baking soda.
- Drink Gerol Steiner sparkling water (you will see, right on the bottle, it has 1,800 milligrams per liter of acid-neutralizing alkalinity.
Your Need to Know Summary:
Alkaline ionizers do not create substantial alkalinity of water. Alkaline ionizers are highly dependent upon the source of the water supply for alkalinity. There has to be enough alkaline minerals in the source water supply (e.g., tap water) to create alkalinity of water.
Alkaline ionizers do not contribute to acid-alkaline balance in your body (or alkalizing your blood stream). There have to be enough acid-neutralizing minerals to create alkalinity in your body.
Alkaline ionizers do not have good filtration. Your drinking water may still contain contaminants that are unsafe to drink.
Alkaline ionizers are unnecessarily expensive. Why spend thousands on an inadequate water filter when you can have more success with pure, clean water and baking soda?