Don't Confuse pH With Alkalinity

Before I start discussing this I need to acknowledge that the information I write about has been the result of conversations with Robert Slovak and listening to lectures on this subject.  Robert Slovak is a degreed Mechanical and Astronautical Engineer and a respected scientist.  He has over 30 years of experience in the water treatment industry, specializing in membrane separation technology and products. Mr. Slovak has been featured on many health sites and blogs including Dr. Mercola. I am going to become very unpopular with people who are selling water that is supposed to be of "high alkalinity."  The term "alkaline water"  means that the water has a pH that is greater than 7.0.  That's it.  Nothing more!  Many companies are selling "Alkaline" filters and using pH meters to demonstrate that the alkalinity has been raised because the pH tests at 8.5, or 9.5 or even 10.5.    They are confusing elevated pH with raised alkalinity.  The fact is:  THERE IS NO CONNECTION!  Just raising the pH with an "alkaline filter" does not, in itself, raise the alkalinity.  Water with high alkalinity may be beneficial in some circumstances to the body, but raising the pH serves no function whatsoever. IT IS NOT ALKALINE WATER THAT YOU NEED, IT IS WATER WITH ALKALINITY! So, if you are buying a filter for the purpose of substantially raising the alkalinity of the water you drink, you are most likely being duped by "junk or pseudo science."  This is real science that I am speaking about - merely raising the pH does not raise the alkalinity.  That's junk science. The pH of water is not the indicator of it's capacity for neutralizing acid.  Alkalinity is the indicator of the water's capacity to neutralize acid.  Alkalinity measures the ability of a solution to neutralize acids - pH has no relation to that process. A water solution that is alkaline is not necessarily "alkalizing."  Do not be duped into thinking "Alkaline pH" means that the water has significant alkalinity.  Tests have shown that even the best "alkaline filters" raise the alkalinity only 30 to 35 mg/l which is insignificant.  A half-tablespoon of Baking Soda add 1500 mg/l of alkalinity to the water at a pH of 8.4.  Spinach juice has an alkalinity of 2250 mg/l but at a pH of 6.7.   Like I said earlier, the pH has no correlation to alkalinity. There is a great deal of mis-information out there about water treatment.  Most people I have talked to who are promoting alkaline water have little to no understanding of this.  If you want to alkalize your water, you don't add an alkaline filter - it is a waste of money and it does nothing.  Here are the only ways that you can alkalize your water:
  1. Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of baking soda to a large glass of water;
  2. Consume foods and beverages rich in mineral alkalinity buffers, especially "green juices;"
  3. Add alkaline powders to the water.
There are a lot of misconceptions in the health-improvement industry about the pH and alkaline correlation.  For instance, look at this popular chart: That's a pretty impressive chart, but it's not correct.  For example,  they say lemon has a pH of 10 - it's really 2.69.  They say the same thing about spinach, but it has a pH of 6.69.   They also say RO water has a pH of between 4 and 5.  In reality, it's usually about 6.5 or 6.6.  Be careful of what you believe. Here's what you need to know about alkaline water: if you are buying a filter to alkalize your water, you would be better served giving it to the Tooth Fairy.  You can alkalize your water, but it has to be with one of the above methods.  Simply raising the pH does not alkalize the water.  Reverse osmosis continues to be the most economical and effective way to purify water and if you want to raise the pH and re-mineralize, then an alkaline-type filter is effective.  At US Water Systems, we do sell a re-mineralization filter, right HERE, but just not for the reason most companies say they are selling it. The is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.  

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June 12, 2012
Mark, I believe what you are saying. In 2008 I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, to my utter shock. I had 3 blood transfusions in 1974 and contracted it then. I say that with certainty simply because it's possibly the only way I could have contracted it. I've always watched my diet and eaten healthy food, but I had a surgery in 2004 that became infected and the result was that the HepC jumped into action when I got so sick from the infection. I went through the prescribed treatment for Genome 1A to no avail, I was still reactive and the viral load began to climb once again. I tried everything to control it naturally, but that didn't work either. I drank the so-called Alkaline water, high PH water, and so apparent difference in my viral load whatsoever, so I quit wasting our savings. Then last year we bought a home 50 GPM unit from US Water Systems. It's the only thing I've done different as I had ceased all the "cure for Hepatitis" products after spending thousands of dollars. I had blood tests run last month and my viral load had dropped from 8M to 2M. This means that my body may be going into spontaneous remission. This is unheard of in a 60 year old person. It may have happened once or twice, we don't know, but the facts are that spontaneous remission of HepC is less than !% and nearly all of those are children, from the medical research I have done. I use the water from this system for cooking and ice cubes for my tea or soda...yes, I drink diet soda too. I don't eat any different and I'm no saint on the eating thing either. I don't juice, I'm not a vegan and I'm not a health crazed diet junkie. I eat the occasional fast food, pizza and even a doughnut once in awhile. Not all the time, but anyway, I eat like any ordinary person. The only thing that my doctors and I can attribute my remission or at least a healthy drop in viral load levels to is that we use reverse osmosis water for nearly everything except bathing. I've never been a drinker or used drugs so my body is quite healthy to begin with other than the Hepatitis, so perhaps those factors are a part of it also. But I have to say that I am looking at the water system in a really positive way right now. It is truly the only thing different in my life for the last year. Has this happened to anyone else? Have you heard of this happening to anyone else? At any rate, I'm going to continue using reverse osmosis as we live in CA. And after the Fukashima disaster, I think RO is the only way to go even if you're on city water. Just dispose of your membrane in a facility that handles hazardous radioactive waste, like a hospital or other facility that knows what to do with the filter.
April 17, 2015
Totally agree, just wanted to add the most beneficial water is not alkaline or alkalized, but electrolyzed. With natural 9.5 pH, -400 ORP antioxidant and microclustered properties. I was a victim of a toxic poison working next to a photo machine, inhaling chemicals for 10 years. It took me 6 months of drinking this water to get a full detox. I bought my own machine and now share this water with friends and family.
Jessica Isbell
April 17, 2015
Hi there. Which type of water helped you detox? I need that too!
Mark Timmons
April 29, 2020
May 16, 2015
what about those alkaline machines the supposedly raises the pH or alkalinity of water
Mark Timmons
May 20, 2015
I have written about them previously:
November 7, 2017
I would like to chime in about the benefits of reverse osmosis water. I have suddenly been struck with an auto immune disorder. After years of keeping to a Whole Foods way of eating as well as organically grown vegetables and meat, I suddenly developed skin problems. I knew it couldn't be the food as I had cut out most sugar, wheat and dairy so I looked to my water. I found out that reverse osmosis water is practically DEAD WATER meaning that it is on the lowest spectrum of acidity around ph Five. So I added ph drops to my water and that brought my own body's ph up to nearly Seven. I am feeling a little better but have still a long way to go. Why does everyone claim that reverse osmosis is good for drinking if it strips all the minerals out of the water and has a very low ph.
Mark Timmons
November 9, 2017
So, RO water is "dead?" What killed it? I am sorry, but what you are saying has no basis in fact. You say you added some drops that raised your bodies pH to "almost 7." If your bodies pH is not between 7.35 and 7.45, you are DEAD! What you are claiming is simply false. RO water has a pH between 6 and 7, but no matter what the pH of the water you consume, as it passes through the cell wall, it instantly becomes the pH of your body. - Water is not a significant source of minerals and the pH of the water makes no difference. This is silly!
November 9, 2017
I’m not sure it is silly. I have had two separate RO filters in two different locations and my houseplants have all died from the RO water. My pets won’t drink it either. I’m really curious to understand what is the best water for my entire household. I recently moved from Boulder, CO and now I live in Scottsdale, AZ
Mark Timmons
December 3, 2020
Regarding your plants, Reverse Osmosis is the best water for a serious gardener. It allows precise control of the nutrient flow to the plants. Use reverse osmosis if you take care of delicate plant life. You can use hard water for your normal house plants (high chlorine levels may not be good for the plants), or if you use RO water continuously, you will need to add some nutrients back to the soil. Unlike humans, who get their nutrients from diet or supplements, not water, plants require nutrients from the soil, so I would recommend that you use some such product if you are using RO water continuously on your plants. I have to say that I seriously doubt your claim that “my pets won’t drink it either.” I have conducted blind taste tests with animals, and they almost always prefer water that is the cleanest (and nothing else removes a wider spectrum of contaminants than RO).
Evan Feldman
January 8, 2018
Mark, What is the best, most hassle free way of raising the Alkalinity in a post RO tanks. Storage capacity is 3000 liters.
Mark Timmons
January 8, 2018
There isn't!
February 26, 2018
Hello Mark Your article is very interesting and informative! Thank you. I am the caregiver of a loved one facing cancer. We know we need to drink "alkaline water". I see your recommendations above, and will start using baking soda for sure. What is your opinion on Reverse Osmosis system for someone who is facing cancer? I am in need of help. Please educate me. Thank you again.
Mark Timmons
February 27, 2018
I think it is important for anyone to have the cleanest, chemical-free water possible. This is even more true with individuals battling cancer. Alkaline water produced by ionizers and filters are a joke and do nothing. In fact, they can be detrimental. I am not a Doctor, but I would speak to the oncologist about using baking soda a couple times a day. It neutralizes the stomach acid for a while, so it is best not to eat for about an hour after drinking water with baking soda.
Vikas Madaan
January 19, 2021
Mark, you keep mentioning about Baking Soda. But to me understanding, continuous intake of Baking Soda that too couple of times a day will weaken your bones. why not adding a grain (just few milligrams) of edible limestone in say 10L of water? It's calcium, good for health, good for bones and not in that much quantity which can cause stone of damage kidney. Thoughts?
Mark Timmons
January 19, 2021
I do not recommend baking soda, but state that some people take it. I am not a doctor, but baking soda and what you are talking about is entirely different.
Steve Anderson
April 2, 2018
Hi, We have a few problems with our water. We keep having leaks in our copper pipes. I had the water tested. It shows a ph of 5.9su . The lab says the proper limit should be between 6.4 and 10. My furnace guy says we have hard water but the lab shows 96mg/l which under the limit of 200. Any ideas? My family won't drink the water. It takes horrible. Any ideas? The second issue is Radon in the water. The lab test shows 11994pci/l which is above the 5000 limit. Should we do something about it? You recommendations would be helpful.
Mark Timmons
April 2, 2018
Steve, I always look at it from the standpoint of “If I lived there, what would I do? If it were my home, I would do this (and it is not an inexpensive fix): <strong>Step 1:</strong> Aeration System - Reduces Radon <strong>Step 2:</strong> Backwashing Carbon Filter - Polished off the radon and makes the water taste better <strong>Step 3:</strong> pH Balancing System - Raises the pH to above 7.0 <strong>Step 4:</strong> 1 Micron Filter - <strong>Step 5:</strong> Disinfection - Kills bacteria, including airborne bacteria from Aeration System That will fix your pH problem and provide great tasting water. We are currently running an additional 10% off. Let me know if you have any further questions.
Denisa Ciucci
April 19, 2018
Mark, we have had the The Home Master HydroPerfection Advanced Reverse Osmosis System Mineral Water on Tap system for 4 years now. My labs came back with low Carbon Dioxide meaning my ph is not optimal and I have had unexplained health issues,~all other labs are fine. I have looked at many things as the culprit to no avail but now I do want to take a peek at whether or not we have good quality water in our house. I look forward to whatever suggestions you may have.
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018
I am not familiar with that brand, but here are two things that can be an issue: 1. Many RO's have hetrotrophic bacteria in the tank. We have filters to eliminate that; and 2. Minerals and alkalinity are not the purpose of water. In my opinion, your purify your water as good as possible and take supplements or get it from your diet.
May 22, 2018
What would you say about living near fracking sites? People have a lot of concerns about the quality of our water living near them. Would you recommend something more than the filter on our refrigerator? Thanks for your insight.
Mark Timmons
May 26, 2018
Absolutely! However, the first step is a good detailed water test:
May 29, 2018
Hi Mark, What is your opinion about Kangen water? A guy I know sells the systems, and he claims that R/O water is acidic and bad to consume, however, I've been drinking R/O water for years and I am as healthy as can be. My skin is clearer and healthier and I feel more energetic. I'm confused by the different sources of info, so hoping you can impart some insight about Kangen and their claims to be so good for us.