Curious about alkaline water? We explain exactly what it is and why it’s so popular. We also show how to make it at home and how to test your water pH too.
Alkaline water is the latest health craze, and celebrities are raving about how it improves hydration and health better than ordinary tap water. But what exactly is alkaline water?
Alkaline water is, as the name implies, water that has been adjusted to have a pH that is more alkaline than acidic. That means it is water that has a pH of above 7.
Most tap water has a neutral pH level of around 7, with some variations based on your local water supply and your home plumbing. Proponents of alkaline water prefer an alkalinity of 8 or 9.
The typical North American diet tends toward being acidic, making your body work harder to achieve the natural, tightly regulated pH balance in the body. When the body’s pH balance is continually disrupted toward the acidic side, it can lead to a condition called acidosis, in which the blood plasma is too acidic. Chronic acidosis can cause headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, and confusion.
In fact, different organs and body systems actually require different pH levels, so your body has sophisticated processes to maintain the ideal pH balance even locally. Maintaining your pH balance when the diet is too acidic requires the body to use alkalizing compounds like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and silica. Some studies have shown that when the diet is too acidic, the body draws these needed alkaline compounds from within the bones, slowly reducing bone density over time.
Many people believe that drinking water that is specifically formulated to be alkaline, with a higher pH than regular tap water, supports the body in maintaining pH levels. They say it has the effect of easing the amount of work the body needs to do to maintain the proper internal pH, as well as boosting mineral intake to improve nutrition and bone density.
Alkaline water is said to have a range of benefits, including easing acid reflux, improving energy and metabolism, and preventing later illnesses caused by depleted minerals and chronically elevated pH levels.
However, it’s important to note that peer-reviewed scientific literature on the subject of the health benefits of alkaline water is still pretty thin on the ground. It’s a relatively new idea that is still being tested.
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Recommended Reading: See which alkaline water pitcher we choose over all others in our guide.
How to make alkaline water at home
If you are wondering how to make alkaline water yourself, there are several “recipes” available. Essentially, these recipes call for either adding ionizing ingredients to the water to make it have an alkalizing effect within the body, adding alkaline ingredients directly to water to reduce the pH before you drink it, or exposing the water to ionizing filters that then add alkaline minerals.
Let’s take a look at these 3 ways to make alkaline water at home.
1. Make alkaline water with baking soda or pH drops
- Using pH drops that you can buy at a health food store, you can create alkaline water following the package instructions.
- You could also add 1/8 tsp of baking soda to an 8-ounce bottle of tap water and shake thoroughly. Note that baking soda is high in sodium, and should not be used if you are on a low-sodium diet.
2. Make alkaline water with apple cider vinegar or lemons
- It may seem counter-intuitive because vinegar and lemon juice are acidic, but both ingredients have alkalizing effects in the body. Lemons will absorb ions from tap water if soaked for long periods, and adding lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your water will improve alkalinity during digestion, due to their high levels of alkalizing minerals. However, for those with acid reflux, drinking acidic beverages is not recommended.
3. Make alkaline water with an alkalizing filter (or ionizer)
- Alkalizing filters generally work by exposing the water to a 2-step process. First, it is deionized and then exposed to alkalizing minerals. Filters are a good choice because, while other methods do increase the alkalinity of your tap water, they do not remove chlorine or other unwanted elements in the water.
Whatever method you use, test your alkaline water to achieve a litmus score of 8 or 9. If you are using an acidic ingredient like lemon or vinegar to reduce your internal acid levels, test your saliva over time to see if you have improved your alkaline levels.
How to test pH of water at home
If you think you may have some of the symptoms of elevated acidity, it might be a good idea to do a simple pH water test at home. In fact, there are several advantages to getting litmus strips and performing some tests at home. These water pH test kits are inexpensive and should be available at your local drug store.
To test your water pH:
- Draw a glass of water from the faucet.
- Let it rest for a few moments for the water to become perfectly still
- Using dry hands, dip a pH strip into the water without stirring or splashing
- Hold the strip in the water for several seconds, following the instructions on the package
- Remove the strip and wait a few seconds for the color to change
- Compare the strip to the color chart on the package
You may also want to test your own saliva to help determine your body’s acid levels. You can test several of your body fluids, but saliva is the most consistent indicator. To test your saliva:
- Wait for at least two hours after eating, drinking anything but water, or brushing your teeth, so that nothing interferes with the test.
- Swallow your spit.
- Wait until saliva accumulates in your mouth again, and then spit it out. This ensures that your test sample is saliva that has been freshly produced and not contaminated by anything already in your mouth.
- Wait until saliva has accumulated in your mouth a second time, and then spit onto the test end of a litmus strip.
- Follow the color chart on the package to determine the pH level of your saliva.
The ideal pH level of your saliva should be 7.4 or more. Elderly people who are calcium deficient will often score 6.5 or less.
Of course, these tests aren’t intended to provide a medical diagnosis, and you should always discuss any concerns or symptoms with your doctor.
But it can be helpful to know how acidic your tap water or body fluids are, particularly if you intend to drink alkaline water and need a baseline to measure against.
Disclaimer: This article is purely informational and does not constitute medical advice in any way. You should always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. We’re not physicians and our articles should never replace a doctor’s opinion.
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By Piercetheorganist at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by LeaW.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons