Whenever you’re attempting to determine the quality of water in your home or an industrial setting, likely the most effective measurement to take is the pH of the water, which indicates whether the water is acidic or alkaline. When water has a pH value of seven, this means that the water is neutral. Lower values indicate that the water has become acidic. On the other hand, higher values above seven denote signs of alkalinity. While substances like orange juice and coffee have pH values of 3.5 and 5.5 respectively, substances like baking soda and bleach come with pH values of 8.5 and 12.
When looking specifically at water, the pH level in the water that you test can identify whether the water has a soft or hard quality to it. For the majority of surface water systems, pH levels will range from 6.5-8.5. When you measure the pH and overall alkalinity of water, you can determine how corrosive the water currently is.
If you want to measure the pH levels of water, you can do so with a pH test kit, which will be discussed further in the following.
What Does PH Mean for Water?
While there are many different types of measurements that can be taken of water, measuring the pH value of water can be beneficial for a number of reasons. For instance, a significant change in the pH values of a stream could indicate that pollution amounts have increased in the stream. As touched upon previously, pH values will tell you whether the water is soft or hard.
When water is classified as hard, this means that the water currently consists of high amounts of dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium. Soft water consists of a single ion, which is sodium. This specific type of water can be highly corrosive, which means that it typically has a pH value that dips below 6.5. On the other hand, the minerals that are found in hard water are able to reduce the total amount of acidity in the water, which serves to increase pH levels.
Since water with a high pH is known to be healthier than acidic water, many people drink alkaline water. Though the health claims associated with alkaline water have yet to be proven, it’s believed that this water could regulate the pH level in the body, help to prevent certain chronic diseases, and slow down the aging process. While standard drinking water comes with pH levels at around seven, the pH levels of alkaline water can range from 8-9.
Before you consume alkaline water, it’s important that you understand the effects that occur when drinking a significant amount of this water. While there have only been a small number of studies done on the benefits or consequences of drinking alkaline water, the various studies suggest that drinking alkaline water could help to reduce the severity of acid reflux, lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and mitigate the symptoms of diabetes.
There are, however, some side effects that you should be aware of. While drinking alkaline water is largely considered to be safe, certain adverse side effects could occur, which extend to gastrointestinal problems, skin irritations, and a condition known as alkalosis. This particular condition can result in such symptoms as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle twitching
- Hand tremors
It’s recommended that you test pH levels on a consistent basis because of the role that atmospheric gases can play in the pH levels of water. The carbon dioxide gas that’s found in the atmosphere can make rainfall slightly more acidic that you might expect, which could affect the pH values of your water. The same is true of temperature changes. When the temperature of water increases, the pH levels will decrease slightly, which should be taken into account when attempting to obtain precise measurements.
Understanding the PH Scale
The basis of the pH scale is that it ranges from 1-14. While seven is considered to be a neutral pH, any readings below seven are acidic. On the other hand, any readings above seven are considered to be basic or alkaline. While many people believe that drinking alkaline water is healthy, it’s important that the pH levels never go too high. Excessively high or low pH numbers can cause numerous issues.
For instance, low pH levels in water indicate that the water can dissolve or corrode metals and similar substances. The water can change colors when the pH levels are too low. If the water leaches metals from fixtures and pipes, it could change color to the exact metal that’s being leached. In many cases, staining will occur. You might notice the presence of bluish-green stains in drains and sinks.
If the pH levels in water reach above 10, the water may have a bitter taste to it. Any water pipes could also become encrusted with hard deposits that can be difficult to remove without damaging the pipes. When you attempt to disinfect the water with chlorine, high pH levels in the water could worsen the effects of the disinfectant, which is cost-prohibitive. When water contains higher amounts of free oxygen ions, it’s considered to be acidic. If the water consists of high amounts of free hydroxyl ions, it’s considered to be basic and will almost assuredly have a pH above seven.
Measuring PH Levels
There are several different methods that can be used to measure pH levels in water, most of which you can do on your own. A simple method of measuring pH levels is to use a pH level test kit, which typically comes with indicator drops, a pH test meter, and pH test strips. Test kits that allow you to measure pH can be found at practically every popular supermarket, which includes places like Walmart, Home Depot, and Amazon.com.
If you don’t have easy access to a testing kit, you can use some distilled water and fresh red cabbage to measure pH levels. Once you’ve grated some of the red cabbage, place it in a glass bowl before boiling at least two cups of the distilled water that you purchased. You should then pour the water directly over the cabbage until it just covers it. Make sure that you stir the solution every five minutes or so for a period of 30 minutes.
By this time, the distilled water will have changed color. If the water is pink or red, it’s likely acidic. The presence of purple hues indicates that the water has a neutral pH level. If the water has bluish-green colors to it, the pH values could be on the higher end, which means that the water is alkaline. If you want to obtain a more precise measurement tool, you can consider using pH sensors and detector kits to measure the pH levels in your water. The ideal pH level for long-term human consumption of water is around 8.5-9.5.
What Association Do Alkaline Water and PH Levels Have?
As mentioned previously, alkaline water has a slightly higher pH level than standard drinking water. Most forms of alkaline water consist of pH levels of 8-9, which is a range that’s higher than the neutral pH levels of drinking water. It’s possible to find naturally alkaline water in nature, which occurs when water passes directly over rocks and picks up some minerals. The presence of these minerals causes the pH level to rise and the water to become alkaline.
It’s also possible to purchase alkaline water that has been produced through a chemical process known as electrolysis. This particular process uses an ionizer device to increase pH levels. It’s important that the water is purified before an alkaline ionizer is connected. The many potential health benefits of alkaline water include:
- Support for the immune system
- Weight loss
- Potential resistance to cancer
- Improvements in skin health
- Colon-cleansing properties
- Anti-aging properties
Keep in mind that the studies that have been performed to test these health benefits have been limited, which means that the data is not fully verified. However, alkaline water may be able to bolster your health as long as you don’t drink too much or increase the pH levels to amounts that are too high. If the water tastes bitter, it’s likely that the pH levels are above the normal parameters for alkaline water.
How to Be Safe When Choosing the Right Water for You
When you’re attempting to choose the right water for yourself, it’s important to understand the differences between alkaline water and pH-balanced water. Natural alkaline water may be the healthiest for you since it will contain high amounts of natural minerals. This water should come with pH levels of 8-9. On the other hand, pH-balanced water should consist of pH levels around seven. While this water may not be quite as healthy as natural alkaline water, it can help you maintain your health and is far better than drinking soda, coffee, or sports drinks.
If you opt for artificial alkaline water, keep in mind that this water might not have enough minerals in it. If you drink too much of the water, you could be deficient in some of the more important minerals. Another type of water that you could drink is distilled water, which is water that contains no minerals or contaminants. The main benefits of distilled water include:
- The water is purified
- The water is free of contaminants, which include viruses and bacteria
- The water can flush out harmful chemicals and toxins from your body
Measuring the pH levels of water is highly important for numerous reasons. If water becomes too acidic, it can be corrosive and may lead to health issues if you drink too much of it. On the other hand, water with a high pH level can be bitter and may lead to the development of deposits on the water pipes around your home. Measuring pH levels on a consistent basis will allow you to monitor the quality of your water and react if ever the pH levels dip too low or increase too much. It’s also easy to measure the pH levels if you have access to the right tools and sensors.