What is Ionized Water?

glass of water

Water brands and companies have seized on the alkaline water trends and have begun to artificially inflate pH counts in water for marketing purposes. Health influencers and personalities have long touted the potential health benefits of hydrating with alkaline water high in pH, but one of the key facts and important details about water high in pH is the trend of artificially adding pH to water during the bottling and packaging process. This water is not natural pH water or alkaline water, it is called ionized water.

What is Ionized Water

Just about all water found in nature acquires ions and bicarbonate and calcium as they come interact with rocks and sediments undergound. Even the purest rainwater contains some hydrogen- and bicarbonate ions that are formed when it collects carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If you take regular water from the tap, and artificially add baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, the pH level will become elevated. But this artificially ionizing the water, and is quite different from water from aquifers with high mineral content that is naturally high in pH. The key to high pH water is the minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium bicarbonate that occur naturally in the water. Ionized water is simply water that measures elevated pH levels, and shouldn't be considered alkaline water.

Why it Matters

The minerals from alkaline water is what the body needs and wants. So what is the human body going to do with artificial pH? Because ionized water it is only an abundance of OH- and less H+, the human body cannot utilize these ions as if they were minerals. The process through which your drinking water has acquired a high alkaline and pH is more than important than simply having it. Natural alkaline water is rich in minerals, and while artificial alkaline water may contain some minerals, not all of the minerals found in natural mineral water are found in artificially enhance pH water. It only becomes alkaline due to the ionization process it goes through before being bottled. The human body can recognize alkalinity but it can’t recognize if there are any useful substances in the alkaline liquid. In other words, artificial alkaline water may dupe your body into thinking that it has received minerals like magnesium and calcium. By thinking the water being consumed is rich in minerals, it will start to deplete some of its own mineral reserves, which could potentially result in a mineral deficiency, which is not healthy. To the contrary, natural alkaline water is rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium, which you won't get with ionized water.

How is Water Ionized

Water becomes ionized when it becomes 'charged' by a water ionizer machine. These machines uses electrical currents to break the water molecules into positive hydrogen atoms and negative hydroxide ions at a much higher rate than what is naturally and normally possible. This machine contains both a positively charged electrode and a negatively charged electrode in a bath of water. The process, while called ionization, is actually a form of electrolysis as electrons are essentially removed from the molecules to form the ions. The electrodes are made of an unreactive metal like platinum to prevent the metal from adding metal ions to the water. After breaking the water molecules apart, the water containing more hydroxide ions is then collected as alkaline water or 'reduced water'. And as a byproduct of the process, the water containing more positively charged hydrogen ions can also be collected as acidic water.

Does Ionized Water Have Health Benefits

While there are studies that suggest drinking artificially ionized water over long periods of time can have related health benefits, there is no universally accepted scientific data to support these claims. In general, when it some to drinking water, the less tinkering with Mother Nature the better. So it is recommended that consumers who are interested in high pH, alkaline water for health reasons, should consume only alkaline naturally high in pH.

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Photo by Marios Gkortsilas on Unsplash

by Charles Baker