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?

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This article has 31 Comments

  1. I have drank alkaline water—made by a water alkalizer—for over 10 years now. I use reverse osmosis to purify the water, then remineralize it with pelletized calcium/magnesium in a remineralization cartridge, then I send it to the alkalizer. I measure the pH of the water using a handheld pH/ORP meter which measures pH to 1/100th of a pH. I have sufficient mineral content to consistently make pH 10.5 alkaline water. The water also have a substantially low ORP as well. I have experienced significant health benefits from drinking this water. I lowered my blood pressure over ten points in the first three weeks of use. I completely cured arthritis in my knees that had made every step painful. I can test my urine pH with test strips and attain a urine pH as high as 9.0. I am 59 years old and take no medications. You can attempt to debunk the effectiveness of a water alkalizer all you want, but I will never stop using mine and reaping the health benefits it has provided me.

  2. About 3 years ago a friend of mine gave me and my wife a presentation about the benefits of consuming Alkaline Water. I must say, I definately agree with the benefits, but the pricing of 1 of the units is what scared me. Nice Article!

  3. Hello Mark, I believe it stands for Oxidation-Reduction Potential. Here is a brief breakdown: Oxidation-reduction potential, or ORP, is a measurement that indicates the degree to which a substance is capable of oxidizing or reducing another substance. ORP is measured in millivolts (mv) using an ORP meter. A positive ORP reading indicates that a substance is an oxidizing agent.

  4. Forgive me for not explaining ORP. Oxidation Reduction Potential is basically the ability of the water to act as an antioxidant. Oxidative stress damages cells. Because the water alkalizer uses a negatively charged plate to create the alkaline water it imparts a measurable negative charge to the resulting alkaline water.
    The Hanna Instruments HI98120 measures both pH to 100th of a pH as well as ORP to a resolution of +/-1000mV. The more negative the measurement, the greater the antioxidant value. Tap water will have a highly positive ORP—indicating no antioxidant value. Alkaline water produced with a water alkalizer will display a negative value. The more powerful the water alkalizer, the more negative the reading will be.

  5. Is it possible that choosing a certain type of limestone and crushing it up in a water dispensing bottle filter has health benefits ? If so is it a good idea to add a simple two pronged zapper attached to a 9 volt battery, Or is there more science to the topic than just that. I know that I dont like risking long term health problems from not understanding that food and water alone is not enough and the idea of having healthy mineral rich water seems like a great idea to compare with chemicals and who knows what in the tap water.

  6. I take water out of any Orlando lake, big or small, scoop out the algae and other debris and put water in a 5 gal GLASS water bottle, like the ones they actually sold over 10 years ago. I then put it in the sun for 5 days, float 3 oz of tequila in it and let it settle in for a day, Then I drink the water. Water tastes great, no hint of tequila after taste, and I haven’t been sick in 16 years.

  7. I disagree with this article. I am 48 years old and was diagnosed with high acid reflux, hurt burn. I was prescribed omeprazole that I was instructed to take 1 a day. And I was over weight, I have tiny lump/cyst in my right breast as well. My sister, my aunt, my niece has undergone mastectomy due to breast cancer. I was afraid that I may follow the same fate, I started looking for ways to prevent the disease and one of them is drinking this alkaline water. So i got the device and started drinking alkaline water. I noticed changes in my body. First, I have more energy. My acid reflux had decrease I’m not taking the pills as frequent as before. Maybe once or twice a month. I noticed the lump in my breast had decreased too and I lost 5 pounds in 3 most of drinking the alkaline water. So far it’s working for me. It’s just so funny that science and scientist will tell you what is good for you and after awhile will tell you it’s not good anymore. Who discovered alkaline is good for our body’s ph? Isn’t it the scientist? And now scientists tells us it’s not good. Well, this the point. Just because it’s not good for you, means it’s not good for me. And there is always someone or somebody to contradict the greatness of things. It’s like when everything is like a garden of eden somehow a snake comes along…. lol. That’s life, I guess. ….

  8. I doubt drinking alkaline water will give you any benefits, but
    If you suffer from silent reflux (LPR) then a possible mechanism for the illness is pepsin, the pepsin is released from the stomach as a gas which then binds to the cells in your throat, nose and upper airway.
    Acidic food will activate the pepsin and damage the cells, drinking alkaline water can potentially deactivate the pepsin.
    Thats the theory im not saying it works.

  9. It never seems we can win with clean drinking water. I agree with commenter Gia. One minute science tells us something is okay, then not. But thanks for this informative post. What is the safest option for drinking water?

  10. This article is deceptive and I am just wondering why someone out in this world would want to turn people away from the healing power of these Water Ionizer systems? I am not going to go into my own personal details about my experience with my Life Water Ionizer unit but I haven’t felt this great in years and it helps with everything from cooking, cleaning, beauty, and drinking water. I just feel like the article had a bad borderline evil agenda out there so I just want to share my brief humble opinion on my EXPERIENCES and in short, my family and I would never go without one of these machines another day of our lives.

  11. Again, ionizers are built on a scientific misconception (this can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt) and in some cases, they may be detrimental to the user. However, your belief is what fuels this industry. Good luck!

  12. I do not claim to be an expert on anything really and certainly not this, but as far as I have researched thus far…
    RO machines commonly add the minerals that are being referenced as missing in munipal water sources.
    RO machines commonly remove 98-99 % of contaminants that are being referenced as not being removed by these machines.
    RO machines that do this range greatly in price and can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and yes to several thousand if you choose to go with those options.
    There are many RO systems (that a few hundred bucks) made in USA with pretty good warranties / guarantees. So it seems to me there are plenty affordable options out there.

  13. Mark, You are absolutely right!!! As a biochemist, I can’t believe the misinformation and ignorance regarding human biochemistry. Just like the “Snake oil salesmen” a hundred seventy years ago, claims of curing diseases unassociated with pH, with so-called Alkaline water, are total BS. It is an interesting insight into the Placebo effect, however.
    As you suggested, Baking Soda works great and costs next to nothing. Don’t overdo it!!
    As for John’s comments, the Hanna Instruments HI98120 is NOT a pH meter. That would be the Hanna Instruments HI98121. I would take anything he contributed with a grain of salt. Pun intended.

  14. I drink bottled alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 or higher to permanently deactivate pepsin in my throat and esophagus. Also, to help neutralize soda and coffee. We tend to unnaturally drink a lot of acidic drinks these days. I started about four days ago and already feel a difference.

  15. Since when? I have had great success with our water ionizer. It is adjustable for different levels of acidity and alkalinity. Fairly cheap. Filters out flouride completely as well as other contaminants. You can test all of this with simple test strips. It tastes way better for drinking and cooking and the animals like it better too. It actually allows a steady flow of calcium and mag so like I said I am able to adjust the ph. Alkaline water has dozens of health benefits and supports an alkaline environment within our bodies to ward off illness and disease caused by processed foods, soda, junk food, coffee, sugar, dairy, red meat, poor soil, etc etc. Our diets have drastically changed over the years. I am not understanding your concept here whatsoever as it can easily be evaluated through blood work and respiratory function if you want sincere “proof”. We can further assist our bodies by trying to minimize stress and through exercise. While alkaline water ALONE is not a one size fits all cure, it certainly does help, especially with hydration! It’s all proven beneficial, but my understanding is that you’re trying to state that the cations are not converted into a usable source? This doesn’t make any sense. Our bodies will absorb the nutrients and due to the mag, will allow calcium to be destributed in bones and teeth where it needs to be instead of floating around in lala land causing more problems. It reduces pepsin, blood sugar, and improves overall hydration by increasing the amount of circulating fluid as opposed to just flushing it out. Maybe if you were referring to bottled water because we all know it’s false advertising and tastes like shit…but an actual ionizer or reverse osmosis system…I highly doubt it. If you sincerely believe this then just add lemon to your water, acv, sodium bicarb and eat a nutrient dense diet that is organic and doesn’t contain pesticides. Grow your own food, whatever, but don’t discount it’s effects based on non-medical hogwash floating around the internet. There are a variety of ways to improve our bodily systems and encourage proper function. It’s really up to the person as to which system works best. I would really like to see this “research”. You say you are a scientist…so how have you personally tested and proven your theory? Or is this really just a bunch of crap you found on the internet opposing every research study out there in which there are no pharmaceutical kickbacks to coerce people into believing otherwise?

  16. I don’t understand why baking soda is recommended as it is used to kill weeds clean around the house surely that’s really unhealthy. I just brought pH replenish because I wanted a glass water filter instead of plastic now after reading all the comments I’m really confused 😞 I stopped drinking tap water 13 years ago and would like to stay on that path but one step further by giving up the plastic aaaarrrggghhh

  17. Many oncologists recommend baking soda for cancer patients. It’s like anything else – too much can kill you but in moderation it can be good for you.

    P.S. The right plastic is not a problem.

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