Does the word “alkaline” remind you of chemistry class? It’s more commonly heard these days than one might guess. Used to describe the high pH in certain beverages and foods, it’s part of a current health trend.
All food items fall somewhere along the scale of acid and alkaline — water is located in-between, making it neutral. Sufficient research is lacking, but many proponents of alkaline-based diets claim that this water could be even better for you than standard H2O.
Making alkaline water is possible at home and may be a good alternative to buying it. Let’s take a closer look.
Alkalinity and Diet
Without getting too scientific, the measure of pH refers to the number of hydrogen ions in any given substance. pH levels range from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline) (1). The higher the hydrogen ion levels (H+), the lower the pH and vice versa.
Within the human body, an acceptable pH level is around the “neutral” range — between 7.35 and 7.45 (2). Our bodies carefully maintain this level on an ongoing basis.
Some believe that the higher a food’s acid content, the worse it is for you. Caffeine, sugar, certain dairy products, and meat are all examples of foods with a low pH, making them more acidic.
As we’re well aware, staying hydrated is essential to our health (3). So, when people discovered that water could be made more alkaline, the marketing opportunity was too good for companies to pass up. Manufacturers may already list their water’s pH level on the bottle, but these levels can vary considerably.
Bottled water is already slightly more alkaline than tap water. Sparkling water is more acidic — due in part to the carbonation. Alkaline water has a pH of around 7.5 to 9, versus a level of 7 for regular water.
What Are the Benefits of Alkaline Water?
There isn’t enough substantial research backing the claims of alkaline diets or the benefits of alkaline water (4). With very few peer-reviewed studies to go by, we’re undecided on what, if any, health benefits there really are.
- Protects against inflammation — linked to digestive issues and disease.
- Works as an antioxidant, protecting the body against free radicals.
- Promotes bone and muscle health.
- Increases magnesium and vitamin D levels.
- May reduce acid reflux.
- It’s hydrating (well, because it’s water).
In China, one study points to alkaline water being specifically beneficial for those suffering from high blood pressure and other circulatory issues (8).
What Are the Risks of Alkaline Water?
Some researchers believe that just as too much acid can be harmful for your body, too much alkali may be as well. Completely avoiding acidic foods and beverages could leave you missing out on essential nutrients. Also, lowering the stomach’s acidity levels could reduce your body’s effectiveness at fighting bacteria (9).
However, one can’t say for sure. Again, there isn’t adequate research material to back up any risks associated with alkaline diets and alkaline water specifically.
It doesn’t look like testing the alkaline waters yourself will put you in grave danger — as long as you don’t go crazy with it. Do make sure to still consume regular drinking water as well, just in case.
How to Make Alkaline Water in 4 Different Ways
If you’re anything like us, dropping $7 or $8 on a bottle of water makes us think twice. Especially when we can’t be sure of the claims made.
Instead, why not try making alkaline water at home? There are a few different methods for doing so, some more budget-friendly than others:
Use a Water Ionizer
A water ionizer machine, like this Aqua Ionizer Deluxe, is a top-of-the-line home appliance that uses electrolysis to separate water’s contents into acid and alkaline components (10). The second stream with a higher pH is what we’d call “alkaline water.”
The cost may be prohibitive for some — starting around $500 and going upward into the thousands.
To use a water ionizer:
- Set it up: This step is relatively simple for most ionizers. A majority of appliances come with a quick connect fitting that fits the hose. Ensure your machine has all the necessary pieces and clear instructions to follow.
- External flow: Does your machine have an external flow knob? If not, consider getting one. This is especially important if you want to travel with your machine and not bother with any hard-plumbing aspects.
- Set the pH level: Most machines allow you to set the pH level between approximately 8 and 10. For the first few days, start on the low end as your body adjusts. If you experience little to no digestive difficulties, increase the pH level over time.
- Drink Up: Once the water passes through the machine, the resulting alkaline water is safe to drink.
Use an Ionized Water Filter/Pitcher
An ionized water pitcher is a more cost-effective, lower-risk purchase — you can get one for approximately $50. This makes a popular option for those looking to try alkaline water.
Most pitchers work in the same way and contain a minimum of two filters. The first reduces chlorine and toxins found in tap water. A second filter adds alkaline minerals into the water.
Each filter works in stages with some requiring up to six stages per step. Don’t worry, though — the pitcher does it all for you.
To use the ionized water pitcher:
- Read the instructions: They function similarly to other water filter pitchers out there. Ensure yours comes with specific instructions, including the lifespan of the filters involved.
- Fill the reservoir: Fill your clean pitcher and allow the filters to work their magic.
- Drink slowly: Consume in small quantities until your body adjusts.
- Storage: Store your water in BPA-free containers within the fridge.
Add pH Drops to Water
Even easier than the methods above is to use pH drops. Some say they’re more effective than the filters because of the straightforward process.
As you might guess, pH drops are precisely that — an alkaline concentrate sold in small bottles (perfect for travel or in the office). All you have to do is add it to regular water. Some contain fruit extracts for taste; otherwise, the drops are rather flavorless.
Most claim to raise the pH of the water to around 8 to 10, so, similar to a water ionizer.
The product should guide you as to how much to use. But, generally, simply add a couple of pH drops per cup of water. Mix and enjoy. There are no definitive guidelines on how much to drink, but start small and build up to around 8 cups per day.
Be aware of your body
Use Baking Soda in Water
That’s right, it might sound a bit old school, but hear us out. Baking soda has a pH of around 8.3 — this falls into the range achieved by using the methods above.
Aside from this pH level, baking soda comes with numerous other health benefits, including as a mouthwash (11).
To use baking soda:
- Mix with water: Add approximately 0.5 teaspoons of baking soda to a gallon of water.
- Dissolve: Shake the mixture vigorously until it’s dissolved.
- Add flavor: If the taste isn’t bearable, consider a squeeze of lemon or a cucumber slice.
- Cool storage: Store in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Alkaline Water Taste?
This depends on the method you use for making alkaline water. Some users say that, in general, the water tastes silkier and smoother (12) — this is supposedly due to the smaller groups of molecules existing in alkaline water.
Others swear by using alkaline water for cooking or making coffee or tea, claiming it helps bring out other flavors (13).
The baking-soda method may be the least attractive of all methods, given the soapy taste of sodium bicarbonate (14).
When Should I Drink Alkaline Water?
Alkaline Water Round-Up
Alkaline water is a hot topic and, like many health trends, there’s not enough research to confirm or deny the benefits.
With that said, we do know that in moderate amounts, it can’t harm us. Instead of wasting money on bottles from the store, try one of our DIY methods above. Depending on your budget and what you’re after, there’s something for everyone. Making alkaline water has never been easier!