This article offers a simple explanation of the meanings of “alkaline” and alkalinity” written by Dr Mark Sircus. Unfortunately, the words are often confused and misused by the alkaline water industry.
Alkaline without alkalinity
A glass of Water at pH nine can have low, medium or high ALKALINITY – and everything in between, depending on what’s dissolved in it. It is what is in one’s Water that makes all the difference. You can have high-level pH water (highly alkaline) and just about no alkalinity – meaning the Water hardly buffers the body’s acid condition. It’s not high pH alkaline water we need; it’s Water with high levels of ALKALINITY.
We found something in the drinking water that made us sit up and notice. We tested the Water, and to our dismay, it was slightly acidic but putting only a pinch of sodium bicarbonate into a few litres of Water moved it to an alkaline pH. Everyone, public and professional alike, seems confused over the terms “alkaline” and “alkalinity.”
To put it simply, it is not enough to drink high-pH alkaline water pH is not a significant factor at all when one is trying to alkalize the body (“think” lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and fresh green juices – all of which have an acid pH but are still great for alkalizing!). The key to addressing excessive metabolic acids and building alkalizing reserves in our body fluids and tissues is the amount of alkalinity (alkaline mineral compounds) consumed.
Water expert Robert Slovak wrote, “Baking soda is still beloved! It delivers the goods – real alkalinity – while most popular alkaline pH drops from well-known “health experts” are a hoax at $35-$40 for pennies worth of caustic chemical in 2oz of Water. Just note that for some people baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may supply too much sodium, so they can substitute potassium bicarbonate or mix the two.”
“The pH of water, by itself, has no “teeth” unless it has buffering capacity. So we can easily give you drinking Water with a pH of less than seven that can neutralize more acid than Water with a pH of 10! That’s how un-intuitive this subject is and why people are confused. High pH ionized Water, without accompanying alkalinity (bicarbonates, carbonates and hydroxides), does little but waste money.” continued Slovak.
Even when the pH of Water is very high, the lack of sufficient alkalinity (alkalizing minerals) makes it impossible to neutralize the acid in the stomach to initiate bicarbonate production in the bloodstream (the Alkaline Tide effect). An alkaline ionizer barely adds alkalinity to the Water (but raises the pH), so the only actual acid-neutralizing capacity is from the alkalinity already in your tap water! Therefore, it is a waste of money to alkalize the body using alkaline ionized Water – not when baking soda is so available and inexpensive.
Alkalinity is the Water’s capacity to resist changes in pH that would make the Water more acidic. This capacity is commonly known as “buffering capacity.” For example, if you add the same weak acid solution to two vials of Water – both with a pH of 7, but one with no buffering power (e.g. zero alkalinity) and the other with buffering power (e.g. an alkalinity of 450 mg/l) – the pH of the zero alkalinity water will immediately drop. In contrast, the buffered Water’s pH will barely change.
The alkalinity of natural Water is determined by the soil composition and bedrock through which it passes. The primary sources of natural alkalinity are rocks, which contain carbonate, bicarbonate, and hydroxide compounds. Borates, silicates, and phosphates also may contribute to alkalinity. Limestone is rich in carbonates, so waters flowing through limestone regions or bedrock-containing carbonates generally have high alkalinity – hence good buffering capacity. Conversely, surface water (e.g., streams, ponds, lakes) and underground zones rich in granites and some conglomerates and sandstones may have low alkalinity and, therefore, poor buffering capacity.
People using alkaline ionizers in low mineral areas (many city supplies use surface water or river sources) are especially misled because the Water from their electrical alkaline ionizers can still be set to a high pH. But, there is too slight alkalinity present to make a health difference. They would be much better off with 1/2 tsp. of baking soda added to the Water. All users of electrical water ionizers should consider adding sodium bicarbonate to their Water if they are looking for more substantial alkalizing effects.
Please note that in all our research before setting up AHA Structured Water. An electrical water ionizer can be detrimental to your health when used as your primary water source in the long run. How do we know well? We used to own a licence for the entire Australian market, and we drank it ourselves before we learned about Structured Water. The great thing about structured Water is that it does so much more. For example, it makes any minerals available in tap water or added bioavailable instantly at the cellular level when your cells demand hydration.