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Acidic water, also called electrolyzed water, is water with a potential hydrogen (pH) level of less than 7, on the pH scale of 1 to 14.
pH refers to the amount of hydrogen contained in the water. If the level of hydrogen is high (7- 14) the water is considered alkaline, but if the level is low (0-7) the water is acidic. Seven is the sweet spot on the pH scale, indicating neutral or pure water.
So, if acidic water is simply water with a low pH level, how does that impact you? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Acidic Water?
Pure water has a pH of 7, which is neutral. It consists of one acidic hydrogen ion (H+) and one basic (also known as alkaline) hydroxide ion (OH-). Together, these ions cancel each other out resulting in neutral water. Acidic water contains a potential hydrogen (pH) level of less than 7. The safe range for water pH levels is 6.5 to 8.5.
If water is very acidic, with a low pH, it can indicate that there’s a lot of chemical or heavy metal (e.g. arsenic, lead, iron, copper, and mercury) pollution. Typically, water from surface sources can be acidic, but water that’s percolated through sediment and rocks is often more neutralized due to the minerals that get into the water.
All this might sound scary and make you wonder if acidic water is bad for you. The answer isn’t very straightforward. While acidic water isn’t the best for drinking, it can be fine to drink it.
Acidic Water Uses
While acidic water can have its downsides, there are also several benefits of having acidic water coming out of your tap. Here are some of them:
- Skin Benefits – Acidic water can alleviate dry and flaky skin and remove dirt without the use of chemicals. This can result in improved complexion and fresher feeling skin. It complements the pH of the skin and is perfect for washing and showering with.
- Hair Benefits – Washing your hair with acidic water can result in hair that feels soft and shiny. It works like a rinse to clean your scalp and revitalise your hair. You may have heard that using apple cider vinegar to wash your hair results in hair that feels soft, bouncy and shiny. Well, acidic water works in the same way.
- Antiseptic – Acidic water can remove bacteria and germs from cuts and abrasions and can even work like a mouth rinse to remove bacteria and plaque. This antiseptic property also makes it good for washing your hands in.
- Food – Washing your vegetables and fruit as well as meat, with acidic water can remove harmful pathogens. The lower the pH level in the water, the better the chances of killing bacteria and viruses by washing.
- Plants – Plants tend to like being watered with acidic water which has been seen to promote growth. This helps to kill unwanted fungus. Cut flowers placed in vases with acidic water last longer and gives you more chances to enjoy them.
- Disinfectant – Consider using acidic water to wipe down kitchen counters, mop the floors and clean bathroom sinks, as the low pH in the water tends to kill microorganisms and disinfect the area.
While all these are attractive benefits, note that prolonged use of acidic water can cause issues in the long term. These can be related to your hair and skin, overall health, household appliances and plumbing.
Acidic Water Problems
We’ve talked a lot about the uses of acidic water, but let’s now take a look at the flip side of water with low pH levels.
Acidic water is very corrosive, and it can lead to damage in pipes and plumbing. It tends to dissolve copper out of pipes, which in turn leaves blue-green corrosion stains on baths, showers and faucets. This is one tell-tale sign of acidic water and an indication that there are heavy metals in your water.
Apart from damaging your pipes, acidic water also attracts metal ions from the pipes and carries them into your home’s water supply. What this means is that unwanted chemicals like iron, copper, manganese and lead can get into your water. If these levels are high, the water you drink can become toxic and cause health issues.
The taste of acidic water is often unpleasant which can make the drinking water unpleasant. The taste is often metallic or sour.
Acidic water is also often connected to health issues such as damage to your teeth and gums as well as to digestive problems. If the acidic water contains large amounts of heavy metals, it can lead to other health risks including vomiting, diarrhea and stomach problems.
Alkaline vs. Acidic Water
If acidic water can have such negative and positive impacts, how does it compare to alkaline water? Alkaline water typically has a pH of around 8 or 9.
Water with alkaline (also known as basic) reaches from a pH greater than 7 to a pH of 14. Most alkaline water is in the pH range of 8 to 9 and occurs because of the addition of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.
In recent years, drinking alkaline water has become a big trend, due to its many purported health benefits including slowing down aging and preventing diseases like cancer. There’s also a belief that alkaline water offers better hydration, which is why many athletes add additives to their water to enhance its alkalinity. Many believe that the alkalinity in water with high pH levels can neutralize the acidity in your body.
However, the jury is still out on whether alkaline water is as good for you as is claimed. This is because health professionals and researchers say that the science isn’t sufficient to back up these health claims of alkaline water. While alkaline water isn’t unsafe, too much of it can cause deficiency of essential minerals.
Bottled alkaline water has become a major player in the market, but there’s no evidence to suggest that increasing the alkalinity in your water has any benefits.
How Do I Know if My Water is Acidic?
Look for the tell-tale signs that indicate acidic water coming out of your tap. These include the following signs:
- A metallic taste in your water, indicative of excess heavy metals
- The smell and taste of chlorine
- Rust in metal pipes
- Blue or green build up around iron or copper pipes
While these are significant clues, it’s best to test your water to be sure. For this, purchase a water testing kit that will indicate your water pH level. These come in a variety of styles, from thermometer style kits to simple paper strips.
If you’re looking to purchase a testing kit, here are some of the best on the market:
Types of Acidic Water
There are many types of water on the market and some of these are known for being acidic. These include:
1- Carbonated Water
Carbonated water is also known as club soda or soda water. It’s made by injecting carbon dioxide into the water under pressure, which gives the water a fizzy quality. There are several types of carbonated water, including seltzer water, tonic water and sparkling water. These types of water may also have some other minerals and salts added to enhance the taste and flavor of the water. The carbon dioxide in the water results in carbon acid, which gives the water a fizzy, burning sensation when you drink it. It’s irritating but enjoyable at the same time, which is why carbonated water is so popular. The pH level of carbonated water is around 3-4, which makes it acidic in nature. However, drinking carbonated water isn’t known to cause health issues as the body is able to get rid of unwanted carbon dioxide and to neutralize the pH levels.
2- Distilled Water
Another type of water that becomes acidic, distilled water is water that’s gone through a distillation process. This purifies it and removes it of all minerals, contaminants and chemicals. Pure distilled water has a pH level of 7 as soon as it’s distilled and is neutral. However, distilled water doesn’t remain neutral for long.
The water absorbs carbon dioxide from the air, and the carbon dioxide then reacts with the water to create carbonic acid. It takes distilled water about 2 hours for it to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and reach a state of equilibrium with the atmosphere. The final pH will be around 5.8 which makes distilled water slightly acidic.
Acidic water has its many benefits and uses, but it also has several downsides. It’s best to test your water to ensure you know its pH levels and then to treat the water accordingly. Overall, having water within the recommended pH levels is safe to drink, while water that’s too acidic or too alkaline can pose potential health problems.