Why pH Matters In Your Water
You may have heard of recent diet fads or specialty drinks claiming to be "high alkaline." What does this mean and how does it relate to pH level? Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for a crash course in understanding water pH and acidity.
What is pH?
In bio-chemistry, pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. The scale runs from 0 to 14. If it is located lower on the scale, it is more acidic. If it is located higher on the scale, it is more basic, or alkaline. Processed foods and products like yogurt, fish, and cheese are typically more acidic while vegetables like beets, bell peppers, and kale are high alkaline.
What does pH have to do with water?
Pure water is considered a neutral—located right in the middle of the scale—with a pH of 7. Unfortunately, not all water is pure and is rarely ever at this actual level. So why do the pH levels of water change? There are many contributing factors that can affect the acidity and alkalinity of water. The first and most prominent of these is the bedrock and soil composition in which the water is located. Depending on the rock type, acidity in the water might be neutralized. On the other hand, plant growth and organic material located near the water can actually increase acidity due to the emission of carbon dioxide when decomposition occurs. Other factors include the dumping of chemicals, acid precipitation, and run-off or water treatment processes.
pH levels in drinking water are monitored extremely closely and are required to be kept in a range of 6.5–8.5 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Though, due to the immense task of regulating these levels carefully, often times the PH balance is not at an unacceptable level in most homes. The effects of drinking acidic or alkaline water could be harmful. When water is below a pH level of 7, it has a corrosive quality to it. This means it could contain iron, copper, lead, or zinc from plumping and various other metal fixtures. It will have a bitter and metallic taste to it. High alkaline water doesn't pose large health risks but does cause aesthetic problems. Formation of scale or precipitate on piping, fixtures, dishes, and utensils will occur. The taste will have a baking soda-like taste and will have a slippery feel.
So what happens if your body isn't balanced?
Being either too alkaline or too acidic can be harmful to your health. The importance of water pH is to keep your body in balance and to regulate metabolic processes. A diet high in acidity will lead to weight gain, slower immune response, and susceptibility to disease, while a diet too alkaline will lead to inability to metabolize key nutrients. Our bodies are constantly working to achieve a balanced pH level. The foods we eat, the liquids we drink, even the emotions we feel, are all contributing to our pH level.