Does The pH Of Drinking Water Matter?

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Its commonly thought that if waters PH is under 7 then it will erode your teeth, because a pH below 7 is classed as acidic. But does it really matter? Will it erode your teeth? Lets find out!


What Is pH?


First we must understand what we mean by 'pH'. pH, short for 'potential of hydrogen' or 'power of hydrogen' is the measurement of hydrogen ion concentrations which scale from 1 to 14, with numbers below 7 signifying acidity. 7 is known as 'neutral' meaning it is not acidic nor basic. Above 7 is known as 'alkaline' or 'basic'. The higher the

concentration of hydrogen ions, the more acidic the substance is and vice versa. (1)









What Makes Water Alkaline?


Alkaline water is naturally found in water sources where the water passes over and collects minerals from rocks. These minerals, commonly calcium, potassium, magnesium and bicarbonate are naturally alkaline and raise the pH in the water.


Sea water is another example of alkaline water, because of the high mineral salt content more specifically, calcium carbonate (CaCO3), the pH is 8.1. But the pH of sea water is declining because of the increased Co2 output from humans. Most oceanic creatures and corals require a pH higher than 7.6 to survive.







Is There Benefits To Drinking Alkaline Water?


More research must be done on the topic of drinking alkaline water, nonetheless some claim that alkaline water reduces the acidity in our stomachs (which naturally has a pH of 1!) which may help with ailments like acid reflux. (2)


Interestingly, a study from 2012 found that drinking alkaline water at a pH of 8.8 is enough to deactivate the main digestive enzyme, pepsin. The study suggests alkaline water may have "therapeutic benefits" for people with acid reflux.


Some unproven benefits of alkaline water include:


• Boosts immune system

• Antioxidant content

• Ultra-hydrating


As mentioned prior, more research of alkaline water and human consumption is required before we can label conclusive benefits.


Side Effects Of Alkaline Water


Little information is known about the safety of alkaline water and may have negative side effects if consumed in excessive amounts. Side effects may be detrimental to your stomachs natural acids and bacteria. It may also cause problems in the intestinal tract.




What Makes Water Acidic?


The most common contributor to acidic water is carbon dioxide (Co2). When carbon dioxide reacts with water it forms carbonic acid, which release compounds that decrease the pH of the water. (3) (4)


Because of the increased amount of Co2 production, this is a factor in oceans pH dropping. Acid rain is the most prominent man made pH pollution.


Carbonic acid is relatively acidic, at a pH of 4.6. This acid can lower the pH of water quickly. This also explains why rain is slightly acidic, at a pH of 5.6. This is not the cause of the phenomen 'acid rain' however, as the rain has to be below a pH of 5. (5)


Other environmental factors such as the soil surrounding the water source can also lower the pH of the water. Furthermore, acidic bodies of water can develop around volcanoes where there is many acidic compounds that can leach into the water.


Risks Of Acidic Water


Low pH levels increase the solubility of heavy metals, such as mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr) and lead (Pb). The increased concentration of metallic metals increase the toxicity. Which can have numerous negative effects in your body.


As feared, acidic water will corrode your teeth and damage your gums. A way to counteract this is by waiting 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, because the acid softens enamel, brushing will do more harm than good.


Extreme caution should be taken to ensure children do not consume acidic water, as the heavy metal content could prove fatal. Other effects of acidic water are vomiting, diarrhoea, kidney and liver disease and nausea are some of the most common ailments caused by acidic water consumption.




Conclusion


Drinking water with a pH above 7 may prove beneficial in some cases, however should be done with caution and under medical supervision if consumed for extended periods of time. The safety of drinking alkaline water is yet to be established, but neutral (7) pH is a great pH to aim for in drinking water as it is pure water.


Highly acidic water / drinks should be avoided because of the likelihood of the high heavy metal concentration in the water. It will also erode your teeth overtime. There are no benefits of drinking acidic water, however it does have it's uses externally on the body.





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