The bottled water industry has exploded in the last ten years as the public’s confidence in municipal water systems declines. This is particularly interesting as more than 40% of all bottled waters come from municipal sources. Billions of bottles of water are consumed each year imported from far away places like Fiji to a hose in somebody’s garage. Is the bottled water you are drinking, good for you, not so great or maybe even contributing to health issues?
We decided to test a few of the more popular brands for pH or potential hydrogen to see what the results would be. pH is very important for a number of reasons. Our bodies must operate at pH neutral or 7.365. In fact our body will do everything it can to maintain that level in our blood even if it means stealing minerals from our organs and bones to do it. Water is a chief source of the minerals our bodies need to maintain the balance. A pH chart runs from 0-14 with the numbers less than 7 being more acidic as you progress towards zero and more alkaline as you go right to 14.
If water has a pH lower than 7.0, it becomes increasingly more difficult for our bodies to absorb the water molecules as the more acidic water is, the larger the cluster of water molecules. In contrast the more alkaline water is, or over 7.0 pH, the easier it is to absorb the water molecules, as the clusters are smaller. If your body is acidic it becomes a breeding ground for disease as 80% of all diseases like cancer for example, thrive in an acidic environment while they cannot exist in an alkaline environment. As you can see from the chart, cancer cells begin to form at 5.8 pH and below.
So given this, our goal would be to find bottled water that has a minimal pH of 7.0 to 9.5 pH (ingesting any water higher than 9.5 pH is not recommended). We used a Milwaukee Instruments pH 600 digital tester. Two ounces of each sample was placed in a clear plastic cup and the meter remained in the water for exactly 30 seconds. The tester was washed in pH neutral water at 7.0 between each test. The waters tested were Aquafina, Dasani, Smart Water and Evian though almost all bottled waters, will yield similar results. We then compared the bottled water to San Diego tap water.
Evian scored a 7.0 pH or neutral while the others were 5.1 to 5.8 pH. San Diego tap water scored a 7.1 as well. Factors that can influence the bottled water reading include how long the water has been on the shelf, and whether it has been exposed to light or heat; all of which will raise the acidity of the water. While one may be tempted to scoff at the mere 2.0 difference between a reading of 5.0 and 7.0, it should be noted that the pH scale is logarithmic, which means that a score of 5.0 is 100 times more acidic than a score of 7.0. Putting that further in perspective, a can of soda with 3.5 pH (yikes) is 1 million times more acidic than 9.5 pH alkaline drinking water.
What can we conclude from this unscientific test? That most bottled waters are mildly to strongly acidic and therefore may contribute to your body’s state of acidosis. They are not necessarily hydrating you and that some can actually flush the essential electrolytes from your body without hydrating you at all. Your best bet in bottled water is to drink mineral water, which will generally have higher pH levels (better absorption) and add healthy minerals to your diet. Paying attention to the pH levels of foods that you eat and the liquids you consume will help you lead a healthier and happier life. Here is a great video that describes how pH effects your health.
The author is an environmental purity consultant and not a medical professional. As always you should consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet. You can reach the author at [email protected]