123 Through electrolysis large tap mineral clusters are reduced from their original size. The smaller cluster size gives the water excellent hydrating properties, high solubility and good permeability." Just How Stressed Out Is Your Drinking Water? Small clusters? Is this stuff for real? Well, yes and no, I discovered, after reaching out to Kenneth Jordan, distinguished professor of computational chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. Well known for his work on water clusters—groups of water molecules linked together—he collaborated on a number of studies on water structure that Science magazine listed as among the top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2004. There are dozens of companies that claim to convert water into clustered water or to otherwise rearrange water and sell products based on this. Essentially, all of these claims are bogus," he wrote in an email. "Take clustered water as an example
. One can make this in a laboratory at very low temperatures and very low pressures (i.e., in a vacuum). This keeps the clusters from touching one another. If they touch, they coalesce into bulk water, which is more stable. Alternative-health guru Andrew Weil used that word as well in response to a question about Kangen Water in 2010. "It is the latest variation of so-called alkaline water, which promoters claim is essential for elimination of the acidity in our bodies—attributed to all the evils of the modern world .... The human body needs absolutely no help in adjusting its pH." He added, Unless you have serious respiratory or kidney problems, body pH will remain in balance no matter what you eat or drink .... Bottom line: The health claims for water ionizers and for alkaline water are bogus. It's tempting to close with just one word—"ditto." But in fairness, alkaline water, like any clean water, is a far better choice for hydrating than soda or an additive-filled sports drink. If you choose to see an expensive machine as a gateway to a healthier lifestyle or to give you an edge when competing in sports, then jump right in. It's part and parcel of an alkaline diet, after all, a mostly-vegetarian regimen that I haven't really addressed here. (Why not? Scroll back up and take another look at the question.) But if you think alkaline water will allow you to avoid illnesses that fall into the "Sometimes Stuff Happens" category or live forever, then you are bound to be disappointed.
121 Americans spent $21 billion on bottled waters in 2012, and more and more consumers are investing in a home water filter. A filter can range from an inexpensive carafe or pitcher to a system designed for the whole house, but the latest machine to make waves is the water ionizer, which passes an electrical current through tap water in order to turn it alkaline (i.e., base) through the chemical reaction called electrolysis. Proponents claim alkaline water helps the body neutralize acid in the blood, provides more energy, slows the aging process, and is, according to the online purveyor Alkaline Water Plus, "packed with natural antioxidants [negatively-charged electrons], which are free to naturally fight free radicals .... Drinking
antioxidant water all day long will help you prevent and even reverse free radical damage." "Change your water, change your life," is the trademarked slogan of Kangen Water, marketed by the U.S. branch of the Japanese company Enagic. "Keeping ourselves Alkaline is the first line of defense in fighting any disease," Cal Water Systems states on another website. "Ionized Water essentially renews us at a cellular level. This is as close as we can ever hope to get to a Fountain of Youth, as incredible as that may sound." That does sound incredible. And expensive! Don't know about you, but it made me really curious about how water ionizers work. But first, a little background on the pH scale, which is used to define degrees of alkalinity and acidity. In 1909, S.P.L. Sørensen, director of chemistry at Carlsberg Laboratory, in Copenhagen (founded in 1875 by beer magnate J.C. Jacobsen), invented the pH scale while researching proteins, amino acids, and enzymes—the basis of protein chemistry today.