127 To reach this state of stability, both hydrogen and oxygen atoms create covalent bonds with each other, as illustrated in the diagram on the right. In a water molecule, two hydrogen atoms are covalently bonded to the oxygen atom. But because the oxygen atom is larger than the hydrogen atom, its attraction for the hydrogen's electrons is correspondingly greater so the electrons are drawn closer in to the orbit of the larger oxygen atom and away from the hydrogen orbits. This means that although the water molecule as a whole is stable, the greater mass of the oxygen nucleus tends to draw in all the electrons in the molecule including the shared hydrogen electrons giving the oxygen portion of the molecule a slight electronegative charge. The orbits of the hydrogen atoms, because their electrons are closer to the oxygen, take on a small electropositive charge. This means water molecules have a tendency to form weak bonds with other water molecules because the oxygen end of the molecule is negative and the hydrogen ends are positive. A hydrogen atom, while remaining covalently bonded to the oxygen of its own molecule, can form a weak bond with the oxygen of another molecule. Similarly, the oxygen end of a molecule can form a weak attachment with the hydrogen ends of other molecules. Because water molecules have this polarity, water is a continuous chemical entity. These weak bonds play a crucial role in stabilizing the shape of many of the large molecules found in living matter. Because these bonds are weak,
they are readily broken and re-formed during normal physiological reactions. The disassembly and re-arrangement of such weak bonds is in essence the chemistry of life. Water is a universal solvent due to the marked polarity of water molecules and their tendency to form hydrogen bonds with other molecules. To illustrate water's ability to break down other substances, consider the simple example of putting a small amount of table salt in a glass of water. Table salt, also known by its chemical name sodium chloride [NaCl], is an example of an ionic compound, which means that one of the atoms involved stole a valence electron from the other. In this case, the chlorine atom [Cl], stole an electron from the sodium atom [Na], resulting in the creation of an electronegative chloride ion [Cl-] and an electropositive sodium ion [Na+]. The two ions are bonded together because of the attraction of opposite charges. better understand ionic bonds After salt is placed in water, the ionic bond between the sodium and chloride ions is broken due to the competitive action of the water molecules that outnumber the salt molecules. The electronegative oxygen pole of the water molecule is attracted to the positively charged sodium ions [Na+], and the electropositive hydrogen pole of the water molecule is attracted to the negatively charged chloride ions [Cl-]. As with the example of table salt, water has the ability to dissolve many unwanted substances that have accumulated in our bodies over time, such as solid waste and toxins, and to flush them away through the body's natural elimination channels such as lungs, colon, kidneys, liver, and skin.
119 It would be hard to improve the healthfulness or cleaning power of water without adding any chemicals or supplements to it. But companies are claiming to do just that by "ionizing" water. Enagic USA's Kangen Water Companies are selling machines that put drinking water through an "ionization" process. According to the companies, the process, also called "electrolysis," is accomplished using negatively and positively charged electrodes. In the process, water atoms give electrons to the electrodes or receive them, according to a graphic on Chanson Water USA Inc.'s website. The result is a chemical reaction that results in water becoming more acid or alkaline. Tap water typically has a pH of around 7, or neutral; alkaline water has a pH of more than 7; acidic water, less than 7. Companies say alkaline water has a variety of benefits, ranging from giving you energy to counteracting unhealthy effects of acidic foods you eat.
Some scientists, however, say there aren't any good studies supporting the ionized-water companies' marketing claims. Alkaline Water Machines, long sold internationally, have been generating increased interest in the U.S. during the past couple of years, says Pauli Undesser, director of regulatory and technical affairs at the Water Quality Association, a nonprofit trade group for the water-treatment industry. Earth Trade Water Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., posts testimonials from professional athletes who say its ionized alkaline water boosts their performances by providing better hydration and aiding "energy" and "focus." A Laguna Hills, Calif., unit of Chanson Taiwan LLC, says on its website that its ionized water has smaller clusters of water molecules than ordinary water and these "microclusters" are better able to "penetrate into more places in the body." In a marketing brochure, Enagic USA Inc., a Los Angeles unit of Japan's Enagic Co., says its "Healthy Kangen Water"—which has a pH of 8.5 to 9.5—"helps your body balance the acidic effects" of eating foods such as meat and eggs. Enagic's Leveluk SD501 model, which sells for $3,980, uses seven electrodes. Enagic also says Kangen water tastes better with "superior mouth-feel." In an informal blind taste test at a local spa offering Kangen water, I found the Kangen water tasted soft and velvety, but with a mineral aftertaste, compared with ordinary tap water. The machines, which typically range from $1,000 to $6,000, are generally attached to a faucet, but some models go under the sink. The alkaline water, which the companies say is ideal for drinking and cooking, comes out of one of the machines' spigots, while acid water, which can be used for cleaning, comes out of another. The degree of alkalinity is often adjustable. The machines have a built-in filter, which filters impurities just like any other water filter.