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.
122 I used a negative logarithm of the hydrogen concentration to create a scale from 0-14, where a pH of less than 7 is an acid, 7 is neutral, and higher than 7 is an alkali," reads an 2009 announcement from Carlsberg, on the 100th anniversary of the breakthrough. So water has a pH of 7, lemon juice 2.4, and bleach 12.5. The pH of beer is between 4.1. and 4.6 .... Before the pH scale, the only parameter to measure acid levels were vague terms such as 'good,' 'bad,' or 'slightly more than last time.' The innumerable useful applications of the pH (short for "potential of Hydrogen") scale range from foods and beverages to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and medical diagnostics. Just about every liquid has had its pH measured at some time—including those in our bodies—which, it is very important to note, have more than one pH level. Take the stomach, for instance. It has a pH ranging from 1.35 to 3.5, due to production of hydrocloric acid, which aids in digestion. Blood, on the other hand, must always be slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.35 to 7.45. The body's buffering systems keep it within that precise range, and excess acid is excreted by the lungs and kidneys. That's part of their job, and they are very, very good at it. The body maintains its pH balance over widely differing diets, and even though what you eat can affect the pH level of your urine, it cannot affect the pH level of your blood. Understand? Good. Now back to
. These electrical devices—which generally cost from $1,000 to almost $6,000 and are often sold by multi-level marketing companies—attach to the kitchen faucet or go under the sink. They strip out contaminants, like other filters, and, besides producing alkaline water for drinking, they also produce acidic water, for cleaning. If you've ever washed windows with a water-and-vinegar mixture, you know acidic water is a good cleansing agent. But the notion that alkaline water can fight or prevent disease? Any chemist will tell you that there is still much to learn about water, but hmmm. Many of the online claims are based on the theory that ionized alkaline water has smaller "clusters" of molecules. According to the Kangen Water website, for instance, "These small clusters make alkaline water Kangen Water more soluble and permeable, allowing you to absorb the important vitamins and nutrients your body needs." And The Alkalizer ("A Wetter Water for a Better Body") maintains that, "The smaller mineral clusters, as measured by the use of a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance device is a more hydrating water than normal tap water. 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."