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.
Plastic bottles are not sustainable, no matter what we've been told. Using vast quantities of fossil fuels and water, these bottles are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the globe. (Not a good carbon footprint!) Neither are bottles biodegradable in any meaningful way: what you drink in a few minutes can stick around for a thousand years. Even with recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed in the U.S. are "downcycled"—sent somewhere out of sight and out of mind where, for the next millennia, toxins from degrading plastic containers can leach into watersheds and soil. That's just not something we need to give to global neighbors and future generations. Most bottled water is glorified tap water at 10,000 times the cost. The label on your bottled water may depict a peaceful mountain stream, but that doesn't mean the water inside is pure and pristine. Only some bottled water comes from springs or groundwater sources. It turns out that approximately 25% of bottled water is sourced from ... the tap. Sure, some companies filter or radiate the tap water with ultraviolet light before selling it to you at several thousand times the cost of municipal tap water. (Examples include Aquafina, Dasani, and many other brands.)
Moreover, studies show that bottled water samples can contain phthalates, mold, microbes, benzene, trihalomethanes, even arsenic. And only recently did the FDA start regulating bottled water for E. Coli, thanks to advocacy by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Upshot: bottled water markup is extreme. Health standards are often a wash and may even favor tap water. If you're concerned about municipal water supply and want to know more, check out this helpful resource, which can help you learn about your municipal water supply and decide if filtration or purification is right for you. Many bottled waters contain toxins, even if they've nixed BPA. Plastic isn't just bad for the planet, It's not good for you, either. Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Some of these chemicals are possible endocrine disruptors. No one knows for sure what the health outcomes are. Do you really want your body to undergo that experiment? . 325