Are the Benefits of Alkaline Water a Myth?

Are the Benefits of Alkaline Water a Myth

The benefits of alkaline water based on over 40 studies that document health benefits from drinking alkaline water. In fact, there is enough evidence for health authorities like the Mayo Clinic to accept that there is a link between alkaline water and bone health. Myths are stories that are not based on evidence. There are over 40 clinical studies that provide evidence of alkaline water’s benefits. There are also some myths about alkaline water that give it a bad name. Many of them are claims about Kangen Water having mystical properties that defy the laws of chemistry and physics.

Why do some people claim that the benefits of alkaline water are a myth?

There are mythical claims about the benefits of alkaline water made by enthusiastic water ionizer salespeople who don’t understand science. The most common mythical claim about alkaline water (and Kangen Water) is that it’s microclustered. The microclustering myth came about thanks to the work of a Japanese doctor named Dr. Emoto. Microclustering claims that water molecules cluster in bunches (they don’t) and that alkaline water molecules cluster in smaller bunches (they don’t).

alkaline water microclustering myth infographic

Pseudoscience like microclustering is the reason some skeptics think the benefits of alkaline water are a myth

How Dr. Emoto’s microclustering myth got started: Dr. Emoto built upon a science fact called hydrogen bonding to create his myth. He claims that the molecules in alkaline water form hexagonal clusters. Others used that myth to claim that water with these clusters is easier to absorb than plain water because plain water has larger clusters.

Microclustering is a myth: Nobody has ever physically observed a water molecule cluster. Even with today’s most powerful microscopes – there is no physical evidence to examine.

The reality is that due to process called hydrogen bonding, water molecules may cluster together but only for picoseconds. A picosecond is a trillionth of a second Hydrogen bonding can happen in any water, not just alkaline water. Because there is no evidence to support it, microclustering is called a myth by chemists and physicists.

The real reason alkaline water is easier to absorb: Alkaline water  is easier to absorb than regular water because a water ionizer alters the composition of the mineral compounds in tap water. Tap water contains mineral carbonates, mostly calcium bicarbonate and magnesium bicarbonate. Those mineral compounds make your water hard. They can also make your water harder to absorb. They are the reason why you need more detergent when you wash clothes in hard water.

How a water ionizer makes water easier to absorb: A water ionizer splits the bicarbonates apart from the minerals in your water. The minerals then react with water molecules to form new compounds – calcium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. Water with hydroxide minerals in it is easier to absorb because they reduce the surface tension of water.

Proof that there are mineral hydroxides in alkaline water: The presence of mineral hydroxides in alkaline water can be observed in a simple chemistry experiment. If you add a few drops of sulfuric acid to alkaline water, you will see some small white crystals form on the bottom of the container. Those crystals are calcium sulfate. The calcium sulfate is formed when the sulfuric acid reacts with the calcium hydroxide. The reason you can see them is because calcium sulfate is hydrophobic – it doesn’t dissolve in water. Calcium hydroxide is also hydrophobic, but not as much as calcium sulfate is, which is why calcium sulfate forms crystals in water more readily than calcium hydroxide.

The penny test. Another simple chemistry experiment you can do to compare plain water to alkaline water is called the penny test. You simply use an eyedropper to put drops of water on the side of a penny, counting how many you put on until the water overflows the side of the penny. What keeps the water from overflowing the penny is the water’s surface tension. The higher the surface tension, the more drops you will be able to fit on the penny.

You get less drops of alkaline water to fit on the side of the penny than tap water. This is because the surface tension of the tap water is higher than the surface tension of the alkaline water. The higher the surface tension of the water, the more drops of it you can fit on a penny.

Is alkaline water hydrogen rich or is it oxygenated?

Another alkaline water myth is that alkaline water made is oxygenated. Anyone who makes this claim doesn’t understand chemistry because that’s impossible. The alkaline water made by a water ionizer will have a small amount of hydrogen gas in it because of the way water ionizers make water alkaline.

The chemistry: The hydrogen in alkaline water made by an ionizer comes from the reaction that happens after the minerals in the water have been separated from the  carbonates. The mineral atoms pull water molecules apart, and gain a hydroxyl ion. A hydroxyl ion is composed of one hydrogen atom, and one oxygen atom. Water molecules are composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, so this reaction leaves a hydrogen atom. The formula for this reaction with calcium  is:

 Ca(s) +2H20(i)  ——>  Ca(OH)2 + H2(g)

Note that this reaction produces H2 – hydrogen gas – in addition to calcium hydroxide. In fact, the process used by water ionizers, called  electrodialysis, is used in machines called hydrogen generators to make hydrogen gas from water.

Life Ionizers guarantees: You’ll get more molecular hydrogen from a Life Ionizer than any other brand of hydrogen water machine.

Busting the Alkaline Water Benefits Myth

So what does all this chemistry have to do with proving that the benefits of alkaline water aren’t a myth? It’s proof that many of the claims about alkaline water are based on assumptions about the chemistry of alkaline water that aren’t true. You have to know what is (and isn’t) in alkaline water to be able to understand how alkaline water works in the body.

Here’s why: Any health claims based on the microclustering myth are obviously not going to be true. Since alkaline water isn’t microclustered, there is no way that microclustering can make alkaline water easier to absorb. There is real research that does show that alkaline water is easier to absorb. It’s not based on microclustering mythology. Two such studies were conducted by Professor Daniel P Heil of Montana State University

Blinded Health Study on the Hydration Benefit of Alkaline Water: A blinded study was done to find out if alkaline water with calcium and magnesium hydroxide in it is easier to absorb. Researchers wanted to find it if alkaline water was more hydrating than plain water. The study compared the hydration status of cyclists who drank hydroxide-rich alkaline water to bicarbonate-rich water. The study showed that the cyclists who drank the hydroxide-rich alkaline water were 17% better hydrated than the ones that drank the carbonate rich water. The study is:

Heil DP. Acid-base balance and hydration status following consumption of mineral-based alkaline bottled water. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010;7:29.

More proof that alkaline water benefits aren’t a myth

Alkaline water link to bone health acknowledged by the Mayo Clinic: Katherine Zeratsky, Nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic, said:

“Some studies suggests that alkaline water may help slow bone loss, but further investigation is needed to determine if this influences overall bone mineral density and if the benefit is maintained over the long term. “

Which studies was Zeratsky referring to?

    1. Heil DP. Acid-base balance and hydration status following consumption of mineral-based alkaline bottled water. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010;7:29.

    1. Wynn E, et al. Alkaline mineral water lowers bone resorption even in calcium sufficiency: Alkaline mineral water and bone metabolism. Bone. 2009;44:120.

    1. Burckhardt P, et al. The effect of the alkali load of mineral water on bone metabolism: Interventional studies. Journal of Nutrition. 2008;138:435S.

  1. Cunningham E. What impact does pH have on food and nutrition? Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109:1816.

(source: Mayo clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/alkaline-water/expert-answers/faq-20058029

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The four studies above are physical evidence that you can examine. This is proof positive that the bone health benefits attributed to alkaline water are not a myth. Note that Zeratsky says that “further investigation is needed”. That is a fact, further investigation of the effects that alkaline water has on health are needed. The problem is, there really isn’t any money available to conduct that research. Most of the money to do medical research comes from Big Pharma, and they have no interest in seeing alkaline water replace any of the drugs they are selling!

Why Life Ionizers is critical of water Ionizer companies that make claims based on alkaline water mythology like microclustering

There are over 40 that examine the potential health benefits of alkaline water, but additiona research is needed to confirm the findings in those studies. The problem is that legitimate medical researchers are put off by mythical claims like microclustering, so they won’t bother to investigate.

Life Ionizers has criticized water ionizer companies like Enagic™ Kangen™ for that reason, and we will continue to do so. Their mythical claims are easily dismissed by doctors, chemists, and anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry. They make alkaline water look like snake oil. We call on all water ionizer companies to stop making mythical claims about alkaline water and start taking science seriously.


Got Facts? If you would like to know more about the benefits of alkaline water and the studies they are based on, give us a call at (877-959-7977)

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