All water except distilled and reverse osmosis water is ionized, that includes the tap water flowing from your
sink, it is ionized water. So how does a water ionizer ionize tap water since it is already ionized? It changes the way that tap water is ionized. What a water ionizer actually does is separate the acidic ions already in tap water from the alkaline ions in tap water. So the way water is ionized by a water ionizer is that the alkaline and acidic ions are separated and discharged in two separate streams of water.
Electrodialysis: How water is ionized by a water ionizer
To understand how water is ionized by a water ionizer, you need to know the correct term used by scientists and engineers to describe the ion-separation process used by a water ionizer to ionize water: Electrodialysis.
Here’s how it works: Inside the ionization chamber of a water ionizer, there are charged Platinum covered Titanium plates separated by an ion-permeable membrane. That membrane allows ions (charged particles) to pass through it, but it doesn’t allow uncharged particles to pass through. This results in positively charged ions going towards the negative plates, and negatively charged ions going towards the positively charged plates with the membrane separating them. For example: Calcium and magnesium bicarbonates are the mineral salts that are dissolved in tap water. They become the ions that ionize tap water.
What happens as the water is ionized: These mineral salts ionize the water by filling it with positively charged calcium and magnesium ions, plus negatively charged bicarbonate (dissolved CO2) ions. In an ionizer, these ions pass through the ion-permeable membrane. But water molecules, which don’t have a charge, don’t pass through the membrane.
How ionized alkaline (and acid) waters get their pH: The positively charged calcium and magnesium ions to pass through the membrane and become concentrated at the negatively charged plates. Calcium and magnesium are alkaline earth metals, they are responsible for giving the alkaline water, made by a water ionizer, its alkaline pH. The negatively charged bicarbonate ions also pass through the membrane and get concentrated at the positively charged plates. Bicarbonate is dissolved CO2, which is acidic. It’s the reason why the acidic water made by a water ionizer has an acidic pH.
Why does ionizing water change the water’s pH? Both the alkaline minerals and the acidic carbonate exist in your tap water before it goes through a water ionizer, the machine adds nothing to your water. But the alkaline pH of the minerals is mostly balanced out by the acidic pH of the bicarbonate. That’s why the pH of your tap water is closer to the neutral pH of 7. A water ionizer ionizes your water by separating the alkaline minerals from the acidic bicarbonate.
Hydrolysis: What happens after water is ionized by a water ionizer
After the alkaline mineral ions are separated from the acidic bicarbonate ions, both ions undergo an additional reaction called hydrolysis, where they react with water molecules to form additional ions. The alkaline minerals split water molecules into antioxidant hydroxyl ions, and hydrogen ions. The hydroxyl ions essentially take the place of the acidic bicarbonate ions, but they aren’t acidic like the bicarbonate ions were, so the ionized water retains its alkaline pH. They form new mineral salts in the alkaline water; calcium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, which replace the calcium bicarbonate and magnesium bicarbonate in the original tap water.
The acidic bicarbonate ions split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen combines with the bicarbonate ions to form carbonic acid. This acid is a weakly-bonded acid, it can’t burn your skin or anything, but it is the reason the acidic ionized water from an ionizer has a lower pH than the tap water it was made from.
Micro-clustering or restructuring water: What water ionizers don’t do
You may have read or heard that water ionizers such as the Kangen Water® machine work by restructuring or microclustering water. Don’t believe a word of it, that’s total nonsense. Water doesn’t have a structure in liquid form. The water molecules and ions in liquid water bounce around and swirl around each other in a mostly random fashion. Water molecules can briefly bond together in a process called hydrogen bonding, but those bonds only last a few trillionths of a second. These hydrogen bonds make no difference on how easy or hard it is for your body to absorb the water.
What makes alkaline water easier to absorb is it’s alkalinity. Here’s why it works. The cells in your body have tiny channels called aquaporins that they use to allow water in, and flush wastes out. The aquaporin that is primarily responsible for water absorption, called AQP 3, is controlled or gated by pH. If water outside of the cell has an alkaline pH, that aquaporin will let it through. If the water outside the cell has an acidic pH, the aquaporin will block it.
Electrodialysis is the reason water ionizers make two kinds of ionized water
Because of the ion separation membrane, when a water ionizer is ionizing water, there are two streams of water coming out. One is the alkaline water, which you drink because it’s good for your health. The other stream is acidic, you don’t drink it. Instead, acidic water is used as a rinse for hair and skin, and you can water plants with it because it is the perfect pH for plants. My favorite use for the acidic water by far is as a hair rinse. My hair is nearly three feet long, and the acidic hair rinse makes it more manageable, less tangle prone, and soft and shiny. You can actually feel the difference in your hair immediately after rinsing it with acidic water, I won’t wash my hair without it! Both types of ionized water are useful, and a home water ionizer is the only way to get both at the same time. Scientist Peter Agre won the Nobel prize in Chemistry for 2003 for his discovery of aquaporins and how the control our hydration status.