The difference between the Hydroxyl Ion vs. Hydroxyl Radical: One electron
There is a big difference between hydroxyl ions and hydroxyl radicals. The hydroxyl ion acts as an antioxidant in the body. It reduces harmful radicals that destroy tissues and DNA, protecting you from premature aging and the development of degenerative diseases. Reduction is one half of a chemical process called the redox (short for Reduction/oxidation) reaction that reduces a radical’s ability to oxidize other particles. The other half of the redox reaction is oxidation. Hydroxyl radicals cause oxidation damage to your tissues and DNA. The hydroxyl ion reduces radicals’ ability to oxidize tissues and DNA. Amazingly enough, the difference between them is just one electron!
Water ionizers produce hydroxyl ions not radicals. People mistakenly sometimes refer to the hydroxyl ion as the hydroxyl radical . This is incorrect, the hydroxyl radical is defined as OH (neutral) the hydroxyl ion is defined as OH – (negative). That negative represents the negative charge that the hydroxyl ion has. They are not the same chemical. Pluses and minuses in chemistry mean everything. In this case it is the difference between something that is good for you and a toxic substance.
What are ions?
An ion is: Any atom or molecule that has a net charge. That charge can be positive or negative, an ion cannot be neutral. The hydroxyl ion has a negative charge, which means it has excess electrons that it can donate to radicals or any particle that lacks electrons.
What are radicals?
The standard definition of a radical in chemistry is: Any atom, molecule or ion that has one or more unpaired electrons in it’s orbit. A radical can have a net charge of negative, positive or no net charge (neutral). The term radical is synonymous with the term free radical . It is this very fact of the unpaired electron, that drives the free radical to do its damage. A free radical is always looking for that “other electron” to become paired again. A free radical will inevitably take another atom, molecule or ion for that electron. The entity that was used is damaged and in fact becomes a free radical itself because it now needs to replace the electron that was taken! This is how free radicals do their damage.
Hydroxyl radicals are extremely damaging to living tissues, probably only rivaled by the superoxide anion. Hydroxyl radicals in water are formed by exposing water to atomic radiation (atomic fallout).
Could a water ionizer machine make hydroxyl radicals?
No. A water ionizer machine could not produce hydroxyl radicals. It does not have anywhere near the power to do so. Ionizer machines produce antioxidant hydroxyl ions not hydroxyl radicals. There is a big difference.
Chemical texts draw a clear distinction between what is called a hydroxyl radical and the hydroxyl ion. They are not the same. The point being, once again, is that a radical by definition has one or more unpaired electrons. The hydroxyl ion (OH-) does not have any unpaired electrons and is not a radical. Please note the following from a biomedical website:
The structure of these radicals and the hydroxyl ion is shown in the figure below, along with the notation used to denote them. Note the difference between hydroxyl radical and hydroxyl ion, which is not a radical.
You can clearly see that OH- is not a radical. It has no unpaired electrons.
The Redox reaction in action
There are redox reactions happening all around you, and inside your body, all the time. When you see a cut apple turn brown, or see iron rust, you are witnessing oxidation, one half of the redox reaction. When you see iron oxidize in water, the iron is reducing the oxygen in the water at the same time it is being oxidized by the water. The redox reaction always goes both ways: When one substance is being oxidized, that substance is also reducing the substance that oxidizes it.
How the redox reaction caused by drinking alkaline water benefits your health
Radicals in your body like Superoxide, peroxide and hydroxyl radicals oxidize your tissues and DNA, which destroys them. Should oxidation in your body get out of hand, it would contribute to premature aging and the development of disease. Unfortunately, we are exposed to many substances, such as car exhaust and cigarette smoke, that cause run-away oxidation in our bodies.
When you drink alkaline water from a water ionizer machine, you supply your body with antioxidant hydroxyl ions that can donate their electrons to radicals like Superoxide, peroxide and hydroxyl radicals. By donating their excess electrons, the hydroxyl ions reduce those radicals into harmless substances like hydrogen, oxygen, and water. Multiple studies on life extension have suggested that the reducing process caused by drinking alkaline water have the potential to extend your lifespan and protect you from degenerative diseases.
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Original article by Peter L. Kopko
Updated by Leo R McDevitt