Bottled water companies and municipal corporations use pH level measurement to ensure the supply of safe drinking water to you. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, Drinking Water Specifications are that pH levels between 6.5-8.5 are allowable.
It has become more accessible for people to conduct a pH test at home, and for a good reason. Sometimes drinking water does not meet the standards mentioned above, making it a health risk. Some people want alkaline water because of its many health claims.
By the end of this guide, you’d be familiar with different pH levels in water and what they indicate, treatment of water for drinking, pH testing at home and also the craze for alkaline water.
pH level charts
The pH level of drinking water is a reliable indicator of its purity. Water without any contamination has a pH level of 7, also known as neutral. Anything lower than 7 is acidic, and anything higher than that is basic or alkaline.
Table. pH Level Chart
|pH Scale||pH Number||Example|
Different water bodies usually have different pH levels. A pH level less than 6.5 is usually an indicator of metallic pollutants in the water, making it acidic.
However, this doesn’t make extremely alkaline water any safer to consume as it not only has a foul taste and smell but can also damage water pipes and taps.
The pH levels of drinking water depend primarily on where the water comes from and how it has been processed.
|Types of water||pH level|
|Tap water||Generally around 7.5|
|RO Purified water||5 to 7|
|Packaged drinking water||6.5 to 7.5|
|Packaged alkaline drinking water||8 to 9|
|Ocean water||About 8|
|Rainwater||5 to 5.5|
Author’s Note: Did you know that the concept of soft and hard water is also based on the acidity and alkalinity of water? A sample of hard water would have a pH level higher than 8.5, and that of soft water would have a pH level lower than 6.5.
Why Does It Matter?
If everything has a pH value, why is water’s pH value so significant? Lemon is highly acidic but still consumable, right?
Well, this is because an average person wouldn’t have more than two lemons per day.
The same person will have about 2 litres of water per day and 4 litres if on a sunny day.
Water can significantly change your body’s pH level, which should ideally be 7.40.
Everything you consume has an effect on this baseline level for your body. Your kidneys work very hard to keep things in regulation and balance. They can be thrown off and worn down by the water that isn’t within the recommended pH level range.
This is why drinking water is treated and supplied to you only when measured to have a safe pH.
How does water get treated for pH?
Water supplied by your municipality is voluntarily tested by them to detect high or low levels of pH that are both indicators of metal pollutants. This process requires monitoring of changing levels, and when such is found out, the water is treated by them. This process is called “pH adjustment.”
We won’t go into all the nitty-gritty details, but basically, here’s what happens:
pH adjustment processes
1. Neutralizing filter:
A neutralizing filter is simply a device through which water flows, and it raises or lowers the pH value by dissolving a neutralizing metal in it. Calcium carbonate is used for acidic water and synthetic magnesium oxide for basic water.
2. Soda ash/Sodium Hydroxide injection:
This is a treatment for low pH or acidic water. A pump is used for combining water with Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Hydroxide. This raises the pH to be neutral. Chlorine could be added if the water needs to be disinfected.
3. Acid Injection:
This is a treatment for high pH water. An added benefit is that it improves chlorination’s effect and does away with soda taste. Acetic acid or white vinegar is used for the process.
Rest assured, drinking water is brought to you through a series of efforts to keep the pH levels near neutral.
However, if you’re still not satisfied, you might want to try testing pH levels at home.
How to test pH levels at home?
A clear indication that your drinking water is contaminated is the rusting of taps and pipes.
If you want to find out whether or not the water supply at your home meets BIS standards, there are three ways you can do this effectively.
1. With pH meters:
- You might want to try this first with a substance whose pH value you are already aware of.
- Clean the meter’s tip with pure water and a tissue.
- Take a clean container and fill it up with the water you want to test.
- Let the water sit for a while so the temperature stabilises as it can affect the meter’s accuracy.
- Place the tip of the meter in the water and allow it to reach equilibrium.
- Read the meter’s reading to know your results.
2. With pH papers:
- Take a clean container.
- Fill the container with water that’s deep enough for the testing strip to dip.
- Immerse one strip into the water only for a couple of seconds.
- The strip will change its colour in no time.
- Once the colour is revealed, you can take your pH reading.
3. With litmus papers:
- A litmus test won’t tell you the exact pH but only if the water is acidic or basic.
- Please take out a container and make sure it’s clean.
- Start filling the container with water deep enough for the litmus paper.
- Dip a litmus paper into the water.
- Wait for the paper to turn either red or blue.
- A red litmus paper will change into blue when dipped into basic water.
- Similarly, a blue litmus paper will change into red when dipped into acidic water.
Do not make yourself worry if the water at your home isn’t at a perfect level of 7. Water at home is used for many other things besides drinking. To ensure safety, you can always use an R.O. system at home.
Author’s Notes: Before doing any of these tests, please have a standard pH level chart with you. Moreover, you can find pH paper and litmus paper at any general store or stationery shop.
Is alkaline water really good for you?
Alkaline water and other consumable products with alkalinity have risen both in popularity and controversy in recent years. They’re the most recent health and fitness trend.
The simple idea behind this is that alkalinity can treat chronic diseases in the body that exist only without it. The claims also include cancer.
There’s hardly any evidence that such is the case. Alkaline water does have a temporary effect on the pH of your stool and mouth, but it’s not scientifically proven to alter the overall pH of your body.
Alkaline water isn’t a complete failure, though.
A study done in 2012 suggested that alkaline water might help with acid reflux by blocking pepsin, the primary enzyme required in the process.
Electrolysed water with high alkalinity may also be helpful for people who experience dehydration after working out.
Scientists should do more rigorous research on all of these claims before they are to be trusted.
Authors note: Alkaline water is generally good for you since it contains many minerals.
You May Also Like To Read:
So there it is; we have gone through all things related to pH levels in the water. Our charts indicate that everything has a different pH level, even consumable items. Yet we remain focused on the pH level of water because we drink so much of it!
Now you know the rigorous process behind making water drinkable and keeping it within the 6.5 to 8.5 recommended range of pH.
Anything slightly lower or higher isn’t necessarily wrong for you but watch out for excessively acidic or basic liquids.
If someday you find that something is off with the water you use daily, you know how to conduct an at-home pH test with the help of pH meters, pH papers and litmus tests.
Do you think you’ll try your luck with the fancy alkaline water, or is regular water enough for you? Please let us know in the comments.