Thinking of ditching tap water in favor of this high pH version? Here's what experts want you to know about supposed alkaline water benefits — and if you need to take them with a grain of salt.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement

It seems like every time you walk into the grocery store, there's a new type of bottled water in the tiny fridges next to the checkout aisles. One of the latest: Alkaline water. It might sound a bit familiar if you remember anything from your high school chem class, but what's actually in the H2O — and should you drop the extra cash to drink it?

Simply put, alkaline water is different from tap water because it's less acidic; it has a pH over seven, meaning that it has a lower concentration of hydrogen ions, explains Alyse Levine, M.S., R.D., the founder of Nutritionbite LLC, a nutrition consulting practice in Los Angeles. Time for a basic chemistry lesson: "All liquids have a measure of acidity, which is determined on the pH scale," says Levine. "The pH measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in the liquid, which is expressed on a scale of 0 to 14. Anything under seven (think: black coffee, orange juice, and vinegar) is acidic, seven is neutral, and above seven (like baking soda) is alkaline territory."

Alkaline water can be created by many sources, including faucet attachments, additives that raise the pH, and water ionizing pitchers (Buy It, $38, amazon.com) for home use. "Ionizers" which are commonly used on large, commercial scales, are devices that change the chemical composition of the H2O, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And one of the most common (and convenient) ways to score it is through bottled water (such as Essentia, Evamor, and ZenWTR), many of which are sold at grocery stores.

ZenWTR
$2.00
shop it
Target
Evamor Alkaline Water
$13.00
($24.00)
shop it
Amazon

But are there any alkaline water benefits for your health? A 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 can help soothe acid reflux. The reason: The higher pH level kills pepsin, an enzyme involved in breaking down food proteins and a primary cause of acid reflux. More recent research suggests alkaline water may have an effect on longevity: A three-year study on mice found that the rodents given alkaline water had a longer lifespan than those given tap water.

On top of soothing acid reflux, other claimed alkaline water benefits, according to Levine, are that it helps neutralize acid in the bloodstream, which can lead to increased oxygen levels and improved energy and metabolism; it contains antioxidant properties (anti-aging and anti-disease); cleanses the colon; rejuvenates the skin; and lubricates muscles and joints. Some studies also suggest that alkaline water might help slow bone loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. (Related: Is Seltzer Bad for Your Bones?)

Sounds great, right? Before you decide to run out and stock up on 24-packs of these H2O bottles, note that the emphasis should be on the word "claimed" when discussing alkaline water benefits. "There are no substantiated health claims out there," says Levine. "Clinical studies have not yet been able to confidently support these claims, as study results are lacking and overall inconclusive." In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — which regulates the bottled versions of the water — has denied the use of claiming alkaline water benefits relating to bone health due to insufficient evidence. It's also important to remember that the longevity research conducted on rodents doesn't mean alkaline water will have the same effects on humans. (One form of H2O that is proven to have a laundry list of benefits? Hot lemon water.)

Okay, so maybe alkaline water isn't the fountain of youth, but the H2O is also known for its ultra-hydrating ability. An Essentia Water-funded study of 100 people found that consuming the company's alkaline water after exercise-induced dehydration rehydrated participants "significantly" more than bottled water with a normal pH. Plus, both Essentia and ZenWTR add electrolytes, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, to its alkaline water to amp up the hydration factor. ICYDK, electrolytes balance the amount of water in your body, move nutrients into cells and waste out of them, and help your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain work properly. If your electrolyte levels get too low — such as by sweating during a tough workout — you run the risk of dehydration, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Related: This Dehydration Test On TikTok Will Tell You Whether You're Parched)

Essentia Water
$18.00
shop it
Amazon

But if you stick with standard water, are you really missing out on those extra hydration perks? "I do not recommend alkaline water to my clients," says Luke Corey, R.D., an EXOS PerformanceSpecialist at the Mayo Clinic's Orthopedics and Sports Medicine division. "Regular tap water is just as effective as alkaline water in supporting general health and performance."

If you're already on the alkaline water train, don't sweat it. Even though there aren't any fully substantiated health claims at this point, there aren't any studies showing any negative effects either, which Levine backs up. (The one downside: A bottle of alkaline water can cost more than double the price of regular water.) What's more, alkaline water brand ZenWTR has a smaller environmental impact than other bottled waters on the market; the bottle is made from 100 percent recycled, Certified Ocean-Bound Plastic (read: plastic that was rescued from coastal environments and would have ultimately ended up in the ocean). Each bottle of ZenWTR prevents up to five bottles from polluting the ocean, and the company also donates 1 percent of all sales to ocean conservation and recycling education and advocacy efforts. TL;DR — If you're on the go and don't have access to your alkaline water ionizing pitcher at home, a recyclable bottle like ZenWTR is your next best option.

So the next time you're looking to hydrate, don't feel bad about opting for the tap, snagging a bottle of regular H2O, and — if you really love that mineral flavor and are okay with spending a bigger chunk of change — sipping on a bottle of alkaline water.