People love alkaline water for its ultra-hydrating, pH-balancing abilities. But before you start sipping the trendy drink, read up on the chemistry behind it

By Jami Foss
August 31, 2015
Corbis Images

Celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Mark Wahlberg are drinking it to stay hydrated, but is alkaline water really worth the hype? Even more-what the heck is it? (While we're on the topic of alkaline, Is the Alkaline Diet the Real Deal?)

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

Alkaline water can be consumed from many sources, including special filters, faucet attachments, and additives that raise the pH. One of the most common (and convenient) ways, though, is through bottled water (such as Essentia or Evamor), sold at most grocery stores.

But are there any perks to drinking it? Since science says the alkaline diet overall is pretty bogus, we were skeptical. But there are actually a few benefits. According to a study in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 can help sooth acid reflux because the higher pH level kills pepsin, an enzyme involved in breaking down food proteins and a main cause of acid reflux.

On top of soothing acid reflux, other claimed benefits of alkaline water, according to Levine, are that it helps neutralize acid in the bloodstream, which leads 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. Evamor, a popular brand of alkaline bottled water, states that "increased dietary alkalinity reduces body fat and fatigue, protects bones, supports the immune system, and achieves better overall health."

Sounds great, right? Before you decide to run out and stock up on alkaline bottled water and filters, note that the emphasis should be on the word "claimed" when discussing 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." (One form of water that is proven to have a laundry list of benefits? Hot Lemon Water. Here's 4 Reasons to Drink It Every Morning.)

Okay, so maybe it isn't the fountain of youth. But alkaline water is also known for its ultra-hydrating ability. In fact, Essentia touts that their enhanced water is "more hydrating than the leading bottled water." So are you missing out on extra hydration that you could use during your workouts? "I do not recommend alkaline water to my clients," says Luke Corey, EXOS Performance Dietician at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. "Regular tap water is just as effective as alkaline water in supporting general health and performance." (Should You Ditch Your Sports Drinks?)

If you're already on the alkaline water train, don't blush too hard-while there aren't any substantiated health claims at this point, turns out, there aren't any studies showing any negative effects either, which Levine backs up. One proven downside though: It costs about double the price of regular water ($2.49 for a 33-ounce bottle of Essentia).

So next time you're looking to hydrate, don't feel bad about snagging a regular bottle of H2O or opting for the tap (and saving a little money in the meantime).

Comments (10)

February 2, 2019
In January 2018, I weighed 180 lbs, which is quite overweight for a woman my height. I wasn’t always this weight though. In my teenage years, I weighed only 140 pounds and I felt much healthier and happier. I strived desperately over the years to get back to this weight. But with a stressful and busy work life, I struggled... continue here
January 24, 2019
Hi, my name is Kate and I would like to share my story. Up until about 2 years ago, I was 30 pounds overweight. Over the years I had followed many different diet plans, but failed every single time. I was "blessed" with a pear shaped body and no matter what i did, I always retained lots of stubborn fat in my lower body. Everything changed when I found the right diet program. My story is here ==>
October 27, 2018
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September 26, 2018
I agree with you. All the provided information is very helpful to me and works for me. As doctors also recommend that drinking alkaline water is beneficial to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
April 12, 2018
If you want to know how to lose weight really fast take a minute and read what I did to lose over 10 pounds in two weeks .....
April 10, 2018
OK, so the benefits of alkaline water aren't substantiated. That means you have to decide on your own if drinking it helps you. It has certainly helped me manage acid reflux (along with a more targeted diet that excludes as many acidic foods as I can bear). I also have lost my bloatiness, a yeast infection that I could NOT for the life of me get rid of, and other benefits. Soooooo I have just documented benefits for ME. And that's how you have to approach it. I also have noticed that it is working as an anti-inflammatory (I have been off Celebrex for months now) and just have an overall feeling of good health. So, only you can decide if drinking alkaline water is beneficial for you. It certainly has helped me. A lot!
January 20, 2018
Big Pharma works very hard at keeping things like Alkaline water under scrutiny. For the record, any "Doctor" that says "Regular tap water is just as effective as alkaline water in supporting general health and performance," is not worth their weight in salt. Seriously? Flouride? Chlorine? Heavy metals? Just as good for you as NOT ingesting them? What an ass.
November 9, 2017
In the last few weeks, I have been very stressed which has caused major pain through out my body. I have been drinking alkaline water from time to time and recently started back drinking it. So I started a few days ago and my body is free of pain, neck and shoulders are no longer tense, and I am able to relax. I can feel a difference in my body so therefore I do believe alkaline water is beneficial to our health.
November 6, 2017
Alkaline water is really very beneficial for drinking. Due to its low pH, it maintains the acidic level in our body also. I always recommend for the alkaline water purifiers at home. For more benefits check this -->
July 16, 2017