Some people claim that acidic water is good due to its antimicrobial properties, others will say that drinking acidic water is bad for your health. So what is the truth? Is acidic water bad for you?
In this article, we will cover what is acidic water, if it is bad for you and why, its drawbacks and benefits, what causes acidic water, how to understand if you have acidic water at your home, and how to deal with it.
What is Acidic Water?
Before going into the details if acidic water is bad for you and why, let’s understand what acidic water is.
Technically, acidic water is any water with a pH of less than 7. On the opposite side, water with a pH higher than 7 is known as alkaline water, while 7 is the neutral level of pH for water.
What is pH?
We are talking about water pH, but what does that mean?
Well, pH means “potential hydrogen” and measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The pH scales go from 0 to 14, that is why 7, which falls in the middle, represents the neutral range of the scale.
The pH is logarithmic of base 10, which means that a jump of 1 in the pH scale, like from 7 to 6, means 10 times more. So water with a pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than one with a pH of 7, and one with a pH of 5 is 100 times more acidic than one with a pH of 7.
What water pH is safe to drink?
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the agency that monitors the public drinking water quality in the US, recommends the water suppliers to have their drinking water in the 6.5 to 8.5 pH range .
Is not so much the pH of the water that will make the water unsafe to drink, but if it has contaminants or not. And the presence of contaminants is a factor that can influence the water pH.
If the water PH is too high or too low, it can be due to the presence of heavy metals or chemicals, which are harmful to your health.
What Causes the Acidity in Water?
Acidic water, ie, water with low pH, can be caused by different factors .
Some natural factors our causes can be acidic rain, acidic soils, soil microbes and tree roots, that in contact with the water will make it more acidic.
Other causes are men made, like mining wastes, chemical dumps, power plants and industrial pollutants, that decrease the water pH.
Reasons Why Acidic Water is Bad for You
Is not the low water pH of acidic water that is bad for you, but what the water may contain and that makes the water acidic. If the water contains carbon dioxide injected artificially, like it is done with sparkling water, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad for you.
But due to potential contamination with heavy metals, it is not recommended to drink acidic water because it can be really harmful to your health.
Let’s check the 5 main reasons why acidic water is bad for you:
#1 – Presence of heavy metals:
As mentioned before, the presence of heavy metals will lower the water pH, make it acidic. So if your water is acidic, it might be contaminated with heavy metals.
And continuous exposure and poisoning with heavy metals like lead, arsenic, copper, manganese, zinc, and others, can have devastating effects on your body. It can lead to diarrhea, nauseous, abdominal pain, kidney stones, neurological damage, damage to the immune system, and damage to your internal organs.
#2 – Harmful to your teeth:
If you drink acidic beverages or acidic water you will help the bacteria in your mouth to develop and increase the risk of cavities.
Beverages with low pH will also damage your tooth enamel, which protects your teeth against decay, so it will have a negative impact on your dental health .
#3 – Harmful to young children:
The heavy metals contaminants that can cause water to be acidic are bad for everyone, but they are especially harmful to young children.
Because young children are in their developing stage, their bodies absorb water contaminants quicker than adults, making them more vulnerable to acidic water.
And the side effects of heavy metals exposure can be especially devastating to children, leading to development issues, behavioral disorders, respiratory problems, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases .
#4 – Prevent calcium retention:
Acidic water makes it difficult for the body to absorb calcium, while there are indications that if you drink alkaline water it would increase your calcium retention but needs further studies.
And this difficulty to absorb and retain calcium, plus the exposure to heavy metals like lead, mercurium and cadmium, means that the consumption of acidic water will cause issues in your bone health, leading to bone loss .
#5 – Bad for your plumbing:
Acidic water has negative effects not only on your body but also on your plumbing system. The prolonged exposure to water with low pH can cause pipe damage and corrosion, leading to leaks in your system that are difficult and expensive to fix.
Also, it can dissolve the copper of your pipes, further contaminating your water in the process.
Potential Benefits of Acidic Water
While acidic water has lots of negative impacts if you drink it, it also has some positive uses that you should know.
Skin & Hair:
If instead of consuming acidic water, you apply it externally, it can have some beneficial effects on your skin. If you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions, acne, psoriasis, eczema, or dry skin, the topical application of acidic water can help you with these issues [6,7].
It can also help in your hair health, reducing dandruff and making your hair softer.
Acidic water is also good for washing fruits, vegetables and meats, because of its antimicrobial effect it is better suited to remove bacteria, pathogens, and pesticides.
Another benefit of acidic water is for the growth of plants because it deals with fungus, bugs, and pests.
Usually, plants will develop better in slightly acidic soil, as long as it is not too acidic (pH less than 3).
How Do I Know If I Have Acidic Water?
Now that you know about acidic water and its drawbacks, you should also be able to know if you have acidic water at your home.
One indicator that you have acidic water at home is if you see blue or green stains in copper pipes or copper materials, in faucets, in your bathtub, or in basins. This can be corrosion caused by acidic water. Another potential indicator of acidic water at home is the smell of chlorine when you turn on your water.
But to be sure if you have acidic water at your house or not, you should test your water. Just buy an acidic testing kit, they are inexpensive and are available in many places.
How to Deal With Acidic Water?
If you have acidic water at home, you should probably deal with it to avoid the different health effects that it can cause to you and your family.
If your water is provided by a water company, you should warn them to solve the root cause of the issue, and in the meantime buy a water filter to solve the problem.
If your water is provided by a private well, you should install an acidic neutralizing filter to protect your plumbing system avoiding pipe corrosion. You should also buy a water filter to make sure your drinking water is not contaminated.
What are the treatments for water pH?
As mentioned before, if you have acidic water you can buy an acid-neutralizing filter, that will balance the water pH before reaching your home.
If you have the opposite issue, and your water is too alkaline or hard, a solution is to buy a water softener.
Common water pH Levels
Different types of water will have different pH levels, for example, bottled water labeled as alkaline has a pH level in the range of 8 to 9, while regular bottled water has a pH level in the 6.5 to 7.5 range.
And common drinks that we have in our daily lives can have low pH levels, which doesn’t mean they are bad for us. For example, coffee has a pH in the 4 to 6 range and lemon juice in the 2 to 3 range.
And other water types?
Is Distilled Water Acidic?
After being distilled the water has a pH of 7, but in contact with air, it absorbs the carbon dioxide, making it slightly acidic with a pH of 5.8 .
As we learned before, in this case, it is not bad to drink this water, because the acidity is not caused by harmful contaminants.
Is Carbonated Water and Sparkling Water Acidic?
Technically yes, because the pH of carbonated water is in the 4 range. Carbonated water contains dissolved carbon dioxide that was injected artificially or that was formed due to natural processes.
Sparkling water is just a type of carbonated water, so it is also acidic.
While acidic water can have some benefits if it’s used in some special scenarios, it is not recommended to drink.
Now that you know the issues caused by acidic water, if you suspect that you may have acidic water at your home it is probably a good idea to check your water to understand if this can be a problem for you.
And if you have an acidic water issue, it is time to deal with it. Buy a water filter to make sure you and your family have access to clean drinking water!