Everything You Need to Know About pH Water Testing
Although you probably don’t spend much time pondering the pH levels of everyday objects — not since your last chemistry class, anyway — this measurement of acidity vs. alkalinity remains a big part of life whether you notice it or not. Even you have a pH level — about 7.40.
The human body has natural mechanisms for balancing pH levels — but other things, like your tap water, aren’t so lucky. In fact, there’s a lot to know about water and its variable place on the pH scale, including why pH water testing is so important.
Sit back, relax and get ready to release your inner chemist as we take a look at everything you need to know about water pH.
Do Water pH Levels Matter?
While “pH” stands for “potential for hydrogen,” that probably doesn’t tell you much about what it actually means. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, where 0 is acidic and 14 is alkaline or basic. The lower something ranks on the scale, the higher its acidity.
But what’s in the middle? What’s the one thing chemists use as “true neutral” when discussing pH?
That’s right: pure water.
Pure water has a neutral pH level, which means it sits right in the middle at 7. However, a water source in nature is rarely “perfectly pure.” That’s why water experts use variable pH levels to study the changing chemistry in a body of water. The pH of water determines what nutrients and heavy metals can exist within it, and how helpful or harmful those elements could be to biological systems — including you, your family, your pets and even your guests.
For this reason, it’s important to make pH water testing an annual routine. You can often get a free home water test from your local water treatment service provider, which can tell you whether your water is alkaline, acidic or within the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended pH rangeof 6.5 to 8.5.
So what happens if your drinking water has a high or low pH reading? Well, the good news is that the pH level of your diet — including water — hasn’t been shown to seriously affect human health. However, both alkaline and acidic water can cause their fair share of other problems — so let’s see what that means for your home.
What to Know About Alkaline Water
When water is alkaline, also known as basic, it has a high pH. However, alkaline water comes with an interesting reputation that warrants a closer look.
Is Alkaline Water Healthier?
Alkaline water may have a lot of fans in the fitness and health communities, but their claims don’t seem to “hold water.” It appears there isn’t scientific proof backing up the so-called miraculous power of alkalinity, because your stomach acid — with its pH level at 1.5 to 3.5 — rapidly balances the pH of anything you eat or drink anyway.
Does Alkaline Water Have Any Health Effects?
While a tall glass of alkaline water may not have astonishing health benefits, the good news is that it also doesn’t cause any significant health issues. According to WebMD, it may cause mild stomach upset and dry, itchy skin, but nothing more.
Does Alkaline Water Have Aesthetic Issues?
Aesthetic issues generally have to do with taste and appearance. When it comes to alkaline water, you may notice a bitter taste or notice that your water seems effervescent (as though it were a touch carbonated).
Can Alkaline Water Reduce Appliance Performance?
If your water has a high pH level, it may cause scale buildup in your pipes and plumbing. It could also reduce the efficiency of water-using appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and water heaters.
What to Know About Acidic Water
Acidic water lives at the other end of the pH scale, which means it has a low pH. Here’s how acidity can impact your water quality:
Does Acidic Water Have Any Health Effects?
Remember, pH levels themselves don’t directly impact human health. However, acidic water can indicate the presence of heavy metals like lead and copper, which are more soluble at low pH levels. When a substance is soluble, it can more easily dissolve in water, and you might not even know it’s there. That’s why water testing is so important — especially for private wells, which aren’t protected by municipal water supply regulations.
Does Acidic Water Have Aesthetic Issues?
Acidic water comes with a list of potential aesthetic issues. These can include:
- Metallic taste in drinking water
- Blue-colored stains in sinks and bathtubs
- Rust stains
Can Acidic Water Reduce Appliance Performance?
Because low pH levels mean high acid levels, your water-using appliances and plumbing can suffer. Depending on the type of pipes you have, appliances like dishwashers or water heaters could potentially be corroded by acidic water — and experience slow water flow, decreased water pressure and malfunctions.
What Else Should Water Be Tested For?
Although water pH levels are an important part of the quality and taste of your water supply, there’s even more to look for if you want a truly pure-tasting drink every time you reach for the tap. Water testing can find potential issues and help you decide what water treatment options or water filtration systems might be right for your home.
Here are a few more things a water test can tell you:
- What’s causing dry skin and brittle hair: Don’t blame your soap or shampoo — it may be your water that’s making your skin feel dry and itchy while your hair is more susceptible to breakage. Hard water can take a toll on your shower time, which is why water hardness levels should always be part of your water test.
- What’s making household chores harder: Soap scum on shower walls and rust stains in the bathtub — issues like these never seem to be washed away. That’s because, once again, your water itself might be to blame.
- Why your water looks, smells or tastes funny: If you notice any change in your water’s aesthetic quality, schedule a water test right away. This could be a sign of hydrogen sulfide gas or other uninvited guests in your water supply.
Learn About Your Water’s pH
Whether you’re a bona fide chemist or haven’t thought about pH levels since high school, one thing’s for certain: pH water testing is an important part of maintaining your overall water quality. Luckily, your local Culligan Water® experts can make this process fast, easy and stress-free. In as little as 30 minutes, you’ll have insight into your water’s pH levels, plus information about water hardness, total dissolved solids (TDS), iron and more.
Get started today by scheduling your free, in-home water test.