The Importance of pH and ORP Measurement in Potable Water

People often take for granted the water they drink. Whether it’s from the tap of your sink or purchased from the local grocery store, water is vital to human life.

Potable water is everywhere but be careful of what your drink. Water with a positive oxygen reduction potential (ORP) can be dangerous as can water with a high or low pH. ORP and pH levels are generally taken care of in processed and filtered water.

What happens if you’re at a water source that isn’t filtered? Do you dare drink to satiate your thirst or do you pass it in favor of the next water fountain? You’ve probably never thought about ORP and pH levels in what you drink.

What Are ORP and pH?

Pure water has an equal amount of H and OH ions, making it neutral on the pH scale. pH is the measurement of acidity and alkalinity in a substance with 0-6 acidic and 8-14 alkaline or basic. Pure water is at a 7.

Most water isn’t pure and can be either on the acidic or basic side. Water used in a pool, for instance is slightly basic as this acts as a buffer against rapid pH change.  Many times, people place chlorine into the water because it has a high ORP value. When added to water, it increases the water’s ORP value and can damage the DNA and proteins of bacteria.

ORP is a measurement of ion exchange. Substances with a negative ORP value can donate extra ions, but positive ORP values lead to ion absorption. All substances look for a state of stability either through shedding electronics or grabbing them.

Without the ability to calculate ORP and pH, people could drink waters with varying levels of acidity and alkalinity. The human body needs to have a negative ORP and be on the alkaline side to function. If a person had acidic blood, they would likely die.

Luckily, the likelihood of that happening is low thanks to the body’s natural defenses.

Measuring pH and ORP

ORP is the amount of energy in water in terms of electrons. Since the movement of electrons is electricity, ORP is measured in millivolts.

Drinking water should have a rating of least -50 millivolts, but it’s not often the case. Filtered water can have ORP values ranging from 357 to -25, depending on the brand and type of water. It’s most often measured using an ORP meter.

pH is the measurement of molar concentration of hydrogen ions in a liquid, pH stands for “power of Hydrogen” and it’s value relates to negative of the power of 10 of the molar
concentration. The pH level of water (and hence how acidic or basic it is) can be measured using an electronic meter or determined using an indicator like the color on strips of litmus
paper. The meter is the most accurate.

A pH of 0 is extremely acidic, 14 is extremely basic and 7 is neutral. For context, stomach acid has an acidity of 2, soda and vinegar are 4. On the opposite end, Bicarbonate of soda is 12, oven cleaner is 13 and seawater is 8.

Drinking Water and ORP

If a person were to take an ORP meter to tap water, it will likely have a positive value. Why? Water isn’t made of just hydrogen and oxygen. It also has metal ions like copper, zinc, and chlorides. In fact, some filtration systems add salt to the water too.

A person’s saliva and many other body fluids have a negative ORP value as do many fresh fruit juices. In fact, its ORP value rises the longer it is in a juice state. It’s been suggested that you can test the freshness of fruit juice by its ORP level.

When you bring in other drinks like soft drinks they have even higher positive ORP levels. Scientists suggest that drinking water should have a negative ORP value and balanced pH because it’s better for the body and its fluids.

Something to keep in mind is what is more important than the ORP value itself is what in the water is causing the positive value. It could be toxic.

For example, minerals like iron may taste bad, but it won’t hurt you. If the ORP level is changed because of lead or mercury, then you need to take steps to remove them.

Importance of Anti-Oxidant Water

When your water has a negative ORP value, it has anti-oxidant properties. This is associated with anti-aging and cellular health. Positive ORP values are oxidative and have the opposite effect. As we said before, most water you drink, both in the tap and filtered, have oxidative properties.

If you’re able to get negative ORP value drinking water, then it can donate electrons to neutralize free radicals. Water with positive ORP values cannot. Free radicals are unstable ions in the body. They’re generated by the body and can cause problems with lipids, proteins, and DNA.

There needs to be a balance of free radicals in the body. Without it, the body can be overrun and become ill. In addition to the natural body’s defenses, you can decrease free radicals by drinking anti-oxidant water with negative ORP values.

The body is made up of oxidative and antioxidative substances. We mentioned earlier how important negative ORP values were in a healthy body. When you drink anti-oxidant water, it can neutralize excess acids in the body. It helps regulate the body and keeps it healthy.

ORP and You

Water surrounds us. It’s in our bodies, comes out faucets and runs throughout rivers, lakes, and oceans. While water seems similar, each source has its own set of ORP and pH values.

If you’re concerned about the health of your body, then pay attention to ORP and pH in what you drink. While soft drinks won’t reach pH levels of hydrochloric acid, they’re not so good for the body. They can contribute to free radicals because of their acidic nature.

ORP meters and litmus paper can tell you all you need to know about water or other liquid you’re drinking. If you want to know if the water is potable, then make sure it’s got a low ORP level. If you want to know more about ORP and pH, water clarity, turbidity and more then feel free to explore the rest of our website.

South Fork Instruments is an established supplier of measurement instrumentation, analyzers, and control products serving the Americas. Their cross-industry experience gives them a unique ability to identify, develop, and implement innovative measurement solutions.

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