Despite the fact that if you live in the U.S. you can turn on nearly any faucet and get perfectly drinkable clean water relatively cheaply hasn't stopped bottled water from becoming a massively lucrative industry. For something that's such a basic building block to life, there's almost no end to the new ways companies will attempt to market it, and the latest is the very hyped-up alkaline water.
Broad claims that alkaline water can detoxify the body and energize the mind has seen it skyrocket in popularity, but is it all hype? Here's the truth about alkaline water.
What alkaline water really is
To answer the question, "What is alkaline water?" you have to start with a basic understanding of pH, or potential hydrogen. The pH scale runs from one to 14 and determines whether things are an acid or a base, or alkaline. The higher the number, the more alkaline the substance is. Lower, and it's more acidic, and according to Forbes, drinkable water sits at a nice, comfortable seven. In other words, it's neutral.
If your powers of deduction are good, you've already guessed that alkaline water has a higher pH. Salts and minerals found in springs or added in production will usually give alkaline water a pH closer to nine.
Is alkaline water better for you?
Alkaline water has risen to popularity alongside the alkaline diet, which claims you can lose weight by reducing or eliminating acidic food like tomatoes and lemons, according to CNN. The idea behind alkaline water is that because it's a base, it neutralizes the acid people take in other ways.
Like most consumables that come packaged with promises of better health and mental acuity, we just don't really know how true that is. According to The New York Times, a (really, really) small study showed that athletes who drank the stuff were better hydrated, but a sample size of 16 isn't very reliable, and in reality, you can make all water alkaline by adding a base, like baking soda. The truth about alkaline water is that you're unlikely to do any real harm by drinking more of it — hydration is super important, after all — but your wallet might suffer.