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What is pH and ORP?

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Do you remember how the litmus tests (and here we mean quite literally the litmus test) in the chemistry lab thrilled you? The blue and red litmus strips which were used umpteen times to determine the pH of any liquid.

You do still remember what is pH? pH is short for Potential of Hydrogen, a scale discovered by S.P.L.Sorensen, in the year 1909 while researching on enzymes, proteins and amino acids; this scale still forms the base for measuring the acidity and alkalinity of any fluid even today.

What is pHscale?

It is calculated on a range of 0-14 and 7 is considered neutral. If the pH of any liquid falls below 7 it is considered to be acidic and if above 7 it is basic or alkaline. The number of free hydroxyl and free hydrogen ions determine the pH of water.

Have you felt the burning sensation down your throat after drinking any aerated drink or eating spicy food? It is because of the excess of hydrogen ions which alter the pH of your digestive system and lead to these sensations.

Today the pH scale is used in various industries right from food and beverages to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics. Did you know that the pH of the stomach acids vary from the pH of blood? But our body is a unique machine which maintains acid-base balance in the body and runs smoothly. Can this equilibrium be destroyed?

How can body pH be altered?

Poor dietary habits, bad lifestyle choices and stress can affect the pH of your body and eventually lead to diseases. It is believed by several naturopaths that the body pH can be maintained at a neutral or an alkaline level by drinking alkaline water, not to forget WHO directive of 8 glasses of water a day.

What is ORP?

ORP stands for Oxygen Reduction Potential, also known as “Redox.” Most purification processes use oxidation to eliminate bacteria and other organic matter before filtering them out and making the water safe for drinking or other uses. Here we must brush on some high school chemistry to understand the actual process.

Oxidation in simple terms means an electron is given away while reduction means an electron is gained. Thus oxidation and reduction occur simultaneously. For example, when an apple turns brown we say it is because of oxidation and you know what that means now.

ORP and Antioxidants

All liquids have an ORP and not just plain water; ORP is measured in millivolts. Most of the liquids fall within -700 to + 800 mV. This means that as the ORP level decreases the antioxidant property of the water increases. As things keep oxidizing the level of oxygen in the liquid increases and this is what we calculate as ORP by measuring the amount of dissolved oxygen in water.

The tap water available in USA is between +150 to +600mv and hence acts as an oxidizing agent. In fact all water commonly available has a positive ORP, which means that they behave as oxidizing agents.

What is the role of pH and ORP in water purification?

Though drinking water in the US is among the safest in the world, the water does get contaminated with harmful bacteria and pathogens. As a result many households in the US are turning to water purification methods be able to drink safe healthy water each day

One of the several methods used in purification is the use of water ionizers where an electric current is passed through water and ionization take place altering the pH and ORP in the process. Though ORP and pH are not interdependent on each other, they are affected by the same factors, namely:

  • The source and mineral content of the tap water
  • The amount of current or the voltage used for electrolysis
  • The rate at which the water flows through the ionization chamber.

 

During ionization the pH of water is reduced and the ORP reduced thereby producing alkaline water which is high in antioxidants. Hence when you drink alkaline rich water you are actually waging a war against the free radicals in your system.

Armed with this information, do make an informed decision about the water you drink. As you know, our body is 70% water after all.

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