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Testing Alkaline Water Brands: Before the Show

When I first saw this picture of Essentia's claim that their water is too pure to be tested with pH strips, I never thought things would go this far, but... wellp. Here I am, a little bit of crowdfunding and some fancy new equipment later, ready to test some claims this Sunday (for Essentia and seven other brands of water!). What exactly am I testing?

Ok, let's be honest. That just sounds bogus.

1) Is Essentia's water (or any other alkaline water) able to be tested accurately using pH test strips? I want to know, more precisely: if I compare readings from an electrical meter to readings from test strips, will the results be significantly similar or different? 2) Is their water really that pure? This is at the heart of all this, after all, and there's actually plenty of truth to the claim that pure water has a hard time being pH tested. I could test its actuall purity testing the total dissolved solids in the water, but what's more important here is the conductivity of the water. In short, pH is a measure of H+ ions, and if the water isn't conductive, we can't detect them. However, your water has to be really, really, really pure before that starts being an issue.

Fondriest Environmental Learning Center

Assuming I get back a reasonable reading, I'll be able to safely conclude that you can, in fact, test Essentia water with pH strips just fine. And I have good reason to think I'll get a reasonable reading, by the way. There's a list of ingredients:

Purified water (by reverse osmosis)

Sodium bicarbonate

Dipotassium phosphate

Magnesium Sulfate and calcium chloride electrolytes for taste

That's not a long list, but you know what's just dandy? Actually, this might be the funniest thing yet. Electrolytes are by definition things which conduct electricity. And do you know what their job in the body is? Wait for it. I love this.

TO KEEP THE pH OF YOUR BLOOD STABLE thereby NEGATING THE PERCEIVED NEED FOR ALKALINE WATER IN THE FIRST PLACE. I'm most concerned about Essentia's purity because that's what started all this, but to make sure I'm getting good readings for each water, I'll be testing the conductivity of all of them. 3) Do the pH levels of these waters live up to their claims? One of these waters (Essence) claims to have a pH of 10 which is right between baking soda and bleach. If this water has a pH of 10, I'm gonna be extremely surprised. And probably sick when I try it, I'd think. 4) Does any of this stuff even taste good?

After I'm done testing each water, I'm gonna take a big o'l swig of each one, including one that really... should... not be that color. Did they just, like, squeeze a bag of charcoal over it or what? And I'll rate it on a board and everything. For science.

That doesn't look fun to drink.

Anyway, here's what I'm going to be doing! I'll take care of steps 1-4 before the video begins, because this is gonna take long enough as it is. Methodology

Equipment used:

  • Apera Instruments 5-in-1 pH/Conductivity/TDS/Salinity/Temp meter, model number “AI316”

  • Lab Rat Supplies brand pH test strips, item number “LRS-4812”

  • pH buffer 4.0

  • pH buffer 7.0

  • Conductivity calibration solution (1413 μs)

  • Plastic cups

  • Distilled water (for rinsing instruments)

  • Paper towels

  • Fancy drinking glass

Waters tested and their advertised pH:

  • Tap water (Menasha, WI, USA), n/a

  • Essentia, 9.5

  • Armor, 8+

  • Essence, 10 "+/-" (sounds like they're not confident on locking in a number)

  • Hydrate, 9+

  • Flow, 8.1

  • Alkaline 88 Water, 8.8

  • Icelandic, 8.4

  • Blk, 8+

Procedure:

  1. Calibrate 5-in-1 meter using conductivity and pH calibration solutions

  2. Check conductivity readings for accuracy using conductivity calibration solution

  3. Check pH readings for accuracy using pH calibration solutions

  4. Check pH test strips for accuracy using pH calibration solutions

  5. If strips are inaccurate, take average reading of 5 strips and adjust for accuracy by adding or subtracting the difference.

  6. Take conductivity readings from water sample using 5-in-1 meter

  7. Open bottle of water and fill one cup approximately half way full. Replace cap immediately.

  8. Turn meter on. Submerge meter & get reading. Take out of water.

  9. Repeat two more times for a total of three readings.

  10. Take average of readings and record.

  11. Take pH reading of water sample using 5-in-1 meter.

  12. Use previous cup of water.

  13. Turn meter on. Submerge meter & get reading. Take out of water.

  14. Repeat two more times for a total of three readings.

  15. Take average of readings and record.

  16. Take pH reading of water sample using test strips

  17. Using previous bottle of water, fill a new cup approximately half way full. Replace cap immediately.

  18. Submerge pH test strip. Compare to chart and record, accounting for error if necessary.

  19. Repeat two more times for a total of three readings.

  20. Take average reading and record.

  21. Taste test!

  22. Using previous bottle of water, fill a fancy glass full of however much water you feel like drinking.

  23. Take a big swig.

  24. Record flavor on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being awesome and 1 being an immediate need to spit it back out.

  25. Repeat steps 5-8 for each variety of water.

  26. Rinse 5-in-1 meter with distilled water and pat electrode dry with paper towel in between each different sample of water.

Catch up on the Facebook posts that got me here! First I asked if I should test Essentia water with pH strips.

Then my followers decided I should do some others, just for fun.

Essentia could have just let me try, but nah. They reached out.

But the cool part is, my followers funded me in less than 24 hours!

(In fact, the reason I have a cool 5-in-1 tester instead of the ones I initially ordered is because I ended up getting even more funding later and traded those ones in!)

If you'd like to support me and what I do, and you have the means to do so, please consider making a small donation. It'll allow me to continue doing science, provide you with content, and also eat. I'd like to eat.

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