Myths about Alkaline Water and Reverse Osmosis Water Busted!

The health benefits of drinking enough water are undeniable, but alkaline water has been a hot topic recently. Various companies have sensationalized their health benefits.

In this article, we will dispel the most common myths about alkaline water.

We will also discuss the differences between reverse osmosis (RO) and alkaline water. Is one really better than the other?

In a Hurry?

1. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the therapeutic and preventive benefits of alkaline water.

2. Alkaline water systems and RO water systems work very differently in purifying water.

3. Alkaline water is not superior to RO water, but the choice of a purification system can boil down to the cost incurred.

What is alkaline water?

A substance with a pH higher than 7 is considered alkaline.  The pH scale is used to indicate the levels of hydrogen ions. Acidic solutions, such as lime juices, have a pH of less than 7.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), US EPA, and EU standards, the pH of the water alone does not indicate it is safer or healthier for human consumption.

Water with a pH of between 6.5 and 9.5 is often the ideal pH for drinking. There is no concern about drinking water quality and safety in this range.

However, the pH may play a slight role in how water tastes.

Acidic solutions are generally on the sour side, while alkaline solutions are on the bitter side. Some minerals can also impart a characteristic taste to the water.

Pure water has neutral pH of 7, and bottled alkaline water usually has a higher pH level of 8 to 9. For this reason, some people believe that it can neutralize acids in the human body.

Alkaline minerals cause water to become basic or alkaline. Its oxidation-reduction potential is negative, which indicates that it does not promote oxidation or it has antioxidant properties.

How is alkaline water produced?

Electrolysis is employed in alkaline water ionizers.

In this process, you pass electricity through the water using electrodes or pieces of metal or other electric conductors connected to a battery or power source.

This causes the water molecules to split into oxygen and hydrogen.

 The electrodes are usually placed in separate compartments. On one side, you can collect the water rich in “beneficial” alkaline minerals, while on the other side, the acidic water.

Note that in this process, there is minimal to no water purification. The water quality prior to ionization should be kept within the recommended contaminant limits for drinking water.

The best way to do this is to have prior purification steps before using the alkaline ionizer. Different sources and types of water will have varying contents of natural minerals.

A water filtration system with a sediment filter or a carbon filer can take care of the dissolved solids and organic matter.  Heavy metals, however, can remain in the water after these steps.

What is RO water?

A reverse osmosis system can be used to clean water.

This method uses a semipermeable membrane or essentially a sheet where it can allow the passage of water but not the heavy metals and other contaminants.

Pressure is applied on one side of the reverse osmosis membrane to force the movement of pure water to another side.

There can be trace minerals depending on the pore size of the membrane.

RO systems typically do not feed the water directly to the RO unit membrane but go through reverse osmosis filters or RO filters to remove sediments, bacteria, and other impurities.

If there are no RO water filters, the membrane can still purify the water, but it will deteriorate faster.

The RO membrane is one of the most expensive consumables for RO systems, so doing this is not wise.

Clean water can be placed in a separate storage tank.

Prior to sealing in water bottles, however, an alkaline water filter or water ionizer is usually added to replenish the beneficial minerals and is called mineral water.

The Too Good to be True Health Claims: Alkaline Water

Different suppliers of alkaline water systems and other proponents are claiming the following health benefits:

  1. aging-defying qualities because of the more easily absorbable liquid antioxidants
  2. immune system support
  3. colon detoxification properties
  4. slimming down
  5. helps fight cancer and heart diseases
  6. reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis
  7. remedy acid reflux
  8. help to maintain moisture, skin health, and other detoxification functions
  9. better hydration for athletes than a sports drink

No matter how enticing these claims may be, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that alkaline water contributes to the following:

  • Good health
  • Affects mineral intake
  • Exhibits these therapeutic properties

Studies of small sample sizes have been published, but these findings are inconclusive to support the elusive claims in items 1-7.

The 8th and 9th claims are, by default, what any normal potable water does for your body, provided that you have properly functioning kidneys, sweat glands, liver, and intestines.

Our bodies have a mechanism to maintain pH balance to be forgiving of slight variations in the pH of the water that we drink.

Paying extra bucks for alkaline water does no additional health benefit.

Which is better: RO water or Alkaline water?

There is no big difference in terms of health benefits if you drink RO water and alkaline water. In terms of cost and remaining impurities, however, everything changes.

An RO system can cost more than an alkaline water system. It also results in more wastewater. But, alkaline water may have higher maintenance costs.  

The choice will greatly depend on the water that you start with. It is good to consult an expert before deciding which to install.


What is better alkaline water or reverse osmosis?

Considering the cost involved in processing the water, alkaline water is better. The membrane used for reverse osmosis is expensive, and so is the RO system.

However, the reported studies on the health benefits of alkaline water were conducted with small sample size.

Does reverse osmosis give you alkaline water? Is Reverse Osmosis Water Acidic or Alkaline?

Freshly processed RO water is neither acidic nor alkaline but neutral with a pH of 7.

However, with exposure to the atmosphere, RO water absorbs carbon dioxide in the air. This can react with water to form carbonic acid and makes the water slightly acidic, pH of 5.5.

Water must have a pH greater than 7 to be considered alkaline. Therefore, RO water is not alkaline.

Is reverse osmosis water better than regular water?

Considering the water is for drinking, and with regular water, we refer to potable tap water, RO water is not better than regular water.

Before the water reaches your tap, purification procedures are employed to remove harmful contaminants. But, the healthy minerals naturally found in the water remain.

RO water, on the other hand, is devoid of these minerals.


Further review and more clinical data are still pending to prove the claimed effectiveness of alkaline water to boost health and remedy certain disorders.

Alkaline water systems and RO water systems produce different qualities of treated water.

Both are, however, largely dependent on the source water quality and prior filtration or treatment steps.

But if you ask us, we’d say alkaline water is by no means superior to RO water in health benefits.

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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