The pH Value: A Way to Assess Whether a Liquid Is Acidic or Alkaline

You may have heard people talking about pH value, but what does actually mean? In essence, it is a value that indicates whether a liquid is acidic, neutral or alkaline. If a liquid has a low pH value (0 to 6.9) it is acidic and at a higher pH (7.1 to 14) it is considered alkaline. Neutral liquids have a pH of 7.

alkaline and acidic scale vector illu

The exact scientific definition is quite complex, as indicated by this Wikipedia description: "The pH value is the negative decadic logarithm of the hydrogen ion activity”. So, what does that mean to the layperson? Well, by ‘activity’ Wikipedia refers to the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The pH, therefore, indicates the concentration of hydrogen ions in molecules per litre. A hydrogen ion is a hydrogen atom that lacks an electron, which is expressed as H+. Together with water (H2O) it forms H30+, which is a water molecule with an extra H+ ion attached to it.

Therefore, the greater the proportion of hydrogen ions in a liquid, the more acidic it is. The lower this concentration, the more alkaline it becomes. In an acidic liquid there are many H+ ions, in an alkaline one, there are few. This means less H+ ions are found in an alkaline solution, but more OH- ions are present. Though the pH value is solely measured by the number of H+ ions.

If that still sounds slightly confusing, here’s a step by step explanation:

According to the definition from Wikipedia, the concentration of H+ ions is measured in a "negative decadic logarithm". Mathematically this means the concentration is measured in a decimal logarithm. A logarithm is present when an exponent indicates how often something is multiplied by itself. Let’s look at how this could be worked out:

Example: 24 = 2x2x2x2 = 16. In this example 4 is the exponent.

So, the concentration is measured using a raised number, also known here as the exponent.

At the pH value, this logarithm is a ten logarithm, which means that the base number is a ten.

Example: 104 = 10x10x10x10 = 10000.

For the pH value, the logarithm of ten is negative. We could classify the raised number or exponent as negative, mathematically this means the following:

At a pH value of 4, the liquid has a concentration of 10-4 hydrogen ions in mol/l, thus 0.0001 mol/l. This may not sound like a lot, but comparatively, it is.

An alkaline liquid with a pH value of 11 has a larger pH value, but if you think of it mathematically, it means that the concentration of hydrogen ions is much smaller than in the example before:

An alkaline liquid with a pH value of 11 thus has 0.00000000001 mol/l of hydrogen ions.
You can see that the number of hydrogen ions decreases tenfold with each step on the pH scale.

Here’s an example:

A pH value of 3 has 0.001 mol/l of hydrogen ions, while a pH of 2 is 0.01 mol/l, which is ten times as much. Compared with a pH of 4 (0.0001 mol/l), the pH value of 2 (0.01 mol/l) has a hundredfold of hydrogen ions within the solution.

If the pH value of 2 is compared with the pH value of 8, we can establish that the liquid with the pH value of 2 contains a million times more H+ or H3O+ ions than the liquid with a pH of 8. If you drink a cola with a pH of 2.5 instead of a water with a pH of 8.5, you drink a drink which has 1 million times more H+ ions than alkaline water, mathematically speaking. Therefore, you would have to drink about 32 glasses of alkaline water to neutralize a single glass of cola.

A pH value can also be observed in transparent liquids. Just drip a pH test fluid into the transparent liquid and then read the pH value from its discolouration.

Litmus strips for measurement of acidity

A pH value is important to humans because many people are over-acidified, this means their tissue, fluids and lymphatic system are too acidic. Therefore, it is important to follow an alkaline diet that is rich in green foods, and also to drink alkaline drinks such as alkaline water from an ionizer.

Chemically pure, neutral water can only become acidic through contact with the air, since it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere:

CO2 + H20 ⇒ H2CO3 ⇒ HCO3- + H+

When this reaction is not prevented, the pH of pure water changes and settles at a value of 5. The pH of a solution also reacts to temperature; by cooling alkaline water the solution becomes more acidic, due to a decreasing pH. Therefore, it is best to drink fluids at room temperature - though it’s still better to drink cool water than not drink anything at all.

Drinking Insufficient Fluids Can Affect Your Health.

Blood has a constant pH level of between 7.35 and 7.45 - which is quite alkaline - neutral would be 7.0. The body achieves this through a complex process which delivers just the right amount of salts, proteins and dissolved carbon dioxide into our circulatory system. It must prevent a drop of the pH value, as the blood can’t absorb as much oxygen whilst at the lower value. This is because less oxygen can be bound to the blood cells, a phenomenon described by the Bohr Effect.

The interplay between acid and alkaline is also important in reproduction. The vagina is acidic so it can provide a robust defence against germs, while sperm is alkaline. In the sexual act, there is a neutralizing reaction which enables the sperm to move safely.

Our skin is slightly acidic and has a pH of 5.5. This acid layer protects the body from germs entering through the pores of the skin.

The lymphatic, biliary fluid, the conjunctive tissue, and a part of the small intestine, prefer an alkaline environment as well.

The pH Of Food And Drink Can Vary Widely

Lemonades are very acidic (the body perceives the sugar as acid) and soda water is slightly acidic as well, because carbonic acid is also an acid. Milk also is acidic, but not plant milk. Fruits and vegetables are more alkaline, whereas fish, meat and dairy products are rather bad acidifiers. There are also good acid forming agents, for example oats, corn, whole grain cereals, legumes, and many more - which, even if not alkaline, should be incorporated into the diet.

Ionized water is dispensed at just the right level of alkaline, as with a good ionizer, you can even adjust the desired pH value. With low-quality ionizers, this can only be achieved through a series of stages, and the devices may not reveal which pH value has actually been reached. Ionizers are devices which are connected to a tap, usually in the kitchen, so the water can run through, becoming alkaline as it does. You can also add on a pre-filter, so the water is treated prior to reaching the ionize. This provides you with a consistent source of healthy, great tasting water whenever you need it.

If you have questions about pH values or alkalinized and ionization, you can contact your personal consultant here.

ph scale, table with dish and human body with health benefits

These information were not written by the American Food and Drug Administration, or any other official authority. This site and its products do not promise to diagnose and cure diseases, or protect you from them. Always consult your doctor when you are sick.