Functional Waters

Some commercial water ionizers allow you to add sodium chloride (NaCl) to the source water, which increases the conductivity of the water resulting in functional waters called strong acidic water (produced at the anode) and strong alkaline water (produced at the cathode).1

Properties of Strong Alkaline Water

Electrolyzed alkaline water is produced via electrolysis of a NaCl solution at the cathode side.2 The resultant product is a solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) with a pH of 11-13.8 and a negative ORP of  -750 to -900 mV3 due to the dissolved hydrogen gas.  It may also contain small amounts of platinum-nano particles4 as the NaCl increases the propensity of degrading the electrode plates.

Uses and Benefits

This cathodic water is considered a functional water because it is used for cleansing,5 rinsing,6 disinfecting,7 lipid extraction,8 etc.9 It can readily saponify oils,10 making it a useful washing agent for greasy or oily areas.11-12  This also gives it the ability to reduce the pesticides on produce13-14 by soaking the vegetables in this water for 10-30 minutes.

It is important to note that using this water on produce generally alters the color of the water. Some have incorrectly claimed that the color is all the pesticides. The fact is that the color is due to the organic pigments of the food itself—because of the high pH of the water (see pictures/description below).  Indeed, the same color change occurs even with pesticide free produce.

The above pictures clearly illustrate this point. In both pictures,  the left cup is bottled water at an initial pH of 6.2 where tomatoes were soaked for the same amount of time as another batch of tomatoes, which soaked in the strong alkaline water (10 min). After soaking, the tomatoes were removed and the pH of the bottled water was increased to 11.2 by adding a simple alkaline chemical (i.e. ammonia). It is seen that the color is about the same, which indicates that the reason for the color change is simply because like with the tea demo, the color pigments act as “natural” pH indicators. This is further underscored by the same picture on the right, but where the pH of the strong alkaline water was decreased by adding acid (i.e. white vinegar) to a pH of 6.2. It is seen that the water went colorless because of the natural pH indictor properties of the tomato skin.

Mixing with Oil

Some have claimed that the reason this water can mix with oil is because it has a lower surface tension, or microclustering of the water molecules. However, both of these ideas are false and are pseudoscientific.  Actually, the surface tension increases as pH and/or NaCl concentration increases,15 and microclustering is an abandoned myth16 with no credible scientific backing.17

Others have termed that the water mixing with the oil as emulsification; however, the water lacks a surfactant thus making this illogical. The mixing is that of saponification, which is a common process of making soap.  The hydroxides hydrolyze the triglycerides to form carboxylates.  This newly formed soap now has surfactant activity, which acts to emulsify the remaining oil.

It is observed that the ability of this water to saponify fats increases when stored for a day.  A possible explanation for this is that as the water sits calcium salts (e.g. carbonates) form and drop out of the solution. This is important because calcium blocks micelle formation, which is important for final saponification/emulsification of the oil.

Because this water can mix with oil, another false claim has been perpetuated, which is that drinking this water or the mildly alkaline water can remove excess fat and cholesterol from inside of the body.18 This is absolutely false and is yet another reason why many ridicule the concept of ionized water.  It is the high alkaline pH (?11.5) that is responsible for the mixing ability. The stomach acid would neutralize the alkaline water; furthermore, a blood pH high enough to mix with fats would be instantly fatal.

References: Click Here

  1. KUMON, K. (1997). What Is Functional Water? Artificial Organs 21, 2-4.
  2. Koseki, S., Yoshida, K., Kamitani, Y., Isobe, S., & Itoh, K. (2004). Effect of mild heat pre-treatment with alkaline electrolyzed water on the efficacy of acidic electrolyzed water against< i> Escherichia coli</i> O157: H7 and< i> Salmonella</i> on Lettuce. Food Microbiology, 21(5), 559-566.
  3. Hricova, D., Stephan, R., & Zweifel, C. (2008). Electrolyzed water and its application in the food industry. Journal of Food Protection®, 71(9), 1934-1947.
  4. YAN, H., KINJO, T., TIAN, H., HAMASAKI, T., TERUYA, K., KABAYAMA, S. & SHIRAHATA, S. (2011). Mechanism of the lifespan extension of Caenorhabditis elegans by electrolyzed reduced water--participation of Pt nanoparticles. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry 75, 1295-9.
  5. SHIRAHATA, S. A. N. E. T. A. K. A. (2002). Reduced water for prevention of diseases. Animal Cell Technology: Basic and Applied Aspects 12, 25-30.
  6. Takenouchi, T., & Wakabayashi, S. I. (2006). Rinsing effect of alkaline electrolyzed water on nickel surfaces. Journal of applied electrochemistry, 36(10), 1127-1132.
  7. Koseki, S., Yoshida, K., Kamitani, Y., Isobe, S., & Itoh, K. (2004). Effect of mild heat pre-treatment with alkaline electrolyzed water on the efficacy of acidic electrolyzed water against< i> Escherichia coli</i> O157: H7 and< i> Salmonella</i> on Lettuce. Food Microbiology, 21(5), 559-566.
  8. Toge, Y., & MIYASHITA, K. (2003). Lipid extraction with electrolyzed cathode water from marine products. Journal of Oleo Science, 52(1), 1-6.
  9. Miyashita, Kazuo, et al. (2003) "Antioxidant Activity of Electrolized Sodium Chloride." Book Food Factors in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. P. 274-288. American Chemical Society Symposium Series, V. 851
  10. Mahmoud, B. S., Yamazaki, K., Miyashita, K., Kawai, Y., Shin, I. S., & Suzuki, T. (2006). Preservative effect of combined treatment with electrolyzed NaCl solutions and essential oil compounds on carp fillets during convectional air-drying. International journal of food microbiology, 106(3), 331-337.
  11. Hsu, Shun-Yao. "Effects of flow rate, temperature and salt concentration on chemical and physical properties of electrolyzed oxidizing water." Journal of Food Engineering 66.2 (2005): 171-176.
  12. SATO, U., TAKENOUCHI, T., TANAKA, H., YAMAZAKI, T., & WAKABAYASHI, S. I. (2004). Study on Degreasing by Electrolyzed Reduced Water for Cutting Surface of Carbon Steel. Journal of the Japan Society for Precision Engineering, 70(2), 281-286.
  13. Hao, J., Liu, H., Chen, T., Zhou, Y., Su, Y. C., & Li, L. (2011). Reduction of Pesticide Residues on Fresh Vegetables with Electrolyzed Water Treatment. Journal of food science, 76(4), C520-C524.
  14. Lin, Chyi?Shen, et al. "Evaluation of electrolysed water as an agent for reducing methamidophos and dimethoate concentrations in vegetables." International journal of food science & technology 41.9 (2006): 1099-1104.
  15. Mucha, Martin, Tomaso Frigato, Lori M. Levering, Heather C. Allen, Douglas J. Tobias, Liem X. Dang, and Pavel Jungwirth. "Unified molecular picture of the surfaces of aqueous acid, base, and salt solutions." The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 109, no. 16 (2005): 7617-7623.
  16. Nelson, David L., Albert Lester Lehninger, and Michael M. Cox. Lehninger principles of biochemistry. Macmillan, 2008.
  17. Hairston JE, Rodekohr D, Brantley EF, Bice LL. Drinking water and water treatment scams. Timely Information. Alabama Cooperation Extension System. 2003; 1–17.