Published: July 23, 2012

    What is water pH?

    Learn About pH

    At PelicanWater.com not only do we want to solve problems, we also want to educate you more about your water conditions and how best to solve them. Learning more about your water conditions allows you to understand the cause so we can move toward to the solution. Below is some information about the pH of water and what the effect different pH levels in water can have on your plumbing and appliances in your home.

    Basic Definition of pH

    pH: A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, numerically equal to 7 for neutral solutions, increasing with increasing alkalinity and decreasing with increasing acidity. The pH scale commonly in use ranges from 0 to 14.

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    Technical Definition of pH

    The technical definition of pH is that it is a measure of the activity of the hydrogen ion (H+) and is reported as the reciprocal of the logarithm of the hydrogen ion activity. Therefore, a water with a pH of 7 has 10-7 moles per liter of hydrogen ions; whereas, a pH of 6 is 10-6 moles per liter. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14.

    0 7 14
    Acidic Neutral/Balanced Alkaline

    In general, water with a pH < 7 is considered acidic and with a pH > 7 is considered basic. The normal range for pH in surface water systems is 6.5 to 8.5 and for groundwater systems 6 to 8.5. Alkalinity is a measure of the capacity of the water to resists a change in pH that would tend to make the water more acidic. The measurement of alkalinity and pH is needed to determine the corrosiveness of the water. The pH of pure water (H20) is 7 at 25oC, but when exposed to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere this equilibrium results in a pH of approximately 5.2. Because of the association of pH with atmospheric gases and temperature, it is strongly recommended that the water be tested as soon as possible. The pH of the water is not a measure of the strength of the acidic or basic solution and alone does not provide a full picture of the characteristics or limitations with the water supply.

    In general, water with a low pH (< 6.5) could be acidic, soft, and corrosive. Therefore, the water could leach metal ions such as: iron, manganese, copper, lead, and zinc from the aquifer, plumbing fixtures, and piping. Therefore, a water with a low pH could contain elevated levels of toxic metals, cause premature damage to metal piping, and have associated aesthetic problems such as a metallic or sour taste, staining of laundry, and the characteristic “blue-green” staining of sinks and drains . The primary way to treat the problem of low pH water is with the use of an acid neutralizer. The acid neutralizer feeds a solution into the water to prevent the water from reacting with the house plumbing or contributing to electrolytic corrosion ; a typical acid neutralizing chemical is soda ash. Neutralizing with soda ash increases the sodium content of the water.

    pH Values of Common Liquids

    Liquid pH
    Household Lye 13.5
    Bleach 12.6
    Ammonia 10.2
    Milk of Magnesia 10.2
    Borax 9.3
    Baking Soda 8.4
    Sea Water 8.0
    Blood 7.4
    Distilled Water 7.0
    Milk 6.3-6.7
    Beer 4.0-5.0
    Orange Juice 4.2
    Wine 2.8-3.8
    Vinegar 2.8-3.0
    Lemon Juice 2.2
    Battery Acid 0.3