Alkalinity & pH


Perhaps now that I am living in Sanctuary surrounded by two rivers, which envelop us on three sides, I will get back to my Waters of Life book and finally finish it. Here we are reminded every day the importance of water and what it’s like to drink it as it comes out the top of a mountain. We do have a village water system for our little valley of perhaps 70 simple homes but it is for collection and no treatment is done.

There is something I found with our drinking water that makes an interesting lesson about alkalinity and pH. I tested our water and to my dismay it was slightly acid but putting only a pinch of sodium bicarbonate into a half gallon moved it powerfully to the alkaline. There is some confusion between alkalinity and pH. It seems that it is not enough to drink high pH water. Alkalinity also needs to be high for the high pH water to have a strong medical affect.

Alkalinity is important because it protects or buffers against rapid pH changes.

Alkalinity and pH are related to each other in ways that are obvious, and in other ways that are subtle. The idea that alkalinity is separate from pH (which is by ‘coincidence’ called either acid or alkaline) is a myth though pH and alkalinity are two different measurable parameters of water. Even though the pH can be very high we find that un-mineralized water has little ability to neutralize acid in the stomach to initiate the production of bicarbonate in the bloodstream.

Alkalinity is a measure of the buffering capacity of water – its ability to resist sudden changes in pH. pH is a measure of how acidic or basic water is.

Alkalinity is the water’s capacity to resist changes in pH that would make the water more acidic. This capacity is commonly known as “buffering capacity.” For example, if you add the same weak acid solution to two vials of water – both with a pH of 7, but one with no buffering power (e.g. zero alkalinity) and the other with buffering power (e.g. an alkalinity of 50 mg/l) – the pH of the zero alkalinity water will immediately drop while the pH of the buffered water will change very little or not at all.

pH simply expresses the degree of hydrogen ion concentration. Alkaline means that the pH is greater than 7. Alkalinity is the true measure of acid-neutralizing capacity which includes the bicarbonate (HCO3^-1), carbonate (CO3^-2) and hydroxide (OH^-1) ions. It is measured in mg/l or ppm as CaCO3.

Alkalinity of natural water is determined by the soil and bedrock through which it passes. The main sources for natural alkalinity are rocks which contain carbonate, bicarbonate, and hydroxide compounds. Borates, silicates, and phosphates also may contribute to alkalinity. Limestone is rich in carbonates, so waters flowing through limestone regions or bedrock containing carbonates generally have high alkalinity – hence good buffering capacity. Conversely, areas rich in granites and some conglomerates and sandstones may have low alkalinity and therefore poor buffering capacity.

A pH less than 6.5 may contribute to the corrosion of pipes and fixtures and certainly if acid water can do this one can only wonder what it does to human innards.

The pH level of drinking water is a measure of how acidic or basic it is – pH is related to the hydrogen ions in water and stands for “potential of hydrogen.” Alkalinity is a measure of the capacity of water to neutralize acids. It measures the presence of carbon dioxide, bicarbonate, carbonate, and hydroxide ions that are naturally present in water. At normal drinking water pH levels, bicarbonate, and carbonate are the main contributors to alkalinity. As we can see in the below graph the higher the CO2 the more alkaline the water at a given pH.


In the chemistry of natural waters, there are several types of alkalinity that are encountered. Each of these is a measure of how much acid (H+) is required to lower the pH to a specific level. The reason that aquarists measure alkalinity is that in normal seawater, most alkalinity consists of bicarbonate and carbonate. Consequently, alkalinity is an indication of whether or not adequate bicarbonate is present in the water. Sodium bicarbonate is the main alkaline buffer in our blood.

Alkaline supplied from outside the body, like drinking alkaline water, results in a net gain of alkalinity in our body.

The main chemical species that contribute to alkalinity in seawater are bicarbonate and carbonate. The table below (from “Chemical Oceanography” by Frank Millero; 1996) shows the contribution to alkalinity from the major contributors in seawater at pH 8.

Chemical Species

Relative Contribution To Alkalinity

HCO3– (bicarbonate)


CO3– (carbonate)






MgOH+ (magnesium monohydroxylate)




HPO4–and PO4—(phosphate)


Carbon dioxide has a specific solubility in water as carbonic acid (H2CO3). At any given pH there is an exact mathematical relationship between H2CO3 and both bicarbonate and carbonate. For example, at a pH of about 9.3 in freshwater (about 8.4 in seawater) the carbonate concentration is 100 times that of the carbonic acid. At higher pH this multiplier rises, and there is consequently more bicarbonate and carbonate present.

alkalinity rises sharply as pH is raised. This becomes especially true above pH 8 in salt water, where there becomes an appreciable concentration of carbonate.

The theoretical relationship between carbonate alkalinity and pH for seawater (blue) and
freshwater (red) equilibrated with the atmosphere (350 ppm carbon dioxide).

Normal to high alkalinity implies adequate bicarbonate, while low alkalinity implies that it is in short supply. Bicarbonated water is the healthiest water to drink and that is made clear in my Sodium Bicarbonate book. It is critical to see that alkalinity does not depend strictly on pH though. There is a relationship between the two but pH measures the degree of alkalinity but not its quantity. It is like the relationship between temperature and heat. You can have a paper clip heated to 10,000 degrees but it will not heat a house nearly as well as 90-degree air blown from a home heater.

Alkalinity measures the concentrations of bicarbonate, carbonate, and hydroxide ions and is expressed as an equivalent concentration of calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

Alkaline ionizers do not always deliver water that is sufficiently acid-neutralizing to make a difference. Alkaline ionizer promoters equate acid-neutralizing ability with high pH. From the discussion above we can see that it is the parameter of alkalinity that neutralizes acid, not pH levels alone. In other words you can have high pH and little alkalinity and you can have low pH and a lot of alkalinity (e.g. sparkling mineral water). If there is only a small amount of alkaline elements (from the first two columns of the Periodic Chart) an ionizer will generate a meager quantity of acid neutralizing alkalinity – but the pH will still show as a high alkaline value (e.g. 8.5 to 10.5).

The presence of calcium carbonate or other compounds such as magnesium carbonate contribute carbonate ions to the buffering system.

People living in low mineral areas (many city supplies and wells) think they are getting a good dose of alkalinity from their ionizers when they would be much better off with 1/2 tsp. of baking soda or a shot glass of Gerolsteiner Sparkling Water. So it will be advised for many users of water ionizers to add sodium bicarbonate to their water if they are looking for stronger healing effects.

"Alkaline water" is not the same as "water with alkalinity". For this reason, water with a pH of 6.3 (e.g., sparkling mineral water) can have hundreds of times more acid-neutralizing "alkalinity" than water with an alkaline pH of 9.5 from an alkaline-ionizer. Robert Slovak

The shortcoming of ionizers is simply that the input water chemistry determines its degree of benefit in terms of acid-neutralizing alkalinity (not pH!) and negative ORP (active hydrogen). The quality of one’s “raw” water resource has to have a lot to do with our decision in terms of filters and ionizers chosen.

Water Ionizers

Most practitioners promote the idea that alkaline pH implies significant acid-neutralizing capacity – but that is not always correct. There are good reasons to suggest that those who have ionizer machines should add extra alkalinity (bicarbonate) – if the mineral content of their water supply is low. When the source water is low in minerals (most public drinking waters are low in minerals especially magnesium and bicarbonate) re-mineralization becomes critical.


Alkaline solutions, at about pH 8.5 has been shown to overtly increase the antioxidant effect by up to 60% relative to the same compound tested in a near biological pH of 7.4.[1]

Sang Whang, one of the world’s great experts on reversing aging reminds us that, “The ingredients in the stomach cell that make hydrochloric acid (HCl) are carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and sodium chloride (NaCl) or potassium chloride (KCl).”

NaCl + H2O + CO2 = HCl + NaHCO3, or
KCl + H2O + CO2 = HCl + KHCO3

Wang says, “In order to digest food and kill the kinds of bacteria and viruses that come with the food, the inside of our stomach is acidic. The stomach pH value is maintained at around 4. When we eat food and drink water, especially alkaline water, the pH value inside the stomach goes up. When this happens, there is a feedback mechanism in our stomach to detect this and commands the stomach wall to secrete more hydrochloric acid into the stomach to bring the pH value back to 4. So the stomach becomes acidic again. When we drink more alkaline water, more hydrochloric acid is secreted to maintain the stomach pH value.”

As we can see from the above chemical equations the byproduct of making hydrochloric acid is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) or potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3). In response to ingestion of sodium bicarbonate or high pH alkaline water the production of hydrochloric acid is actually increased because the stomach responds to lower the pH back down to normal acidic conditions. So as we take more alkalinity from drinking high pH and alkaline water, it forces our stomach to produce more acid (and a balancing amount of bicarbonate). The bottom line is that a net gain of alkalinity is achieved in the body and this is extremely helpful in a body struggling to maintain equilibrium.

[1] Lee, H., Cha, M., Kim, I. Activation of thiol-dependant antioxidant activity of human serum albumin by alkaline pH is due to the b-like conformational change

For questions pertaining to your own personal health issues or for specific dosing of Dr. Sircus's protocol items please seek a consultation. Please visit our knowledge base to see if your question may have been answered previously.


  • Even66

    Would this be a good idea or bad for someone with candida problems?

  • Queenofthewaves

    Dear Dr. Sircus,

    I am just starting to scour your site, links and wealth of information. My Mother was just diagnosed with Lung Cancer IV which has metastasised to bones, liver and brain. I am completely devastated to say the least. What I want to know is what is something she could do immediately to help bring the body back to an alkaline state. I know she is very aidic otherwise the Cancer would not be so rampant. I want them to have a consultation with you. Would drinking Gerol Steiner and bicarbonate be something that would be in line with her treatment plan which unfortunately involves radiation starting on Monday and then Chemo. I know that they feel this is there nky option as they feel there isn’t time with trial and error. Would the bicarbonate treatments help through chemo???How could I get them to listen?? I am so sorry to sound so desperate but I am an American citizen who resides in South Africa with my husband and 2 year old and I would so very appreciate some guidance in helping them. We have so very little time I feel but I have so much faith that if we could start some of your therapies with bicarbonate and molasses etc we could really make a drastic improvement on my Mother’s health. Any advice or direction would so very much be appreciated. Thank you!!!!!!!!

    • Claudia French

      Queen of the waves,

      The best thing to do is to watch the videos on our website on taking sodium bicarnbonate, especially the ones with Vernon Johnston and get them started immediately. Get some pH test strips at your local health food store or pharmacy and start checking her pH twice a day and adjust the amount of sodium bicarbonate to get her pH up quickly. Add 1/8 teaspoonful each time she takes the sodium bicarbonate.
      which gives a video on how to mix the sodium bicarbonate for drinking.
      It should be fine to use the sodium bicarbonate during her chemotherapy but keep a close watch on pH as they use sodium bicarbonate in some chemotherapy. There are many other things that can and should be done and you can see them all listed here:
      She should engage in as much of this list as possible, though I realize that with so little time before treatment starts, that will be difficult.
      You might be able to get a consultation with Dr. Sircus over the weekend which would help you with dosages etc. but this would be taking a chance since the treatments start on Monday.

      Best wishes to your mother and to you, her family.

      Claudia French

  • skymax

    I have found that a naturally carbonated natural mineral water from Canada called Saint-Justin is very high in natural HCO3 at 560 ppm and is very helpful for digestion and fantastic to the taste. It is one of the best waters I have tried and is completely natural and bottled direct to glass bottle at the source, it is very mellow and not harsh.

  • Stargazer

    Thank you for your informative blog!

    If someone already has excess acid, could bicarbonate make the condition worse since HCl production is increased in response to ingestion of sodium bicarb?

    If someone ingested bicarbonate during a meal, such as in a sparkling mineral water (e.g. Gerolsteiner with high bicarbonate), could this disrupt the digestive process by neutralizing the stomach acids? If so, should it be consumed only between meals?

    For the last few days, I’ve been drinking Gerolsteiner sparkling mineral water and I’m wondering if I might be experiencing negative side effects due to the bicarbonate levels. I seem to now be experiencing acid reflux or gastritis symptoms. Is it possible that the bicarbonate in the mineral water is causing my stomach to over-compensate and make too much acid?

    Thank you!

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Good question Stargazer,

      The way to know if this is what is occurring is to stop drinking this water with your meals …..drink it between meals and see if the symptoms you describe go away. You can also stop drinking this water altogether as a test to see if these symptoms stop.

      Please let us know what happens!

      • Stargazer

        Thanks, Claudia.

        I was hoping that maybe you heard of other people who experienced this same problem, but I guess not? I’ve been scouring the internet to see if anyone experienced this issue and I can’t find anything other than how beneficial Gerolsteiner water is. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something that just happens to me as my naturopath says that I always seem to react oppositely to what should be the norm. This happened with magnesium supplement for me too. Apparently I can shift myself into what I think is a hypermagnesium state extremely easily, so I have to be careful with it.

        Even when I drink Gerolsteiner between meals (whether it’s undiluted or diluted with water), I experience some symptoms shortly after I drink it. It’s very strange and I get frustrated since I think I’m doing something great for me, but I seem to experience issues when I try something new.

        My goal is to try to achieve better alkalinity. I’m still acid in the morning and evenings despite a diet with green drinks and fresh veggies from a local farm, lemon water, Kombucha, coconut water, aloe vera, very very very little processed food, not a whole lot of protein. My drinking water is filtered tap and when I tested the pH, it’s about 6.2. So, I thought that maybe adding mineral water to the repertoire would help my alkalinity.

        I’ll report back after I stop drinking Gerolsteiner and let you know what happens.

        Many thanks for your comments.

  • pumpkin pie

    Definitely, what a fantastic website and educative posts, I surely will bookmark your blog.All the Best!

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  • Stacy Sms


    I found this rather interesting even though most was over my head, lol. I have been drinking CHA water, it is charged and is alkaline. My family recently purchased SodaStream to cut back on the rising cost of sodas. I was wondering if I can use my CHA water to make a soda drink. Is is safe?

    I don’t drink sodas often but sometimes I like to have one. I really like my CHA water and it has helped me so much with hormonal imbalance, joint pain, and swelling.

    Please respond soon.


    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Hi Stacy,
      There should be no problem using your alkaline water in the SodaStream especially if only drinking this soda occasionally. But you can also write to the companies making the alkaline water and to SodaStream for their opinions…..if you do, please share!

      • Stacy Sms

        Thank you. I will do that and share when I get an answer from them. I make my coffee and tea with the alkine water and i love it, it takes away the bitter. I just made a liter soda with my water and it is good. I was just kinda wondering if there would be some weird chemical reaction, lol. But I will check and let everyone know the responses I get.

        Thank you for your response.

  • Bladder Infection

    You really make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I find this topic to be really one thing which I believe I might by no means understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely huge for me. I am looking forward on your subsequent post, I?ll try to get the hold of it!

  • Maria

    Hi firstly I wanted to say thank you so much for all the work that Dr Sircus has done to assist so many that simply have been let down by the healthcare system.

    I wanted to share very briefly my health nightmare experiences along with the hope that your books and the natural minerals recommended have brought.

    I have been suffering for years with symptoms and so far after so many useless tests and trips to doctors of all walks of life the only diagnosis that seems to have come close was from a series of tests done close to 10 years ago where, serology tests showed positive to Mycoplasma Pneumoniae, Glandular fever, Rickettsiae Australis, Prowazekii,Toxoplasmosis and Hepatitis A. In addition to insulin resistance.

    As I didn’t go ahead and take the 3 different types of antibiotics prescribed at the time, my symptoms have deteriorated over the years, until I started taking natural antibiotics and other mineral supplements.

    Over the last 6 months after purchasing the amazing book on bicarb, I have taken the bicarb formula with lemon twice a day and in September I went on an intensive 4 x1/2 tsp bicarb dosages per day and I still couldn’t raise the urine Ph to 8 first thing in the morning.

    In the second week of taking the 4 doses a day, I started getting slight bleeding in my mouth and a funny slimy coating at the back of my throat. So I stopped to see what would happen and the horrible headaches started up again and slowly over the last month the rest of the symptoms of aches and pains throughout the body and exhaustion. Still not to the intensive degree that I had before.

    Within the first few weeks of taking the lemon formula my symptoms gradually disappeared and as more symptoms cropped up they also slowly disappeared. However as I had these issues for most of my life, I understand that it will take longer and different treatments as well to get a complete cure.

    Therefore I’m convinced that the bicarb has been crucial and will assist me in getting rid of the bacteria/viruses causing my symptoms and now plan to study the Nascent Iodine book to discover if that might help in addition to the bicarb.

    I would like to know if anyone else has had the slight bleeding in the mouth whilst taking bicarb? (Or it could just be a side effect to the bacteria’s dyeoff).

    Many thanks again for all the efforts and love expressed in your work

    God Bless


    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Hi Marie,

      Sounds like Iodine will surely be benficial for you!! We have not heard of bleeding in the mouth from bicarbonate use. Be sure to check your pH daily and not allow it to go over 7.3-7.4, And no more than 7 half tsp / day if under age 55 , no more than 3 half tsp/day if over 55.

      The iodine will really hit on any bacteria in your system., especially if you are iodine deficient.

    • shanob

      I had some Candida Albicans come out of my gums, and treat these sites vigorously with an electric toothbrush and water pic, sodium bicarb at 5%solution in boiled water. When I see bleeding, on my skin or in my mouth, I know they are dying and will soon be gone if I keep treating! Keep treating this pain, do not stop until it is gone, it is the fungus cells in your skin slayers dying in response to the alkaline environment.

  • Luther G. Brossa

    Nice article! (It should be offered in PDF medium, as well.) I’m going to forward the article’s URL to my family and friends. Again…nice work!!!

  • William Arthur

    Dear Dr. Sircus,
    Thank you. I finally understand. That is an awesome explanation of pH and alkalinity.
    Your non-spiritual writing is absolutely exceptional. The clarity of thoght, simplie logic and sound reasoning are hard to argue with. I have been adding a bit of Sodium Bicarbonate to my drinking water for some time now. I know that it has to make it more alkaline and I haven’t really trusted the pH water explanations – not that that is wrong in itself of course – but I didn’t completely understand why it is a good thing to do.
    It has been said of Einstein that he never owned a test tube. His discoveries were all made by his thnking and reasoning ability. He would meditate (as in think deeply) on a subject or problem in order to come up with a solution or an explanation.
    Yiour explanation of this subject is very simple once you understand it. Like relativity. However most of us, without the background knowledge etc. would be unable to come up with such a clear picture which leaves so little room for argument.
    Thank you again.

  • john

    How much amount of sodium bicarbonate is safe to ingest on a daily basis?

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff


      Take no more than 7 half tsp if under the age of 60, no more than 3 half tsp if over age of 60

  • ARK

    If a person has a history of canker sores in the mouth is it likely that they are too acidic? If yes, will adding sodium bicarbonate to their drinking water be enough to raise the body’s PH level?

    Thanks so much.

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Dear Ark,

      Yes, it is possible that you have a pH imbalancethat is causing or adding to this problem of canker sores. We have discussed raising your body’s pH in many of Dr. Sircus’ essays. It can be used in water as ajump start for changing your blody pH, but along with dietary changes . pH should be kept track of and checked daily to determine if you need more or less bicarbonate.

      Canker sores can be treated with bicarbonate, either swish a solution around your mouth or make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sore. Cut down on meats and eat more greens. Do not use soap, shampoos, or toothpast with sodium lauryl sulfate as this has been a known cause of canker sores.

  • Relph Levvis

    Hi Dr. Sircus,

    Your explanations about these topics is decidedly the most concise, clear and understandable explanation for these entwined subjects I have come across in several years of “truth-seeking” ala “alkalinity, pH, ORP and stomach digestion.”

    Thanks from the calm, deep centers of my heart.

  • Ned Hochman

    I have kidney disease. On the advice of a friend, I have been taking Sodium Bicarb. Along with a high dose of coQ10 enzyme and a reduced protein diet, i have been avoiding dialysis. My Nephrologist rails against Sodium Bicarb. “We use it for some people, you don’t need it”. “It can raise your blood pressure”. “The people that say it is good in treating kidney disease know nothing about the disease.’ Of course the Coq10 was not his idea.
    He can offer me nothing. I have kept my labs stable and myself off dialysis. I will keep taking sodium bicarb.

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff


      Good for you. Has your blood pressure stayed stable as well ? Most doctors think that the sodium in the sodium bicarbonate causes the blood pressure to go up. We have seen the research however that shows that it is only sodium chloride that makes blood pressure change and sodium bicarbonate does not….more proof is needed of course, but we believe that to be true….just keep track of your bp. The Coq10 is great and has been found to reverse kidney disease or need for dialysis. Most doctors think the only time sodium bicarb. is needed is if your body is not excreting acids properly. so if your bloodwork shows your acid balance is good he thinks sodium bicarb is not needed. Best of luck to you!