pH Scale 101

A water tester holds up a vial of water measuring for ph scale.

Even though you may have heard of the pH scale, you do not have a full grasp on what it is for. Perhaps you went over it in chemistry class but have forgotten the concept. The pH scale is still as important as ever, as it can tell you a lot about water quality.

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic water is. In this sense, an acid is a substance that produces hydrogen ions as the only positive ion when mixed with water. A base is a substance that produces hydroxyl ions as the only negative ion when mixed with water.

The range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates an alkaline or base. pH is really a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. Water that has more free hydrogen ions is acidic, whereas water that has more free hydroxyl ions is basic.

Water quality depends on pH levels. Water that is more acidic has toxic heavy metals that dissolve easily and are more harmful to our bodies. The Environmental Protection Agency has regulations that state the standard pH level of drinking water should lie between 6.5 and 8.5.

Common heavy metals that are found in low pH water include iron, manganese, copper and lead. Lead, for example, can leach into drinking water from pipes in your plumbing or from a local aquifer. 

Acidic water can be identified by a metallic taste or from reddish stains on clothing or plumbing. Water that tests high on the pH scale, or alkaline water, is also commonly known as hard water. Hard water contains excess calcium and other minerals, which can often appear as deposits on cookware.

Water that is in the ground can have different pH levels than water that flows through streams or lakes. Groundwater can be affected by decaying organic material, as well as human-induced pollution. If lake water goes through severe pH changes, it can affect aquatic organisms that are sensitive to change.

Testing your water’s pH level gives you a better look at the quality of drinking water in your home. Understanding the pH scale can give you a better idea at how to improve your home’s water quality, and Gordon Water Systems is there to help make that happen. For more information, call Gordon Water Systems today at 616-776-3800. We love improving people’s quality of life by giving them great water.