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What is pH in Water?


When you measure the pH level of tap water, you’re determining how acidic or alkaline the water is. The pH level is based on the relative amount of hydrogen or hydroxyl ions in your water. More hydrogen ions translate to a low pH level, which is considered acidic; more hydroxyl ions result in a high pH level, which is considered alkaline. Here’s how pH in water impacts your home’s water quality.

pH levels in tap water

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Substances like pure water that are neither acidic nor alkaline are considered neutral and have a pH level of 7. However, that’s not the case for most water, as it is typically affected by environmental factors such as local geology and ongoing human activities that can impact the pH level of water. Even your own body has a pH level, which is partly why some people want to know the chemical composition of their water.

What is low pH in water?

If water has a pH level below 7, it’s considered acidic. While scientific measurement is the only accurate way to determine a water’s pH level, some generalizations can be made in areas where atmospheric conditions like acid rain and snowmelt consistently contribute to low pH levels. Mining operations and waste discharges can also reduce pH levels. Other factors can also impact acidity, and low pH levels can cause corrosion of metal plumbing, leading to damage and introducing dissolved metals into your water. That’s the reason why more neutral or  higher (basic) pH level is desirable.

What is high pH in water?

Water with a high pH level (above 7) is basic or alkaline. Some people prefer to drink alkaline water, depending on their tastes.

High pH water can result in increased tendency for scaling within water heaters and mineral buildup on fixtures. High pH levels in well water are usually the result of natural mineral deposits in the local geology, while municipal water supplies can be affected by water treatment processes. 

What is Ideal pH in Water?

 The U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a pH value between 6.5 and 8.5 for drinking water. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality establish a slightly higher range of 7 to 10.5. An ideal tap water pH level is in the middle of these ranges.

pH Water Testing

If you enjoy the taste of bottled mineral water, you likely enjoy the flavor of a higher pH water. However, pH value can have implications on your home’s plumbing system and water-using appliances.

  • Acidic water can cause a metallic taste and blue-green stains from dissolved copper.
  • Alkaline water could make beverages bitter and may lead to scale buildup.

Do you have water problems like these?
Try our Water Solutions Finder tool.

That’s why it’s important to learn your water’s pH level. While there are plenty of DIY options available, a professional pH water test conducted by an expert can give you information, speed, accuracy and support you won’t find anywhere else. Since pH levels can potentially indicate other issues from plumbing damage to increased risk of ingesting metals like copper and lead, scheduling a professional test for reliable results is especially important.

Once your water test results are available, your local water expert can recommend the best next steps. Many low pH problems are best solved by a whole-house water filtration system, such as the Culligan® Smart High Efficiency Water Filter.

Find Your Water’s pH Level

You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the chemistry behind your water and how that impacts its taste, quality, your plumbing system, and more. Skip the DIY test strips and have a water expert tell you everything you need to know about your water’s pH level. You can also learn about water hardness, total dissolved solids, chlorine, iron and other potential contaminants and issues.*

It all begins with a free, in-home water test and consultation. Schedule yours today.

*Contaminants may not be present in your water.

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