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Investigating bottled water promises about pH balance

How does bottled water compare with tap water?
Posted at 3:03 PM, Oct 05, 2017

Bottled water is everywhere and we're paying a premium to get water with the fanciest labels.

Like so many of us Chris Stambaugh, a school bus driver, loves the convenience and sees the many different brands and claims out there, including this latest trend: pH balanced. 

"I would like to know what name brand has the best ph."

Water is measured on a pH scale of 0 to 14.  It's the FDA that makes sure bottled water is safe to drink but doesn't regulate pH in bottled water. The EPA who only regulates tap water says the best pH range is 6.5 to 8.5.

Professor David Mazyck teaches at the University of Florida's water institute. 

"So when we start to get beyond the 8.5 the water is likely going to start to have a different noticeable taste. And similarly below the pH of 6.5 there again we would start to see you know a noticeable difference in the quality or that you know the taste of the water."

Since pH is not regulated we wondered if you get what you pay for when you buy PH balanced bottled water. We bought 13 bottles from various grocery stores then we took those bottles to Murray-Brown labs for some high-tech PH testing.

After several hours the results were in. Did these waters live up to the claims on the side of their bottles? 

Here are the results, among the bottles of water that claimed to have high or balanced pH levels, well the tests showed they really did. They had levels of 7, 8, 9 and 10. Compare that to the brands that make no pH claims and those tested in the 5 -7. 

We also tested to see how bottled water pH compares to tap water. We took samples from 12 E.W. Scripps Company stations across the country. 

The average for the 12 tap water samples we tested was 8.12. That's less than a point below the average for the pH water we tested.

Mazyck says, "We're not necessarily getting any health benefits or any other benefits from a higher or you know a lower pH. And so it's more driven based on the marketing aspects versus you know true benefits." 

Per gallon, the bottled water we bought averaged out to $9.10 a gallon. The range for the bottled waters ran from the cheapest being $3.37 per gallon all the way to $15.07 per gallon.

Tap water across the country averages less than half a penny a gallon or .004¢. May places were even less coming down to .003¢ per gallon.

Mazcyk suggests,"To solely buy the bottled water based on the difference in pH would not be well justified." 

Stambaugh says knowing all this means she won’t spend extra for pH balanced bottled water. She’ll just keep buying the cheap stuff for convenience.

"I would you know go up to the refrigerator case. I would look for the deal on the bottled water."

You know you can test your own water at home, we bought the little testing kit on Amazon for $9. You just add drops to the water, then you take the color and match it on the side of the bottle. Compared with our lab test the our test kit was right on.