Adventures with ORP and Ionized Water
by Walter Last
Ionized water has several health promoting qualities. I have no doubt that the most important of these is the strong antioxidant or reducing property of alkaline ionized water. This led me to experiment with my Jupiter Masterpiece (equivalent to the Technos Ionizer in North America) to establish the conditions for consistently generating the highest antioxidant potential in my water.
Here I want to share some of my experiences in the hope of helping others to improve the quality of their ionized water. I must confess that the task turned out to be much more difficult and frustrating than expected but I am very pleased with the final outcome.
Lets start with some basics. In chemistry oxidation and reduction are now commonly defined as gaining or losing electrons. Oxidation is the loss of an electron from a substance, while in reduction an electron is gained. Oxidation and reduction occur simultaneously in two substances. Oxygen is the most familiar electron acceptor or oxidizer. Iron rusts by combining with oxygen. Thereby the iron donates electrons and is oxidized while the oxygen gains electrons and is reduced.
The antioxidant activity can be measured as the Oxidation Reduction Potential or O.R.P. For this I used an ORP meter (Milwaukee SM 500), which indicates the presence of free or loosely bound electrons as a negative ORP up to 1000 mV. An ORP of 0 is neutral while an oxidizing potential can be measured up to +1000 mV. The ORP scale officially extends from +1200 mV to 1200 mV. However, with this method we cannot measure purely organic antioxidants, such as vitamin E as their electrons are much too tightly bound, although vitamin C is partly ionized and can be measured to some degree.
To confuse things, a high negative ORP can also result from a high level of dissolved hydrogen, and in this case it does not have any antioxidant property. Large amounts of hydrogen are produced at slow flow rates when the water becomes strongly alkaline with a pH over 10.0.
The principle of antioxidant activity is the availability of electrons to neutralize any so-called free radicals with oxidizing qualities that may damage biological systems. The electrons present in alkaline ionized water are highly reactive and react much faster than organic antioxidants to neutralize free radicals.
Furthermore, as we age our body structures lose elasticity, everything becomes more rigid. On a biochemical level this increasing rigidity is due to cross-linking of structural bio-chemicals, which in turn is due to a loss of electrons. Providing the body with an abundance of highly reactive electrons can be expected to slow cross-linking reactions and, with this, the aging process.
Finally, all biochemical energy in our body is produced by transferring electrons from food molecules onto inhaled oxygen. Having more available electrons may help us to produce more energy. This may be the reason why some individuals feel more energetic on ionized water.
From this outline you can see why I am so interested in a high negative ORP. The higher the ORP, the stronger the healing qualities. However, this does not mean that it is advisable for beginners to start with a high ORP. As with exposure to sunlight it is best to start with low doses and increase gradually, and even that may from time to time produce some healing reactions as with temporary inflammations, mucus discharge and skin rashes.
Additional healing factors for most individuals are the alkalinity of the water and its low surface tension. Most of us are over acid and benefit from our lymph fluid becoming more neutral. However, this is only a minor factor in using ionized water as we can alkalize more quickly and cheaply by taking sodium bicarbonate. The lower surface tension, on the other hand, improves the absorption and use of nutrients.
In my initial experiments it appeared that the slower the flow rate the higher the negative ORP. Therefore I tried to let the water run at the slowest possible rate, about 7 minutes per liter and at the highest ionizing setting of 5. This usually gave an ORP of up to 350 mV and a pH of about 10.7. A flow rate of 5 minutes per liter tended to give somewhat lower ORP and a pH of about 10.0 to 10.5. However, a slow flow rate combined with a high pH eventually caused problems with calcium precipitation. My bore water out of the tap has an ORP of about +250 and a pH of 7.1.
Then I obtained a TDS meter, which measures total dissolved solids or ionic minerals in parts per million or ppm. I found that my bore water has about 350 ppm. After some good rain it would drop towards 300 ppm and also the ORP was usually lower, say about -250 mV and sometimes much less, even without any rain.
A friend used town water supplied from river water, which in turn was rainwater with a low TDS of about 150 ppm. Initially his ORP readings were only 60 to 120 mV. The highest ORP was with a very slow flow rate that produced a pH of 11.7. I suggested using a calcium insert to increase the mineral content of the water and that increased the ORP to about 200 at a higher flow rate and lower pH.
After ionizing the TDS value of the reduced water may be higher or lower than the original water. At lower pH values up to about 9 or 9.5 the TDS tends to increase, either because minerals are now more concentrated or just more strongly interacting with the electrodes of the TDS meter. However, with higher pH values the TDS becomes increasingly lower and continues to drop over time as large amounts of calcium precipitate.
Coming back to my experiments, I was surprised to notice that higher flow rates could often generate higher ORP with lower pH. With a flow rate of between 1 and 4 minutes per liter I could sometimes obtain ORP of over -600 mV at a pH of 8.5 to 9.5. Once I even had an ORP of over -600 with a fast flow rate and a pH of 7.9. However, after some time the ORP dropped back to about 300 mV.
Sometimes I had the highest ORP at a flow rate of nearly 1 minute per liter and sometimes at 4 minutes per liter but usually somewhere in-between and close to 3 minutes per liter. However, this may be different with different ionizes and different water. Ionizes with more or stronger electrodes obviously will have higher optimal flow rates, while water with lower mineral content will probably need lower flow rates.
The following table shows typical differences in ORP at different flow rates in seconds per liter. These were measured simultaneously with three different probes to show their varying sensitivities. The first line for each flow rate shows the results about 30 to 60 minutes after ionizing and the second line in the same samples the next day.
ORP at different flow rates