What is a Water Ionizer?

A water ionizer is a small household appliance that transforms the pH (measure of acidity or basicity/alkalinity of a liquid) level of regular tap water in order to make the water more alkaline. Liquids, in this case water, with a pH level less than 7 indicates the water is acidic. Water with a pH level higher than 7 is more alkaline. Pure water has a pH of 7, making it neither acidic nor alkaline, thus neutral.

How Does a Water Ionizer Work?

A water ionizer hooks up to regular faucet or tap. In theory, it transforms the tap water through electrolysis into alkaline water while also producing premium antioxidant levels not found in regular water. These antioxidant levels are known as negative oxidation potential (-ORP).  The higher the –ORP in the water, the more antioxidant rich the water.

An electrical current passes through the tap water and splits the water into its hydrogen and oxygen particles. The water ionizer then siphons off the differing water ions to keep them separate.

  • Alkaline water is formed by the increased levels of negatively charged ions known as hydroxide (OH-) which are formed during the process.
  • Acidic water is formed by the positively charged ions.    

What are the Uses of Alkaline and/or Acidic Water from a Water Ionizer? 

Alkaline water from a water ionizer is mainly utilized for drinking but can also be used for other ways:

  • Cleaning of fruits and vegetables – alkaline water pulls the herbicides and pesticides away from the food.
  • Polishing household counters and surfaces – with high pH alkaline water. 

Acidic water also has a variety of uses:

  • Personal hygiene
    • Slightly acidic water from a water ionizer can act as a natural skin cleanser in place of chemical laden facial cleansers and liquid toners.
    • Washing hair with mildly acidic water is reputed to give hair more shine.
    • Concentrated acidic water acts is highly antiseptic and can be utilized as a mouth wash.
  • All-natural household cleaning and disinfecting agents – highly acidic water can take the place of the harsh, sometimes toxic, household cleaners. 

What are the Health Benefits of Alkaline Water from a Water Ionizer?

There are numerous health benefit claims about consuming alkaline water. Alkaline water created through the electrolysis of a water ionizer is infused with antioxidant properties:

  • Better total body hydration
  • Increased metabolism
  • Increased energy
  • Increased fat-burning capability to assist in weight loss and healthy weight management
  • Slowing of the aging process
  • Boost the immune system
  • Better protection from damaging free radicals
  • Detoxing agent at the cellular level
  • Faster recovery from exercise

History of the Water Ionizer

The concept of ionizing, or electrolyzing, water to change the pH of water and to increase antioxidants contained in the water through the utilization of a water ionizer, is a relatively new concept in the United States and Europe. However, water ionizers have been widely used in Japan and the Far East for much longer.

The first commercial water ionizer was manufactured in 1950 in Japan. At this time the water ionizers were large and only used in hospitals. The first residential water ionizer was produced by Japan but not until 1958. Water ionizers were certified as medical devices for the improvement of health in 1966 in Japan by the Health and Rehabilitation Ministry of the Japanese Government.

It was not until the 1970s that individual home water ionizer units began to be mass produced by Korea and subsequently introduced to the world. Today’s water ionizers are also approved as medical devices by the government of South Korea. Korean manufactured water ionizers were first introduced to the United States in 1985.  

Before the Water Ionizer 

The concept of water ionizers and the technology behind water ionizers began much earlier than 1950. Michael Faraday (1791 – 1967), an English scientist, invented the technology behind water ionizers – electrolysis. Faraday’s laws of electrolysis were first published in 1834.

  • First Law of Electrolysis – The mass of a substance altered at an electrode during electrolysis is directly proportional to the quantity of electricity (electrical charge) transferred at that electrode.
  • Second Law Electrolysis – For a given quantity of electrical charge, the mass of an elemental matter altered at the electrode is directly proportional to the element’s equivalent weight.

However, it was Russian scientists in the 1850s that first studied the negative ions which are necessary for optimal health and survival. The body is constantly under siege by positive ions by the food and beverages consumed and environmental contaminants. These positive ions, more commonly known as free radicals, attack the body at the cellular level causing degeneration and disease.

During the early 20th century, Russian scientists continued their study of negative ions and researched how to increase negative ions in water – water ionization. In theory, by isolating the negative ions in regular water and increasing the amount of negative ions our bodies intake, serves to protect from the damage of free radicals, thus improving overall health. The very first water ionizer was invented in Russia at this time. However, it was not until much later, 1950, when Japan began to commercially manufacture water ionizers.

Russia continued research on water ionizers throughout the 1900s. They even conducted studies in the 1960s to determine if ionized water could remove radiation from the body.

Types of Water Ionizers

There are typically three different types of water ionizers.

Countertop water ionizers sit on the kitchen or bathroom countertop and hook up to the sink’s water faucet. There are controls that allow the customer to select the pH level of the water. Most water ionizers filter the tap water first before introducing electrolysis to ionize the water. 

Under-the-counter water ionizers fit under the sink, out of sight. It has the exact functionality as the countertop version.

Portable water ionizers are not truly water ionizers but water alkalizers since electricity is necessary to ionize water. Alkaline minerals in the unit act to raise the pH of the water to alkaline levels. 


The technology behind water ionizers has been around for ages in Japan, Korea, and Russia. However, water ionizers are just now seeing their popularity rise in the United States.

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