October 10, 2023 4 min read
Does salt in water change the water’s pH? While the term “salt water” makes most people think of ocean water, some freshwater also contains salt. Tap water and groundwater contain many different types of salts, including sodium, chloride, potassium, fluoride, calcium, and magnesium (1). So if salt is a part of your everyday drinking water, does this affect your water’s pH?
Before diving into salt’s effect on pH, it is important to understand what pH is. pH is a number assigned to a substance along a scale of 0 to 14. The number represents how acidic, alkaline, or neutral a substance is. If a substance has a pH lower than 7 (0-6.9), then it is acidic, with its acidity decreasing as the pH decreases. If the substance has a pH higher than 7 (7.1-14), then it is alkaline, with its alkalinity increasing as the pH increases. A neutral substance has a pH of 7, which is neither acidic nor alkaline.
Salinity is the measure of salts dissolved in water (2). It simply represents how salty water is. Salt is necessary for the body to function, and too much or too little salt can have detrimental effects on your health. Excessive intake of salt has been linked to high blood pressure and stomach cancer (3).
Salt has many positive impacts on your body, especially if consumed in moderation. It aids in digestion, muscle contraction, and to generally maintain homeostasis in the body. When you sweat, your body releases salt, so it is important to replenish your salt to avoid having a shortage of salt in your body. Too little salt can cause headaches, loss of energy, and muscle weakness (4). However, too much salt can also be harmful to your body. Researchers at Harvard found that “too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strong. It can also cause calcium losses” (5).
Salt in water does nothing to change your water’s pH, it just changes the water’s salinity (6). Salt itself is neutral with a pH of 7. Of course, this does not mean salt water is safe to drink. Salt water found in the ocean has a pH of 8.1, which is much more alkaline than the pH of the human body (7). Drinking this water can be deadly to humans, since the salt content is unable to be digested (8). Humans are used to ingesting small amounts of salt, diluted in their water or sprinkled on food. As a result, drinking highly salty ocean water cannot be processed by the body.
The Environmental Protection Agency found that the amount of salt found in freshwater is on the rise due to human activities like water softening and mining (9). However, the level of salt that comes out of your faucet is not rising; the EPA regulates these levels. Salt can easily be removed from water during the treatment process. The saltiness of your home’s specific location differs by state, and states with soft water tend to have a higher salinity than states with hard water (10).
While any high levels of salt are removed from your water before it comes out the faucet, it is possible to further lower your water’s salinity. Reverse osmosis and distillation systems are highly effective in removing salt from water (11). General water filter pitchers do not typically remove sodium from water, since sodium is a healthy mineral that the body needs. However, water pitchers, including Seychelle’s alkalizing water pitcher, do remove fluoride, one type of salt found in tap water.
Salt itself has a neutral pH and does not have an impact on your water’s pH. That being said, salt water is only safe to drink if the salinity is very low, like tap water. Salt water with a high concentration of salt is not safe for the body, as your body cannot process high amounts of salt ingested at once. When looking for a drink, avoid salt water, and instead settle for a glass of filtered water.
Does salt make water alkaline?
No. Adding salt to water does nothing to change the water’s pH, it just affects the water’s salinity.
What is the pH level of salt water?
The pH level of salt water varies. Ocean water typically has a pH of 8.1, but tap water with added salt would have a much lower pH.
Is salt good for pH balance?
Salt is necessary for many bodily functions, including keeping the body’s pH levels balanced. However, excessive salt intake has detrimental effects on the body.