ORP, pH, and Hydrogen…A New Perspective

In my thousands of hours of reading and researching about ionized water, I have never been able to find a good explanation of how or why electric water ionizers work. I keep reading about the wonderful benefits of hydroxyl ions and the hydrating properties of the water, but to quote an old advertising campaign “where’s the beef”. I know from personal experience and from speaking to hundreds of others with their own personal experiences, that ionized water works. However, I’ll be darned if I can find a reasonable explanation as to why.

I always assumed that the lack of widespread acceptance of electric water ionizers was due to the high prices charged for the machines, but perhaps the real reason is that people just won’t buy into something that they don’t understand. If the seller can’t provide a plausible explanation and the medical community condemns the product, the buyer is asked to make a leap of faith. At a price of $2,000 to $4,000 that is a big leap.

My quest to understand how and why water ionization works has lead me in recent months to the world of Dr. Hayashi (pictured above) and his theory that hydrogen is the key to healthy water.

Due to my inability to “get to” Dr. Hayashi, I have been reading about and talking with his most loyal supporters in America. If you are interested in learning additional details about hydrogen and its health benefits, check out the writings of Craig Hoffman at his website at www.hydrogenfriends.com or see what Bruce Curtis has to say atwww.LivingWaterUSA.com.

As my education about water ionizers has progressed, I have come to the realization that many of my original thoughts about ionized water were incorrect. You have to start somewhere, and like so many others, I began my journey by listening to a sales presentation from an excellent Enagic representative. Finding myself intrigued but concerned about the $4,000 price tag, I checked out the “unbiased” ionizer review sites which turned out to be totally biased towards the companies that paid for the sites. At that point in time, the “more is better” game was on for me and so was the preoccupation with pH and ORP. Today, I understand that the real factor behind the health benefits of ionized water is hydrogen. Before I get into a discussion about hydrogen, I think it is appropriate to review what I have learned about ORP and pH.

ORP – Oxidation Reduction Potential

In its simplest form, ORP is the measure of the availability of electrons (measured as an electrical charge) in a solution such as water. Negative ORP values in a solution have the ability to reduce the destructive nature of free oxygen (aka “free radicals”) in the body. The lower the ORP of a solution, the greater its ability to feed electrons to the electron hungry free oxygen in the body, and thereby neutralize the nasty effects of oxidation. So far so good….lets get negative!

Before you start accepting the electric water ionizer industry mantra that “more is better”, both intuition and my research indicate that moderation is the key. A steady diet of anything that doesn’t occur in nature is not a good thing and more is definitely not better. Based upon what I have read and experienced, mildly negative ORP values, in the range of -10 to -200 are the best for the human body over the long term. It seems logical to me that a good “flush” of the system in terms of a mild “detox” every six months or so makes sense. However, it also seems logical to me that drinking strong alkaline water on a sustained basis will force your body to compensate from what it naturally requires. I believe that drinking alkaline water and eating an alkaline diet are good for you and will eventually overcome years and years of bad dietary choices, but over doing it can be harmful as well.

A negative charge can be created by electrolysis in electric water ionizers through the creation of hydroxyl ions (OH-). ORP can also be created through natural ionization by both electric and non-electric water ionizers such as antioxidant filters or hydrogen sticks. Natural ionization can be achieved by means of introducing water to magnesium or other alkali earth metals such as calcium, sodium, or potassium, which I will explain below.

Electric water ionizers actually split the source water into two separate streams. In the separation process, the machines create alkaline water with potentially very low negative ORP values due to the creation of a large amount of OH- (hydroxyl ions) produced. The negative charge associated with hydroxyl ions (OH-) is unstable and short lived if the water is jostled or if the water comes in contact with air. The presence of light will also dissipate the ORP charge. Electric water ionizers also create free hydrogen due to the presence of minerals in the water. Ultimately, the water produced by an electric water ionizer will return to the natural level of ORP generated by the mineral content of the source water.

Non-electric water ionizers creat ORP because of the stronger attraction between oxygen and magnesium than the attraction between oxygen to hydrogen. When water comes in contact with magnesium, the oxygen atoms disassociate from hydrogen and bond with the magnesium. As a result, hydrogen atoms are left free in the solution. While atoms are not ions and don’t carry a specific electrical charge, the hydrogen atom has one free electron that essentially acts like an ion because it can easily donate its electron. Since the ORP being created occurs naturally due to the presence of magnesium, the ORP is much more consistent/stable/long lasting under normal conditions.

Electric water ionizers can produce stronger initial ORP readings because of the creation of short term OH- (hydroxyl ions), but the hydroxyl ions themselves are not beneficial. The process of electrolysis produces hydrogen in massive quantities as witnessed by the collection of hydrogen gas bubbles in your glass when you first recieve water from the machine. Unfortunately, the gas bubbles are lighter than water and rise to the surface and dissipate. I always drink water produced by an electric water ionizer within ten seconds after it is produced if possible. That way, I can receive all the healthy benefits of the hydrogen before it dissipates into the air.


pH is often referred to at the potency or potential of hydrogen. What the “p” really stands for is “negative logarithm” and it can be associated with other elements besides hydrogen. Sorensen, the creator of the pH scale ultimately defined pH as the negative logarithm of the concentration of hydrogen.

In pure water with a pH of 7.0, the number of H+ (hydrogen ions) is equal to the number of OH- (hydroxyl ions). At a pH of 7.0, there is one hydrogen ion present for every 555 million water molecules. That means that hydrogen ions are very rare. If the water has ten times as many hydrogen ions as normal, the pH will be 6.0 and if the water has ten times fewer hydrogen ions, the pH will be 8.0.

If the number of hydroxyl (OH-) ions exceeds the number of hydrogen ions (H+) in water, the water will become alkaline. The higher the ratio of OH- to H+, the higher the pH. If you subscribe to the marketing efforts of the electric water ionizer industry, you would believe that a machine that produces the higher pH is superior for health benefits. Unfortunately, that is not true, because it is the amount of free hydrogen in the water that makes you healthy, not the ration of hydroxyl ionis (OH-) to hydrogen ions (H+). Therefore, the key factor is how much hydrogen is in the water, not how you can get the pH level. If you want to gain a better understanding of the relationship between hydroxyl (OH-) and hydrongen ions (H+) and water molecules, check out the following links which provide useful graphics: http://www.johnkyrk.com/pH.html and http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/ph-scale. In the second link, click on the Run Now button highlighted in green


I believe Dr. Hayashi is the leading authority in the world on the subject of ionized water. Dr. Hayashi believes that consuming hydrogen is a significant factor when it comes to being healthy. At one point in time, Dr. Hayashi supported the use of electric water ionizers, but he changed his mind at the turn of the century. Although you still see websites using his name and his research to support the use of electric water ionizers, I can assure you that he they are doing so without his authorization.

So, why is hydrogen so important to our health? It seems that there are two reasons which include
antioxidant properties and chemiosmosis.

Antioxidant Properties of Hydrogen

Those of you who have been following my blog will understand the antioxidant properties of hydrogen. For those that are reading about this for the first time, here is a quick recap. Our bodies require oxygen to survive. Unfortunately, we only use about 98% of the oxygen that we breathe. The other 2% of unused oxygen forms nasty free radicals which attach to other cells and begin the decaying process of oxidation. Hydrogen is the perfect antidote as hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water. Therefore, the ingestion of free hydrogen, or hydrogen gas molecules (H2) which get broken down into hydrogen atoms in the body by hydrogenase, is critical in combating free radicals.

Chemiosmosis – Energy Producing Properties of Hydrogen

What the heck is chemiosmosis? According to Wikipedia: Chemiosmosis is the movement of ions across a selectively-permeable membrane, down their electrochemical gradient. More specifically, it relates to the generation of ATP by the movement of hydrogen ions across a membrane during cellular respiration. For a more in depth description and a graphic, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemiosmosis

What does the relationship between hydrogen and chemiosmosis and ATP and mitochondria have to do with your life in layman’s terms? Consuming hydrogen helps the mitochondria in your cells to produce energy. More and more athletes are turning to the consumption of hydrogen as they get an energy “boost” and they receive more sustained energy from consuming hydrogen. Most of the people that I have spoken with over the years experience and energy boost when they first start drinking ionized water. Now I know why, and it has nothing to do with oxygen. I will dedicate a future article to the topic of chemiosmosis and how it relates to the production of energy in the cells in our body.


What is the best way to get free hydrogen to the places in your body that matter the most? By that I mean into the mitochondria in your cells and to the potentially damaging free oxygen that exists in your body. The answer is ionized water because it is absorbed quickly and handled efficiently by your body. The same process can also be achieved by means of consuming an alkaline diet, which also has additional benefits, but drinking ionized water full of free hydrogen is fast and easy.

What is the best ionized water to drink to help as an antioxidant and in chemiosmosis? You can achieve the same beneficial results from ionized water produced by electrolysis or by natural means via hydrogen producing products such as antioxidant filters or hydrogen sticks.

The makers of hydrogen sticks take the position that water produced by electric water ionizers is bad for you. They lobbied Dr. Mercola for three years about the perils of using electric water ionizers before Mercola spoke out against the use of electric water ionizers last fall. I’m not convinced at all that the position of the hydrogen stick people is correct as the water has had an incredibly positive effect on my life over the years without any negative side effects. The fact that Dr. Mercola supports their position doesn’t impress me as he clearly didn’t do his homework on the issue.

I’m now reasonably certain that the water produced from antioxidant filters will provide all the same health benefits as electric water ionizers for a fraction of the price. In addition, the antioxidant filters are far superior filters to the filters provided in electric water ionizers as they remove fluoride, chloramines, THMs, VOCs, lead, mercury and a lot more on top of the sediment and chlorine that the filters in electric water ionizers remove.

I much prefer antioxidant filters to hydrogen sticks for home use for several reasons. Antioxidant filters are fast and convenient, they are capable of producing a much stronger output if the user desires a range of outputs, and they remove contaminants from the source water. The hydrogen sticks do provide a very useful function for those wanting access to effective ionized water when they are on the go. The sticks are extremely portable and they continually produce hydrogen which is useful when water is being jostled around.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and the people mentioned in the article.

8 Responses to ORP, pH, and Hydrogen…A New Perspective

  1. Hey Rob,

    great article, i was looking forward to one like this!

    I am wondering if you have heard any more about the “Hydrogen Machines” and how things are progressing in that area? Do you plan on visiting any more production or research facilities of these companies any time soon?

    Regarding the hydrogen in the water, do these molecules last longer in the water with antioxidant filters than with ionizers or would the hydrogen sticks be the most effective with regards to hydrogen longetivity in water?

    • Hi Fey:

      Thanks for the compliment. I think the material it is ground breaking stuff….for me at least. It has taken me a long time to get to this point.

      Hydrogen machines produce hydrogen, which means they all do. By my definition, a hydrogen machine produces hydrogen naturally by running water across alkali earth metals such as magnesium or calcium.

      I don’t have any plans at the moment to visit Korea, or Taiwan. If I could arrange a meeting with Dr. Hayashi, I would visit Japan, but Japan costs are too high in Japan. It appears that virtually all the machines are made in China and the parts are then shipped to Korea etc for local assembly. The jobs will go where the labor costs are the lowest as long as proper quality control systems are implemented.

      The electric water ionizers seem to “shock” the water by “electrocution” during electrolysis. I don’t know if aggressive words such as shock and electrocution are appropriate, but they are certainly eye catching. There is no question that the process of electrolysis definitely forces the hydrogen atoms together as evidenced by the initial mass of bubbles that are created when you increase the power in electric water ionizers. If you drink the water right out of the machine, you don’t lose anything. If you wait beyond the first minute, I think the antioxidant machines are superior because the hydrogen sticks around.

      Hydrogen sticks continue to produce hydrogen as long as they are in contact with water. They don’t produce strong results but they produce steady results. I continue to like hydrogen sticks as a temporary portable solution during travel. I’m hearing about work being done on a new concept for a portable water bottle that purifies and naturally ionizes. If they are successful, I think they will make hydrogen sticks obsolete, but only time will tell if they can bring theory to reality.

  2. Hey Rob, another great article.. but.. “humans require half a pound of hydrogen each day”. Given hydrogen is lighter than air, can you give me a technique for measuring ‘half a pound’? Maybe filling ballons and holding a scale upsidedown on top of them?



  3. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the very interesting article. Bits by bits things are getting clearer…

    I have done myself quite a bit of reading on all possible scientific literature available on hydrogen rich water and cie (close to 50 to date for the period 1990-2011) and the topic is indeed fascinating.

    I read on a Dr Hayashi associated website that hydrogen water generated with a hydrogen stick was not much more stable than electrolyzed water and that it should be consumed readily (and fresh) in order to keep the hydrogen content high , and hence its antioxidant effect.

    This does not seem to be the case with antioxidant filters. At least this is what you have, I think, experienced with the Alkastream, with relatively stable ORP for up to 2 days (if I remember correctly). As both magnesium sticks and Alkastream use magnesium to generate the hydrogen rich water, would you have any explanation as to why the second is more stable than the first one? Perhaps this could have something to do with the many different types of minerals/stones present in the filter (i.e. the energizing stones in the 6th layer?) which could somehow provide some clustering/protective effect on H2 and prevent it from escaping into the air (something a BIT similar to what Flanagan explains with Silica Hydride)? But this is pure guess. Perhaps is this also what happens with some famous hydrogen rich waters such as Nordenau in Germany, Hita in Japan or Tlacote in Mexico, to name a few, which due to their specific mineral content (silicates ?) could perhaps hold on H2.

    For the rest, reading from the literature, I have never found any scientific researcher (besides Flanagan and Vinny Pinto) talk about a negative hydrogen ion, i.e. an improbable 2 electrons hydrogen atom. (But at least, Flanagan does explain how he manages to stabilize hydrogen within silicate structures).

    Incidentally, I also find atomic hydrogen quite improbable too (in fact atomic hydrogen = Hydrogen radical = .H) as all radicals in nature are highly reactive and eager to get paired with another chemical entity. In my review of the literature, I’ve only found very few author speak about atomic hydrogen (aka active hydrogen).

    Shirahata writes in 1997 this here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9169001 :
    “The superoxide dismutase (SOD)-like activity of reduced water is stable at 4 degrees C for over a month and was not lost even after neutralization, repeated freezing and melting, deflation with sonication, vigorous mixing, boiling, repeated filtration, or closed autoclaving” (Note : by the way, this is quite surprising to me and does not fit with what I’ve read on your blog on the lack of stability of H2 rich water produced by electrolysis).
    “Water bubbled with hydrogen gas exhibited low DO, extremely high DH and extremely low RP values, as does reduced water, but it has no SOD-like activity.
    “These results suggest that the SOD-like activity of reduced water is not due to the dissolved molecular hydrogen but due to the dissolved atomic hydrogen (active hydrogen).

    However, this paper was written in 1997, i.e. at a relatively early stage of the research, and ideas have probably evolved.

    Indeed after 1997, I found essentially only one occurrence of atomic (aka active) hydrogen in the peer-reviewed literature.

    Dr Hayashi in 2001 in an unpublished report talks about atomic hydrogen but seems to imply that hydrogen rich water is water with high content of dissolved H2 and that this molecular hydrogen gets transformed into atomic hydrogen in the body through the action of hydrogenase.

    In this 2005 paper http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19003049 Nishikawa (and Shirahata) found that platinum nanoparticles help split H2 into atomic hydrogen (i.e. playing somehow the role of an hydrogenase enzyme).

    This brings me back to my question: why on earth in the hydrogen rich water produced with the Alkastream more stable than other types of hydrogen rich water, whether electrolyzed or produced with a magnesium stick.

    Thanks for sharing your views!
    Best regards

  4. Would you please send me an explanation what does it mmean PH and ORP in potable water ??
    and what is the standard value of PH nad ORP to be set on a fresh water maker as sea water is the basic !!
    My kindest regards for your answear


    • Hi Fergani:

      pH is a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of water.

      ORP is a measure of the conductivity of water which is typically measured in millivolts. In scientific terms, ORP doesn’t exist, but the number can be determined by measuring the TDS and conductivity.

      There is no standard value of pH and ORP as they both naturally occur in different forms

  5. machine ORP
    I want information about ORP

    • Hi Vinod:

      What information would you like?

      I don’t know of any machine that addresses ORP specifically.

      ORP is a marketing word that refers to the conductivity of water. If you get testing done on water at a scientific lab, the lab measures the conductivity of the water and then converts the measurement to ORP.

      Water that has a negative ORP may or may not have alkalinity. The factors affecting health when it comes to water are the levels of alkalinity (not pH which people reer to as alkaline) and the amount of dissolved hydrogen in the water. Before you consider buying an alkaline water ionizer, please do some reading on the http://www.h2healthyliving.com and the http://www.molecularhydrogenfoundation.org websites.

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