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How Does A Water Ionizer Work?

by Carl Jensen

Plumber, Welder, Contractor

> 2 min read

What Does a Water Ionizer Do

A water ionizer utilizes electrolysis to charge molecules in your household supply before siphoning these molecules off into two separate streams.

You can use alkaline ionized water for cooking, drinking, and baking, while the oxidized water contains various acidic minerals that make it perfect for washing your skin, face, hair, and hands. 

If you’re looking for a water purification system that filters contaminants, pieces of dirt, carcinogens, and pathogens from your water supply, don’t get an ionizer: they’re not designed for this purpose. However, if you want a unit that produces drinking water with an ideal and healthy pH level, a water ionizer is the perfect option.


filling a pan with water

How Does a Water Ionizer Work?

Water ionizers use a series of charged electrodes and plates to ionize your household supply and split it into separate acidic and alkaline streams. Here’s how this process works. 

The supply passes through the filter unit

First, your household supply flows into the back of your ionizer unit and passes through a pre-filtration system. This integrated filter removes various harmful contaminants from your water, including chlorine and trihalomethane molecules, phenols, organic and inorganic matter, and pathogens. 

You can choose between a wide variety of filters, each containing distinctive mixed media that targets different chemical compounds or elements. For example, if you want to extract hydrogen sulfide or other destructive organic compounds from your supply, you should invest in a unit with integrated granular activated carbon (GAC). This carbon is dense, physically absorbing destructive chemicals that would otherwise remain in your domestic supply. 

If you’d rather concentrate on removing chlorine and chloramine from your household water, choose to invest in a vitamin C filter. The ascorbic acid form of vitamin C is highly effective at neutralizing chlorine molecules in your supply, allowing you to shower without your skin breaking out in a chlorine-induced rash. 

Water goes through the process of electrolysis

After this filtration process, your water supply passes through a set of electrodes. A few of these electrodes have positive charges, while the others have negative charges. The charged water then flows across specialist electrolysis plates in the ionizer unit’s main section. 

When the water passes through this section, the positively charged ions in the supply move toward the negatively charged plate (cathode), the negatively charged ions in the water gather around the positively charged plate (anode). 

The water that siphons toward the cathode electrode contains a higher concentration of alkaline minerals and materials, like magnesium and calcium. As a result, this water has a relatively high pH level. 

At the same time, the water that moves toward the anode electrode has a lower pH level and is more acidic, with a higher concentration of negatively charged ions like nitrates, fluorides, and chlorides. 

Water is split into acidic and alkaline streams 

There are now two streams of water, and you can use each supply for different things. The alkaline ionized water flows through your kitchen faucet so that you can drink it as healthy alkaline tap water. You can use the acidic oxidized water to wash your skin, hair, and clothes.

Why Should You Consider Getting One? 

It’s useful to understand how exactly a water ionizer works, but you might be wondering about the benefits of splitting your household supply into alkaline and acidic water streams. 

Creates a water supply that’s high in antioxidants 

Your alkaline water supply contains a high number of antioxidants, which are chemical compounds that prevent the spread of harmful free radical molecules in your body. 

When you ingest food or water that’s rich in antioxidants, you can help to protect your body against oxidative stress, limiting the effects of muscle inflammation, joint pain, and chronic fatigue. 

Alkaline minerals may help neutralize excess stomach acid 

Some studies suggest that when you drink alkaline mineral water, chemical elements like calcium, magnesium, and iron can work to neutralize any excess acid in your body. Drinking water with a pH of 8.8 might also deactivate pepsin and soothe acid reflux symptoms. 

Acidic water helps clean skin and clothes 

You can divert your acidic or oxidized water stream through your showerhead and bathroom faucets. Water with a lower pH has strong antimicrobial and oxidation-reduction properties. This means that it can break down and remove various contaminants and organic compounds from your supply. 

Also, your skin’s pH level is between 3 and 6, meaning that your epidermis layer is slightly acidic. If you want to wash your skin effectively, it’s best to use water with a similar and slightly acidic pH level. Cleaning yourself with water that contains a high concentration of alkaline minerals can cause skin flare-ups, rashes, and dryness.

Research shows that acidic water can also protect you from developing more severe skin problems like dermatitis. That’s because the stratum corneum, which is the epidermis’ outer layer, has an acidic pH when healthy. If you develop atopic dermatitis, the stratum corneum’s pH level will increase, causing your skin to become dry, cracked, and sore. When you shower in acidic water or wash your hands with the oxidized stream, you’ll acidify this stratum corneum, which in turn may soothe and relieve your dermatitis symptoms. 

Can use acidic water as an antiseptic 

Your acidic water supply may contain nitrates, chlorides, and fluorides, all of which act as oxidizing agents that remove electrons from virus and bacteria atoms, destroying these contaminant molecules in the process. 

This water also tends to contain a relatively high chlorine concentration, which doubles up as a disinfectant that destroys harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Chlorine breaks down the chemical bonds that hold together the atoms within each individual molecule, making acidic water a powerful sterilizing agent and antiseptic.

"Research shows that acidic water can also protect you from developing more severe skin problems like dermatitis." 


The Bottom Line

When you invest in an ionizer, you are investing in a healthier lifestyle. You’ll be able to drink tap water that’s rich in antioxidants and clean yourself with water that soothes and relieves sore, irritated, or inflamed skin. You can also use your acidic supply as a cleaning disinfectant or antiseptic.

Carl Jensen

About the Author

Carl Jensen is a plumber with over 50 years of experience in the industry, as well as related jobs like underwater welding. He runs a successful plumbing practice in Tampa, Florida, and contributes his plumbing expertise to our DIY articles, and helps to fact check and consult on most of our other stuff to boot.