Tasting the Regional Waters of Scotland
Live from Buenos Aires: David Wondrich on Drink History in the Americas

Measuring the pH of Mineral Waters

As part of the Water Project I am attempting to deconstruct and reconstruct mineral water. One of the prime sources of information for reconstructing mineral waters is the blog Khymos.

As I was buying strange bags of minerals like magnesium and calcium off the internet (seriously my apartment is full of suspicious white powders) I also noticed a word of caution in the comments of the Kymos website. 

It’s important to remember that the hydroxide solutions are basic and undrinkable until they have been carbonated, so an uncarbonated solution should really be kept out of reach of children!

So I decided I had best not kill myself and figure out what the safe and typical range of pH is and how to test waters I would make. I purchased a pH meter on Amazon, which meant I had to buy a whole bunch of calibrating solutions as well. 

A pH scale with annotated examples of chemicals at each integer pH value. Author: Edward Stevens

As you may recall from science classes, pH ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.


0-7 pH = acidic

7-14 = basic/alkaline  

For drinking water, most sources cite an approved range of 6.5 - 8.5 or 6-9.

Low pH water is corrosive and bad for your plumbing, potentially leeching out toxic metals. High pH water can form scale deposits on sinks and water heaters. But I'm not really dealing with plumbing in my experiments. 

So I calibrated my pH meter, bought a bunch of water, and did some testing. 


Water Tested pH published pH Total Dissolved Solids published TDS
Tap Water 9.0          42 ppm  
Mavea Filtered Tap Water 6.8   28  
Zero Water Filtered Tap Water     6.7   0  
Distilled Water 5.6   0  
Arrowhead Water             7.1   38  
Fiji Water 7.5  7.8 135  220
Smart Water 7.2   28  
Evian (label says 309 ppm) 7.4  7.18 292  309
VOSS 7.3  6 34  44

Icelandic Glacial
(label says "pH 8.4")

8.3  8.4 50  62
S. Pellegrino
label says "TDS 915"  
5.3  7.7 549  960
Perrier     5.5  5.46 330  475

 Observations and Conclusions

  • My tap water is really alkaline. I don't get it because there aren't many dissolved solids in it. Also oddly, the pH lowers over time. If I leave the water out it eventually goes down to pH 7.5 or so. I need to research this one.  
  • The accuracy of the pH meter seems to be about .2 to .3 
  • Pellegrino has a lot of minerals in it. The TDS meter isn't great when it comes to carbonated waters, but I'm surprised at how far off my reading is from their TDS statement. I measured it a few times, even. The pH for Pellegrino listed on Wikipedia is 7.7 but mine is 5.3, so that's also really weird. 

 So now I have a range of published and observed results, so I can start building my own waters in keeping with them. 


The water project imageThe Water Project on Alcademics is research into water in spirits and in cocktails, from the streams that feed distilleries to the soda water that dilutes your highball.  For all posts in the project, visit the project index page