Buying a Water Ionizer
Excerpt from Dr. Dave Carpenter’s latest book, "Change Your Water…Change Your Life 2."
What Makes A High Quality Water Ionizer Different?
When using a water ionizer I’ve learned that people generally don’t maintain their equipment as they should. When this happens I’ve seen everything from mold to bacterial over-growth occur along with a buildup of minerals on the electrodes that pretty much neutralize the impact the ionizer can make on the water. Believe me when I say that you don’t want that! Life is busy. So I think it’s very important to have a machine that is self-cleaning and as low maintenance as possible. The more maintenance required the more likely there will be problems over time for the majority of us.
If you’ve ever seen the element in an electric hot water heater that was pulled out after a few years of use you’ll understand quickly how minerals (also called “scale”) attach to metal that has electricity flowing through it. These minerals quickly reduce the efficiency of the water heater and they will quickly reduce the effectiveness of a water ionizer too.
Based on my own experience with ionizer users, the best solution is for your ionizer to do as much as possible for you so that you don’t have to take the time or even remember. The best ionizers have a fully automatic cleaning process that changes the polarity on the electrodes automatically and frequently. The more often the polarity is reversed, the more evenly the plates are bathed in the cleansing acidic water which prevents this mineral buildup. Engineers I’ve consulted with tell me that this would be in a 1:1 ratio, meaning that for every minute of flow there would be another minute of flow where the polarity to that electrode is reversed. This is a huge factor in the life and performance of your ionizer.
Another method is using citric acid overnight in the ionizing chamber to descale the plates. This is only effective as long as the machines do NOT drain during this period of cleaning.
Water pressure is different from place to place too. Ask about how flexible the ionizer you are considering is when it comes to water pressure. If it only per- forms well at a particular water pressure then you may have some issues as most water systems do not supply water at a set pressure all the time. If the pressure is high then the water passes quickly through the ionizing chamber and the water has less time to be restructured during the process. The longer it is in the chamber the more influence the electricity has on it.
Learn as much as you can about the type and quality of water in your area too. Knowing if your water is “hard” or “soft” will make a huge difference for your ionizer. “Hard” water is really water with a higher mineral content than water considered “soft.” If you see mineral buildup on your shower doors, tiles and faucet screens or aerators you likely have hard water. You can do a fairly reliable but unscientific test to see if you have a problematic level of hard water in your home by doing this simple test with liquid dish washing soap:
1 – Take a clean empty 16 to 20 ounce plastic bottle that has a cap.
2 – Remove the cap and fill the bottle 14 full with water.
3 – Add 10 drops of liquid dish washing detergent.
4 – Shake well
If the soapy solution foams up quickly you are good and the water not too hard. If the solution does NOT foam up but instead creates a milk-curd-like or soapy film on the water surface then the water is likely “hard.”
Soft water (contains few minerals) tends to make an ionizer work harder because for an ionizer to work there needs to be minerals in the water. If you live in a city it’s likely the water quality, hardness and pressure is more regulated (not necessarily better by the way) than if living in the country and using a well or tank.
After sharing ionizers for years I’ve learned the hard way that many ionizers just don’t adapt well to certain types of source water. Make certain that the Company that’s selling you the ionizer understands the type of water that you have and how to make the machine work optimally with that source water. If a salesperson tells you that their machines work in all types of water without any modifications or adjustments find a different sales- person to work with. It’s simply not true.
One of the most important considerations in purchasing an ionizer is the filters being used to clean the source water before it goes through the electrolysis process. You don’t want to consume ionized water full of contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, heavy metals, organochlorines, etc. because these will become more bio-available once the water carrying them is ionized. Being more bio-available means that they will have a more profound impact on the body…you don’t want that!
Many ionizers use a simple Granular Activated Carbon filter that mostly reduces chlorine. That’s not very effective! In the long run I believe having the cleanest mineral rich source water to be the single most important aspect of getting the best ionized water day in and day out.
Electrode Composition, Plate Size, and Surface Area
For a long time I believed that the size of the plates of an ionizer had a huge impact on the water produced. That may have been true at one time but it is no longer true today. Technology has come so far that plate size has much less to do with the changes that occur to the water than does the design and delivery of the power to the plates. Consider that electricity, just like water, always follows the path of least resistance. Some manufactures, understanding this, have designed their plates to move the electricity across the plates in a manner that brings a more even influence on the water touching the plates. The single most important factor in this discussion, however, is the source water itself. Every ionizer will perform better with the right source water.
All of the well-built ionizers use titanium plates coated with platinum for longevity and performance. Stay away from any that do not. I hired an engineering firm familiar with this technology to evaluate plates in all of the different machines that I possess personally and their opinion was that all of them were pretty similar in the grades and amounts of platinum in the plates per square inch. Samples indicated different degrees of purity in the titanium used. Although that might impact the efficiency of the electrode to a degree the firm stated that design of the electrode was a much bigger factor overall.
The more electricity (watts) per square inch of electrode means the more efficient the ionizer in changing the water. This is easily understood when we look at a light bulb. For years the light bulb with the highest wattage was the brightest. But now, with new technology, some of the lower wattage light bulbs outperform their much higher watt ancestors. For example, I have a 26 watt energy smart bulb from GE that replaces a 100 watt bulb because it is more efficient at using electricity via better design concepts and it lasts longer too.
This concept holds true with ionizers as well. The more efficient designs get more of the electricity to the surface of the electrode so there are more volts and watts per square inch than found in some machines with larger plates and even larger power outputs. You want a machine that gets the power to the water so to speak….as that is the factor that supports increased ionization of the water. (Increased ionization = greater negative ORP = more free electrons in the alkaline water = greater potential for the neutralization of free radicals in your body.)
The life of the filter really depends on the quality of the source water and also the type of filter that is being used. The dirtier the water going in the faster the filter will need to be replaced.
One of the biggest issues I’ve seen with ionizers is that they get scaling or mineral deposits on the electrodes (plates). This quickly reduces the efficiency and people soon complain that their ionizers aren’t working any longer. And that’s basically true as their ionizer is no longer restructuring the water like it did when new. Cleaning is essential as I mentioned previously and really the key to longevity and performance of any ionizer.
If you store your ionizer for any length of time I would advise that you drain the filter carefully and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use again. And be sure to completely drain your ionizer carefully as well. This is a must!