Person holding a bottle of Waiakea water over the incoming tide

Why Sodium Bicarbonate is Added To Water

A lot of brands are adding baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to their bottled water. "But why are brands creating baking soda water?", you may ask. Well for starters, sodium bicarbonate is a way to create a higher pH level, or alkalinity, in drinking water. Sodium bicarbonate is known as nahcolite, which is part of the natural mineral natron. Natron, which contains large amounts of sodium bicarbonate, has been used since ancient times and some claim that baking soda water has various health benefits such as reducing inflammation, reducing acid reflux which can prevent heartburn, as well as reducing indigestion by neutralizing stomach acid. Unfortunately, such claims about drinking baking soda water have not been scientifically proven.

If such health claims are not proven, why do brands still create baking soda water? Many waters with a pH <6.5 are acidic, soft, and corrosive. Thus, sodium compounds like sodium bicarbonate are added during water treatment in order to raise the pH level of the water by chemically neutralizing the acidity as well as to soften the water.

Natural Versus Synthetic

So how does Waiakea and other naturally alkaline waters get their alkalinity? First and foremost, we do not treat or add anything to our water, baking soda included. This is because we believe untouched, unaltered, and straight from Mother Nature is best. Naturally alkaline waters contain sodium, electrolytes, and many other incredibly important essential minerals thanks to its natural filtration process. A naturally alkaline water's pH corresponds with the amount of minerals present in the water -- the higher the mineral content, the higher the pH. On the other hand, artificially alkaline water has undergone a process they call ionization, or "electrolysis", that gives the water a certain pH, but rarely possesses the minerals found in naturally alkaline waters. In fact, most alkaline waters on the market use processes including ionization and electrolysis along with the addition of sodium bicarbonate to water from municipal sources in order to artificially create a water with the desirable alkaline pH. With that said, sodium bicarbonate most definitely has health benefits. These include acting as a natural antacid, teeth whitener, exfoliator, cleaner, and much more. This depends on whether or not the sodium bicarbonate is naturally occurring or created in a lab via a chemical process and deposited into your water.

Mined or Made In A Lab?

Do you know where your baking soda comes from? Baking soda can be either mined or made in a lab. Sodium bicarbonate is created in labs by dissolving soda ash in water and treating it with carbon dioxide causing a chemical reaction. We believe there is no reason to drink baking soda water that has been treated with chemically produced sodium bicarbonate. In commercial products, particularly in the case of bottled water, it is very hard to know if the sodium bicarbonate being added to raise the pH is mined or made in a lab. If you are going to add baking soda to your own drinking water, there is a much better and safer option. Use brands such as Bob’s Red Mill that have been mined from naturally forming nahcolite, as opposed to other popular brands, such as Arm and Hammer, that come from a synthetic form.
Sources https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-09/documents/support_cc1_sodium_dwreport.pdf https://www.scdhec.gov/library/CR-006453.pdf https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_agua19.htm http://www.ahperformance.com/media/files/Bennington%2C-VT.pdf