Alkaline activated water. What is it and what is it not?

Hermann K.: Alkaline water, alkaline activated water, ionized water, electro-activated drinking water, electrolyte water, Hydrogen-Rich-Water…. slowly I don’t know my way around. Which water do you recommend and what is what?

  • Since the nature of electro-activated water was not understood up until recently, since 1931 over 50 different descriptions have emerged, which can be drunk very well. Originally, the inventor Alfons Natterer spoke of acidic, alkaline and neutral electrolyte water. Decisive is, since then, the electrolytic production as opposed to, what I like to call, “chemical water ionizers”. A full overview of the singular descriptions and procedures you will find on the E-book DVD ROM of this FAQ book

Redoxspannung TemperaturChart

  • Since in Japan because of other cell construction, initially only the alkaline and acidic variety were produced, the term “Alkaline Ionized Water” was developed for the drinkable alkaline part. This is an unclear definition since it expresses the same twice. The water becomes alkaline due to a part of the molecules splitting into acidic and alkaline ions. So the water is separated by electrolysis into its ions H+ and OH-. On one side of the membrane, alkaline water (from OH- ions) results and on the other side of the membrane acidic water (from H+ ions) results. The counter term of alkaline activated water is acidic ionized water. Often it is referred to as oxidized or oxidizing water.
  • The term “ionized water”, brought up by Dr. Dina Aschbach in a book,  is an unfortunate choice of words because it only brings the water ions to the foreground. The electric activity of the “activated water” does not found itself directly on the alkaline or acidic character, which is produced from the OH- and H+ water ions, but rather on the enrichment of dissolved oxygen in acidic water and the enrichment of dissolved hydrogen in alkaline water. Due to these dissolved gases a very high (positive) oxidation reduction potential (ORP) is reached, up to 1200 mV (SHE =Standard Hydrogen Electrode) on the oxygen side and an extraordinarily low (negative) oxidation reduction potential, up to (-) 800 mV (SHE) on the hydrogen side. These are the values that can be measured with a SHE electrode (standard hydrogen electrode). Since in practice one almost only measures with CSE electrodes (common silver/silverchloride electrodes), are the values up to + 993 mV (CSE) on the oxygen side and from -593 mV on the hydrogen side. These are values measured at 25º C, where the difference between the measurement method and SHE measurements amount to a difference of + 207 mV. The relationship with other temperatures is illustrated in the following graph.

By electrolyzing water in an electrolytic cell with a diaphragm membrane it doesn’t only form both water ions H+ and OH- from water molecules. Oxygen and hydrogen is also released, the difference in both sides is explained by the fact that oxygen gas and hydrogen gas possess different dissolving powers.

Solubility of oxygen mg/l at 1 atmospheric pressure 101,325 Pa

15 degrees C 2,756
20 degrees C 2,501
25 degrees C 2,293
30 degrees C 2,122
35 degrees C 1,982

Solubility of hydrogen mg/l at 1 atmospheric pressure 101,325 Pa

15 degrees C 1,510
20 degrees C 1,455
25 degrees C 1,411
30 degrees C 1,377
35 degrees C 1,350

With electrolysis 2 water molecules H2O release the following gas quantity:

2H2O —> 2 H2 + O2

There is always double the amount of hydrogen gas compared to oxygen gas.
O2 can, however, at 25 degrees C dissolve 1,6 times better in water. So whereto with the clear surplus of H2?


The Hofmann Voltameter is one of the favourite school experiments of chemistry teachers and students. Thanks to its clever design the equation can be clearly demonstrated. In any case the Chemistry teacher has to “trick” in order to show that both gases are formed with the ratio 2:1. If the water is not saturated by both gases, then a ratio of 1:2,5 results with the different dissolving powers and the dissolving speed (oxygen to hydrogen).


At the end of the experiment we obtained pure oxygen and hydrogen for the beloved detonating gas effect, but also acidic water with saturated oxygen and alkaline water with saturated hydrogen, depending on air pressure and temperature.


So why does the ORP sink in alkaline, hydrogen rich water to very high negative values?

CSE-SHE WerteVergleich pH

One should keep in mind that ORP values are not measurable. The ORP is always the value of an electric current between two chemical reacting partners, so a relative size. H2 hydrogen gas is defined as a standard potential E0.

. As opposed to a hydrogen electrode (SHE), gold has, for example, an ORP of + 1680 mV, whereas lithium shows – 3040 mV. Due to the voltage difference one could make a lithium-gold battery with 4720 mV (4,72 Volts). A minus value means that an electron surplus is present, a positive value means a tendency to accept electrons.

The water molecule H2O is composed of two reacting partners, H2 and O. Oxygen (O) has a positive ORP with + 1230 mV compared to H2, so “greedy” for electrons. This voltage difference of 1230 mV is constant with all pH values and measuring methods, even if the values of both reacting partners with increasing pH values sink.

Alkaline activated water contains more hydrogen than oxygen. What is missing, very plainly put, are the +1230 mV: the ORP has to sink.

With drinkable alkaline activated water, with a pH 8,5 to 9,5, is the standard potential of H2 has sunk furthermore from 0 to ca. -450 to -550 mV. Therefore it has the low ORP values. Since many free OH- ions are available due to the alkaline character, it can reach the following electron releasing reaction:

2 H2 + 4 OH- ———> 4 H2O + 4 e-

This reaction creates water, full of energy: alkaline activated water.


So there are three basic parameters which define the value of alkaline activated water:

  • A maximum saturation with dissolved hydrogen
  • A higher surplus of OH- ions
  • A possibly complete removal of oxygen gas


These 3 basic parameters compliment each other. Their simultaneous availability is exclusively reached with an electrolytic water ionizer with diaphragm electrolysis. Neither chemical water ionizers or electrolysis devices without a diaphragm or Hydrogen Rich Water generators cannot reach the compliance of these parameters.



The first person, to my knowledge, who used the term “alkaline activated water” journalistically in Germany was Engineer Dietmar Ferger in his 2006 published book: “Alkaline Activated Water – how it works and what it can do.” The extended version of this book is also available in German, with the title: “Jungbrunnenwasser” (Fountain of youth water). The activity of water is better reflected, since it isn’t just a simple “alkaline water” with a high pH value. Dr. Walter Irlacher and I used this definition in our book “Service Handbuch Mensch” (Service Manual for Humans), which also first appeared in 2006.
In 2008, together with Ferger, we delved deeper into the topic with the book and documentary “Drink yourself alkaline – a guide to alkaline activated water”.

In 2008 the interest was dominated by an electrochemical measure and, which alkaline activated water, alongside its increased pH values, also possesses: The negative ORP. The Russian researcher Vitold Bakhir believes to have proven, that the ORP is abnormally low and not explainable with the classic ORP chemical equations. The ORP of the acidic activated water was also abnormally high and seemed to also be unexplainable. It was assumed what the main causes behind this unusual redox potential were for the effects of alkaline activated water (antioxidant) and acidic activated water (oxidative).

In 1997 Sanetaka Shirahata had hypothesised that only atomar hydrogen can be the cause for the antioxidative effect of water. He could establish such an effect with types of water, which didn’t have an abnormally negative ORP yet contained atomar hydrogen. Yet the research of Shigeo Ohta and many other researchers showed worldwide since 2008, that also the molecular hydrogen, the hydrogen gas in water, which causes the low ORP, causes the antioxidant effect. Since this, the research of hydrogen rich water is part of the highly promising new field in medicine. You get an overview under the key words “medical gas research” and in this FAQ book under the key words Hydrogen Rich Water.

With the new discoveries on how important H2 (hydrogen gas) is in alkaline activated water, it places the focus on the question as to how it should be stored and durability. If we were still in the times of the ORP debate, then one wouldn’t use metal containers for storing the water, so that the electrons don’t flow off. Nowadays metal containers, for example a double walled stainless steel bottle, is the first choice for storing alkaline activated water efficiently. Also with thick glass, (especially blue glass), do you prevent the loss of hydrogen and therefore the loss of the antioxidant effect. Whereas hydrogen flows out of plastic bottles very quickly, meaning the water relaxes faster and reduces the maximum use of the pure alkaline effect.

Why is hydrogen important in activated water and not oxygen in the OH- ions, like Sang Whang believed? Hydrogen is the fuel, oxygen the burner. We can supply ourselves with plenty of oxygen through the lungs. A supply of hydrogen is only possible with eating. Each ingestion serves us to gain H2, the source of energy, found at the end of each metabolic process. With alkaline activated water, this source of energy can be simply drunk.

With oxidation, hydrogen does not become a free radical after releasing the energy, instead it becomes water. Thus, hydrogen is not only the smallest antioxidant, but also the most elegant.


Excerpt from the book “Karl Heinz Asenbaum: Electrically activated water – An invention with extraordinary potential.
Copyright 2016


About Karl Heinz Asenbaum

The Munich-based journalist has been working on the topic of "alkaline activated water" since 2004. For 12 years he worked closely with the alternative physician Dr. Walter Irlacher, with whom he wrote two successful books: "Service Manual for Humans” (Service Handbuch Mensch) (2006) and "Drink Yourself Alkaline” (Trink Dich basisch) (2008,2011). Since 2014 he has been contributing his knowledge and experience to Aquacentrum and giving lectures worldwide. “Electro-activated Water", the world's most comprehensive book on the subject, was published in 2016. View all faqs by Karl Heinz Asenbaum 

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