Can You Drink Rain Water? Health Benefits of Alkaline Water

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Up to 60% of the human body is made of water, and this statistic illustrates how vital water is to humans and all living things on Earth. Some organs in the human body, such as the kidneys, are 79% water. This means that every person on the planet needs a regular water intake to keep themselves and their organs functioning correctly.

Water serves many purposes for the human body, including flushing out toxins, transporting nutrients via the bloodstream, regulating body temperature through sweat, and aiding bodily functions. If you go without water for even 24 hours, you may start to experience various symptoms. These classic warning signs of dehydration include fatigue, nausea, and headaches.

In the western world, a source of clean water isn’t an issue. Instead, the focus is on what type of water is the best for people to drink, with the choices being between tap water and bottled mineral water.

Until recently, bottled water was seen as the healthiest choice because it is naturally sourced and free from harmful chemicals. However, there has lately been some concern about plastic particle pollutants. This has led some individuals to believe that the healthiest water source is from the heavens themselves, but is rainwater safe to drink?

Alleged rain water benefits

If you are a keen gardener, then you will have probably seen firsthand how much more plants thrive after a decent summer downpour compared to being watered with tap water. This naturally raises questions as to whether human beings can benefit from drinking rainwater in the same way.

Rainwater is free of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals, and it also contains more nutrients than tap water. Those who regularly cook with and drink rainwater do so because it is supposed to be beneficial for the digestive system. This is a common belief because rainwater is alkaline and helps balance the body's pH levels.

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The claim is that the alkaline properties of fresh rainwater can help to neutralize excessive acid in the stomach. In doing so, rainwater can soothe the lining of an irritated stomach and relieve stomach pain, nausea, and bloating. A less acidic and more alkaline body is also supposed to be healthier in general. For example, people with this balance tend to have healthier skin.

Rainwater is not just supposed to promote internal wellbeing; it can also be used externally for bathing. The pH level is meant to be perfect for skin, and rainwater can also allow your natural barrier to retain its moisture levels and elasticity. It also contains no harsh chemicals that can aggravate the skin’s pores, and the pH of this water can help treat acne, blocked pores, inflamed skin, and other facial skin problems. These factors make rainwater ideal for face washing, as it is gentle on even the most sensitive of skin.

Droplets of rain water on a leaf

Is rain water really alkaline?

For years, scientists have been using the pH scale to measure how acidic a substance is. The scale used has a range from zero to 14, with an alkaline substance ranging from seven to 14. Seven is considered to be neutral.

All water on the planet is a mix of hydrogen and oxygen, hence the chemical name that water is given of H2O. However, not all water has the same pH levels, primarily because of the source of the water. The preferred pH of tap water is between 6.5 and 8.5, but tap water tends to be more acidic than the ideal pH level. In the United States alone, tap water has a pH range of around 4.3 to 5.3, depending on what state you live in. Bottled water, which is supposed to be obtained from natural sources, should be more alkaline or at the very least neutral.

Rainwater, in theory, should be alkaline too, but this depends on many environmental factors.

For example, we have all heard the term “acid rain.” It is rainwater that has been heavily polluted by the atmosphere and environment where the rain forms. Acid rain can be extremely damaging to buildings and natural structures because of its acidity. Environmental pollution, therefore, throws a curveball into the equation when it comes to drinking rainwater and human health benefits.

Surprisingly, if you delve a little deeper into the science behind rainfall formation, you will discover that rainwater in its natural state is quite acidic, with a pH of around 5.0. This is primarily due to carbonic acid, a compound that is part of the water cycle.

Rain water safety tips: read before you drink!

The bottom line is that you can drink rainwater, but, in theory, you shouldn’t. This is because there are far safer water options available for human consumption. Not only does water support human life, but it is also an ideal environment for bacteria and other organisms to live in. This can make drinking rainwater, especially water that has remained stagnant for some time, quite dangerous for human health.

Therefore, it is advisable to treat rainwater before drinking it. Water can be first filtered to remove any possible contaminants. While this is an essential step, filtering alone is not enough to remove all bacteria or any insect larvae that may be present in the rainwater. So go ahead and take the next step of boiling the water or treating it with iodine or chlorine to eliminate unwanted organisms.

Alkaline water vs. regular water: what’s the difference?

As already mentioned, the pH scale is used to determine whether a substance is either acidic or alkaline. The scale starts at zero and ends at 14; the lower the number is, the more acidic the substance. Seven is neutral, and anything over this number is alkaline.

For water to be alkaline, it needs to have a pH of eight or above.

Pure water is neutral and comes in with a pH of seven. The numbers on the pH scale are the main difference between alkaline and regular water, as there is no physical difference in appearance or taste. If there is a subtle difference in flavor, this is usually attributed to where the water is sourced and what treatment it has undertaken before reaching your home.

Whether the water is acidic or alkaline, most types of water supply the body with essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and silica. Therefore, it is more vital to drink water every day instead of worrying whether your water is acid or alkaline.

What are the benefits of alkaline water?

At present, the health benefits of alkaline water are only claims because none of these have been tested widely on people in controlled lab conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that the benefits attributed to this type of water have not been proven.

Rain water

Despite this, those in the health industry that recommend drinking alkaline water do so because they believe it has certain positive attributes. The most popular of these are that it is a great detoxifier and allows the human body to maintain its neutral pH balance. This is supposed to promote overall well-being along with healthy skin and hair.

The other major claim is that alkaline water readdresses imbalances in the digestive system that can cause heartburn and acid reflux. These digestive problems are attributed to an over-acidic stomach, and it is thought that alkaline water has a calming effect on the entire system.

How to make alkaline water at home

If you are sold on the idea of functional waters, then you might be interested to know that you can make your own alkaline water at home. One of the simplest methods of decreasing the acidity of water is by adding a little baking soda to the water itself. Baking soda is alkaline with a score of nine on the pH scale. The baking soda does need to be used sparingly though, as it is high in sodium and can alter the taste of your water.

Another cheap way of making alkaline water at home is by purchasing pH drops. This is a liquid that is highly concentrated with alkaline minerals such as calcium. These can be found at health stores and online, and it is important to follow the instructions and not add more drops than specified.

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You could also buy a water ionizer or ionizing water filter. All you need to do with these is pour water into the filter and let it stand for a few minutes while it runs through a series of filters before settling in a base containing alkalizing minerals.

Final thoughts

Drinking water every day that comes from a trusted and clean source is vital for your health. However, if you want to avoid certain chemicals, your best option would be bottled mineral water sourced from springs or other natural environments.

Water in its natural state is neutral or slightly acidic yet is adequate for human consumption and health. This raises the question as to whether alkaline water has any real health-giving properties.

The human body is more than capable of regulating its pH level through respiration and renal control. Drinking too much alkaline water can upset this balance and make the body work harder to maintain homeostasis.

When it comes to drinking rainwater, this can be a health hazard to humans, despite it being natural. This is because it can contain high levels of pollutants, bacteria, and even insect larvae. Therefore, even though you can drink rainwater, other sources should be your go-to water supply instead because they have been made safe for human consumption.

November 10, 2022