Buffered vs. Unbuffered
The difference between buffer and unbuffered is that buffer is a solution used to stabilize the pH (acidity) of a liquid while unbuffered is whose pH is not stabilized with a buffer.
The human body is buffered, so is pool water and aquariums. Buffered means there are mineral concentrations (buffering material) that matches and affects the pH level. The human body needs actual alkaline minerals to negate acid. That’s why it’s important to eat nutrient and mineral-rich foods.
Pools and aquariums need their pH and alkaline levels to be in sync otherwise there can be algae blooms, unsanitary conditions, floating fish and all kinds of other problems. The 2 properties are monitored regularly and can be adjusted using additives, salts, minerals, etc.
pH drops vs strips
The most common way to test pH is with a test strip. They are cheap, easy and readily available, so why when you test some types of alkaline water, the result doesn’t measure up to your expectation. In some cases, they show acidic water. So what’s going on?
The reason is that alkaline water is buffered solution. So it has alkalizing minerals (buffering material) that matches and effects the pH level.
pH vs. Alkalinity
To understand pH and alkalinity as they are not the same thing. Alkalinity is a measurement of the concentration of minerals in a solution (buffering material) while pH is measuring the hydrogen potential. Alkalinity requires a change in mineral content, pH can be increased by chemical reaction.
You can have water with high pH and low alkalinity as well as low pH and high alkalinity.
Unfortunately, these 2 properties are used interchangeably in the majority of marketing messaging and FAQ answers. And so can create all sorts of confusion.
So basically, testing strips indicate vs. the drops is the difference between pH and alkalinity. The strips are used for measuring alkalinity and the drops for pH.
Buffering / Alkalinity / use pH strips
The purpose of alkaline water is to help keep the body pH balance. This is decided by how buffered or unbuffered the solution of water is. Buffered means the number of minerals present in the water. How buffered the water is, means how well it can resist the changes in pH. The human body runs on a series of buffering systems to regulate the balance of pH. Those systems establish the regulations of acid vs alkalinity within the body. Alkalinity is determined by the concentration of minerals found in a solution (bicarbonates, carbonates, and hydroxides) with the ability to buffer acidic conditions. This is why nutrients and minerals are so important because it keeps the buffering systems from pulling minerals deposited in the bones. The measure of alkalinity is determined by pH strips. These indicator strips reveal the buffering ability of the solution in regards to the minerals found in the water.
Chemical Reaction / use pH drops
The pH drops, on the other hand, tells the story of hydrogen ions and how they are present in a solution. This is where the story really gets complicated. Hydrogen ions represent how acidic a solution is and the freer hydrogen ions the more acidic the solution of water. This is calculated by the molar concentration and measures the amount of solute (minerals) or chemical species in a volume of water. The molar concentration is a determining factor for both tests. The strips check the amount of solute in water and identify its ability to resist changes in the pH of the body. The pH drops are shaped by the chemical reaction taking place in the solution and through a chemical, exchange is how to raise the pH level of the water.
The alkalinity represents the mineral content of the water and its ability to buffer acidic changes of the body and the pH (potential hydrogen) is the chemical reaction that takes place within the water solution to decide how acidic it is. The color indicates the pH. Having a high pH number can mean nothing without the minerals to go with it. It is the same as eating food with no nutritional value. Empty calories serve no purpose for the human body. The objective is to replace what is lost and prevent our body from depleting the reserves.