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Why Is Water Blue?

For generations kids have asked ‘why is water blue?’ leaving unsuspecting parents scrambling to make up an answer, mumbling something about sunlight and water depth.

While there is some truth to those answers, the scientific reason is that water has an intrinsic colour, a unique origin, and because it absorbs colours from the red end of the spectrum.

 

The scientific reasons why water is blue

 

Scientists have been studying the origin of the colour of water for years, having observed vivid blue colours from the waters of the Caribbean to the lakes of the Colorado mountains.

The absorption that causes us to see water as blue is at the red end of the colour spectrum, and blue is the complementary colour of red.

Therefore, when light passes through deeper water, humans see blue hues.

These same blues and greens can be seen in snow, ice, and glaciers, when light penetrates deeply and is scattered back.  

 

Is the ocean blue because it reflects the sky?

 

This was one of the biggest puzzles facing scientists in the early 20th century due to the light and physics involved.

The ocean is blue because of how water absorbs light, how the particles in the water then scatter that light, and in part because of reflections from the sky.

To understand the colour of the ocean, we need to understand light.

The light we can see is called white light, and is made up of tiny particles called photons (and a photon is smaller than an atom!)

Photons come streaming down from the sun and interact with everything we see here on earth. Some will be absorbed by what they touch, while others will bounce back – this is known as scattering.

As mentioned above, blue is the complementary colour of red on the colour spectrum. 

Pure water absorbs more of the red light, which is why we can see the blue hues more clearly.

However, ocean water isn’t pure, it has things like salt in it that absorb and reflect light too, making sea water appear a more greenish-blue colour.

Therefore, the sea is blue because of a combination of factors; how it absorbs light, how the water particles scatter light, and how blue light from the sky is reflected. These three factors, plus the time of day and position of the sun, all help give the ocean it’s blue colour that we love and enjoy.

 

How can I see the colour of water?

 

If you can’t get to the Caribbean or Colorado, there is a simple experiment you can do at home to see the colour of water.

1) Find a piece of aluminium tube that is three metres long, with a diameter of 4cm.

2) Glue a piece of Plexiglass to one end of the tube.

3) Fill the tube with purified water.

4) Suspend the tube vertically, and place a piece of paper below the tube, ensuring the tube is lit by natural sunlight.

When set up correctly, there will be such a loss of red intensity that blue hues show on the white paper. That’s science!

 

Does sunlight change water colour?

 

What happens when we look at water, rather than through it?

Atmospheric scientist and author of the excellent book ‘Clouds in a Glass of Beer’, Craig Bohren, observed that reflected sunlight does indeed impact how we see a body of water.

This is due to how light is scattered, and also by how it is absorbed in the water it is being reflected from.

This is why a body of water such as Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, South Australia, will look different depending on the time of day and the season in which you observe it!

Blue Ocean At Sunset

 

What colour is alkaline water?

 

We now know that water is blue because it absorbs its complementary red colour, so what colour is alkaline water?

Water changes colour based on the pH of the tested water, which means alkaline water is purple in colour.

This can be seen when measuring using the Universal Indicator.

Water with a pH of 3-6 is orange or yellow, a pH of seven is green, a pH of 8-11 is blue, and a pH of greater than 11 is purple.

A pH test strip can also be used to test the pH of urine or saliva, to help balance your bodies pH.

 

Why is alkaline beneficial?

Our body has a natural pH level, something it works to keep in balance.

It can be a tough ask as many of the products we consume are acidic, and too many of these sorts of products can throw our pH balance out.

As we said, sea water isn’t just H2O, which changes the way light is scattered. Drinking water is the same, it is peppered with minerals, in some cases chemicals and additives that can work against our body’s natural pH levels.

When we look for alkaline foods and beverages, we give our body a helping hand to reach a natural balance.

 

What is alkaline water?

 

The term ‘alkaline’ in alkaline water refers to the pH level, with pH ranging from zero to 14.

Water with a pH level of one or two would be highly acidic, while water with a pH level of 13 or 14 would be highly alkaline.

Because alkaline water has a higher pH than normal drinking water, it helps to neutralise the acids in your body.

While normal drinking water is around pH 7 and alkaline water is pH 8 or 9, the pH isn’t the only factor in how alkaline the water is. Alkaline water also needs alkaline minerals and a negative oxidization reduction potential (ORP) to be beneficial.

 

Will I notice the difference of alkaline water?

 

Alkaline water feels smoother and has a clean taste.

Because many of those agents your body doesn’t want and doesn’t like are taken out it leaves you with a nourishing and hydrating liquid that benefits your body.

That’s great news for people who turn to cordials, soft drinks and juices to hide the unclean taste of regular drinking water.

Cooking with alkaline water is also different. Food retains more flavour and many of those bitter tastes are neutralised leaving you with a full flavoured satisfying meal full of healthy vitamins and minerals that even your kids will love.

 

How do I make alkaline water at home?

 

There are several ways you can make alkaline water at home, such as using a bottle filter, pitcher filter, or even a faucet filter.

A pH alkaline water bottle is perfect for throwing in your bag to take to the gym or office as it provides highly effective water filtration for up to 60 litres (16 gallons) giving you high pH water on the go.

We all know how important it is to drink plenty of H2O every day, but making sure the kids reach for water rather than soft drinks is to have a pH water pitcher in the fridge at all times. When kids can get easy access to deliciously smooth alkaline water, they’ll be much more likely to reach for a glass!

To take it to the next level, adding a faucet filter will ionize your tap water, adding magnesium and iron as well as improving the smell and taste of your water.

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