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The Meaning of pH

The term “pH” is commonly used in processing foods.  What does it mean? 

It is simply the symbol of a scale, numbered from 0 to 14, that rates water solutions according to their acidity or alkalinity.

 

 

pH value

Relative Acidity

or Alkalinity

 

 

0   acidity

10,000,000

1

 1,000,000

2

    100,000

3

      10,000

4

        1,000

5

           100

6

             10

7   Neutral  (pure water)

               1

8

             10

9

            100

10

         1,000

11

       10,000

12

     100,000

13

  1,000,000

14 10,000,000

 

Pure water is given the number 7 - right in the middle of the scale - because it contains an equal number of acidic and basic ions and is therefore neutral.  As the alkalinity of a solution increases, the pH value goes up; as the acidity increases, the pH goes down.  Each step represents an increase or decrease by a factor of ten.

On this scale, the most acid substance is hydrochloric acid, which , in proper concentration, is rated at 0,  or ten million times as acid as water.  At the other end of the scale is a solution of sodium hydroxide, rated at 14, or 10 million times as alkaline as water. Solutions of other substances take their places in between.

 

               

pH of common things

   pH

 

 

Hydrochloric acid, normal

0.1

Sulfuric acid, normal

0.3

Oxalic acid, 0.1 normal

1.6

Limes

1.8 - 2.0

Ginger ale

2.0 - 4.0

Lemons

2.2 - 2.4

Apples

2.9 - 3.3

Grapefruit

3.0 - 3.3

Bananas

4.5 - 4.7

Boric acid, 0.1 normal

5.2

Best pH for raw meats

5.6 - 5.8

Best pH for cooked meats

5.8 - 6.2

Cows milk

6.3 - 6.6

Drinking water

6.5 - 6.8

Pure water

7.0

Sodium Bicarbonate, 1.0 normal

8.4

Ammonia

10.6 - 11.6

Sodium hydroxide, normal

14.0