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See: pseudoscience See: snake oil

Ionized, or "alkaline" water, often sold under brand names like Evamor, is commonly found in your local health food store, next to a million perfectly legitimate health products. It is marketed as an antioxidant, because alkalines, having an excess of OH- ions bind with free radicals, or loose oxygen atoms to produce harmless, hydrogen-ion-free water.

That's right: eating acidic foods is highly dangerous, putting you at risk for cancer and, according to some proponents of the substance, virtually every illness known to man, including various bacterial infections (because bacteria thrive in acidic environments, like unhealthy blood). Drinking electrolytically alkaline water puts the OH- ions back in your blood, creating a buffer against dangerous blood acids!

So put those bananas away! Hey! Get away from that grapefruit! Oranges cause cancer! So you're thinking, now... wait: isn't vitamin C, that's ascorbic acid, one of the most potent antioxidants on the market? The seed of doubt is planted in your mind, but--oh, look, over there!

"How do I know that Ionized Alkaline Water is Good For You? I Am A Diagnosed Terminal Cancer Survivor . . . Ionized Alkaline Water Played A Vital Role In My Recovery!!!!!" -www.betterwayhealth.com

Cancer survivors all over have grown healthy by drinking ionized water! You wouldn't argue with a CANCER SURVIVOR on an issue relating to cancer... would you? I mean, sure, he followed his sentence with five exclamation points, and capitalized every word he wrote, but he's a cancer survivor. He's untouchable, man! If this guy says cancer is caused by deadly moon rays, he's probably right.

This quote is, of course, part of an advertisement for a line of water ionizers that runs between $650 and $800 apiece (on sale, apparently--it ends tomorrow! hurry up, kids!). But what is a water ionizer?

Answers in this department are a little sketchy. First of all, they're Japanese. That's good, right? Apparently water is forced through a chamber containing "five platinum-coated titanium plates", which electrify your water! That's right, they... electrify your water. This is apparently supposed to make your water alkaline in pH. Let's go over this, shall we?

  • You put water into the ionizer.
  • You press the buttons, and "select the pH level of your choice".
  • Through the magic of electricity, the water comes out alkaline!

Needless to say, electrolysis doesn't work this way any more than your immune system becomes invincible when you put magnets all over your body. First of all, electrolysis does nothing to pure water. From a chemist's perspective, ionized water is a nonsense term. Impure water, which is what normal people drink and which is not necessarily unhealthy, can be electrolyzed to a very slight degree, one essentially imperceptible on the pH scale because of the very mild concentrations of mineral in palatable water.

Let's put it this way: if your water has enough mineral content to make the pH change viewed through electrolysis notable, it is almost certainly impure enough to be poisonous.

In addition, electrolyzing water won't make it alkaline. It won't really do anything, in fact. Water "de-ionizers" on the market actually express similar effects through a similar process, though the only way to de-ionize water that I could imagine would be to add an oxygen molecule (through electrolysis, that is), turning it into H202, a completely different and completely poisonous substance, when ingested.

Ionized water is also sometimes called "micro-water", actually. This is because the process is supposed to make water molecules looser, or smaller, or whatever you can derive from the pseudoscientific babble found on most proponent websites. The closest semi-logical statement that I can infer is that that these machines are supposed to reduce the surface tension of your tap water by removing all those pesky hydrogen ions.

Virtually every aspect of water ionization reflects a serious inadequacy of knowledge on the part of its creators concerning the charge duality of water, and screams "hoax" at every turn.

Still more mysteriously, it's not noted anywhere that any basic water you ingest is going to be neutralized immediately by the highly acidic conditions of a healthy human's stomach. If you want to make your stomach more alkaline, go right ahead! Take a Tums, dummy. Hell, take five. You'll have the most alkaline stomach on the block. Of course, you won't be able to digest protein...

Apparently, there are also companies that tout machines that will acidify your water. Gee, isn't that... useful? It is, however, supposed to resolve Hong Kong Foot. Whatever that is. (edit: Hong Kong Foot is the translation of the chinese phrase words for "athlete's foot", as I'm informed.)
Also, water can be purified through a process called deionization, which is totally different... also known as reverse osmosis, commonly used by large-scale water filtration plants. Thanks, yclept--knew I forgot to say something. Speaking of which, I should add that these ionizers aren't tooootally useless--some of them actually work like a $700 buzzing Brita filter, too. Nifty, huh?
Finally, whoever softlinked this to Your words are delicious and enticing, and I would save them all like love letters can join my fanclub for a nominal fee.

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