Respectful Insolence

After nearly six years subjecting the world to my meandering and often incredibly verbose stylings, I’m now what you would call an established blogger. Even more than that, I’m a reasonably high traffic blogger, at least in the medical blogosphere. What that means is that I get a lot of e-mail. A lot. While I do look at each and every e-mail that finds its way into the in box of one of my accounts, there’s no way I can respond to them all. In order to save time, I look for shortcuts, and one of those shortcuts is not to devote more than a second or two to e-mails that are obvious sales pitches, if even that. One category of e-mail, in particular, that I delete with extreme prejudice are e-mails asking me if I want to let some other website repost my blog comment, with a promise for a link back to my blog. Of course, these are virtually all scams designed to steal blog content. Indeed, one time I found out that the website owner had done something such that Google searches on verious terms would turn up the reposted content several pages ahead of the original content. I don’t know what sort of search engine optimization the owner of that website did, but it ticked me off.

However, sometimes, for whatever reason, I actually read the occasional sales pitch that finds its way into my in box. Most of the time, I immediately regret it. Every so often, on rare occasions, I’m glad that I did read it. Sometimes, on even more occasions, incredibly rare though they may be, I actually find some blogging material from such an e-mail.

This is just one of those times.

Meet Paulette Williams. She sent me an e-mail yesterday:

From: Paulette
Subject: Change Your Water – Change Your Life
Date: August 12, 2010 2:39:37 PM EDT
To: Orac
Reply-To: info@weblastyourbusiness.com
Subject: Change Your Water – Change Your Life

Visit this website to learn more

Paulette Williams
Health Wellness Advocate
Baltimore, Maryland
443-844-1695
www.DrinKangenWater.com

For more direct product information, visit:
www.DrinKangenWater.biz

For shocking information about your body and common diseases, visit:
www.DrinKangenWater.info

To be remove from our list, just reply with the word remove in the subject line.


All I can say is: Wow, did Paulette pick the wrong person to send her sales pitch too! Add to that: Thanks. Thanks a lot, Paulette. I was looking for a topic for today’s blog post, and it’s rare that such a topic is thrown in my lap so willingly. In return for your making my blogging life so much easier, if even for a day, I return to you traffic from my blog. Oh, it won’t help your Google ranking, because I usually use the rel=”nofollow” tag, but it’s traffic, right? True, probably 95% or more of my readers are die-hard skeptics who would never buy your woo-ful products anway, but you never know. I know a bunch of anti-vaccine loons read my blog, as they show up in the comments and not infrequently the not-so-Respectful Insolence that I lay down finds its way over to the anti-vaccine underground, there to provoke a reaction. If they’re gullible enough to believe the lies, misinformation, and pseudoscience of the the anti-vaccine movement, maybe they’ll be gullible enough to fall for the charms of Kangen Water:

Kangen is a Japanese word best translated into English as “return to origin”, which means several things when used to describe water. First, it describes water returned to the state in which water was often found in nature before the earth became polluted. Second, it implies that it will help to return your body to its original condition when you were young – including all of the organs and skin.

You know, I haven’t seen it phrased quite this way, but there seems to be a major theme running just under the surface of a whole lot of woo, and it’s the idea of pollution, as though somehow the modern world somehow “contaminates” our very essence, making us ill and unhealthy. The answer is always some mythical appeal to ancient purity. In fact, perhaps that should be the name of a new logical fallacy, much like the appeal to ancient wisdom. The appeal to ancient purity claims that life was so much more “pure” and so much less polluted and that mimicking that purity will cure disease. Of course, if there’s one aspect of humanity that has been constant since human beings first evolved, it’s been that we pollute every place we live. I remember taking an archeology class in college where the professor introduced the class by characterizing archeology as the study of ancient trash and garbage. In any case, just because eomthing is allegedly more like the ancient world does not say anything about whether it is healthy or not or whether it can cure disease or not.

But let’s wander to the other of Paulette’s websites. First up:

Water

Your body is Water
Up to 75% of the human body is made of water.

You die if you don’t drink water.
Lack of water leads to dehydration.

What water are you made of?
Contaminated city water, unpurified well water, sterilized bottled water, or alkaline anti-oxidizing Kangen water?

Maybe the solution is to make like Jack D. Ripper from one of my favorite movies of all time Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, and drink only vodka:

Ripper: Mandrake?
Mandrake: Yes, Jack?
Ripper: Have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water?
Mandrake: Well, I can’t say I have.
Ripper: Vodka, that’s what they drink, isn’t it? Never water?
Mandrake: Well, I-I believe that’s what they drink, Jack, yes.
Ripper: On no account will a Commie ever drink water, and not without good reason.
Mandrake: Oh, eh, yes. I, uhm, can’t quite see what you’re getting at, Jack.
Ripper: Water, that’s what I’m getting at, water. Mandrake, water is the source of all life. Seven-tenths of this earth’s surface is water. Why, do you realize that seventy percent of you is water?
Mandrake: Uh, uh, Good Lord!
Ripper: And as human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids.

Or maybe Commies drink Kangen water made by the machine sold by the people behind the websites that Paulette is hawking.

Be that as it may, I’m sure Paulette would agree with Ripper. It’s also obvious that her arguments are no more coherent than Ripper’s arguments in which he labels fluoridation as a Communist plot to contaminate our “precious bodily fluids.” But what, according to Paulette, are we supposed to be protecting our precious bodily fluids from? What are we supposed to be drinking to preserve their “purity of essence.” (Fans of the movie will know the significance of this.) In any case, it’s clear that Paulette buys into the same sort of acid-base woo that that inimitable quack supreme Robert O. Young likes, in which he declares cancer to be the body’s reaction to too much acid and states that sepsis is not caused by bacteria.

What I particularly like is how Paulette tap dances around the Quack Miranda warning quite skillfully. In essence, she says that the U.S. won’t let her make certain claims but then somehow she goes and makes them anyway:

In the United States we are not allowed to claim that Kangen Water™ will actually do all of these things. However, the benefits of reducing our body’s acidity has long been recognized in the medical profession even in the United States.

Does our water actually reduce the body’s acidity and help to restore the body to a youthful condition? We can’t say, but we can present documented individual case studies and let you make up your own mind. That is the purpose of the videos.

Actually, using anecdotes to make it look as though this Kangen water is the greatest thing since sliced bread is the purpose of the videos. If you check them out, you’ll see that, if you believe the claims, Kangen water can prevent food poisoning, keep your colon clean, and even kills harmful agricultural diseases! But that’s not all! Oh, no, not at all:

What about the other wondrous non-health related claims made for our water?

Is Strong Acidic water possibly the most powerful disinfectant known? Can it make even restaurants and hospitals sterile and safe without the use of any other disinfectants?

Can Strong Kangen water really clean stubborn stains in carpet and clothing and can it really thoroughly clean even a greasy busy restaurant kitchen – all without soap or any other additives?

Can Medium Acidic water replace most or all of your skin care products and hair conditioners?

The answer to these questions will come easily when you try Kangen Water™ for yourself!

Is there nothing this water can’t do? Not only can it help you with all manner of health problems, but it can clean carpet and clothing stains, not to mention restaurant kitchens. Come to think of it, aren’t the health claims a wee bit incompatible with the cleaning claims? In general, substances that are good for removing stains from carpeting or removing grease from pots and pans tend not to be so good when taken internally. Cleaning off carpets and cleaning out pots and pans tend to require a different set of chemical properties than is required for water that would actually be good for your health.

So how does Paulette produce this wondrous water that can do anything? There must be some amazing secret, don’t you think? At least, one would think so. I bet this Kangen machine must be some amazing machine, imbuing, as Paulette claims, water with so many amazing properties. Imagine, then, my utter disappointment when I find out that all this machine is is a simple electrolysis machine:

Electrolysis is the process that separates water into alkaline and acidic water. The desired pH level of the resulting water can be selected by the operator of the machine.

The pH of the alkaline and acidic water will always add up to 14. Therefore, if ideal drinking water of pH 9.5 is selected, medium acidic water of pH 4.5 (used mainly for skin care) will also be produced. If strong acidic water of pH 2.5 (a strong disinfectant with many important uses) is selected, strong Kangen water of pH 11.5 (a powerful solvent used mainly for cleaning) will also be produced. The uses and benefits of these 4 types of water is the subject of the videos which you can watch on this website.

Neutral water of pH 7 (filtered for purity, but not ionized) can also be produced, but its only important use is for taking prescription medication and it is not a subject of the videos.

I sense a fundamental misunderstanding here of what pH is. All pH is (approximately–don’t ask me about activity factor) is a logarithmic scale for the concentration of hydrogen ion in the water. An H+ concentration of 10-7 molar is defined as a pH of 7. One thing about pH that is sometimes hard to grasp is that one pH unit equals a 10-fold change in H+ concentration. Consequently a pH of 6 has a 10-fold higher concentration (10-6 M) than a solution of pH 7. In any event, it’s simplistic in the extreme to state that pH must always add up to 14.

More deceptive still is the claim that you can just produce water of the desired pH by electrolysis. For one thing, pure water is not particularly conductive, certainly not conductive enough to undergo significant electrolysis using devices such as the Kangen device. Basically, electrolysis refers to the breakdown of water produced by passing an electrical current through it. In the electrolysis of water, hydrogen gas is formed at the negative electrode, and oxygen gas is formed at the positive electrode as described here:

At the negative electrode: 2 H+ + 2e- → H2
… but since the H+ ions come from water, the overall reaction is

2 H2O + 2e- → H2 + 2 OH-

at the positive electrode: 4 OH- → 4e- + 2 H2O + O2
… but since the OH- ions come from water, the overall reaction is

2 H2O → 4e- + O2 + 4H+

The consumption of hydrogen ions (H+) at the negative electrode leaves an excess of hydroxide ions (OH-) in the local vicinity, making the water alkaline there. Similarly the consumption of hydroxide ions at the positive electrode leaves an excess of hydrogen ion in the local vicinity., making the water acidic there. However, these ions easily diffuse away from these electrodes and then recombine:

H+ + OH- → H2O

In any case, very little electrolysis will occur in pure water. Salt has to be added. As Stephen Lower, a chemist from Simon Fraser University describes, here’s what happens when water containing common table salt (sodium chloride) undergoes electrolysis:

Electrolysis of a dilute sodium chloride solution liberates hydrogen gas and hydroxide ions at the cathode, producing an alkaline solution that consists essentially of sodium hydroxide NaOH which can be drawn off as “alkaline water”. At the anode, chloride ions are oxidized to elemental chlorine. If some of this chlorine is allowed to combine with some of the hydroxide ions produced at the cathode, it disproportionates into hypochlorous acid HOCl, a weak acid and an oxidizing agent. Some ionizer devices allow the user to draw off this solution for use as a disinfecting agent. In many cases the two streams can be combined to form a mixture consisting of both HOCl and sodium hypochlorite (equivalent to diluted ordinary laundry bleach), depending on the pH desired.

In other words, the Kangen machine is a very expensive method of making bleach.

Perhaps one of the more ridiculous claims made for the Kangen machine is the claim that Kangen water is somehow, magically, Kangen drinking water can eliminate excess acid from your body and “stabilize the pH level of your body.” No, it won’t. The body is quite good at maintaining a constant pH in the vicinity of 7.40. Powerful homeostatic mechanisms maintain that pH regardless of what you eat or drink by excreting excess acid or base through the urine. As long as your lungs, liver, and kidneys are working, excess acid is not likely to be a problem, even if you scarf down heapin’ helpings of the ever-dreaded meat (the consumption of which, if you listen to woo-meisters, would appear to be the equivalent of mainlining cyanide). And, don’t forget, if you listen to sellers of the Kangen machine, you’d think that this magical mystical water (even more magical and mystical, it seems, than homeopathy) can clean your colon out as well.

It’s odd that I had never heard of the Kangen machine before. It’s serious woo. Given how serious the woo contained in the machine is, it goes for a serious price, on the order of $5,000 to $6,000, according to Brian Dunning, truly serious woo for serious cash. Or more like serious woo for suckers who fall for the pseudoscientific sales pitch of people like Paula, pitches that sometimes find their way into the in box of the wrong person.

Comments

  1. #1 Antares
    August 13, 2010

    “Cleaning off carpets and cleaning out pots and pans tend to require a different set of chemical properties than is required for water that would actually be good for your health.”

    But, noooo, don’t you see? It’s all-good, all-pure water, and it does all things that its humble human deem pleasant to us. Or have you ever seen a Roman with a dirty toga?

    Well, me neither, since the’ve been out of fashion for 1500 years… but it’s proof enough for me! ;-)

  2. #2 Janice in Toronto
    August 13, 2010

    Dear Mr. Orac,

    Thank you for your interest in our product. Perhaps you’d be interested in another service we offer, “PIN Protection”. Simply send us your credit card numbers, with 3 digit code from the back, and your PIN number. We will enter it into our database, and if you should lose your PIN, we will retrieve it for you.

    This would be a better investment than in their magic water…

    Sheesh.

  3. #3 MikeMa
    August 13, 2010

    Janice,
    There will be some Nigerians calling to discuss a merger…

    This is a great takedown and very necessary but so much effort for one little scam amidst the vast ocean of these ripoffs. TGIF

  4. #4 Daggerstab
    August 13, 2010

    Wow, and these people charge money for that?

    This actually was (and still is) quite a popular form of woo in the 1980s and the 1990s in Bulgaria. It was called “live and dead water” (the supporters admitted that the names were symbolic) and involved a simple DIY device that was plugged into the grid (it used a single diode to “convert” grid AC to pulses of DC, so that electrolysis was possible). Fill a 3 litre jar with tap water, put the electrodes in, put a canvas “bag” around the cathode to collect the “dead” (or “live”?) water…

    So, these people are selling for $6000 something equivalent to the device my woo-believing father cobbled together from spare parts?

  5. #5 Todd W.
    August 13, 2010

    The answer is always some mythical appeal to ancient purity.

    They obviously don’t know about the Great Old Ones.

  6. #6 Denice Walter
    August 13, 2010

    I’ve never encountered “Kangen Water” although I often frequent a nearby Japanese mall/supermarket which literally oozes woo ( herb/vitamin booths, skin care products, and “energy” necklaces,need I say more?) but sells absolutely great tea and cooking ingredients.

  7. #7 Hudders
    August 13, 2010

    I’m tempted to ask if this is a joke, but knowing the nature of woo, I suspect it is entirely serious. The audacity of their claims is absolutely mindblowing. I mean, if you’re going to scam people, then yeah, slip the odd white lie in to exaggerate the truth, but good grief, they’re mighty brave to paint this stuff as being the 500 in 1 cure-all Holy Grail! Woo … never ceases to amaze …

  8. #8 jay.sweet
    August 13, 2010

    Come to think of it, aren’t the health claims a wee bit incompatible with the cleaning claims? In general, substances that are good for removing stains from carpeting or removing grease from pots and pans tend not to be so good when taken internally. Cleaning off carpets and cleaning out pots and pans tend to require a different set of chemical properties than is required for water that would actually be good for your health.

    Heh, that’s funny, just last night, my wife and I were watching Wednesday’s Top Chef, and the sponsor this season is Dove or Dawn or somebody who makes shampoo and/or soap products (heh, I can’t even remember — shows how effective that advertising is on me, eh?). My wife and I both found this highly disturbing and off-putting, and after contemplating it for a bit, I decided on reasons very similar to the quoted paragraph from Orac.

    Soap != food. Please.

  9. #9 Oikoman
    August 13, 2010

    Six grand?!? For an electrolysis machine? Hell, I used to do stuff like that all the time as a kid, with nothing more than an old car battery, tapwater, and whatever interesting chemicals I could nick from the high-school chem lab (copper sulphate was a favourite, though I once burned a large hole in my pants from the resulting acid).

    Thing is, there is no shortage of wealthy people with more money than brains willing the shell out on this stuff… maybe I’m just in the wrong line of work. Anyone want an old car battery for 5000 quid?

  10. #10 momkat
    August 13, 2010

    Guess what product is being hawked in the ad placed just after this story’s blurb on the daily e-mail I get? Yep, a Kangen water machine. Wonder if the company knows what a waste of money that was?

  11. #11 MikeMa
    August 13, 2010

    I used to take a 24v DC power supply and hook each lead to the carbon rod from a D battery. I would fix the rods in a bucket of water beneath testubes and collect the gas off each – oxygen and hydrogen presumably. Cool to pop the O2 with a match. Don’t remember much effect from the H2 sadly.

  12. #12 chip
    August 13, 2010

    “its a floor wax! Its a dessert toping! Its a floor wax! Its a dessert toping!
    SNL pegged it over 30 years ago

  13. #13 Chris
    August 13, 2010

    I don’t know if there is already a logical fallacy for appealing to the orient, but that needs to be made. Its from China, its exotic and mystical it must work…Or something similar to that. And why stop at Kangen? Why not Kangen Mizu? After living in Japan for 2 years, I can say the woo has a big market over there, mostly in women I’d say, but thats just on limited observations. From Aroma therapy and psychics to some psycho babble about how our thoughts can change our jeans..I mean genes. They did have this drink there that you would drink before drinking alcohol and it was supposed to help you not get as drunk and hung over or something like that, but never used it. However I would say the Japanese are more science literate and feel science is important, but they are still vulnerable to the woo. Incase you get cut or something http://www.news-gate.jp/2010/0813/10/photo00.html

  14. #14 Chris
    August 13, 2010

    Orac, If you find yourself out of sources of woo. You can always return to the hotspot for woo, the WooffingtonPost.

  15. #15 Todd W.
    August 13, 2010

    @Chris

    Jibun no yubi o tabechau no ga kowai. Afraid I’d eat my own finger using those.

  16. #16 Lycanthrope
    August 13, 2010

    Dear cripes. I’ve forgotten a lot of the material from my high school chemistry classes, but even so I had red flags shooting up all over the place while I read this. The bit about its pH adding to 14 especially made me cringe; it’s the kind of thing that’s transparently wrong if you know the first thing about pH, but will fool a lot of folks who don’t.

  17. #17 Jeff Read
    August 13, 2010

    It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

  18. #18 Tom
    August 13, 2010

    “… the idea of pollution, as though somehow the modern world somehow “contaminates” our very essence, making us ill and unhealthy.”

    Yeah, I’ve noticed a lot of this. Because, of course, we were all SOOO much healthier back in ancient times.

  19. #19 Roger
    August 13, 2010

    There seems to be a strong connection between woo like this,and spam as a whole.I had never gone over to Young’s blog before,but it seems 99% of the comments are links to penis enlargements,pharmacies pushing Viagra,and Chinese porn sites.If he doesn’t care enough to police,or filter his blog for this stuff,what does it say about him as a “doctor”?

  20. #20 Alan Kellogg
    August 13, 2010

    It’s dihydrogen monoxide, look it up.

  21. #21 Otto
    August 13, 2010

    What kind of half-assed pitch for Kangen water fails to mention that it’s HEXAGONAL?

  22. #22 Setar
    August 13, 2010

    $6000 for a Hofmann apparatus? Jesus shit, what do they make the electrodes out of, pure platinum?

    Also, “pH” doesn’t somehow add to 14 – pH + pOH = 14. Just a little sticking point from my chemistry annals ^^;

    MikeMa #11:

    I used to take a 24v DC power supply and hook each lead to the carbon rod from a D battery. I would fix the rods in a bucket of water beneath testubes and collect the gas off each – oxygen and hydrogen presumably. Cool to pop the O2 with a match. Don’t remember much effect from the H2 sadly.

    The pop was the H2…the O2 won’t do anything with a lit match, but if you blow it out and leave embers it will re-light it!

    What’s fun, now, is collecting the H2 in a balloon and putting a flame near it…though that’s easier if you have some acid and a reactive metal such as zinc or magnesium handy.

  23. #23 viggen
    August 13, 2010

    This one has me laughing. Quite amusing, Orac.

    I would add that water has practically no buffering capacity. If you have pure water and you somehow manage to add just enough acid or base to it to make it a particular pH, the instant you add anything to it, or add it to anything, it will almost always shift in pH by a lot depending on what you add. Even surfaces it touches have the ability to give up or steal protons, causing the pH to swing. I’ve watched the pH in deionized water change by simply having a bottle of concentrated HCl sitting open just next to the beaker… pH 7 is 10^-7 molar which is 100 nanomolar, which is really pretty weak.

  24. #24 MI Dawn
    August 13, 2010

    Is drinking this water even safe, if the pH is so high or so low?

  25. #25 chip
    August 13, 2010

    Jeff, its spelled “toping”…. plus i already made that joke. Two pet peaves in one stone, nice

  26. #26 KP
    August 13, 2010

    What I don’t get is if you’re supposed to be drinking “basic” water so that it raises the pH of your blood, WTH wouldn’t you just skip the machine, and drink milk. Milk is fairly basic, more nutritious than water and far cheaper than a Kangen machine. Or take a Tums

    viggen: Another experiment: take a pH meter out of a stream of distilled water (pH=7) and within seconds CO2 from the air has dissolved into the water left on the probe and it starts reading pH=3. Chances are good that by the time you get the Kangen water to your lips that the CO2 in the air has brought the pH to less than 7.

  27. #27 rob
    August 13, 2010

    here is what i thought when i read “Kangen Water”

    Kangen…

    kangaroo…

    kangaroo water…

    marsupial piss!!!

  28. #28 Andreas Johansson
    August 13, 2010

    Is drinking this water even safe, if the pH is so high or so low?

    Lemon juice is about pH 2. The basic stuff may be less safe, I don’t know.

  29. #29 stripey_cat
    August 13, 2010

    Antares @1 said “Or have you ever seen a Roman with a dirty toga?”. Given that Roman togas were degreased with stale piss, and then (depending on how you read the texts) possibly pipe-clayed for ceremonial occasions, I think the question should be “have you ever seen a Roman with a clean toga?”.

    I’m also not very keen on the idea of using dilute HCl (at pH 4.5, if they’re to be believed!) as a cosmetic cleaner – that must sting if you get it in your eyes.

    Finally, wouldn’t drinking dilute NaOH up your sodium intake something scary, or is it not a form that’ll cause your metabolism problems?

  30. #30 Todd W.
    August 13, 2010

    @KP

    WTH wouldn’t you just skip the machine, and drink milk.

    Because, milk has that nasty casein in it, which we all know causes all sorts of problems, even if you have no diagnosed allergy or other intolerance to it.

  31. #31 Fredeliot
    August 13, 2010

    When I was young, we would run current through salt water and get chlorine and hydrogen. The goal was to collect the mixture of the two gasses under low light conditions so they could explode when exposed to stronger light.

  32. #32 Mark A.
    August 13, 2010

    Jeff, No, it is “topping”. Also it is “peeves” not “peaves”. If you are going to be snarky at least be correct.

  33. #33 Dr Kilovolt
    August 13, 2010

    I have an acquaintance who uses one of these machines (and sells them, of course). He goes so far as the brag about how his family has stopped using laundry detergent, and instead just pour a few cups of Kangen water into the washing machine.

    I don’t have the heart to tell him that his kid’s clothes always look dirty. He wouldn’t receive it well. Need I bother mentioning that his kid also hasn’t been vaccinated?

  34. #34 Mark A.
    August 13, 2010

    Sorry Jeff,
    I screwed up in #32. I meant to correct/castigate Chip, not you. Sorry.

  35. #35 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 13, 2010

    marsupial piss!!!

    AKA Foster’s

  36. #36 nejishiki
    August 13, 2010

    You could get one of these
    http://www.owlsci.com/horizontals/horizontal.aspx?id=B1A
    and one of these
    http://www.owlsci.com/p_supplies/power.aspx?id=EC-105
    for much less than $5000, and teach your children some real science on the side (agarose, DNA, UV lamp and ethidium bromide not included).

  37. #37 Phoenix Woman
    August 13, 2010

    Here’s the video: http://www.hulu.com/watch/61320/saturday-night-live-shimmer-floor-wax

    Here’s the transcript, from http://snltranscripts.jt.org/75/75ishimmer.phtml

    75i: Elliot Gould / Anne Murray

    Shimmer

    Wife…..Gilda Radner
    Husband…..Dan Aykroyd
    Spokesman…..Chevy Chase

    [ open on suburban kitchen, Wife and Husband arguing ]

    Wife: New Shimmer is a floor wax!

    Husband: No, new Shimmer is a dessert topping!

    Wife: It’s a floor wax!

    Husband: It’s a dessert topping!

    Wife: It’s a floor wax, I’m telling you!

    Husband: It’s a dessert topping, you cow!

    Spokesman: [ enters quickly ] Hey, hey, hey, calm down, you two. New Shimmer is both a floor wax and a dessert topping! Here, I’ll spray some on your mop.. [ sprays Shimmer onto mop ] ..and some on your butterscotch pudding. [ sprays Shimmer onto pudding ]

    [ Husband eats while Wife mops ]

    Husband: Mmmmm, tastes
    terrific!

    Wife: And just look at that shine! But will it last?

    Spokesman: Hey, outlasts every other leading floor wax, 2 to 1. It’s durable, and it’s scuff-resistant.

    Husband: And it’s delicious!

    Spokesman: Sure is! Perks up anything from an ice cream sundae to a pumpkin pie!

    Wife: Made from an exclusive non-yellowing formula.

    Husband: I haven’t even touched my pudding and I’m ready for more!

    Wife: But what about black heel marks?

    Spokesman: Dirt, grime, even black heel marks, wipe clean with a damp mop.

    [ Husband accidentally sprays Shimmer onto the floor ]

    Husband: Oh, sorry, honey, I’ll clean that up!

    Wife: Oh, no problem, sweetheart, not with new Shimmer!

    [ Spokesman laughs continuously as he approaches the camera ]

    Spokesman: New Shimmer, for the greatest shine you ever tasted!

    [ fade ]

  38. #38 MI5
    August 13, 2010

    Nice post! And I second Dr. Strangelove as one of the most awesome movies ever.

    You know, it’s funny how many of these scamsters play around with the idea that your body is too “acidic” and you need to correct the pH. Heck, if you want to start changing the pH of your bloodstream, all you have to do is breathe really fast and keep it up until you hyperventilate. You’ll reduce the concentration of CO2 in your bloodstream – and hence the concentration of H2CO3 – and bob’s your uncle. It won’t work very well, of course, because you’ll pass out eventually and once you’re unconscious, you’ll breathe normally again, so your body will quickly re-establish pH in the 7.2-7.4 range. But I always wonder — if you really think your body is acidic for some bizarre reason, instead of spending serious cash and making some e-quack richer than they deserve to be, why not just hyperventilate instead? :)

  39. #39 Chris
    August 13, 2010

    This needs to be addressed. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sat-hon/the-tao-of-food-what-not_b_680328.html

    “When my students ask, “What is the most beneficial diet for healthy living?”, I reply, “Leave out the ice, 冰/bing.” (Bing in Chinese means literally frozen water.) Most of the time, they are utterly puzzled by such an unexpected response. However, the best diet is the one that is free of harmful elements. In traditional Chinese Medicine, the habitual use of ice cubes in drinks is a harmful dietary custom. For digestion, our body needs the internal combustion of heat to transform the food and absorb the nutrients through our intestines. Ice, when ingested, becomes a coagulant and constricts our blood vessels and internal organs. The coldness of ice hinders the digestive process.”

    Is it April 1st today? I didn’t realize people swallowed ice cubes whole.

  40. #40 Chris
    August 14, 2010

    I love this other Chris! Please stay and help confuse MM and Little Augie!

  41. #41 blf
    August 14, 2010

    With a price like that, there at least ought to be a mention of quantum. Woo-woo these days, what is it coming too-too?

  42. #42 Sauceress
    August 14, 2010

    I didn’t realize people swallowed ice cubes whole.

    Well when one swallows bullshit whole, the rest just follows. Anything and everything becomes possible….and plausible.

  43. #43 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 14, 2010

    I didn’t realize people swallowed ice cubes whole.

    Well maybe not regulation sized ice cubes that come out of your freezer, but what about the mini-cubes that you get from ice dispensers in restaurants? Those can (and do) get swallowed when they melt a bit.

  44. #44 doctor tod
    August 14, 2010

    I have passed the family practice boards 5 times in 27 years of practice. i saw the dvd for kangen water. one of the proponents is a family practice M.D. with the same board certification hanging on his wall that i have! another doctor is a cardiologist in cambridge [graduated harvard!]. i can’t wrap my mind around this. can anyone calm me down and explain?

  45. #45 Joven
    August 15, 2010

    @doctor tod
    Its entirely possible they know its BS and are just hawking it because its good money. So either they’re accomplished idiots, or just douchebags. (or actors)

  46. #46 Lucario
    August 15, 2010

    I think the proper term the HuffPo article in #39 is looking for is “vasoconstrictor”. A coagulant causes blood to clot, which would be quite serious. Cold water (or food!) merely causes the blood vessels in the mouth and stomach to constrict in an effort to maintain body heat. AFAIK, this is of no real health concern aside from “brain freeze”.

  47. #47 No Telling
    August 15, 2010

    Who knew my pool water was so precious!! I should start bottling it.

    http://www.intexcorp.com/saltwater.html

    I even skim the bugs out almost every day.

    You can get one of these overpriced babies for $199 at WalMarts.

  48. #48 Joe Schwarcz
    August 15, 2010

    It is not often that I’m left speechless. But sometimes you run into a situation where words just fail you. Absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous, preposterous, comical, and farcical come to mind, but they still don’t quite seem to capture the extent of the mind-numbing nonsense. And what nonsense is that? “Ionized Alkaline Water!” People, seduced by the outlandish promotional drivel, are spending thousands of dollars for a device that produces this liquid malarkey.
    Some promoters just blather mindlessly about increasing energy, reducing weight, reversing aging, boosting immunity, controlling blood pressure, cleansing the colon or eliminating body odour. More disturbing are the ones who speak of preventing cancer and increasing life expectancy. And how is alkalized water supposed to accomplish these miracles?
    Well, you see, “all electrons in water either spin to the left or the right and high speed of the left spin of electrons is considered to substantiate that the water is vital and alive. Only ionized water has this quality.” Uh huh. There’s more. “Ionized water oxygenates the body via an increase in the oxygen-hydrogen angle. All other water is void of this benefit.” Yeah, sure. “Ionized water has positive polarity. Almost all other waters are negative in their polarity. Only positive polarity can efficiently flush out toxins and poisons in the body at the cellular level.” There’s still more. The amazing water ionizer produces “smaller water molecule clusters which enables every nook and cranny of your body to be super-hydrated” Makes you head swim.
    All this rubbish does have an effect. It makes anyone with a chemistry background want to tear their hair out. Of course, the promoters of ionized alkalized water have an answer to that too. They claim the water has a calming effect and can even grow hair. Not only is there not an iota of scientific evidence for any of the claims, the notion of “ionized alkaline water” having any therapeutic effect is beyond absurd. In fact, the term “ionized alkaline water” is scientifically meaningless.
    What then does an “ionizer” actually do? The same thing that high school students do in chemistry labs when they stick a couple of electrodes in water and pass a current between them in a classic “electrolysis” experiment. Some of the water molecules break down, forming hydrogen gas at the negative electrode and oxygen at the positive electrode. Electrolysis, however, cannot be carried out with pure water since water cannot conduct an electric current. For electrolysis to proceed, some sort of charged species must be dissolved in the water. Atoms, or groups of atoms that bear a charge are called ions. Tap water contains a variety of dissolved ions such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, bicarbonate or chloride, so it is amenable to electrolysis.
    As water molecules break down at the negative electrode to release hydrogen gas, they leave behind negative hydroxide ions. This is what makes a solution “alkaline.” Basically what this means is that as electrolysis proceeds, a dilute solution of sodium hydroxide (negative ions are always paired with positive ones) is produced around the negative electrode and can be drawn off as “alkaline” or “ionized” water. But you don’t need an exorbitantly expensive device to produce a dilute sodium hydroxide solution. A couple of pellets of drain cleaner in a liter of water will do the job. So will a spoonful of baking soda. Of course these solutions will not produce any medical miracles. But neither will the posh alkaline water.
    What this expensive water does produce is a bevy of daft claims. Here is the most popular one: “It is well known in the medical community that an overly acidic body is the root of many common diseases, such as obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.” Poppycock! There is no such thing as an “acidic body.” That, though, doesn’t stop the hucksters from treating it. How? By neutralizing the acidity with their alkaline water. “The alkaline water will restore your body to a healthy alkaline state,” they say. “It counteracts the acidic food you eat and the effects of the harsh elements in your environment in order to bring about the natural balance your body needs. Change your water and change your life.” The only thing you’ll change is your bank balance.
    Now, even if there were such a thing as an acidic body, and even if this signaled illness, it could not be countered by drinking alkaline water. To “alkalize the body” one would have to alkalize the blood. But our body maintains the pH of the blood between 7 -7.4, which is already alkaline. If you were to alkalize it further, you would not have to worry about illness because you would be dead. Don’t worry, though, about alkaline water killing you. Our stomach is strongly acidic and any base that enters is immediately neutralized. The still acidic contents of the stomach then pass into the intestine where they are neutralized by alkaline secretions from the pancreas. So all of the water we drink ends up being alkaline anyway!
    Another seductive claim is that alkaline ionized water is an antioxidant and neutralizes free radicals. This is often demonstrated by immersing an Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP) probe into the water and pointing out that the needle moves into the negative millivolt region, while ordinary water shows a positive reading. An ORP probe is useful in determining water quality in a swimming pool, but is meaningless for drinking water. The slightest amount of dissolved hydrogen, as you have in alkalized water, will result in a negative reading. This has absolutely no relevance to any effect on the body. Oil may not mix with water, but it seems snake oil surely does.

  49. #49 Ken Harvey
    August 16, 2010

    Half a teaspoon of Baking soda in a little water at room temperature, two or three times at intervals, stops a cold in its tracks. So my old grandmother taught me when I was not much more than a toddler, seventy or so years ago. My mother, a more skeptical lady, did not believe in such old wives’ tales but I stuck with it till I got to High School. There I learned that such a remedy could have no effect and I abandoned it. Then in the mid ‘nineties I recalled the old saw, and have not suffered more than the first beginnings of a cold ever since. Placebo effect? Possibly, but it has worked for three subsequent generations of my family since I brought it to their attention and they all live in less kindly climates than I do. It can’t add to the ph of the blood and any such effect on the bronchial juices would be extremely small, if any, and would be only momentary in duration. It works but it bothers me that I don’t know how. Can some kind person on this blog enlighten me?

  50. #50 adelady
    August 16, 2010

    With no medical or scientific expertise of any kind, I have one idea I might think about further.

    It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with absorption in the stomach or into the bloodstream. Seeing as you drink it, the direct effect would have to be on the mucous membranes and secretions in the ENT area. (It might just have an enhanced dilution effect so that the sniffles and stuffiness clear without effort. Much as frequent steam inhalations do, but this sounds a whole heap less fuss.)

    I’ll check a bit further. I fear I may encounter some brick walls of weird to scale or to skirt around. If I survive with anything worthwhile I’ll bring back my prize held aloft for your admiration.

  51. #51 Mu
    August 16, 2010

    Ken, you should discuss this with the makers of Tums. They are always looking for new reasons for us to take their stuff, cold prevention is as good as any.

  52. #52 adelady
    August 16, 2010

    Waaaay too much acidic v. alkaline guff.

    Lots of people recommend this mixture, some use it as a nasal spray. So I think the dilute and wash away concept might be the useful approach. Why this rather than garlic and lots of cayenne pepper? (I’m not kidding) Don’t know.

  53. #53 Christophe Thill
    August 17, 2010

    Electrolyzed water? Why not get it from a detox footbath (after a little filtration to get rid of the ugly brown color, of course)? Two woos for the cost of one!

    Seriously, folks. If you need alkaline water, add a pinch of sodium bicarbonate. For acidic water, some lemon juice. Well, of course, it’s cheap and you can’t put a fancy name on it…

  54. #54 mikerattlesnake
    August 17, 2010

    Sadly, Bill Nye is pitching a similar (though less expensive) product. His focuses on the cleaning aspect, which is more realistic given that it is essentially weak bleach, but it’s still pretty much nonsense.

    Oh, also I think milk is slightly acidic. I remember tackling that misconception in chemistry class.

  55. #55 Joe Schwarcz
    August 17, 2010

    I didn’t know Bill Nye was into alkaline silliness. The miracle he promotes promises to clean our windows and degrease our kitchens. And it does this without “toxic chemicals.” So, what is this cleaning agent that hotel workers had dubbed “miracle liquid?” Well, an LA Times article described it as a “simple mixture of table salt and tap water whose ions have been scrambled by an electric current.” Not a particularly scientific explanation, but enough to put me on the right track. They may have called it “electrolyzed water,” but this “miracle liquid” was none other than good old bleach! Of course, “electrolyzed water” sounds more appealing, conjuring up an image of water that has been somehow supercharged to increase its cleaning abilities, but which nevertheless is still just water. No need to worry about any of those nasty chemicals found in other cleaning products. Right? Wrong!
    Time here for a little lesson about chlorine, a much maligned element. Just mention the word, and people think of chemical warfare or the smell of swimming pools. (Incidentally, that smell isn’t chlorine, it is mostly due to chloramines that form when people pee in the water. But that’s another story.) While chlorine is a nasty substance, it also happens to be one of the most useful chemicals in the world. Since it was introduced as a water disinfectant in 1908, chlorine has saved millions of people from succumbing to waterborne bacterial or viral diseases such as cholera, typhoid, meningitis and dysentery. It is also used to make pesticides, pharmaceuticals and a variety of solvents, as well as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic with a myriad applications. And of course, it is used to make sodium hypochlorite, better known as bleach!
    As you can imagine, with all these uses, chlorine has to be produced on a gigantic scale. From what? From good old salt! And luckily there is plenty of that in salt mines and in sea water. Turning sodium chloride into chlorine is quite straight forward. Just pass a direct current through a salt solution. In other words, perform “electrolysis.” The negative chloride ions are attracted to the positive electrode (anode), where they are converted to chlorine gas, which can be collected. Meanwhile at the negative electrode (cathode), water is decomposed to hydrogen gas and hydroxide ions, which then attract the sodium ions and form a sodium hydroxide solution. This can be drawn off. Sodium hydroxide solutions are excellent at breaking down grease, in fact they form the basis of many household cleaners.
    Now, if instead of being collected, the chlorine gas is allowed to dissolve in the water, it undergoes a reaction to form hypochlorous acid. This can also be drawn off and can be used as a disinfectant. If the sodium hydroxide and hypochlorous acid are not removed, they react with each other to form sodium hypochlorite, or bleach. This of course is an effective cleaner and disinfectant. So, depending on the design of the electrolysis equipment, the setup can produce solutions of sodium hydroxide, hypochlorous acid or sodium hypochlorite.
    Industrially, the traditional method has been to collect the chlorine gas, apply pressure to convert it to a liquid, and then ship it around in railway tank cars or trucks. At the water purification facility, the gas is directly dissolved in water to yield hypochlorous acid, which is the actual disinfectant. But there are issues of safety here. Chlorine is an extremely toxic substance, and will kill people as readily as it kills bacteria. Luckily, we are larger than bacteria, so it takes a great deal more chlorine to harm us, but that can certainly happen if a tanker’s contents are released either through an accident, or chillingly, through an act of terrorism. Given that fifteen million tons of chlorine are transported around North America every year, accidents will happen. Sometimes tragic ones. In 2005, a freight train with three tanker cars each loaded with 90 tons of chlorine slammed into a parked locomotive in Graniteville, S.C., killing eight people and sending over five hundred to hospital.
    With the spectre of terrorism always present, there is a movement to either transport chlorine in the form of bleach, or to produce it on site through electrolysis. Many municipal water treatment plants are now installing electrolysis equipment to generate chlorine from salt. And smaller units are also available for hotels, hospitals and restaurants to produce the flamboyantly dubbed, “miracle elixir.” Actually, depending on the design, these units can produce three miracle elixirs. A sodium hydroxide solution for cleaning, a hypochlorous acid solution for disinfecting, or a solution of sodium hypochlorite which cleans and disinfects.
    These “elixirs” can be generated on demand, instead of having to be stored. A decided advantage. Production on site is also cheaper and safer than transportation. But there is no miracle involved here. Just some clever chemistry. By the way, another claim being made for the miracle elixir is that it “kills athlete’s foot.” True. But so does any chlorine solution, whether carted home from the store, or produced in the basement through electrolysis.

  56. #56 DrivingAnalytical
    August 19, 2010

    For a hystorical (historical+hysterical) look at the properties of water, I’d like to recommend a visit to the DHMO org’s web site
    DHMO = DiHydrogen MonOxide

    It has managed to fool a lot of people; very effective and amusing!

    If a link is postable, here it is: http://www.dhmo.org/

  57. #57 Daniel
    September 3, 2010

    Hey, c’mon- lets have a little compassion for the people who are suffering from their countless special maladies.

    I really do believe that these people think there is something wrong with them, and that they are indeed suffering.

    However, it’s nothing that a competant psychotherapist can’t fix, and probably for a whole lot less money than would otherwise be spent on a magic water machine.

  58. #58 Kangen Water
    January 10, 2011

    Thanks for publishing such a informative content. I was looking for such type posts. Please keep it up on regular base i would like to view your posts on regular base…..BEST WISHES Happy New Year 2011…

  59. #59 Chris
    July 11, 2011

    Bad spam! Naughty spam! Illiterate spam!

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