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Alkaline water distributors use this demonstration as evidence to convince prospects
of the health benefits of their product; but does this 'evidence' hold water?
I finally got around to trying this experiment myself with a twist to test my theory that the absence of rust was caused by something besides the alkaline water and it's alleged antioxidant properties.
Science is often like a detective story - A physical event observed; a theory is created to explain what caused event; then evidence is collected, examined and evaluated to determine if the evidence supports the theory - often the evidence is collected in a controlled manner called an experiment. Red hearings and improperly understood evidence can distract from a correct evaluation of the theory.
Does the demonstration described below really confirm the antioxidant properties of alkaline water?
Take a moment to read and review the Kangen claims and the antioxidant evidence below as they were presented to me, and see if you can figure out the two main problems with this alleged 'experimental proof' of alkaline water's properties.
Here are two clues:
(my discussion continues following the Kangen distributor's description of the 'experiment')
Unfortunately 'Seeing is Believing' is an accurate statement of how many people form their beliefs. A belief is valid, however, only if the event is seen and interpreted correctly!
One of my favorite examples of a situation where the idea that "Seeing is Believing" has been used as proof that extraordinary claims are true is the work of Masaru Emoto. His remarkable claim is that water molecules can be influenced by human thoughts, music and even words taped to bottles to crystallize in specific ways. He presents pictures of ice crystals to prove this claim: beautiful, symmetric crystals allegedly formed after exposure to beautiful music or uplifting thoughts and words; ugly, misshapen crystals allegedly formed after exposure to negative thoughts and words or heavy metal music. I discuss my thoughts about the popularity of Emoto's ideas despite their scientific implausibility here.
Seeing, without a good understanding of what your are seeing, is NOT a particularly good process to formulate beliefs.
Magicians make their living by deception - fooling people into seeing things that are false. Most good magicians do not claim to have real magical powers, but they are good at deception and can be entertaining. Customers recognize the presentation as good deception and pay for the privilege of being entertained.
Much of marketing is also deception - designed fool people into seeing things that are false. Evidence that has been enhanced, misrepresented or completely fabricated is often presented to support marketing claims and to demonstrate the value and performance of a product. In these instances customers do not recognize marketing presentation as deception and are unwittingly paying for a product that does not perform as advertised.
Back to the alkaline water 'proof'.
The two bottles on the left demonstrate the results of my experiment. As you can see I obtained the same results as the Kangen experiment, but I DID NOT use alkaline water.
Let me explain. Science is all about making
predictions (hypotheses) about the causes of natural events and testing
those predictions. One thing that water does very well is dissolve
substances that are in contact with it (like oxygen).
Faucets also typically come with a nifty device
called an aerator – just the thing for mixing even more oxygen into the water.
From the formula you can see that oxygen in water rust nails.
After reviewing the formulas for electrolysis and
has been a long time since college chemistry and my memory of the specifics
was a bit rusty), I decided that alkalinity
ion) had nothing to do with the rusting process of iron nails in the Kangen
you look closely again at the formula for the formation of alkaline water
you will notice that hydrogen gas is released at the negative electrode and it bubbles through the
I assumed that in the Kangen demonstrations electrolysis had replaced the dissolved oxygen with hydrogen and thus prevent nails from rusting in the alkaline water - no dissolved oxygen = no rusty nails.
My hypothesis was that I could produce the same results by boiling the water, which will also drive the air/oxygen out of solution. I tried microwaving a bottle of water for a couple of minutes, adding nails and capping it. The nails promptly rusted - either my hypothesis was wrong or the water had not boiled sufficiently to remove the oxygen.
I tried again and boiled the water for 20 minutes on the stove then carefully poured it, still hot (risking shattered glass), into a bottle with the nails and capping it immediately - no rust, in fact the hot water seems to have cleaned the nails nicely.
My hypothesis was confirmed, but there are several additional questions that can be asked about this seemingly simple experiment and how well it addresses the original question: Does the lack of significant rust in alkaline water have anything at all to do with the alkalinity? My experiment did not address pH of the water at all - it simply provided another explanation for the observed results.
It is interesting to note (http://www.public.asu.edu/~jpbirk/qual/qualanal/iron.html)
that sodium hydroxide will also
precipitates from iron that's in dissolved in water.
Since electrolysis of water typically produces sodium hydroxide in addition to the hydrogen gas, if there were any dissolved iron in the alkaline water of the Kangen experiment there should be some rust. There is, some discoloration (cloudiness) of the water that can be seen in the Kangen experiment images above, so some iron may have dissolved from the nails and reacted with the OH– ions to produce rust.
I do not have easy access
to reagent grade chemicals or a pH meter, but there are several
additional experiment that could be performed to see if:
Conclusions and observations I would draw from this first experiment would be:
I would appreciate it if anyone who reads this article and uses the ideas to create experiments to test the theories presented would send me the results of their experiments. I will publish (or provide links to) any that are performed competently and described clearly.