Magical Properties of Water – Part 2

In Part 1 when I introduced Essentia Water, the Ultimate Drinking Experience, I left the best bit of the label for last. Here it is:

Essentia label 2

I should really leave it here and let you think about it for a minute.

OK so now you had a minute to absorb all that information. Here’s my take:

Smaller water clusters – ROFLMAO . After reading this Zuska and I blamed smaller water clusters on anything that happened at the SBC. I should reject the article I am reviewing (on a totally unrelated topic) because they did not mention smaller water clusters. I have a sinus headache the morning after drinking because the water clusters in the beer were TOO LARGE. Obvious really.

Essentia says:

Water molecule cluster size is a relative indication of surface tension. Smaller water clusters have relatively less cohesion as a result of a fewer number of hydrogen bonds between the individual water molecules. The surface tension is decreased because the water clusters are fractionated.


Smaller clusters of Essentia Water reduce the surface tension of extracellular fluids and enhance the absorption and detoxification of the cells’ interior and extracellular fluid volumes. Essentia Water is able to saturate the cell more rapidly.

They even have a NMR spectrogram showing Essentia water with other waters “proving” that Essentia Water contains these smaller water clusters. Something to do with the peak widths.

Wow, look, not only does it contain smaller water clusters and despite that Essentia Water, the ultimate drinking experience, just contains deionised water and some electrolytes, this water has antioxidant properties. According to Essentia:

If you see fine lines around your eyes in your mirror, skin that looks older than it should, or sagging features that have lost elasticity you may be looking at free radical damage.

And I did not know this:

The ideal scavenger for free radicals is active hydrogen.

I’m not even sure what active hydrogen is, the free-dictionary suggests it means hydrogen donor, but I’m not convinced. Suggestions in the comments please.

I also think that there is a contradiction with the last statement on pH. pH is actually a measure of hydrogen ion activity, which is related to concentration. The higher the hydrogen ion concentration the lower pH value. So how do they get a pH 9.5 while having more active hydrogen is beyond me. pH is not, as explained by Essentia:

To function properly your body needs to keep a careful acidic/alkaline balance; the ratio of one to other is called pH.

While on pH, consider that last statement. The one above the comment on proper use of a pH meter. I mean come on, what other uses are there for a pH meter? [No, it will break if you use if for that.] Most food is below pH 6. Egg whites have the highest being about pH 8. Human blood has a pH 7.4 and it is carefully controlled by buffering to stay within 0.2 pH points of pH 7.4. In fact if your blood pH was higher or lower it is a sign of serious illness. So why should we want to drink something that has such a high alkalinity? I personally don’t; and should add that Essentia water just tasted like regular water to me, no bitterness or sourness; but Snyder Health has this to say*:

So, a declining pH just can’t be allowed. To prevent it, when faced with a lot of incoming acid, the blood begins to pull alkaline minerals out of our tissues to compensate. There is a family of minerals particularly suited to neutralizing, or detoxifying, strong acids, including sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. When these minerals react with acids, they create much less detrimental substances, which are then eliminated by the body.

Now, a healthy body maintains a reserve supply of these alkaline minerals to meet emergency demands. But if there are insufficient amounts in the diet or in the reserves, they are recruited elsewhere, and may be leached from the bone (as with calcium) or muscle (magnesium) – where they are, of course, needed. This can easily lead to deficiencies – and the many and varied symptoms that come with them.

To which I say “Cobblers”. Blood pH is regulated mostly by the amount of CO2; which is a byproduct of metabolism. Do you remember basic biology – we breath in oxygen (O2), use it to make energy and breath out carbon dioxide (CO2). We control how much CO2 is in our blood by exhaling more or less. Blood pH is also buffered by blood proteins and by the control of pH in other parts of the body, especially by the kidney excreting acids. So drinking water with a higher pH will just mean the kidneys may have to excrete more electrolytes. If you think it is a good idea to have your blood alkali, unless you are seriously ill, IT CANNOT HAPPEN. Got that. Do I need to say it louder?

Actually, as Essentia water didn’t have a bitter taste I would associated with alkali such as bicarbonate, I wonder if the pH recorded is an artifact of the salts interfering with the pH meter. The pH of deionised water in my lab is typically about pH 5.o – we measure it every year in Food Analysis. Not because it contains acids, but because the salts present interfere with the working of the pH meter. Unfortunately, I didn’t save any water to test – I was worried about airport security.

I am surprised that they don’t say that happy people filled the bottles à la Dr Emoto. Orac more scathing Emoto post than I would be able to do. I just giggle when I think of his ideas. I’ve been meaning to write a post on the magical properties of water ever since I saw this article in New Scientist from last April [subsription required]. I am going to save my discussion for Part 3, which may come out some time next week.

If any one knows what zero point energy means, please explain it in the comments. I need this explanation for Part 3.

*Essentia does not have anything comprehensible to quote on pH. It seems to suggest that you can get respiratory acidosis by holding your breath. See here and see how long it takes you to go “What!”.

39 thoughts on “Magical Properties of Water – Part 2

  1. Cool! where do you find stuff like that!

    Active Hydrogen is probably hydrogen atoms. Those would be good to thwart radicals or as an antioxidant, But would obviously wreack havoc in cells cause its so reactive.

    pH can be seen as the ratio between Hthreeoplus and ohminus if you think of the autoprotolysis(?) of water.

    That thing about cluster size is really funny though.

  2. Thanks for putting me in a better mood this morning. I’ll put up a post directing people here. That’s pretty awesome. Never mind that there are presumably people science-ignorant enough to a) believe the bottle’s claims or b) write the label text with a straight face.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. I just like wandering around grocery stores like Whole Foods trying to find the weirdest claims. Call it a professional hazard.

    I did wonder if Essentia meant H3O+ by active hydrogen. I also wondered if some one had told them that pH measures hydrogen activity and someone misunderstood what that meant. Either way it doesn’t explain how you could have more active hydrogen and yet still have such a high pH, which is an indication of alkalinity.

    I’m thinking of doing a post on the basics of pH as there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about it.

  4. If you had smaller water clusters in your brain, everything on the label would make perfect sense to you.

  5. Bora

    Thanks for the suggestion. They are duly submitted. My first Skeptic Circle submission.

  6. Crap like this is hilarious, until you realize the ignorant fall for this crap all the time. Then it’s kind of sad. But then it’s happy again when you realize how stupid it is. [Ψ*Ψ sent me.]

  7. Chemgeek

    I deal with this kind of funny sad stupid situation with food all the time. That’s what’s sad.

    Chemical free food anyone?

  8. In probably 99% of the places you encounter it, zero-point energy means “woo”. I’m not qualified to discuss the other cases; for a real answer you should go to a physics site. However, since noone else has said anything, I’ll post my misconceptions in the hope that it will get someone who actually knows something riled up enough that they will post something more nearly correct.

    Zero point energy (also called vacuum energy) is the lowest theoretical energy state of a vacuum. On its own, it’s pretty much useless (it seems like you’d need access to an even-lower energy state to be able to draw power from it). However, according to some models, at least, the zero-point energy level is incredibly large–if you could somehow tap it you’d have access to power that would dwarf nuclear explosions.

    Zero-point energy is particularly useful for woo proponents–not only do you get an instant excuse to blather on about quantum effects, but you get a startrekky explanation for the energy source of your magic elixir or your particular perpetual motion machine. It’s free! It’s inexhaustible! It’s pollution free! (as long as you aren’t too worried about the destruction of the fabric of space-time).

  9. David

    Thanks very much. That is a real help even if to confirm my suspicion that it was woo. I was hoping that there was a real scientific explanation. In terms of water having zero point energy it would appear to be meaningless.

    Now I might attempt Part 3.

  10. Like a lot of woo, Zero-Point energy is a term that has been lifted from real science and then perverted for their own purposes. You might give the wikipedia entry a glance.

    Hey! If I give someone else a reason to do something creative, does that mean that I’m creative, too? Or if not, how about meta-creative?

  11. I think I’ve seen the phrase “zero-point energy” with regard to some quantum effect in helium cooled to nearly absolute zero. I don’t see how that is exactly compatible with “smaller water clusters,” though. Which are a great idea, by the way. What they obviously mean by “smaller water clusters” is that they fine-crush the ice cubes. Healthy ice, pre-crushed just for you, which is way easier on the teeth, you know, though you might experience that unpleasant “brain-freeze” effect.

  12. As a free radical, it is my duty to inform you that the best scavengers for my kind are usually free food or free time. There may be others, but discussion of them is probably best left out of such a dignified forum as this one.

    *poingpoings away, heading off for more free coffee*

  13. David

    Welcome to meta-creativity. Thanks for the input!


    Just more proof that zero point energy in reference to water is a load of WOO!


    I’m not worried about human free radicals. Personally, I’m not too worried about chemical free radicals. I don’t think “active” hydrogen works for either!

  14. Pingback: pH « Lab Cat

  15. From the first few articles it seems some of you are confused about Hydrogen ion relative to Active Hydrogen. Here is an equation that relates them:
    Current from Electrolysis
    H2O + e- =====================> H2 + OH-………Equation1

    H2=Active Hydrogen; OH-=Hydroxide ion, which is inversely related to the Hydrogen ion (H+) concentration. Electrolyze Water has a high concentration of OH- and H2, but a low concentration of H+. The H2 is the free radical neutralizer. Kangen Water is loaded with H2 (about 250 times more compared with tap water).

    I know nothing about “Essentia”, but call me and I will show you how to get your very own Kangen Water Machine and get paid for doing so. My phone # is 561-317-4647.

    By the way, Active Hydrogen (H2) is the main ingredient in “Miracle Water” from Tlacote Mexico! Check it out at


  16. Dr Jay

    I can only assume you are NOT a chemist.

    Active hydrogen is just hydrogen. Adding the active part to its name is WOO. If there was a lot of H2 in your water, how do you stop it from evaporating and exploding? H2 is a highly flammable gas. More chemistry information is at Wikipedia on hydrogen.

    I was going to edit your email to remove the spam component, but I think it is useful for others to see where your interest lie.

  17. Pingback: Why Use Buffers? « Lab Cat

  18. I hope this comment isn’t too late on this thread. I’m not familiar with blogging. I hope you’ll see this.

    My neighbor just bought a $4000 water ionizer and is now trying to sell ionizers to neighbors. I think there are many false claims and that the machine is a rip off. I was hoping to see the third installment in this series because it seems that essentia is basically the same scam.

    I am a materials scientist with a background in metallurgy (with some mineral processing), so I have enough chemistry to see through the ridicules claims, but I am not authoritative enough to offset all the personal testimonials that my neighbor has seen.

    I’ve been surfing for a couple of days now but there are no good sites debunking this pseudoscience. The web is awash in page after page of the same claims of the miraculous effects due to the MLM nature of the distribution.

    If you thought that the essentia label was funny, check out:

    From some of the sites I’ve seen, the “Active Hydrogen” is the H(minus) ion, as in a proton with two electrons. I think it’s produce in high energy plasmas and such and is stable for at least a couple picoseconds. And now it’s available from from your nearest “miracle water” machine.

    About zero point energy, I think the real science they are trying to spoof is actually zero point charge. It is something that I learned about but never fully understood from my mineral processing days. Check out the wikipedia article:

    Hopefully with this info you can put out your third installment. Feel free to respond to the more outrageous parts of the “Kangen” water website if you want. I can use any help I can get.

    Most notably, a food scientists thoughts on the following topics would be great:
    Alkaline water as a tool to de-acidify our bodies
    Micro-clustering of water to produce a “wetter” water to better hydrate the body.
    Alkaline water as a antioxidant. ORP (oxidative-reduction potential) meters and readings. etc.

    Thank you so much. I’ll gladly host a website specifically refuting the ionized water psuedoscience, if I can get enough material.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  19. Dave

    The first website you linked to is very amusing. I might just have to include it in Part 3. I don’t know why I keep stalling on writing that up.

    In answer to your final comments – they are all Woo crap. Water is water.

    Thanks for the links.

  20. LabCat,

    Thanks for your response. I am looking forward to the third installment. I’ve been working with my neighbor and I think she is coming around.


  21. Pingback: Magical Properties of Water - Part 3 « Lab Cat

  22. Sonja

    I still think the benefits of alkaline water and water clusters, if they exist, are doubtful scientifically.

  23. Well just had proof it does something. Physical therapist says… I can tell the difference in your body. I have been on it 4 weeks. So it increases the water held in cells.

    Obviously what we THINK we know about the scientific process… is not ALL we know. That trend will only continue.

    Whether water Ionizers will do the same thing… I do not know.

    This debate reminds me of the one over homeopathics. It was hocus pocus until we had instruments that could measure smaller amounts. Anyone using them were wacko.

    I believe it is said homeopathics works with magnetics. Maybe this is the same type of thing. If you are not working in the newest physics labs…. you do not KNOW. ( Homeopathics was explained in THE FIELD. For other interested scientists…. read HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE. We are becoming a whole new world. This water thing will just be a part of it.)

  24. Proof that it works for you is not scientific proof. The placebo effect is very strong. Also there is still no scientific evidence that homeopathy actually works – according to the scientific evidence it is still hocus pocus.

    I am glad that you have found something that works for you but neither are medicine as far as I am concerned.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  25. Thanks Cat,

    I have been searching for some good info on this kangen water and the company Enagic. I am a skeptic at best for most things that attempt to promise amazing results with nothing more than water (H2O) or snake oil. I have been very pleased with the chemistry and science that you have presented in this blog. I have had a couple of people who I cycle with try to sell me on this kangen thing and even invited me to some special presentation for this miracle elixir (kangen). I was even tempted to participate in this presentation and possibly consider an investment into the MLM. I thank you very much for steering me in the right direction and presenting to me the real science behind kangen or lack of. Kudos to your blog.

  26. Cat,
    Nice information about pH, hydrogen, oxygen, and most of all H2O.
    I am a Kangen Water advocate for several reasons. The first is because I have a testimonial of it’s effects on me and people I know.
    I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and I cannot dispute your logic or facts.
    It took me four months of research before I finally purchased a SD501 system from Enagic.
    Like you and several of your readers I just didn’t get where these companies were getting the nerve to claim the pH and REDOX differences.
    To top that off some of them market through MLM (Multi-Level Marketing).
    Hence I closed my mind, my time and my pocketbook.
    Then I saw someone use water to resolve an abscessed tooth over night.
    Then I saw my daughter’s neighbor diabetes become controlled to the point that he could finally get medical insurance and went from injections to tablets.
    Then I saw my neighbor loose over 10 pounds of weight in just two weeks.
    I could go on and on about other people but I decided to try the water.
    You are right, there is nothing magical about the taste, except it is cloudier, and appears to effervesce ever so slightly.
    I don’t accept litmus paper tests for water or trust pH indicating solution that I didn’t break the seal on the bottle so I ordered a pH and ORP meter as well as some indicating solution.
    I live in a hard water area. For some of your readers benefit that does not mean frozen water, but water that tends to be more alkaline and have a heavier mineral content.
    My tap water tested 8.9 pH and the ORP is consistently 255 mV.
    The SD501 has five settings. Now this I found interesting.
    I chose the 8.5 pH setting. Guess what! The system delivered 8.5 pH water. Another setting is 9.0, and that is consistently on the money.
    Are you ready for this? Choosing the 9.5 Kangen Water (a little voice tells me so from inside the box) setting I get .. you guessed it! 9.5 pH water or 9.5 Kangen Water.
    Not only is the water a 9.5 pH but it has a Oxygen Reducing Potential of –700 mV.
    How do they do that? Maybe they were able to trap a gnome inside.
    I am not trying to write the white paper for Kangen Water but my experience is being virtually pain free after four years of endless pain.
    My suggestion is that some of your readers write the white paper and claim the glory of the ‘Great Kangen Watergate Conspiracy’ or learn more about ionized water, alkaline water, anti-oxidants, and (you are going to hate this) micro clustered water. (I know I did until I drank the water)
    One last comment… Water is not water or you would drink it in Mexico.

  27. Mike

    Even though you claim that Kangen water works medically, you haven’t answered any of the questions as to how ionized water etc, works on the body.

    So they managed to manipulate the minerals in the water to get a higher pH. Gee whiz! This does not alter the fact that your blood pH is still 7.4 whatever you drink.

    Also the plural of anecdote does not equal data. Water does not have the effects you claim in your anecdotes. They are a coincidence.

    Finally, in Mexico and other countries the problem is not with water, but with the water supply.

  28. Cat,
    That is why I like reading your stuff.
    You are great at getting to the tangible factors.
    I would like to know as well why there are so many coincidences. possibly it is the fact that the body is more hydrated then it ever has been, maybe it is just the water supply.

  29. This sort of skepticism does not help those suffering from chronic disorders and those looking at appropriate forms of hydration. What are the alternatives and what actually helps?

    The ‘right’ electrolyte is still unknown since it depends on an individual’s needs. We do not know whether its the specific claims on the Essentia bottle but we found the balance to be very appropriate for a chronic dehydration problem. Rather than being skeptical about marketing claims which every type of water has, its useful to explain the circumstances under which the ingredients actually might help.

  30. Dear RH

    Skepticism about the “claims” made by Essentia allows those who are chronically ill make their own minds up based on rational thought not on the unscientific claims on a bottle label.

    Essentia water is just water. It is not any different to other bottled water. Chronic dehydration can be solved by drinking water from the public supply at approximately a tenth the price of bottled water.

    We disagree because I think you should be skeptical about every single marketing claim ever made about food, water or anything.

    Question everything folks!

  31. Cat,

    The water IS different. Those differences can and have been measured. Wether or not those differences have any positive effects on the body are certainly uncertin 🙂

    I think you are correct that there shouldn’t be any health related claims as there haven’t been any scientific studies comparing large groups of double blind tap-water-only-drinkers and essentia-water-only-drinkers (to my knowledge at least).


    I’ll gladly pay $1.59 for 1.5 liters of water that doesn’t contain floride or clorine. If it also ends up neutralizing free raidcals or acids so that I don’t need to bind them in fat or use calcium from my bones.

    In my opinion

    Sometimes you have to go with those sparse and non-conclusive case studies and testimonials when you don’t have a large-group, double-blind, reversal study.

    I don’t think the biologists or chemists have it all figured out yet. Why do they still not have an answer all the health problems that are so common today?

    Who knows… maybe it is the water?

    I don’t know, but I am willing to bet $1.59 a day that WOOHOO water is better for my body than tap.

  32. Gen

    Your choice of course, but tap water costs 3 cents and is often the same water as in bottled water. Despite what the label might say.

    Tap water is more tightly regulated than bottled water.

    The post is written to make you stop and think before paying so much for a bottle of water.

  33. Can you just add 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 TB of sea salt to add electrolytes to tap water as a cheaper option?

    I’m not a scientist, just a lay person trying to find quality water and a way to add electrolytes.

    Thank you

  34. I’ve been trying to figure out this ion water pH stuff for a while now.. I bought a bottle of essentia and it seems gimmicky to me. I tested the pH and it said it was lower than 7.0 so not sure what that’s about.. Even the natural folks and pH pushers say it only stays ionized for 2-3 days and alkaline for 2-3 weeks.. So uh… Yeah.. As far as pH buffers in the body, and acidosis.. There are actually some good studies on that on pub med.. Acidosis puts you in the hospital, and but most people have sub-clinical acidosis which makes your body pull calcium and other buffering materials out of the body.. One possible cause of increased osteo issues. I think the research was done on alkalinity and calcium resorption by a hospital in Switzerland.
    As far as zero point energy? How do electrons keep spinning while having an opposite charge and never losing their steam? The theory is that space has an impedance and it gains its energy lost by the zero point energy in he space around it.. As evidenced by the energy still exists in particles in a vacuum at zero degrees. That’s the theory anyway.

    [changed spelling and deleted next comment- Labcat]

    • Mick,

      Thanks for your comments. If we need to balance our body’s pH I am sure there are better ways to do it than buy expensive “alkaline” water. However, I am unsure that “most people have subclinical acidosis” as it seems very unlikely. We quite probably have too little dietary calcium and therefore to maintain serum calcium levels, the calcium is pulled from the bones.

      Not really sure if your theory on zero point energy helps explain anything about water and water clusters, but I’ve thought of someone I can ask for further input.

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