Is there a “fourth level of water”? From time to time you will see people talking about the health benefits of so called hexagonal water, or structured water, or Exclusion-Zone (EZ) water.
A few weeks ago, Kourtney Kardashian’s Push website leaked a $2,500 “structured water filter.”
Even Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald got in on the act last weekend, running a now-deleted story on the virtues of “mixed water.”
WTF@smh? If you can’t see that this is pure snake oil from a mile away, you shouldn’t be in the business of ‘reporting’, let alone ‘science reporting’. Shameful. https://t.co/mbcMrA2Gs5
— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) July 30, 2022
So what’s going on?
As a chemistry professor, I can tell you that “EZ water” is nonsense. But let’s talk about what it should be and how it should work.
What is EZ Water?
EZ Water originated from the ideas of Gerald Pollack, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington. He studied the behavior of water near “hydrophilic” surfaces made of materials that are very strong with water.
Pollack found that water pushes things like plastic microspheres, salt and paint molecules out of the region to the more hydrophilic surface.
Pollack’s explanation for this behavior is that the structure of the water changes in the “exclusion zone”.
While water molecules are made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (known formula H₂O), Pollack believes EZ water has an extra hydrogen atom and an extra oxygen atom (formula H₃O₂). This change is thought to result in a negative electrical charge and a stacked hexagonal network arrangement of the atoms in the water.
Hydrophilic membranes are present in the cells of the human body, so some argue that EZ water is more “natural” than regular water, and therefore should have more health benefits.
Serious health claims
A now-deleted Sydney Morning Herald article interviewed a purported water structure scientist named Rob Gourlay.
It makes many of the usual claims about structured water: it’s more natural, has a negative electrical charge, flows into our cells faster than regular water, and has many other health benefits.
Although the article fails to mention this, a quick search reveals Robert Gorline’s job title as “Chief Scientist” at Fionn, a company that sells water-configuration equipment.
From convincing to fake
Let’s look at these claims. Some are convincing, some are fake.
We know that water behaves differently near the interface with another substance, because it is no longer in contact with other water molecules. Surface tension is a common example of this phenomenon.
We also know that water behaves differently if it is confined to a very small area, billionths of a meter wide.
As such, there is no particular reason to immediately doubt Polak’s experimental findings about the behavior of water in the “exclusion zone”. They are really interesting, and many features are reproduced.
But Pollack’s explanations for his behavior have no basis.
Follow the atoms
If water is somehow converted to H₃O₂, a simple calculation shows that changing two molecules of H₂O into one H₃O₂ leaves an extra hydrogen atom floating around.
We expect to see this hydrogen released as H ₂ gas. Alternatively, the reaction needs to bring in more oxygen from the air. A simple experiment shows that none of these will happen.
EZ Water, for all its interesting properties, can be nothing but H₂O. Pollack did not present the structure of H₃O₂ in a peer-reviewed publication, and other explanations have been offered to explain his published experimental findings.
And if the hexagonal structure that Pollack proposed for H₃O₂ is stable and solid, it will not flow as a liquid.
Water has no memory
But suppose the water in the exclusion zone had a unique structure. Can it be sealed and contain the properties?
All signs point to no.
In water of neutral pH (neither acidic nor alkaline), one molecule in a billion has an extra hydrogen atom skipped over from another molecule. This creates positively charged HO+ ion and one negatively charged OH– ion.
Additional protons (H+) H.O.O.O+ Ions are very mobile – they jump quickly from one molecule to another. This happens so fast that each hydrogen atom in a given water molecule is replaced 1,000 times every second.
There are also short-range attractions called “hydrogen bonds” between oxygen atoms in one molecule and hydrogen atoms in neighboring molecules. In liquid water at room temperature, these bonds only last for millionths of a second.
The rapid movement of hydrogen atoms and the snapping and breaking of hydrogen bonds means that any structure in EZ water will quickly disintegrate. Bulk water has forgotten its neighbors in picoseconds and swapped hydrogen atoms in milliseconds. That is why it is liquid.
Experiments using powerful laser pulses to disrupt the water structure also show that it recovers in picoseconds. Therefore, any unusual mass water structure that flows from our pipes will not last more than a millionth of a second.
Water is water.
So what does it all add up to? Simply put, you cannot buy any other type of water other than regular water. You can change the pH, you can change the dissolved ions and gases, but not the water itself.
Snake oil marketers selling structured water products generally use scientific sounding terms that are meaningless and based on misinterpretations and abuse of Pollack’s experiments.
Pollack distances himself from most companies that sell structured water products. He has his own structured water company that sells “unfiltered water filters” among other products.
This article is reprinted from the discussion under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.