Any updates on the Alkaline water "debate?"

When water ionizers came to market a lot of skeptics said they were scams. Then Ray Kurzweil came out in defense of the health benefits of water ionizers and refuted all arguments against them. Kurzweil’s refutations seemed solid to me. Has anyone ever responded to them? Can any biochemists here refute Kurzweil themselves?

The “It’s a myth” argument can be found here:

http://www.chem1.com/CQ/ionbunk.html
Kurzweil’s refutations can be found here:

http://www.ionmicrowater.com/kurzweil.htm

Was there a Straight Dope thread, or did the Master himself weigh in on the subject. Myself, I’m not to impressed with Kurzweil’s science, despite the qualifications on his website, and am rather firmly in the debunker group. But I’m not looking for an argument on the subject.

A carefull examination of Kurzweil’s web site reveals that the information he publishes is self serving. He is in the business of selling ionizers to rubes or marks.

For a similar scam see <JohnEllis.com> who sells water stills at inflated prices, and lots of BS to support his claims as to why you need his ‘special’ stills.

But he may be a damn fine inventor, but I hesitate to call him a scientist, much less a chemist of any training.

So I don’t consider his resume appropriate to make claims related to chemical or biochemical processes.

The real trouble with Kurzweils refutations come about when he begins do discuss free radicals. At this point any chemical rational falls appart irreversibly. A radical is a non-charged unpaired electron species. It reacts like hell and as such can be very damaging.

Here is the problem: If you quench a radical with an anion, you end up with a different anion and another radical. Simple alkalinity will not quench radicals ever. In fact, you will do just as much good to quench a radical with an acid as with a base.

The only thing that can quench a radical is another radical. Vitamin C and Vitamin E have the benifit of forming very stable radicals that your body can eliminate. Ironically, if I remember correctly, excess vitamin E can actually cause cancer since it acts as such a good radical sink.

Thanks for replying with actual information rather than knee-jerk anti-quack platitudes. I thought the purpose of the anions was not to quench a free radical, but rather to donate electrons to atoms that have been stripped of one due to the free radicals. Is that not the case?

Electrons are almost always paired. When electrons aren’t paired, they are called radicals (at least chemicaly). An anion is an extra pair of electrons.* Alkalinity refers to an excess of OH- in solution. The OH- is an anion made from an extra pair of electrons. In order for this OH- to quench a free radicals the OH- needs to donate one electron in order to make the unpaired electron paired. That leaves you with an OH radical, which is an extremely reactive species that does considerably more damage than the original free radical. In reality, that reaction will never occur because the OH radical is so high energy that making it from anything in your system would be uphill energetically.

The only species that will make an unpaired electron paired, is another unpaired electron. Likewise, the only thing that can destroy a radical, is another radical. Drinking a solution of free radicals would be beyond stupid, since they are what you want to rid your body of in the first place.

On the off chance that your query is simply due to my use of the word quench, all that means is that you get rid of the free radical. If you don’t quench the free radical, then you still have a free radical.

  • You can, in unusual cases, have a radical anion, but alkaline water will not have these, since they would be extremely toxic.