Marketing hype in the water ionizer industry

scamIt drives me crazy when I review water ionizer websites that claim that their machines are far superior to their competitor’s machines. They also seem to revel in bashing the competition. Why would anyone want to do this? All it does is confuse potential buyers and make the company look really stupid. The pharmaceutical industry must just be sitting back and chuckling at the ridiculous behavior of the participants in the water ionizer industry.

Bashing other companies or products in order to make your product look good by comparison is pathetic. The public is looking for information and the truth, not a sales pitch. Can you imagine GM using its marketing dollars to tell people not to buy a Ford or Chrysler because they make lousy cars? I think it was about 15 to 20 years ago that Coke and Pepsi went through a short period of bashing each other. The strategy turned the public off and people started looking to alternatives. The management teams at both Coke and Pepsi figured out very quickly that people don’t like that type of approach. I hope that the water ionizer companies learn the lesson quickly, so that they can start to focus on the important issues. I believe that everyone in the health care industry should be morally obligated to become as well informed as possible, as customers are putting their trust in their hands.

Now it’s time to take an honest look at what it takes to produce the best results from a water ionizer machine. I will start by saying that you can ignore most of the marketing hype that you see on the internet. While some sites provide excellent information, most focus their efforts on selling you their product. Marketing people emphasize the virtues of the products, and minimize the factors that are lacking in their machines.

Despite all the flashy proclamations on the internet, there are two key elements to producing the best results for ionized water. Marketing companies illustrate other virtues, but they are secondary factors in producing good results. The primary factors are:

1) The amount of electrolysis that actually occurs in the ionizing chamber of a water ionizer.
2) Dealing with the factors presented by the source water.

Dealing with issue number one (the time that water is exposed to the ionizer plates) is easy. It is simple physics to understand that the more electrolysis that takes place, the better the results in terms of producing pH and ORP. So, how do the machines achieve maximum electrolysis? The ionizer companies go on and on about the plate size, the material the plates are made of, solid plates vs. mesh plates vs. slotted plates, and power. The simple fact is that the more exposure to the surface area of the plates, the more electrolysis takes place.

More surface area can be achieved in three ways… more plates, bigger plates, and introducing slots in the plates. More plates cost more and therefore push the price up. Bigger plates make the machines bigger and therefore make the appearance of the machine on your counter more conspicuous. Slotted plates add 25% more surface area (according to the physicists) without changing the size or number of the plates. So, it seems that slotted plates are a “no-brainer” as it doesn’t affect cost or size. You will see the companies that don’t have slotted plates present an argument about clogging, but it is nonsense. Putting slots in plates is a positive thing and it doesn’t increase the cost, so all the companies should be doing it. In every case, if you slow the flow of the water flow over the plates down, the results will improve, because more contact with the plates means more electrolysis. The review sites use water flow rates as one of the tricks to make their machines look like they produce the best results.

The manufacturers have been engaging in a battle of the number of plates for the past year. I believe that the primary reason for this strategy has been to combat the claims of one of the Multi Level Marketing companies that their machine was better because it had more plates. It is obvious that more plates are better, but how much is enough? I personally wasn’t convinced that moving from 5 plates to 7 plates would actually make a significant difference in performance, as I assumed it was just more marketing hype that would allow companies to raise their prices. However, when testing 5 plate versus 7 plate machines, the 7 plate machines do in fact produce better results under soft water or hard water conditions. If your source water is ideal (pH level of 7.1 to 7.3 and moderate hardness 80 to 140 parts per million), then you can achieve reasonably good results with a 5 plate machine.

Choosing a machine for its plate size becomes a personal issue. Bigger plates are better, but it makes the units bigger and more cumbersome. A bigger unit on the counter bothers some people, but not others. If a machine has small plates, the shortfall can be overcome somewhat by a machine that has more power. Personally, I can’t wait until the industry provides a wide array of under the counter “UTC” units that are priced more reasonably than what is available at this time. UTC units will allow for outstanding output from machines without worrying about the size, because the machine will be hidden away.

Now we need to deal with the more tricky factors, the source water. Canada and the USA have many different source water issues. We have to deal with great variations in the amount of hardness in the water, and we also have to deal with other water issues such as impurities. In cities, most people have to deal with chlorine and fluoride, which are negative factors, as well as concerns about the contents of older pipes. Rural areas don’t have to deal with chlorine and fluoride, but they typically have to deal with sediment in the water, and sometimes nasty things like nitrates (on farms) or heavy metals.

Unfortunately, the water ionizer companies have basically ignored the various issues and focused on selling their units. It is a typical case of greed, where profits are more important than safety. I believe that they can do a much better job. The only issue that the companies have addressed at all is the issue of soft water. Soft water is a problem for water ionizers because soft water contains very few minerals, and the ionizer requires minerals to work.

There are two different strategies that the various companies have chosen to deal with soft water. The old fashioned way to deal with a shortage of minerals in the water is with a calcium port, and the two oldest ionizer companies use this method. Companies that use this system have their customers purchase calcium and inject it into the machine. This system is effective, but I personally don’t care for it, because the amounts injected are not metered out in any systematic and accountable way, and the cost is both high and unnecessary. In my opinion, the better way to deal with soft water is to use filters that slowly introduce minerals into the water as the water moves through the filters. This system makes a lot more sense on an intuitive level, and there are no additional costs. While I would like to say that the manufacturers have perfected this system, it appears that they still have some work to do. Fortunately, one company in particular seems to be getting much better results than others when it comes to dealing with soft water, so it is just a matter of time until the competitors make the adjustment.

When it comes to the nasty things that we find in the water, I find that the manufacturers just don’t seem to care. Maybe they do care, but they certainly haven’t done anything about it yet. I think they can do a much better job. To that end, I have been doing some research with manufacturers of purification systems that could be used in combination with the water ionizer systems. I don’t have anything definitive yet, but the prospects are promising. I believe that we should be able to combine the positive aspects of the purification properties of reverse osmosis systems with the healthy contributions made by water ionizers. There are some logistical problems that we are working on, but I think a cost effective solution is possible. I will keep you posted as things develop.

This is totally off topic, but I thought it was funny. I was talking to a lady the other day about her new water ionizer, and I asked how she liked it. She said that she enjoyed the taste of the water, and that she had more energy, but what really impressed her was that her cat wouldn’t drink regular water anymore. It reminded me of a message on a magnet that my Mom used to have on her fridge. The message said “The more I get to know people, the more I like my cat”.

© This Alkaline Ionized Water article was posted on Waterfy

11 Responses to Marketing hype in the water ionizer industry

  1. What is your opinion of Mesh Technology? Your article indicates that slots increase efficiency so am I to presume that Mesh Technology is even more efficient? All the companies except Enagic are moving towards Mesh. But some say that Mesh will accumulate scaling more. Do you think that this is nonsense because the citric acid cleaning cartridge compensates for that? Thank you for your comments.

  2. Hi Darlene:

    Mesh technology, as you call it, is great as it effectively adds about 25% to the surface area of the plates. However, what you call mesh is not mesh at all in quality units.

    The so called “mesh” plates are in fact solid plates with slots in them. As the plates are installed next to each other, the slots in one plate chriss cross with the slots in the next plate forming a “lattice” like configuration. Therefore, there is no additional buildup of scale, as there is not actually any mesh involved at all.

    The performance of any machine is determined by three primary factors:

    1) the condition of the source water
    2) the amount of time the water is in contact
    with the ionizing plates
    3) the amount of power running through the
    plates as measured by amps

    While more surface helps performance,it is my opinion that the feature is greatly overblown by manufacturers with large plates. For better results, slow down the flow of water over the plates.

    A lower quality machine running at a slow rate of water flow will likely outperform a higher quality machine running at a fast water flow.

  3. I have purchased an ionizer and already have soft water that is reverse osmosis and I am so glad I found your article as this is becoming quite a job. I am thinking of taking the soft water off of the cold water, running the ionizer off of the RO and then using some form of remineralizer. Does this sound about right? I have been on the phone with the company, the plumber, the original folks who set up the RO and more. The whole thing is a bit exhausting but I just want to figure it out. Thanks, Lyn

  4. Hi Lynn:

    Thanks for the response.

    I’m not exactly clear about your water setup, but it sounds like you have a water softener and a reverse osmosis system in place.

    Water is very simple, but it can also be very complex. I apologize for making this response fairly long, but there are a large number of people in your exact same position. Hopefully, this explanation will everyone understand the implications of using a salt based water softener and then removing the salt with a reverse osmosis machine.

    Your water softener replaces the calcium carbonate (hardness) with sodium chloride (salt) to prevent scaling in your pipes. Preventing scaling is a good thing, but the amount of salt added to your water typically makes your drinking water unpottable (unsafe) as the concentration of sodium will likely exceed the allowable 200 parts per million. The state of California has now made the sale of salt based water softeners illegal, and I suspect the EPA will follow suit and make all sales of salt based water softeners in the States illegal. Canadian authorities will inevitably follow suit. Most people understand that you should never drink water that has been processed with a water softener. However most people don’t understand that when you take a bath or shower, you skin absorbs approximately the same amount of sodium as you would absorb if you drank six 8 oz glassse of water. The bottom line is that nobody should be installing a salt based water softener in their home. We used one for years in our house and recently had it replaced with a salt-free water softener system.

    When water softeners are used, many homeowners that care about what they are drinking install a reverse osmosis system under their kitchen sink to remove the salt from the water. The reverse osmosis system removes alot more than just the salt and basically turns the water into “dead” water which is virtually devoid of the minerals. Our bodies need minerals, so I’m not a big fan of reverse osmosis systems.

    I personally don’t think anyone should ever use a reverse osmosis “RO” system. Virtually all toxins can be removed with specifically designed filters now days. The filters will target specific toxins or problems while still allowing the healthy minerals to remain in the water. If you find it is absolutely essential to have an RO type system, I would always prefer a distiller over an RO system. As associate of mine offers anyone with an RO system a free RO tank if they cut open their existing tank and then choose to remain using their RO system. The RO holding tanks are virtual cess pools and it doesn’t make any sense to me for anyone to ever use an RO system.

    Lyn, you have followed exactly the industry “line” for what to do when someone has hard water. You have put in a water softener to remove the hardness. then you put in an RO system to remove the salt. When you added a water ionizer (congratulations by the way), you are adding a remineralization filter in order to provide minerals back into the water supply. Water ionizers need minerals in the water supply in order for the ionization process to be effective. I assume the remineralization filter will add calcium and/or magnesium back into the water. More expensive remin filters are avilable that add other minerals as well. Both calcium and magnesium filters will be effective in adding minerals as long as the pH of the water is less than 7.0, which should be the case as RO systems typically make the source water very acidic. The problem with only adding calcite (calcium carbonate) or magnesium to the water is that the body will be receiving too much calcium and zero other minerals from the water.

    I know this advice will flyu in the face of every company out there trying to sell salt based water softeners, but heh, that is what I’m doing with this blog. I would replace the salt based water softener with a salt free water softener. That way, you and your family won’t be absorbing salt into your skin when bathing. The salt-free water softener will allow you to remove your RO system under your sink because no salt will be present. That means that your water supply for your drinking water will still have minerals present, so you don’t need a remineralization filter.

    Now the water softener and reverse osmosis salemen can join the growing list of people that don’t like me. Fortunately, I don’t care about people trying to sell products that are bad for you.

    Best regards


  5. Hi Rob, We live in Ottawa and are currently in Florida till mid April. We would really appreciate your advice on what is the best ionizer to purchase as it is a bit overwhelming to decide which one and should we buy one here in the U.S.A. while we are still here or wait and purchase one in Canada when we return. We have tried the Enagic and did not end up purchasing that one. The Athena looked good because of low maintenance,it cleans on it’s own and you just replace two filters, but then the Tyent looked good also…is there a machine that you can easily hook up and it self cleans and has all the proper filters so you can use the city water only with it and not have to use a separate filter system? Thank you so much for your time…Angelina :)

    • Hi Angelina:

      Sorry for getting back to you so late on this blog. We did communicate email a couple of times.

      To tide you over, I recommended an inexpensive portable water filter. If I remember correctly, you purchase a small unit and had very good early results. I would be interested in hearing if and how the results changed over time. While I think the portable filters are useful for trips etc, they are not real water ionizers and I would recommend finding a real water ionizer if you can afford it.

  6. Hi,
    What do you recommend for a portable water ionzer?

    Thank you.

  7. Hi Shantea:

    I stay away from recommending specific brands on my blog as I want to be fair to everyone in the industry.

    Portable water ionizers come in different forms. They currentyly vary from the “magic” sticks or wands that add minerals to the water, to filter like systems that also add minerals. Neither of these systems is a real water ionizer in the sense that they remove the minerals associated with acid water and they don’t produce micro clusters of water. They are based upon adding minerals instead of using electrolysis.

    Despite not being real water ioniizers, they are interesting. They add minerals to the water such as tourmaline, magnesium, and calcium. They temporarily raise the pH to about 8.0 and lower the ORP to neutral or mildly negative numbers. While I would never recommend one of these portable units for full time use, as there is very little information available about how they work, and they provide instructions to throw away the water if the wand is used for more than half an hour in the water. However, the sticks seem to provide a temporary source of alkaline water that can be used on vacation or at work.

    What would be perfect for many applications would be an effective real portable water ionizer that could be carried around. During my recent visit to various factories in Korea, I spoke to a company that is working on a low cost real portable concept, but it looked to be a long way off. However, I would never underestimate the ability of these industrious and extremely polite people.

  8. Thanks for your response, Rob. There are indisputable and purely objective engineering reasons why the slotted or mesh electrodes break down faster on the Chanson, Life, KYK, Jupiter and Tyent machines as follows:

    The best Japanese ionizers like the Hydroanalytics IE-900 and the Enagic units use precisely calibrated flat electrodes. Water must likewise move evenly across a flat electrode in a perfectly even laminar flow. As soon as water flows unevenly, there is automatically uneven heat distribution across the electrode surface. The always uneven surface of mesh electrodes automatically creates an uneven water flow. This creates uneven heat distribution. This means that one part of the electrode must wear our faster than another part. This always reduces the useful life of the electrode. It signifies inferior manufacturing processes compared with the best Japanese technology. This is a basic and indisputable engineering principle: slotted or mesh electrodes always wear out faster. If you want to address this at an engineering level, you can objectively address how uneven heat distribution will not effect electrode wear since slotted or waffle electrodes all have uneven heat distribution. In terms of engineering, uneven heat distribution has to wear out one part of the electrode faster than other parts. This factually applies to Chanson, Jupiter, Life, Tyent and KYK ionizers,

    In Japan, ionized alkaline water of itself is not considered a cancer cure or remission therapy. Please be very careful about these statement because people with cancer are obviously in a vulnerable position. On a lesser but related note, the notion of drinking >10.0 pH water is opposed by researchers in Japan.

    Both price and quality are doubtless to be considered. Our Japanese units cost 1/3 the price of the Enagic units and are made by the same brain trust that made the Enagic ionizers.

    If using a water conditioner, we recommend switching from salt or sodium chloride over to potassium chlorides. Sodium and potassium migrate to he alkaline water whereas chloride goes to the acid side. I9onized potassium is healthier for you than sodium which is related to blood pressure problems

    • Another sales pitch…just what an objective blog needs…gee, thanks “Dr” Kennedy

      • Hi Dale:

        Thanks for your comment. I used to delete all posts that were blatant or even thinly veiled sales pitches. However, this form is for everyone and it someone offers points of discussion, then they get to offer their opinions. The more information that is available, the better it is for everyone, as long as the information has merit. I don’t have to agree with someone else’s opinion in order to allow it here.

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