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Rusty Feet

*This is a post from a new blog made by Jeni, Kim C, and me.  Please wander over and check us out at negativentropy.*

My husband and I packed up the kids a couple weeks ago and went to the Ohio State Fair.  My favorite part of the fair–aside from the fried food and rides–is the marketplace building.  They sell all sorts of wacky things, and I love walking up and down the aisles seeing all the weird stuff.  This year I saw something particularly weird: a booth selling Ionic Foot Detox Baths.

There were a good number of people surrounding the booth, watching in awe as two women had their feet in water baths that were hooked up to machines, and were having “toxins” removed from their bodies through their feet. According to a color chart, the water color indicates the type of toxins being removed and/or the part of the body from which the toxins are being removed.  Both women were apparently producing an orange water with black flecks, and after a while the water had a brown sludge forming on top.  According to the chart they were detoxing from the joints and liver as well as removing heavy metals.  Here is a link to a similar color chart…I can’t make this stuff up. Here is a you tube video of a ionic foot detoxer in action.

There are a ton of different websites selling these machines.  Each seller claims the machine works a different way. According to one ionic detox machine manufacturer the machine is passing an electrical current through the water to split it up into ions.  The negative ions then travel up the body to the positively charged heavy metals.  They combine and both travel down the body and out of the feet and are thus responsible for changing the color of the water.  I think most of us can figure out that the one thing this water bath is not doing is detoxing our bodies.  So what is happening? A quick Google search brought up a number of skeptical articles debunking foot detox.  Ben Goldacre did a fantastic job debunking the machine on his blog, bad science.  He constructed his own foot detox apparatus, which yielded the same results–without any feet in it.
I decided I wanted to see if I could set up my own foot detox water bath and get similar results.  I used a 9V battery , two alligator clips, and two nails.  I attached the alligator clips to the battery on one end and the nails to the other, and placed the nails into a bowl of salt water.

 

 

From foot toxins
VOILA!  Results were seen almost instantly.  Hydrogen gas was evolving from around the nail and black specks were present immediately.  According to the color chart, my nail had heavy toxins.
 

 

From foot toxins
From foot toxins
Next the water turned orange, and after a few more minutes a dark brown sludge formed on the top of the water.  Looks like we removed toxins from the liver…or possibly tobacco.  I let the experiment run about 10 minutes and was able to get a solution that looked identical to the sludge at the ion detox booth.
 

 

From foot toxins
From foot toxins
From foot toxins
From foot toxins
From foot toxins
The ion detox foot bath is an electrolytic redox reaction, and the color change and gunk are from the metal precipitates present in the water, i.e. rust.
 

 

From foot toxins
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