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I want my water to be dead. If there is anything “living” in it, it would be microbes that are a contaminant and potentially harmful. What do people mean when they talk of “living water”?

If you look up “living water” on the Internet, you will find that it is a Biblical term, mainly used as a metaphor for faith or for the Holy Spirit. The first Google hit is “Living Water – A Foursquare Church.” Under “Next Steps” the Church offers “Meet Jesus” and “Pizza with Pastors.” I’m intrigued. But there’s nothing on their website about actual water.

There’s also Living Water International, an organization that demonstrates the love of God with projects to supply clean drinking water to poor communities in developing countries.

But Living Water came to my attention as a health product offered by Vollara. It is a device that sits on the kitchen counter, plugs into any electrical outlet, and attaches to an existing faucet. You add sea salt to its Salt Port. It filters the water and uses Direct Disk Ionization Technology to provide:

  • Acid-buffering alkaline water for drinking and cooking
  • Acidic water for cleaning without chemicals
  • Water with excellent negative Oxidation Reduction Potential for increased antioxidant properties

The claims

They say this is water the way Nature intended it to be:

Drinking enough water isn’t really enough. You have to drink the right kind of water – water that will help buffer acid, help remove toxins, and is easily absorbed by your body. You need great tasting water with antioxidant properties and proper pH levels.

Allegedly, the right kind of water will help your body hydrate itself, flush out toxins and waste products, and maybe even help you lose weight. The water produced by the Living Water device “empowers you to have optimal health.”

The products

Vollara’s Living Water device produces both alkaline and acidic water, with 8 different pH levels from 4.0 acidic to 10.0 alkaline, plus a SUPER function to achieve extreme pH levels (2.5) when needed. You push a button for the desired pH, which is shown on an LED screen. It has a replaceable filter.

The company also sells air purifiers and nutritional supplements. They say you should take their Essentials for Life supplement if:

  • You experience low energy levels
  • You are under chronic stress
  • You smoke or drink alcoholic beverages regularly
  • You don’t eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • You drink coffee or tea
  • You have difficulty losing weight

Doesn’t that cover pretty much everyone?

Vollara offers career opportunities for distributors, with a generous Compensation Plan that “rewards you every step of the way, with millions of dollars allocated to reward success.” Enrolling others as your “team” increases your profits. It is essentially a multilevel marketing (MLM) scheme. The Living Water device is only available from the company and its distributors. Distributors buy it at wholesale price and sell it for as much more as they can get away with. When I checked on May 3, there were two of them available through third-party sellers on the Amazon website for $1,200 and $1,899 (plus shipping and tax).

The company offers no evidence as to whether Living Water actually offers any health benefits. PubMed lists no studies on the health benefits of ionized water or alkaline water. Quackwatch has evaluated the acid/alkaline theory and calls it nonsense.

Conclusion: Just more water quackery

There is a superb website about water-related pseudoscience, fantasy and quackery, by a retired chemistry professor. Here are some of the points he makes:

  • The claims for ionized and alkaline water are totally lacking in scientific support.
  • The term “ionized water” is meaningless to chemists.
  • Pure water can never be alkaline or acidic.
  • If you drink alkaline water, the alkalinity is quickly neutralized by stomach acid.
  • The pH of drinking water has zero effect on the pH of blood or the body’s cells.
  • “Ionized” water is not an anti-oxidant, it’s an oxidizing agent.

Whatever the hucksters say, there is no evidence that any “special” water is better for your health than plain old water. It’s all just H2O.

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Posted by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.