Editor's note: These comments were generated in response to a reader testimonial on Water Softening Magnets. We thought that you'd find them interesting.
Reading this story is so sad!! I know most people are science-ignorant, but this is extraordinary! Unfortunately, magnets can't change the size of a water molecule. Believe me, I'd be strapping them to my butt if magnets shrank things!!
It sounds like this woman is experiencing the placebo effect. A full 30% of people will say they've noticed a change in their environment/condition when nothing has changed. It is possible that some of the iron oxide that has stained her toilet in the past is being attracted to the pipe area where she installed her magnet. The rest? Wishful thinking.
There has been a lot of discussion over the years whether or not this technology actually does anything. The following site is fairly neutral in discussing both sides of the issue. csicop.org/si/9801/powell.html
I know Consumer Reports has looked at this several times and has found no benefit from using these magnetic devices.
Even if they do work, it would seem to be cheaper to just buy a large magnet and tape it to the pipe.
Why do all of the people selling this stuff exist only in magazine ads and websites? If this technology is so proven and works so well, then why can't I stroll down to my local Home Depot or Wal-Mart and buy one? Maybe it's because they don't work and Home Depot and Wal-Mart don't want to anger customers by selling something that doesn't work.
I just wanted to say that magnetic water conditioners are a fad device that comes along every 30 years or so and they have never been proven to actually soften water. I browsed through websites of people selling these things and the only scientific evidence that was offered was pretty scanty. As a chemist I can tell you that to "simply change the size of the water molecule" is not simple, it's impossible. Furthermore, a magnetic field will have little if any effect on water molecules, which have a virtually nonexistent magnetic moment. Other claims I've read about them are that they "change the ionic charge" or "alter the ionic activity of water". This is also malarky.
Now I can conceive of a possibility that they could have an small effect on pipe scaling, since there are electrochemical processes at work there, and the magnets could possibly produce a small electric field somehow, but this would have no effect on water softening, only on adhesion of the materials to pipes. I seem to recall that many places that have large boiler systems use an electrical system that helps prevent pipe scaling, but its a lot more complicated than slapping a permanent magnet around your water pipe.
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