Don't be fooled by this water filter scam!

WARNING! Super long rant ahead.
I don't intend to implicate but only to educate.

Here's the premise:
The salesperson(s) from a MLM company visits you to promote a water filter claiming it to be the best (as does every other company). They ask for a water sample from your house for a comparison with their own that was filtered by their company's product.

They first do a TDS meter test to determine the amount of dissolved solids in the water, and to no surprise your own household water has a higher dissolved mineral content (unless you already have a filter). Then they proceed to do an electrolysis test on your sample to illustrate their point. Out comes a device which submerges two electrodes into their company sample and your household sample. Seconds later, your household water sample starts creating yellow-brown (sometimes greenish depending on TDS content) sludge.


    By this point many people would have been tricked into believing the salesperson(s) gimmicks and proceed to purchase the product at a VERY inflated cost. They have just been duped by one of the oldest tricks in the chemistry book. So what are the truths and lies in this sales pitch? .......

    FACT #1

    The product they are selling IS and always will be a fully functioning water filter that works on reverse osmosis/6-stage filtration/ozonalization/etc. There is no denying this. The only problem is they are using cheap parlour tricks and lying through their teeth to sell a legitimate product (i.e. ala melamine passing of as protein anyone?!?) for one goal only = EASY MONEY.
    FACT #2
    The 'experiments' performed are legitimate chemistry tests and do not involve any slight of hand or usage of chemical additives, switching of samples, distractions etc. Any secondary school student (around Malaysian Form 4, 5 and 6, US K12 10th Grade and up) would have learnt this in their Chemistry or Advanced Sciences classes.
    So lets debunk this water scam starting with the TDS test.
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    This is a simple test using what is known as a TDS meter. The meter usually has two membrane contacts which are submerged into a liquid sample. The current flowing between the contacts through the sample is measured and results in a measurement of the percent of dissolved minerals in the sample. When the amount of dissolved minerals is high, conductivity of the liquid increases therefore increasing the current resulting in a higher TDS measurement. Simple science really but convincing because of the scientific 'numbers' that result.


    FACT #3

    A high TDS measurement only shows that your water sample contains a high concentration of dissolved solids such as minerals and salts. If you already have a filter in place, the measurement will vary depending on how your filter works and how clean/dirty the filters are.
    The TDS measure SHOULD NOT be taken as a measurement of how contaminated or polluted water is. Water coming out of the tap is almost always guaranteed to contain a percentage of dissolved solids. This could have originated at the processing plant in which chemicals are added to clean and treat the water before supplying back to the public. Some minerals are added for the advantage of the consumer such as flouride. Other sources of dissolved minerals could be the actual plumbing itself which might make use of copper or some other metal pipes - corrosion of these pipes result in minute leeching of minerals into the water. A high TDS measurement does not equal contaminated water because the TDS meter does not distinguish between the minerals it measures. The meter is VERY easily swayed by something as simple as addition of a few grains of table salt into the sample or heating/chilling/freezing it.

    Most demonstrations don't even use the TDS meter properly. A true TDS test would follow something along these procedures (slightly simplified to avoid lengthy laboratory procedures):

    • Obtain equal amount samples (preferably with pipette) in similar sample cups at a volume enough to cover the TDS contacts.
    • Turn on the meter and submerge into sample and shake/stir vigourously to eliminate air bubbles (this is VITAL step which is skipped in every demonstration I've seen).
    • Hold TDS meter UPRIGHT in center of sample - a laboratory calibrated meter can actually obtain different TDS measurements at different areas and angles of the same sample in the cup.
    • After 15-30 seconds only do you take the measurement.
    • After reading is taken, meter is removed and rinsed in DISTILLED water (RO or filtered water is NOT recommended to avoid false readings). The meter is then shaken/dried before the steps repeated for the next sample.

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    The second test uses a device known in the water filter industry as a preciptator. Basically this magical device is a portable electrolysis kit with multiple electrodes to perform simultaneous electrolysis on multiple samples. Some run on batteries whilst others run on household mains but they work the exact same way. SO how does that yucky sludge appear by magic in your household sample? The answer lies in the electrodes themselves.

    Two of the electrodes are made of aluminium whilst the other two are made of iron. The aluminium electrodes (which are relatively more inert or less reactive in the electrolysis) is always submerged into the 'filtered' sample whilst the iron electrodes go into the sample you provide and seconds later the sludge appears. What is happening here? YOUR water sample has dissolved minerals (as proven by the previous test, which is why that test is always performed first to ensure this next test works) and thus conducts electricity. This is the basis of electrolysis which requires the electrodes to be submerged into a

    Ask any passing science student and they will tell you electrolysis of any liquid is performed with INERT electrodes - usually carbon (cheap!) or platinum (very expensive). They why would you use iron as an electrode? Iron is reactive. Iron oxidises in water and air to create rust (ferric oxide). In electrolysis, the use of the iron electrodes create ferric hydroxide. This hydroxide does not dissolve readily in water and results in the yellow sludge you see in the test.

    FACT #4

    The ferric hydroxide created is not actually dangerous and is used in many applications such as the creation of food dye (Yellow No. 42 anyone!!) and also as a component in the treatement of arsenic poisoning. It is also used in the filtration of aquatic water supply to remove phosphates (e.g. fertilizer). But it just looks yucky.
    If you understand the science, then you'd understand the following equations which show the reactions that occur at the electrodes.

          Fe -> Fe3+ + 3e-
          Fe3+ + 3OH- -> Fe(OH)3
          The other result is hydrogen gas which results in the bubbling you see

    You're probably arguing "But the saleperson flipped the electrodes and nothing happened to their sample". Then you probably forgot that their sample does NOT have any dissolved solids/minerals. Their sample would have gotten a big fat ZERO on the TDS test. This means their sample does not conduct any electricity. No electricity means no electrolysis. No electrolysis means no reaction thus no sludge. Simple huh? Its a guaranteed trick to fool the feeble minded person.

    There are variations to this trick but basically the results are the same. If this does not convince you, here's the proof as I did the test myself. First test is a normal electrolysis of tap water using carbon electrodes. You can safely try this experiment at home if you want.


    Second video shows the same test but replaces the carbon electrodes with iron ones, which in my case were two iron nails (was too lazy to go searching for iron rods). The video has been sped up but the reaction is only visibly noticeable around the third minute. This is exactly what happens with the precipitator but at a far slower rate because of the low current/voltage I used.


    STILL not convinced? Use Google and search for precipitators. You can buy them online to do your own so-called water test. On many sites you can clearly read that they use 2 aluminium electrodes and 2 iron electrodes. On one site, they even place a note to remind users not to immerse the electrodes too long as they will dissolve into the water. Hmm ... that means the sludge has to be coming from somewhere other than the water right? Bingo, the electrodes themselves! Don't worry you can buy replacement iron electrodes to continue duping customers.

    FACT #5
    Preciptators do have legitimate uses in the industry but this is not one of them. The process is often used in filtration of air instead of water.
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    This particular company boasts about the product obtaining a gold seal from the water quality association (WQA). This association exists and their homepage is here. The gold seal exists. They did get the seal (as one of only three in the home water filter category) at the WQA S-300 level. This is ALL TRUE.

    What they fail to tell you is this:
    • As per my understanding, no company is forced to apply for ratings by the WQA. It is VOLUNTARY and usually initiated by the company themselves (i.e. WQA does not on its own initiative go out and test every water filter in the market and rate them). This is unlike other rating and quality standards (e.g. Malaysia's SIRIM, BKMM, ISO ratings, US-FDA, UK BQF etc) which are mandatory for all products in a particular category.
    • The WQA site clearly lists a disclaimer "Listing in these directories does not constitute an endorsement, guarantee, or warranty of any kind by Water Quality Association or its members of any of the products contained in them." Hmmm ... no warranty, no endorsement ... basically nothing. Under regular law, this means any problems will be solely the users' fault and not the manufacturer nor the certifying body.
    • The WQA (yes, the actual body that gives this company the Gold Seal) does NOT condone the use of precipitators in the marketing of any water filter product. This is clearly stated on a post on the actual WQA site and can be downloaded here. They clearly state a precipitator "will mislead the public" and "the presence of precipitant has no relation to the water's quality". Sales pitches using a precipitator can be used as grounds to demand a withdraw of their gold seal rating.
    FACT #6
    The price you pay these companies for their product does not actually mean a better or higher quality product (although I admit that some do have better quality standards in comparison with brandless types). They're mostly inflated to cover the cost of the members' monthly sales commissions in pyramid/ponzi schemes- sometimes as much as 1500% (and yes, that's one THOUSAND five hundred percent).
    So conclusions? The product is real but all the sales tactics, gimmicks and big talk is pure bull$hit. Why don't these people/companies sell the thing for what it is ... a RM300 water filter period and stop cheating people for a quick buck. 'Nuff said.

    ..... Show/hide full post

    6 comments:

    1. pure water vs not pure is the facts!!!
      Okinawa Japan, Singapore Goverments all using pure H2O to benefit optimum health...
      Demo not so impotent lah....

      ReplyDelete
    2. knowledge is treasure.... thanks a lot for posting this educative article....

      ReplyDelete
    3. Instant boiling hot water is Australias premier manufacturer of filtered boiling and chilled water units for use in private and commercial applications. Manufactured in Victoria and represented nationally.

      ReplyDelete
    4. Awesome ! I was looking for this information as i was been visited by a sales person and i was afraid to see what we were using. Although we use mineral water for drinking and use tap water for washing only but was concerned with the GREENISH substances in water which he mentioned as CONTAMINATION not as minerals/salts.

      Thanks much buddy.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Same here what happened to me. I told them, i'll do search about that before trying to buy your filter. So, the end result is such cheap trick!!
        Thanks for this information. I am going to read even more.

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