How Magnetic Fields Affect Water and Implications for Magnetic Therapy Research

Jan 23, 2020 | Magnetic Therapy

The published research looking at the effects of static magnetic fields (SMF) on the properties of water has been somewhat inconsistent. Similarly, research on the health benefits of magnetic field therapy has had its fair share of controversy.

After reading this post, hopefully you will gain an understanding of how simply changing a method like the strength or position of the magnet can significantly change the mechanism of action and results. There are important lessons to be learned here, particularly with something as complex as the human body, albeit 60% water, but infinitely more complex.

Effect on Boiling Point and Evaporation Rates:

In 2017, scientists from Henan Polytechnic University and Harbin Institute of Technology from China published a study that looked at how different strength magnetic fields 100mT (MW-1), 200mT (MW-2), 300mT (MW-3) and 400mT (MW-4) effected water’s boiling point and evaporation rates. As can be seen from the results below, the effect size for 300mT, was greater than that for 100mT, 200mT and 400mT. ​1​

Magnetic water research on evaporation point

boiling point magnetized water

So it’s not a linear relationship and as we have seen with studies of SMF on biological systems, optimal effects operate within certain “windows”. A stronger magnet, up to a point, does not always mean improving the effect. In fact, once you go too strong, the device will often become less effective.

Effect of Magnetizing Water on pH

The subject of a paper by Amor et al. (2018), Does Magnetic Field Change Water pH? might be more useful with a slight change of focus, to that of…How changing the magnetic field, changes the effects on the pH of water.

magnetizing water pH

The research by Amor et al. showed that magnetic fields do indeed change pH (see above graph), even if only slightly. Also, it wasn’t a case, of the stronger the magnetic field, the greater the effect. Again, there was a sweet spot, in this case M2 (0.29T) was more efficient that both M1 (0.33T) and M3 (0.50T), both being stronger field strengths.​2​

The Type of Magnetic Field Matters

Carefully describing the type of magnetic field is critical in conducting this type of research. Unfortunately, it’s not always adequately done.  Was it a static field or time varying? Was the direction of the field perpendicular to the water surface or parallel? Were there magnetic field gradients, or was it a uniform or homogeneous magnetic field? All these details matter, it’s completely unscientific to state that static magnets have no influence, without defining the type of magnetic field and precisely how it’s applied.

For the most part, this is where the contention arises. People read the summary of a particular study and because the SMF was shown to have no effect, think it’s okay to make sweeping statements, like SMF have no effect on the mechanism under study.

Whereas a proper scientific discussion would be more intelligent, stating that the specific type of field used in that specific way for a certain duration had no effect.  See here how the same argument applies to the therapeutic effects of SMF.

Effect of Magnetizing Water on Evaporation Rates

So magnetic field strength is a critical factor with regard to its effects on water, now what about field direction? A study by Seyfi et al. (2017) looked into this very matter and how it might affect the rates of evaporation. ​3​

Now bear with me here, because while it may look daunting, I’m confident you will get this.

The Lorentz Force states that the magnetic force (Fm) exerted on a charged particle (q) is calculated by multiplying the charge with the cross product of the vectors for the velocity (v) and the magnetic field (B).

lorentz force for magnetic water

So if the velocity (v), or movement of charged particles in the water is parallel to the direction of the magnetic field, then the cross product is going to be zero, i.e. Fm = 0. While the maximum effect is when the field is perpendicular to the movement. This is just one simple example of how the direction of the field affects the results.

magnetized water experiment 2

The right hand rule helps us to understand what’s going on here and why the direction of the field maters. When the magnetic field (B) is coming in from the side (see image above), then the charged particles moving on or near the surface of the water, will experience a force up or down, depending on whether they’re travelling to the right or left. So, while the particles experiencing an upward force would assist them to escape and evaporate. The particles travelling in the opposite direction would experience a downward force, making it more difficult to escape. Due to the random nature of the movement, the net effect would be close to zero.

But if the magnetic field (B) is now perpendicular to the surface of the water, i.e. coming from the top or the bottom, look what happens (see image below) to the direction of the forces experienced by the charged particles moving on the surface of the water…

magnetized water experiment

All of a sudden, the charged particles will experience a force that pushes them along the surface of the water. This will ever so slightly increase their kinetic energy and make it easier for the water molecules to move from the liquid to the gaseous state. (If you want a bit more background on this, I would recommend the Khan Academy video on Lorentz forces. Link here. Another article that covers this well is here.)

Conclusion of Seyfi study: These research experiments show an effect of magnetic field on an increase in water evaporation. Tangential magnetic field on the water-air interface does not show a sensible effect, but perpendicular magnetic field shows up to 18.3% increase in evaporation rate when magnetic field is less than 100 mT. Magnetic treated water show up to 40 min memory effect. This phenomenon is explained and discussed on based of kinetic energy motion of water molecules on the interface and influence of breaking hydrogen-bonds by Lorentz force

Evaporation rate with magnetic field perpendicular to the water surface…

  • 18% increase in magnetic water evaporation.
  • Weakening hydrogen bounds due to magnetic field.
  • Lorentz force on moving charged molecules at the interface.
  • Magnetic field memory effect in water.
  • Magnetic field affects charged molecules dangling bounds on interface.

The results of Seyfi were later confirmed in a published study by Chibowski et al. (2018).​4​

Even published research on nerve cells has shown that the direction of the magnetic field can make a difference. A study by Edelman et al. (1979) ​5​ applied a parallel and perpendicular magnetic field to frog sciatic nerve and found they produced very different physiological responses. These differences were thought to be attributed to the magnetic anisotropy properties of the cell membrane.

 

Effects of Magnetic Field Gradients on Water

Now if that’s not enough physics for you, we haven’t even got to the complicated stuff yet and magnetic field gradients.

A study by Guo et al (2012) looked at what effect adding a magnetic field gradient had on rates of water evaporation.​6​

It turns out that the magnetic forces applied to different gasses is a function of the strength of the magnetic field and magnetic field gradient.

magnetized water formula

Where

  • Fm is the force
  • χ is the magnetic susceptibility
  • µ0 is a constant 4π x 10-7 Hm-1
  • B is the magnetic field strength
  • B’ is the magnetic field gradient strength

The different magnetic properties of our most common gasses such as nitrogen, oxygen and water vapour are listed as follows…

Molecule Magnetic Property Magnetic Susceptibility Value
Nitrogen (N2) Diamagnetic χN2 = -5 x 10-9
Oxygen (O2) Paramagnetic χO2 = 1.9 x 10-6
Water vapour (H2O) Diamagnetic χH2O = -6.8 x 10-9

 

The different forces exerted on these gasses by a magnetic field gradient, induces a magnetic convection effect
which increases the rate of evaporation in addition to any Lorentz forces from a magnetic field coming in from the side.

So by adding a magnetic field gradient into the equation adds an entirely new mechanism of action for how a magnetic field stimulates water evaporation. The same principles apply to human clinical trials. See how Q magnets work and magnetic field gradients for more information.

Other studies have modelled ways in which magnetic field gradients can exert torque forces on voltage-dependent channels within the cell membrane. This may in turn affect cell membrane permeability to Na+ and Ca2+ ions and hence affect cell function.

Magnetic field gradients generated by multipolar magnets such as Quadrapolar magnets are where almost all of the positive clinical trial data reside.

 

Magnetized Water Research References

 

  1. 1.
    Wang Y, Wei H, Li Z. Effect of magnetic field on the physical properties of water. Results in Physics. Published online March 2018:262-267. doi:10.1016/j.rinp.2017.12.022
  2. 2.
    Amor H, Elaoud A, Hozayn M. Does Magnetic Field Change Water pH? ARJA. Published online February 6, 2018:1-7. doi:10.9734/arja/2018/39196
  3. 3.
    Seyfi A, Afzalzadeh R, Hajnorouzi A. Increase in water evaporation rate with increase in static magnetic field perpendicular to water-air interface. Chemical Engineering and Processing – Process Intensification. Published online October 2017:195-200. doi:10.1016/j.cep.2017.06.009
  4. 4.
    Chibowski E, Szcześ A, Hołysz L. Influence of Magnetic Field on Evaporation Rate and Surface Tension of Water. Colloids and Interfaces. Published online December 5, 2018:68. doi:10.3390/colloids2040068
  5. 5.
    Edelman A, Teulon J, Puchalska IB. Influence of the magnetic fields on frog sciatic nerve. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Published online November 1979:118-122. doi:10.1016/0006-291x(79)90591-6
  6. 6.
    Guo Y, Yin D, Cao H, et al. Evaporation rate of water as a function of a magnetic field and field gradient. Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(12):16916-16928. doi:10.3390/ijms131216916

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