Magnetic water treatment

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Magnetic Water Treatment Sketch
General Arrangement of MWT Apparatus

Magnetic water treatment (also known as anti-scale magnetic treatment or AMT) is a controversial method of supposedly reducing the effects of hard water by passing it through a magnetic field, as a non-chemical alternative to water softening.

History of the controversy[edit]

Vendors of domestic magnetic water treatment devices have frequently used pictures and testimonials to support their claims, but omit quantitative detail and well-controlled studies.[1] Advertisements and promotions generally omit system variables, such as corrosion results or system mass balance analyticals, as well as measurements of post-treatment water such as concentration of hardness ions or the distribution, structure, and morphology of suspended particles.[1][2][3][4][5]


There have been numerous 'MWT' patents, however the issue of a patent does not demonstrate that the patented device actually works, only that the idea is original and could be produced by competent technical persons.The earliest MWT patent appears to have been issued in Belgium in 1948, its equivelent was filed the USA in 1952 [6]

Verifiable evidence[edit]

Kenneth and Marianna Busch of the Department of Chemistry at Baylor University, Waco, Texas (USA) published a paper entitled Laboratory studies on magnetic water treatment and their relationship to a possible mechanism for scale reduction (Elsevier) reported that some magnetohydrodynamic effects had been observed, notably turbulence had been induced in the outflow. The authors postulated that these observed results may explain why magnetic treatment devices are sometimes claimed to effective in controlling scale deposits in hardwater. They noted improved performance on those magnetic devices that incorporate agitators to increase turbulence during exposure to a magnetic field..


As mentioned above, about this time, a variety of domestic units were offered for sale. There were two basic designs:

  • a pipe channelled water near or through the field of one or more permanent magnets or
  • simple coils of wire wound around the household supply pipe which were supposedly electromagnets.

It is doubtful if any of these devices actually worked as their general the design was simple and cheap to produce, little if any account was taken as to the highly variable water flow rates and volumes in home consumption, nor the wide range of characteristics collectively described as hard water. The process was roundly condemned as psuedoscience although there was some anecdotal evidence that, at this time, industrial applications where extremely powerful magnetic force applied to constant water-flows could have been effective. The established methods of calcium extraction include distillation using heat, ion exchange, consuming salt, lime softening with calcium hydroxide added to the supply or chelation with less toxic chemicals such as citric acid

International Water Conference[edit]

The International Water Conference is a trade fair organized by The Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, so that IWC papers promote the commercial interests of its members.[7]

At the International Water Conference (IWC) of 2002 Loraine Huchler, of MarTech Systems, Inc., Lawrenceville, NJ (USA) presented Non-chemical Water Treatment Systems:Histories, Principles and Literature Review which provides a selection of opinions and concludes that properly designed scientific guidelines were required.

In April 2004 at the International Water Conference, self-styled mythbuster of thirty years Timothy Keister,[8] a Certified Water Technologist and Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists (both qualifications issued by a Trade associations) declared all non-chemical devices (NCD) to be ineffective".[8] Keister was a co-founder of ProChemTech International[9]"

in 2011 Martin Chaplin of London South Bank University published a paper entitled Descaling of Water in the series Water Structure and Science noted that Magnetic treatment has been shown to affect the crystal surfaces of both aragonite and calcite and quotes C. Z. Liu, C. H. Lin, M. S. Yeh, Y. M. Chao, P. Shen, Surface modification and planar defects of calcium carbonates by magnetic water treatment, Nanoscale Res. Lett. 5 (2010) 1982-1991

Hypothesised Mechanisms[edit]

Main articles: Water and Magnetohydrodynamics

Duration of exposure and field strength, gradient, rate of change, and orientation along or perpendicular to flow are variously cited as important to the results.[10]

The magnitude of the effect may also depend on pipe conductivity and surface roughness.[11]

Klaus Kronenberg proposed that the shapes of solute lime molecules are modified by strong magnetic fields, leading them to precipitate as spherical or round crystals rather than deposit as sheets or platelets of hard crystals.[12]

Szkatula, Balanda, &Kopeć, of the Henryk Niewodniczański Institute of nuclear physics published a paper entitled Magnetic treatment of industrial water. Silica activation found a positive powdering effect rather than hard scale which they attributed to Lorentz force induced crystal deformation.[13]

Simon Parsons of the School of Water Sciences at Cranfield University proposed that the magnetic field reduces the surface charge on small particles, increasing the tendency to coagulate as large particles that stay with the flow rather than depositing as scale. However, an internal study in 1996 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found no difference in preferred crystal structure of scale deposited in magnetic water treatment systems.[14]

Liu, Lin, Yeh, Chao, and Shen at China Steel [15] also Coey and Cass at Trinity College, Dublin [16] published research demonstrating that magnetic treatment causes water containing minerals to favor formation of a more soluble form of calcium carbonate (aragonite rather than calcite).

An Australian supplier of industrial 'fluid reactor' admits that the mechanism is unclear, but provides a list of research documents claimed to demonstrate that the MWT process can be effective under certain conditions.

Related devices[edit]

There are related non-chemical devices based on a variety of physical phenomenon which have been marketed for over 50 years with similar claims of scale inhibition. Whilst some are effective, such as electrolytic devices,[17][18][19][20] most do not work.[1]

Other uses of magnetic devices:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Keister, T (2008). "Non Chemical Devices: Thirty Years of Myth Busting". Water Conditioning & Purification. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  2. ^ Powell, MR (1998). "Magnetic Water and Fuel Treatment: Myth, Magic, or Mainstream Science?". Skeptical Inquirer 22 (1). Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  3. ^ Lower, S. "Magnetic water treatment and pseudoscience". Chem1Ware Systems Limited. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  4. ^ Limpert, GJC; Raber, JL (1985). "Tests of nonchemical scale control devices in a once-through system". Materials Performance 24 (10): 40–45. OSTI 6089699. 
  5. ^ Smothers, KW; Curtiss, CD; Gard, BT; Strauss, RH; Hock, VF (15 June 2001). "Magnetic Water Treatment". Public Works Technical Bulletin 420-49-34. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 
  6. ^ Vermirien electric device
  7. ^ "Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine (WC&P) ...professional owned...". Retrieved 18 Jul 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Timothy Keister (April 2008). "Non Chemical Devices:Thirty Years of Myth Busting". Water Conditioning & Purification magazine. Retrieved 18 Jul 2014. 
  9. ^ "ProChemTech Corporate profile". Retrieved 18 Jul 2014. 
  10. ^ Chaplin, M. (26 July 2011). "Descaling of Water". Water Structure and Science. London South Bank University. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  11. ^ Alimi, F.; Tlili, M. M.; Amor, M. B.; Maurin, G.; Gabrielli, C. (2009). "Effect of magnetic water treatment on calcium carbonate precipitation: Influence of the pipe material". Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification 48 (8): 1327. doi:10.1016/j.cep.2009.06.008.  edit
  12. ^ "Interview of Klaus Kronenberg, Ph. D". GMX International. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  13. ^ Szkatula, A; Balanda, M; Kopeć, M (2002). "Magnetic treatment of industrial water. Silica activation". The European Physical: Journal Applied Physics 18: 41. Bibcode:2002EPJAP..18...41S. doi:10.1051/epjap:2002025. 
  14. ^ Krauter, PW; Harrar, JE; Orloff, SP; Bahowick, SM (1996). "Test of a Magnetic Device for Amelioration of Scale Formation at Treatment Facility D". Internal Report (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). OSTI 567404. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  15. ^ Liu, C. Z.; Lin, C. H.; Yeh, M. S.; Chao, Y. M.; Shen, P (2010). "Surface Modification and Planar Defects of Calcium Carbonates by Magnetic Water Treatment". Nanoscale Research Letters 5 (12): 1982–1991. doi:10.1007/s11671-010-9736-5. PMC 2991221. PMID 21170405.  edit
  16. ^ Coey, JMD; Cass, S (2000). "Magnetic water treatment". Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials 209: 71–74. Bibcode:2000JMMM..209...71C. doi:10.1016/S0304-8853(99)00648-4. 
  17. ^ Coetzee PP, Yacoby M and Howall S (1996) The role of zinc in magnetic and other physical water treatment methods for the prevention of scale. Water SA, 22(4): 319-326.
  18. ^ López-Sandoval E, Vázquez- López C, Zendejas- Leal BE, Ramos G, San Martín-Martínez E, Muñoz Aguirre N, Reguera E (2007) Calcium carbonate scale inhibition using the "allotropic cell" device. Desalination 217:85-92.
  19. ^ Pernot B, Euvrard H, Remy F and Simon, P (1999) Influence of Zn(II) on the crystallisation of calcium carbonate application to scaling mechanisms. Journal of Water SRT-Aqua, 48(1): 16-23.
  20. ^ MacAdam J PhD Thesis Cranfield University UK. Dept of Water Science and various studies
  21. ^ Whitaker, S (5 August 2011). "Guardian launches electrolytic scale inhibitor". Industry Today. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  22. ^ Watt, DL; Rosenfelder, C; Sutton, CD (1993). "The effect of oral irrigation with a magnetic water treatment device on plaque and calculus". Journal of Clinical Periodontology 20 (5): 314–7. doi:10.1111/j.1600-051X.1993.tb00366.x. PMID 8501270. 
  23. ^ Johnson, KE; Sanders, JJ; Gellin, RG; Palesch, YY (1998). "The effectiveness of a magnetized water oral irrigator (Hydro Floss) on plaque, calculus and gingival health". Journal of Clinical Periodontology 25 (4): 316–21. doi:10.1111/j.1600-051X.1998.tb02447.x. PMID 9565283. 
  24. ^ Allen, M (25 August 2010). "Looking For A Miracle: We Test Automotive 'Fuel Savers'". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2012-03-26.