So…my partner bought an “ionic hair dryer”

Another strange title to my post.  Yes, my partner purchased an “ionic hair dryer” as it promised to dry hair more quickly by releasing negative ions and blasting them at your hair.  I was giving her a hard time about this new appliance as it seemed so gimmicky but it really got me thinking about how often I hear people talk about ions like they are some magical fairy dust that makes everything from water tasting better, to curing disease, to drying your hair more quickly.

As with most things that we can’t see they can be a marketers dream.  You make people a bit paranoid, about these invisible things and then you develop products that add to or counteract the invisible stuff.  Take ionized water for example:  yes, it is possible if you use a very strong electrical current in a solution containing dissolved ions to temporarily create more ions but as fast as hydrogen and oxygen are ripped apart, they join back up  There are all kinds of claims that drinking ionized water is better for you – it is a load of bunk that has no scientific merit.

How about claims that being around running water creates more negative ions in the air.  This myth has been going around for a long time.  When I tried to find some evidence of how this could happen – there is none to be found!  Even on a web site that is managed by some MDs, they talk about how “negative ions are really healthy”.  There are numerous websites that have listed measurements of negative ion concentrations near waterfalls and compared those measurements to negative ion concentrations in a house or an office.  The measurements always show that the concentration of negative ions is many times higher around waterfalls than in an office.  I found one study which actually measured the levels:

You can see that negative ion concentrations indoors in a home is pretty much the same as measured outside.  The only was you can have negative ions formed is really using a high voltage – lightning will do it!  Yes, the negative ion concentration in an office is low but we still don’t know whether negative ions are actually better than positive ions!

Back to the hair dryer:  it is conceivable that the hair dryer is producing negative ions but it is marketed as drying your hair more quickly and making it more healthy and less frizzy.  The manufactures say that “wet hair has positively charged water molecules and the negative ions are attracted to them, they evaporate and dry more quickly”.  Well that is a load of malarkey.  Despite the fact that there is no science to support it being a better alternative because of the negative ions; my partner says it works better and seems to dry more quickly.  If she is happy, I am happy and she does have really nice hair!


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