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by Timothy Freer(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 19 - April 1997

In this age of so called objective knowledge, of science probing into every element, water refuses to succumb. Felix Franks, eminent botanist-biophysicist, author of a seven volume treatise on water, states that water is unique, complex, paradoxical and that its scientific analysis is full of anomalies and unanswered questions. Rather a similar story to human nature!

So what is our relationship to water? The human body is totally dependent on water and composed of approximately 70% water. In this living relationship with this taken for granted element, we also need to understand just how little of the Earth's overall water is fresh and available to us. Although we do have access to ground water, which is second to the oceans in the share of all water, the level known as the 'table' has dropped significantly since the start of this century.

We are making huge demands on our fresh water supplies by our lifestyle, while at the same time introducing complicated mixtures of chemicals into the water that we drink. Being totally mobile water can carry contamination from place to place with the greatest of ease.

The American Indian elder who admonished "Whatever we do to Planet Mother Earth we do also to ourselves", was right. One insight from water chemistry illustrates how this can work.

At the molecular level water has a wonderful lattice structure which includes plentiful spaces. Scientists have observed that alien 'guest' molecules, such as pollutant chemicals, do not often bond with the H2O molecules. This is a clue to the integrity of our ecosystem; H2O remains H2O although the 'structure' is burdened or even altered. The pollutant chemicals are taking a ride in the intermolecular spaces, which is the perfect method of transport for delivery to the human body.

Water – the element

One of water's unique characteristics is that it is the only naturally occurring inorganic liquid in nature. This means chemically, that it contains no carbon. Carbon, sometimes called "the stuff of life" is an essential hallmark of organic life; of living organisms. The relationship between water and carbon is very significant to our understanding the need for a thorough method of water purification increasingly vital to health. There is in nature an inherent integrity of the elements. One has only to think of the recognition and treatment of the natural elements in Chinese medicine, to see that we reflect in our bodies the balance, purity and interaction of the elements.

Water then, is the indispensable inorganic element which purifies, lubricates, dissolves, transports, moistens and generally keeps the organic carbon based life forms alive.

Now enters industrial age Man and the integrity of the elements is tampered with. Reduced to an on tap convenience, we frame water in the concept of H2O while introducing subtle inappropriate chemical contamination. Mel Suffet of the School of Public Health at the University of California in Los Angeles, estimates that several million complex biomolecules are now present in various water supplies.

One particularly disturbing example is the case of chlorine. Greenpeace states that 40 million tonnes of chlorine a year are used by industry worldwide.[1] Chlorinated compounds have been detected in the polar ice caps1 and 177 organochlorines have been detected in humans.2 The price we pay for interfering with the elements is starting to show; the chlorine derived trihalomethane chemicals are widely considered to be carcinogenic (cancer producing). Organochlorines are implicated in hormonal disruption and imbalance.[2]

Another serious area of water pollution is oestrogens and chemicals which mimic oestrogens. Research by John Sumpter, professor of biology at Brunel University, funded by the department of the Environment, has studied the phenomenon of feminised male fish living in water found to contain oestrogenic substances. As oestrogenic chemicals of various kinds are accumulating in the environment, it may be wiser to take steps to remove oestrogens from drinking water, rather than waiting for research to confirm the same fate for male humans!

Whose problem is it ?

Prior to the late 1960s the availability of clean drinking water was not considered to be a problem. Although stories in the media hinted at troubles on the horizon, knowledgeable scientists studying the extent of the pollution of water supplies, began realising the full extent of the coming water contamination problems.

Our personal perspective on the water pollution problem may be based on the fact that it is now a Global issue and therefore in the domain of the governments. However an examination of modern water management methods in technologically 'developed' countries,[1] will reveal that the question of drinking water purity can only be tackled at the 'point-of-use'. The size of the problem, given our antiquated pipework and the limited purification possibilities of the water companies' facilities, is such that even if vast sums of money were spent upgrading the mains water technology, it would be many years before pure water could be expected on tap in our homes and work-places.

The Nature of Water

Water – a Living Substance
     WATER! Where do we begin our quest in search of the true nature of this remarkable substance, this wondrous, many-facetted jewel, which is both Life and liquid? So primordial, primeval and fundamental is the function of water that it begs the question as to which came first, life or water. Thales of Miletus (640-546BC) described water as the only true element from which all other bodies are created, believing it to be the original substance of the cosmos. It was the only real substance, because it was imbued with the quality of Being.
     This view was also firmly held by Viktor Schauberger, who saw water as the ‘original’ substance formed by the subtle energies called into being through the ‘original’ motion of the Earth, itself the manifestation of even more sublime forces. Being the offspring or the ‘First Born’ of these energies, as he put it, he maintained and frequently asserted that “Water is a living substance!” a notion to which Goethe also subscribed in the poem opposite.[1]
     As a living entity, Viktor saw water as the accumulator and transformer of the energies originating from the Earth and the Cosmos, and as such was and is the foundation of all life-processes and the major contributor to the conditions which make life possible. Not only that, but once mature, water is a being invested with the power of extraordinary giving and gives of itself to all things requiring life in the Eternally Creative Intelligence’s (ECI) Great Plan. It is the ECI’s faithful life-messenger and, in its eternal cycles, coils and twists in its natural movement about the path of evolution, like the serpents on Mercury’s staff.

The Upholder of the Cycles which supports the whole of Life, is WATER. In every drop of water dwells a Deity, whom we all serve; there also dwells Life, the Soul of the ‘First’ substance – Water – whose boundaries and banks are the capillaries that guide it and in which it circulates.[2]
— Viktor Schauberger

     Water is therefore a being that has life and death. With incorrect, ignorant handling, however, it becomes diseased, imparting this condition to all other organisms, vegetable, animal and human alike, causing their eventual physical decay and death, and in the case of human beings, their moral, mental and spiritual deterioration as well. With this awareness we can see just how vital it is that water should be handled and stored in such a way as to avoid such disastrous consequences. When we fail to perceive water as a living entity which nurtures all life, we arrest water’s creative cycles, we stop life and water is transformed into a dangerous enemy.

1. “The Ox and the Chamois” by Viktor Schauberger: TAU magazine, No. 146, p. 30: Werner Zimmermann.
2. “Our Senseless Toil – The Source of the World Crisis” (“Unsere Sinnlose Arbeit – die Quelle der Weltkrise”), Pt. I, p.11. Krystall Verlag, Vienna.

Extracted from Living Energies, Callum Coats. Gateway Books, 1996.
Reprinted with kind permission.


So how can the state of our drinking water affect us?

Take ageing.[3] The youthful state of our body cells is maintained by the constant process of renewal, provided that the cells can be replaced according to the original 'memory' or blueprint. Anything which interferes with this duplication will contribute to ageing. The more complicated the pollutants in our cooking and drinking water, the more difficult becomes the process of cleansing, cell renewal and nutrient transport. Yet water is the physical agent of healing, more essential than food in many respects.

In his new book Your Body's Many Cries for Water, Dr Fereydoon Batmanghelidj provides numerous rigorously researched cases of modern ills responding to treatment with water.[4]

Barbara Wren, Principal of the College of Natural Nutrition, who has developed dietary healing methods supported by colonic and hydrotherapy techniques based on twenty five years' experience, now places great emphasis on pure water as an agent of healing.[5]

There has to be a direct correlation between the degree of water purity and efficient human cell regeneration. Consider water's essential role in fasting. In the ancient Indian technique of Kaya Kalpa, in which the ageing process can be reversed, water plays a vital part. As the body cells are given the ideal conditions to 'remember' and rejuvenate, fasting and water intake facilitate the cleansing and oxygenation that support the subtle, yogic and meditation practices.[6,7]

In esoteric systems such as Astrology, water is the element of emotion or feeling. Considering that the human body is largely water, such a correspondence can hardly be considered to be merely symbolic. Try drinking some (pure) water when conflicts of feeling arise! Not many people reading this article will have experienced serious dehydration thirst, yet even small degrees of dehydration register as lack of well-being. A person who is only 10 per cent dehydrated can no longer walk and if the dehydration level reaches 12 per cent, death is not far off.[1]

The lack of water in our diet contributes to internal physiological stress through inadequate transport of nutrients and the accumulation of toxins. Inadequate water places strain on the body by inhibiting the supply of oxygen required for the daily combustion of glucose. Hence improvements in energy levels when hydration is rebalanced.

So how can we have an affordable supply of pure water?

Various devices for improving the state of our drinking water have been sold and used over the last two decades or so. Although these techniques are available, we need some basic understanding of what each method achieves before we can make informed choices.

As we now know, the complexity of water contamination is only going to get worse, at least in the immediate future. So our choices are important since they will affect our health and that of future generations also.

The following is a general guide to the most commonly used methods of drinking water quality improvement.

Water filtration and purification aims to remove three types of contamination:

Biological. Bacteria, viruses, Helminths (worms) & protozoa (parasites).

Chemical. pesticides, herbicides, solvents, chlorine and organochlorines, e.g. trihalomethanes (THM) poly-chlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), fluoride, ethylenes, benzenes, chlorides, metals and 100s of other combinations of chemicals with unknown effects.

Aesthetic. Dust, silt, rust and various other dirt particles.


Distilling has often been considered the most efficient method of water purification. For several decades there have been two schools of thought regarding distillation.

The process of evaporation to separate H2O from contaminants results in removal of the naturally occurring minerals. Many prominent naturopaths regard the minerals in water as valuable to health. Because these minerals are chelated in the intestine, they are converted from inorganic to organic;8 thus the body has 'known' and utilised this source of nutrients for millions of years. Nature doesn't provide distilled water as such, since water picks up mineral content on its journey over and under the Earth's surface. Another consideration is that distilled water is a powerful solvent. It is said that if we drink distilled water exclusively long term, it can rob the body of minerals by an innate tendency to 'refill' its empty state.

These dissolving and carrying abilities are the precise reasons why the opposite school of thought values its use; their view being that distilled water is a valuable detoxifier. It is considered by these advocates that drinking distilled water will help cleanse the kidneys and blood and maintain health.

I would suggest that drinking distilled water is valid in a therapeutic context. As it is not the only way of achieving water purity and the addition of an efficient carbon filter is also required for the removal of volatile organics, it is a more specialised technique than is sometimes portrayed. Some distilled water drinkers remineralise their water with mineral additives, including sea water or sea water concentrate, thus returning soft empty water to hard mineralised water. Extensive research in the USA and England has shown that hard water drinkers suffer less heart disease, less diabetes, less hardening of the arteries, less osteoporosis and less tooth decay than soft water drinkers.[8] Therefore remineralising distilled water would seem wise. Distillers require electricity and occasional servicing of heating components.

A high level of purification should be achievable using distiller-activated carbon combinations but it is still valid to ask for lab test reports as there are possible variations in the performance of both methods.

Reverse osmosis (R.O.)

Reverse osmosis is a technique of forcing water, by electric pump or mains pressure, through a semi-permeable membrane. Various aspects of R.O. are worth understanding in order to evaluate a given system.

Firstly, a synthetic membrane is a chemical compound which has a relative stability. According to Felix Franks a disadvantage with some R.O. machines is that "while some substances are removed, different types of contaminants can be introduced during the treatment".[9] As R.O. forces water through a synthetic membrane at high pressures, the type of membrane used should be independently lab tested for oestrogenic chemicals and a wide range of contaminants.

Some R.O. units allow volatile organic chemicals to pass through into the water for use. This is the reason why some units include an activated carbon filter. R.O. has the ability to remove salt and so is often used for the desalination of sea water. R.O. also removes naturally occurring minerals and so has a softening effect on water.

R.O. is used in industry where its specific capabilities can be particularly useful. Highly sophisticated R.O. machines can achieve very thorough removal of specific minerals and contaminants.

R.O. tends to be criticised on ecological grounds because significant quantities of water are wasted flushing the membrane clean.

Bottled water

Factors to consider regarding bottled water are:

The cost, plastic or glass bottle manufacturing and disposal or recycling of bottles and overall environmental impact, including transportation. Surveys have revealed bacteria in some bottled water, although not always unfriendly. Sometimes mineral levels such as nitrates are too high for young babies, so choice can be important. For a more in depth discussion of bottled water see back issue of 'Here's Health' magazine October 1993.

Ion exchange

Ion Exchange is a technology generally used in water softening. As the name implies it involves the 'swapping' of substances, in the context of water treatment this means an undesirable ion being exchanged for a more desirable ion. Usually resin beads are charged with the substance that attracts and chemically 'hands back' the more desirable ion. It is not therefore a complete purification method as such. Ion exchange is sometimes used in combined method devices with carbon filtration to help improve the performance across the spectrum of contaminant removal. Ion exchange can be targeted or selective so that if for example calcium was one of the minerals exchanged, then a degree of softening would occur as the presence of calcium is a contributing factor in water hardness.

Granulated activated carbon (G.A.C.)

These are the most widely used filters, including jugs, tap mounted and most of the under-sink units.

The main filtering effect is achieved by the water passing slowly through the carbon granules, which have an enormous total surface area. This functions as an electro-chemical absorbent sieve removing various contaminants including chlorine, hence the improved taste and appearance. G.A.C. filter cartridges often include ion exchange resin, these are the small white balls which can sometimes be seen in the water reservoir when replacing jug filter cartridges. Some suppliers of G.A.C. cartridges provide two different types, one for soft water districts and the other for hard water. If hard water cartridges remove minerals by including ion exchange resin, then this will have a softening effect on the water. If hard water cartridges remove minerals in order to prevent premature blocking of the carbon component, then the user should be made aware of the softening effect.

To prevent the build up of bacteria inside the cartridge, the carbon granules are impregnated with silver. This does not imply that all biological contaminants will necessarily be filtered out or killed; the silver effect is bacteriostatic not bacteriocidal. Some small-bacteria can pass through the loose granules and survive the silver, because exposure to the silver would have to be sustained for at least six minutes,10 where as water passes through G.A.C. in a much shorter time.

The researched figures for the microstraining capability of G.A.C. vary. This is because a cartridge containing loose granules of carbon is not a fixed or solid structure and channelling can occur. This happens when water, taking the path of least resistance through the granules, tracks a short cut pathway thus reducing the filtering effect. Some better quality G.A.C. units include a baffle to minimise this problem.

Ceramic filters

Ceramic filtration is a technique that has been used for years. The effectiveness of ceramics depends on the small holes or pores within its make up. The smallest that a ceramic filter will go down to is 1 micron. This means that it would not qualify for the name 'purifier' since plenty of known chemicals and bacteria can pass through, being of a smaller size.

A useful quality of some ceramic filters is that they can be washed out for renewed effectiveness. However, in some cases, powerful back flushing would be needed to unclog the minute pores. Ceramic filters can be a good starting point for multi-stage filters.

Multi-stage or combination filters

Some filters available provide combined advantages of the micro-filtration capabilities of several techniques.

Sometimes these may be called purifiers. However, there is no legislation governing the use of the term 'purifier' in England as there used to be in the USA.

Devices that use combined methods can provide a very greatly improved quality of water for drinking. For example combining ceramic and carbon filtration with a selective ion exchange component will provide a higher degree of filtration than any of these methods alone. So this is the sophisticated end of the filter market. Such a product can give us 85% to 93% removal of contaminants across a wide range of biological and chemical offenders. Naturally occurring minerals are not taken out. Replacement cartridges are priced to make the per-litre cost very economical.

Submicron matrix purifier

This device, originally qualified by the American authorities as a purifier, is an advanced system giving submicron filtration down to 0.1 micron. It includes an electrokinetic attraction factor, achieved by particles within the matrix having positive and negative charges. This takes care of even smaller (colloidal) contaminants than the 0.1 micron filtration. Since certain disease causing bacteria are as small as 0.5 micron, this system is sufficient to prevent this type of pathogen from occurring in the purified water. The carbon ingredients in the cartridge matrix are not prone to channelling and therefore they remove chlorine and other specific organic chemicals to a very high standard throughout the life of the cartridge. This system of purification does not remove naturally occurring minerals. The published research indicates a large percentage of 97% to 99.9% purification throughout the life of each cartridge. Variations in design include under-sink, counter-top, portable and large volume demand units.

The scientists who developed the submicron matrix purifier were able to draw on knowledge and technology derived from high tech nuclear engineering, to create a system purpose designed for achieving drinking water purity. This team had backgrounds in the Max Planck Institute and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories where the understanding of separation technologies was advanced. Since 1973 this system has been used in Colonic Therapy and other radical environments where water purity is vital.

Replacement cartridges are priced to make the per-litre cost very economical.

Many airlines world-wide use the submicron matrix purifier. This device has the largest volume of independent laboratory tests verifying its performance. These include the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the American Military and many universities around the world.

Oxidisers and Anti-microbials

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)

Adding small amounts of H2O2 to water is a less well known method of purification. Chemicals are oxidised whilst biological contaminants are killed by the increased oxygen level. H2O2 is not widely used as a chlorine alternative as its effect is not sustained and treated water could be recontaminated. One product, developed and approved in Australia, is a stabilised H2O2 combined with Colloidal Silver, providing biological protection.

Colloidal Silver is an antimicrobial catalyst known to suffocate single cell organisms.[10] This technique is not instantaneous, but simple and economical. It is not known whether all chemicals and metals in tap water are fully oxidised by this method. Chlorine is efficiently released; research will no doubt reveal what else occurs.

Iodine and bromide/Ozone

These two substances have been used to kill viruses and bacteria. Residual contamination and suspected carcinogenic effects mean that post-treatment filtration is still required. Iodine is considered to be a fast acting anti-viral treatment so would be useful in tropical locations, etc.

Ozone is still being researched for safety to determine what long term dangers may result from water treatment.

Ultra-violet radiation

Ultra-violet radiation is useful for short term biological disinfection. A simple example known to work on bacteria is to fill a Polythene bag with water and place it in direct sunlight for 24 hours. The UV rays passing through the polythene bag become trapped inside and slowly sterilise the water, but cloudiness would reduce the effectiveness. Residential UV machines which run on electricity rely on UV lamps and do not remove any impurities such as chemicals and heavy metals.

Whilst this summary has covered most of the systems on the regular market, new designs appear and disappear. It will always be worth the effort of looking at independent laboratory test results because sales 'pitch' often fails to match up with well researched information.


Initial investment cost should not be the main factor in choosing a filtering or purification system. Ongoing running costs, including electricity consumption and/or cartridge replacement, are key factors.

Using 1.75 litres per person per day as an approximate guide for 3 people minus days away, plus guests, etc., this represents a yearly consumption of about 2000 litres. The pence per litre cost makes a real difference:

2000 Litres @ 1p = £20
2000 litres @ 4p = £80
2000 litres @ 30p £600

Beyond water purification

Water is capable of retaining energy patterns, information of a subtle order and so we can expect to see the medicine of the future including ways of influencing the body via the electromagnetic field with programmed water. Already in the work of Ed Sopcak we have an example of water as the vehicle of specific healing effects.[11] In the research of the noted French scientist Jacques Benveniste is an example of water retaining electromagnetic information (water memory).12 Water is also used medically having first been (temporarily) split into acid water and alkaline water. There is also Spiralised water, Tachyonised water, Homoeopathically prepared water, magnetically activated water . . . to mention a few.

From energised water modified by high technology, to 'dropped' water using simple methods as the Yogis have done for centuries, we have ample indications that there is more to water than meets the eye.


1. The Greenpeace Book of Water. Klaus Lanz. Publisher: David & Charles 1995.
2. What's Wrong with Chlorine. Marion Leyland. "Around the Home" vol: 6 no. 3.
3. Timeless Mind Ageless Body. Deepak Chopra. pub: Rider 1993.
4. Your Body's Many Cries for Water. Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj. pub: Global Health Virginia, USA 1994.
5. A Day with Barbara Wren (cassette). The College of Natural Nutrition. Tele. no. : 01392 881091.
6. The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace. Da Free John. pub: Dawn Horse Press. tele. no.: 01508 471405.
7. Maharaj. T.S. Anantha Murthy. pub: Dawn Horse Press. tele. 01508 471405. A Mahatma who Lived for 185 years.
8. Hypoglycemia - A Better Approach. Paavo Airola. Publisher: Health Plus 1977.
9. Water. Felix Franks. Royal Society of Chemistry (Publisher) 1983.
10. Colloidal Silver. Zane Baranowski CN. Healing Wisdom Publications 1995.
11. Curing AIDS and Cancer – an interview with Ed Sopcak. Sovereign Scribe Vol 1. No. 31. Also Nexus: Dec '93/Jan'94.
12. The Memory of Water. Michel Schiff. pub: Thorsons / Harper Collins 1994.


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About Timothy Freer

Timothy Freer has researched nutritional products, water purification methods and tools for energy health for the last seven years. He runs The Well Being Programmes and publishes The Well-Being Catalogue which provides researched information and resources including a wide range of health and healing aids. He is available for lectures, seminars, consultations and healing sessions. For further information on water purification and a copy of The Well-Being Catalogue: contact Timothy Freer on 01725- 517807

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