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Extra-Small Water and other Drivel in the News

Will extra-small water molecules clean your pores? And is this claim "drivel" or just good old fashioned B.S.?

For some reason when people use the word "drivel" it feels like fingernails dragging across a chalkboard.  Here's a comment that followed a little post I wrote about a mistake in a headline.

It's so hard to keep drivel straight.

The headline in question went over a story about how the world was probably not ending on December 21, but the headline said December 12. That would be 12/12/12 which is the kind of date that should go with claims about the end of the world.

The comment is ambiguous. I'm not sure if he's thinks my story is drivel, or the dreaded drivel refers to the phenomenon the story debunks. Either way, I much prefer the good old fashioned term "B.S."

And speaking of B.S., a reader sent me this funny blog post from Chemical and Engineering News. Apparently you can wash your face with extra tiny water molecules, according to a story in an airline magazine. Here's the claim:

This is the device that produces ionic steam that penetrates deep into pores to provide deep cleansing that rejuvenates and refreshes skin. The unit emits steam molecules that are 1/8,000 smaller than normal water molecules, allowing more moisture to reach deep into the keratin layer and remove impurities while elevating moisture and sebum levels to revitalize skin.

Eliminating the need for harsh chemicals or costly soaps, the device uses ordinary tap water and its warm mist opens pores to remove dead skin cells, leaving skin soft and smooth, and improving its tone. The unit produces steam in 30 seconds. The steamer requires as little countertop space as a box of tissues and comes with a removable cup that allows you to refill the reservoir easily.

Here's what Chemical and Engineering News has to say:

For only $299.95, this miracle product can be yours, folks. And let's not forget to get some chemophobia in there: "Eliminating the need
for harsh chemicals or costly soaps," the ad continues, "the device uses ordinary tap water and its warm mist opens pores to remove dead skin cells, leaving skin soft and smooth, and improving its tone." Yup, those costly soaps will definitely set you back more than this steamer, and those harsh chemicals, why, they'll melt your face off.

Smith[the person who sent C&EN the item] didn't have much to say about the ad—it really speaks for itself—but he adds that "ACS members will doubtless be able, on their own, to come up with a myriad of possible applications for those extra-tiny water molecules."

I have a couple of questions. First, aren't ordinary water molecules small enough to clean most human pores? I'd be happy if my pores were so fine they needed to be cleaned by extra-small water. I'd also like to know whether the sellers of this device think the individual atoms are extra-small, and whether these are made up of extra-small protons and neutrons, themselves made of extra small quarks. Does the extra smallness go all the way down?