Water is the most important, unusual, and underappreciated ingredient used in personal care. It is also one of the most peculiar materials found in nature with over 74 reported scientific anomalies1. Many these anomalies are due to the ability water to form short-lived hydrogen bond connections.
Water is a colorless, odorless, liquid with an exceptionally high boiling and freezing point for its molecular weight. It has a molecular weight of 18 and is comprised of Oxygen covalently bonded to two Hydrogen atoms. It is the only known material that can co-exist in a solid, liquid, and gaseous state.
Physicists have also demonstrated that somewhere between 40 and 60°C, liquid water can change states, exhibiting different properties depending on what form it switches to2. The crossover temperatures were approximately 64°C for thermal conductivity, 50°C for refractive index, 53°C for conductivity, and 57°C for surface tension.
A research team led by Gerald Pollack from the University of Washington in 2010 discovered what they referred to as exclusion zone (EZ) water3. Molecules of liquid water near hydrophilic surfaces are arranged in a hexagonal crystal lattice and have properties dramatically different then conventional water. These include having a UV absorption at 270 nm, more viscosity, and a different refractive index. It is believed that all water found in living cells is in the form of EZ water. This form promotes protein conformation/folding and many of the redox reactions critical for life to exist4.
Recently scientists at MIT discovered that if you confine water in a Carbon nanotube, its freezing point can be dramatically increased to over 105°C7.
A recent controversial phenomenon is the reported ability of water to retain a memory of objects placed in it. When flowers are placed in water and removed and the water is flash cooled, it exhibits a unique crystal pattern dependent on the type of flower used5. Several researchers have made similar memory claims but their experiments often can’t be reproduced6.
Apart from Mercury, water has the highest surface tension of all liquids1 and is one of few known substances that expands when frozen and can float on top of its liquid state. Water reaches its maximum density at 4°C, causing water to freeze from the top down. If water froze from the bottom to the top, most aquatic life could not survive on Earth.
More than 100 years ago Michael Faraday discovered that a thin film of liquid-like water is present at the surface of frozen ice that is well below 0°C. This water has very different properties than normal water. This film also makes ice slippery and is crucial for the motion of glaciers8.
Water in personal care formulations
Water is an ideal carrier for personal care formulations, as it is inexpensive, safe, and readily available. It also is one of the best known solvents, dissolving a wide range of materials due to its high polarity (dielectric constant), and low molecular weight.
Deionized or USP purified are the most common grades of personal care water and are typically tested for total organic carbon (TOC), conductivity, pH, and microbiological count. This type of water is normally produced either by distillation or using a mixed bed ion exchange column. Additional processing such as UV irradiation is also normally employed to insure a low microorganism count.
The top 10 water anomalies1
- Water co-exists in the solid, liquid, and gaseous state and can sublime under pressure from the solid to the gas state (freeze drying).
- Water has an unusually high melting/freezing point and expands on freezing.
- Water has an unusually high boiling point.
- Water has a very high surface tension.
- Water is most dense at 4°C and frozen water floats on top of liquid water
- Water has an exceptionally high specific heat capacity which means it requires a lot of energy to raise its temperature by a given amount.
- Water has very low compressibility.
- The speed of sound in water increases with temperature up to 74°C, after which it starts to fall again.
- Water molecules diffuse more easily, not less easily, at higher pressures.
- Water becomes less viscous, not more viscous, at higher pressures.
- “Anomalous properties of water”
- “Physicists just discovered a second state of liquid water”
- The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor by Gerald Pollack
- Cells, Gels, and the Engines of Life by Gerald Pollack
- “Water Theory”
- “’Water memory’ – a myth that wouldn’t die”
- “Researchers discover astonishing behavior of water confined in carbon nanotubes”
- “How does water melt? Layer by layer!”
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5 Responses to “Water: An Important, Unusual, Personal Care Ingredient”
Such amazing cosmetic ingredient! If it would be expensive, it would be much more appreciate.
Great article and further highlights the fascination and still undiscovered properties of water. One book that wasn’t mentioned in the reference regarding water memory was Masaru Emoto book, The Hidden Messages in Water. Some really interesting theories that challenge the ideas and principles of what appears to be a basic chemical. Eccentric man with a few controversies, but was certainly an interesting read. One thing i know is nothing calms my waters, or floats my boat more than anything when driving to work in the morning, than listening to a bit of Adagio for strings…
Some very unscientific nonsense in this article.
The idea that water has memory has been disproved scientifically more times than i can count.
One piece of errata: Water is not the only material with a triple point (a temperature and pressure at which the solid, liquid, and gas of a substance can coexist). This is a common phenomenon, and some substances with have multiple solid or liquid phases at the triple as well.
On a related note: ice has 16 or so different phases it can take depending on how it’s cooled and what its temperature and pressure are.
Do you have any articles or information on the different types of purified water (sterile and non-sterile) that are used in the manufacturing of personal care products please (creams, lotions, gels, etc.)?
These are the questions I am trying to find information for:
Which type of water is best or most common for which product?
Which are the best suppliers (steady supply) for the different types of water?