More On Dehydrated Water

Today’s Newscripts post is from C&EN Senior Correspondent Marc Reisch:

It seems like the topic of dehydrated water tickled more than just the funny bone of this writer when he filed a Newscripts entry on the subject about a month ago (C&EN, Feb. 21, page 48). Or perhaps it’s the spirit of April Fool’s day, which is fast approaching.

Whatever the reason, a number of Newscripts followers wrote in to comment. One reader, Ian Stewart, a now-retired geologist, recalls hearing about dehydrated water back in 1955, proving this is one product that has withstood the test of time.

Hokey water pills. Credit:

Fellow student Graham Chinner, an Australian, had a wicked sense of humor, Stewart writes, and often entertained questions from other students about roughing it in the outback. “Inevitably the question of survival in those rugged conditions would come up, and on more than one occasion, Chinner assured a gullible listener that he always carried some dehydrated water.”

Rob Schmidt of Lawrence Livermore National Lab says about the website referred to in the Feb. 21 Newscripts: “I always wondered if this website was actually a scam to extract money from a gullible public, or a social experiment akin to websites alerting us to the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide. As carries the products, I guess it’s just a scam.”

For nontechnical Newscripts readers, dihydrogen monoxide is simply another means to refer to H2O, or water. Its use is connected to efforts to show how scientific illiteracy can lead to misplaced fears.

Schmidt uses the website and similar sites as a way to get introductory chemistry students he teaches at a junior college to think critically about valid versus invalid scientific claims. One other such Web posting, he fondly notes, is a webpage posted by a diet-food-supply firm having a little fun with its customers. Bernard Food Industries of Evanston, Ill., offers its dehydrated water in a can.

Bernard’s dehydrated water “contains no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives, no nothing.” Apparently the contents are good for “literally thousands of uses,” including dry martinis, dry cleaning, filling dry docks, dry mopping floors, and making dry ice. This dietetic product has one use that I think tops them all: dampening dry humor.

Schmidt also came across another humorous reference to dehydrated water in a blog known as “The Second Sight: Science. Sense. Sarcasm.” The Dec. 20, 2010, entry shows an image of Dr. Silas Hoke’s Dehydrated Water Pills. Instructions for use call for the addition of alcohol, “preferably gin.”

For research scientist Mark Shenderovich of biotechnology firm Myrexis, reading about dehydrated water in the Feb. 21 issue of C&EN made him grab for his calendar. “Was it really the first of April already? No, it was not,” he writes.

But it should have been. Whenever confronted with decaffeinated coffee or nonalcoholic beer, “I asked myself, ‘What about dehydrated water?’ Finally, it happened,” Shenderovich notes. “Now I can ask a waitress who offers me ‘decaffeinated’ espresso: ‘Can I have my water dehydrated, please?’ ”

Author: Lauren Wolf

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  1. Not quite the same, but there has been research that showed spiking your water with glycerol leads to a greater level of hydration than drinking “pure” water; something the military is interested in, in terms of having to transport less water by volume…