The Science Behind Ionic Detox Foot Spa

Please be advised due to renovating to the upstairs spa the below spa services will not be available from Monday November 3-Monday November 17.

What is the science behind these footbaths, where do the colors actually come from?

To answer this question scientifically, all the influences must be discussed. Basically, all ionic footbaths are based on electrolysis of water. In this process there are five influencing factors: power level, water type, metal plate alloy content, salt type/additives, and the epidermis of the foot.

Power Level: The Bio-Tox’s Unit = 17 Volts

Voltage is a very important part of an effective ionizing process. According to Bohr’s theory at least 13.5 Volts of energy is required to free the electron from its ground state, therefore creating true ionization. It is important to maintain a voltage above this minimum to create a level of ionization that allows for saturation to occur. Low power levels can produce ionization, but these released ions will recombine as fast as they are produced. Creation of them faster than they recombine is essential; you need a regulating and adjustable source of power. Conversely, providing too much power to the bath can create a tunneling effect in which the flow overcomes the amount of alloy plate surface available and the overall electrolysis effect lowers.

BEWARE: Detox Foot Spa machines with less than 13.5 volts do not work!


Most all water that comes from a public tap has its own impurities which due to the electrolysis are separated or recombined from their original state of soluble suspension in the water. Common tap water can contain varying amounts of suspended solids such as sodium, lead, calcium, magnesium, manganese, nickel, chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, barium, boron, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluorine, iron, mercury, sulphates, and organic debris. These impurities are found in very small and safe amounts in tap water. In the presence of electrolysis, these impurities clump together in a visible state. Highly filtered waters such as reverse osmosis, distilled, and drinking often produce much less color and seem to have lower visual activity. These waters are not very conductive for the electrical process and require more salt. They are not the best choice to produce the ionization in the most efficient manner.

Alloy Content

All the array plates, rings, etc. on the market are made of an alloy of stainless steel. To recombine molecules the stainless steel has electrolytic reactions with the actual water, the sea salts, and suspended solids in the water. As the plates break down they recombine with the solids to come out of a soluble state and appear to the eye as debris. The composition of the chosen alloy stains these items and creates a multitude of colors.


Salt is an integral part of the process. First of all, it allows for control of the conductivity of the water: more salt equals a greater current; the user can control the rate with the level in the bath. Secondly, its structure allows for the saturation of the bath with ionization. Without the salt, the bath will produce electrolysis but will often not saturate with ionization. Some footbath manufacturers provide salts with minerals added or salts naturally having lots of minerals, this creates many very amazing looking colors above and beyond the colors that naturally occur. This addition of minerals makes the bath very conductive; unfortunately this means very little sea salt is added. With less sea salt there are fewer salt crystals structures in the bath, this can affect overall ionization adversely. Always use a water type and a “non-additive” sea salt combination that allows for the highest production and retention of ions in the bath. Having to add too much salt to a bath to gain the electrolysis process (low power units) can wear out the array plates/rings too quickly.

Epidermis of the Foot
This is where the controversy begins!

There are as many opinions on this as there are manufacturers and users. The items that have been proven through science are discussed above. The epidermis of the foot excretes many organic materials. This occurs whether in a footbath or not. When the foot’s epidermis is in contact with a soluble liquid such as water these excreted materials become soluble themselves and float off into the water. The skin can contain attachments of soaps, creams, and other products introduced to the epidermis by the person. Any naturally released germs, bacteria, funguses, etc., also become soluble. This is akin to bathing, except that with a footbath, these items are altered and then become opaque, clump together, and show different colors. They basically become non-soluble and either float to the top or sink to the bottom of the bath.

The Process

When an ionic footbath array begins the process it attempts to raise the pH of the water from an acidic state to a more alkaline state (acidic items- coca cola, coffee, pesticides, alkaline items-celery, most herbs, and spirulina). pH (potential of hydrogen) is a measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The heightened alkalinity of the footbath interacts with the newly soluble items which carry an acidic tendency and neutralizes them in the bath. This is similar to pet odor removers [urine is quite acidic, and the odor product is quite alkaline- they combine and move the wet spot back toward a balanced pH (7.0 is balance between the two)]. This process is also similar to baking soda in a refrigerator. The soda is very alkaline. The smelly oxidative releases of the food breaking down can be absorbed, or neutralized by the soda. This is a simplistic version of the process, with all the above factors involved being variables, each session becomes unique to the location and to the person.

This overview is a very basic attempt to explain complex, chemical, and atomic level reactions that occur in an ionic footbath. If you are more curious, there is a wealth of information out on the internet and at your local library about these processes.

Wash Toxins Away

The soles of the feet, palms of our hands, and armpits are three of the body’s discharge pathways for toxins (hence the odor). The use of antiperspirant blocks one of these pathways, and over time can result in an accumulation of chemicals in the body. The feet are the largest pathway of the body and have been used for centuries to eliminate toxins. Traditionally, feet were placed in salty sand to detoxify. This method was slow and had limitations. The foot bath uses a direct micro-current that is very similar to low voltage electro-stimulation or cold laser – both of which have been proven to increase cellular ATP (stored energy). This increase in energy stimulates the cells to purge toxins at a much higher rate. The warm salt water is used as a conduit for exchanging ions. In other words, the foot bath is like a magnet that energizes the cells and draws out toxic material right before your eyes.

Water, metal, and salt will combine to produce a light water color change, as well as objects in the water even without feet being submerged. The Bio-Tox Foot Detoxification Spa neutralizes toxins in the water the same way it neutralizes toxins in the body. Remember that the body itself has high water content. This is where toxins become isolated. As a general rule, depending on geographical location, about 20-40% of what you see in the water after a foot bath comes from regional toxins in the water. The remaining 60-80 % comes from the client’s body. Color charts are helpful for estimating what toxins are being pulled from the body.