Drinking heavy water


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/22/drinking-heavy-water.html


This video has taught me that drinking heavy water will cure myopia in 24 hours.


Deuterium is the best thing for slowing down neutrons? Ummmm… no…


pH is a contributor to the sense of water “sweetness”, with higher pH (more alkaline) water tasting sweeter. Heavy water is more alkaline than regular water, due to its lesser rate of dissociation. I believe distilled water and all other water with low solute concentrations would taste sweet as well. See this for more:



“Heavy water is made from molecules of two deuterium atoms and one oxygen atom. Because of the extra neutrons, it weighs about 10% more than regular water.”

Reading this article has reminded me that if I want scientific precision and people arguing about it, I need Ars Technica rather than BoingBoing. Even so, would it have hurt to write “Because deuterium atoms have roughly twice the mass of protium atoms, D2O molecules have about ten percent more mass than 1H2O molecules”?
OK, perhaps it would.


That is extremely interesting. I wonder if anyone has a theory.

I’ve heard that smell receptors are believed to work at least partly by recognising the shape of molecules, and you could imagine this is a similar thing. Like, maybe sweetness sensors respond to things that diffuse through some kind of membrane at a certain rate, and this is confused by deuterium atoms because they diffuse more slowly than protons.


So my high school science teacher was lying (or misinformed) when he told us you’d die from drinking heavy water?


Hmm. If you raised the pH of distilled water to 7.45 with (a very small amount of) sodium hydroxide, would it taste noticeably sweet? I mean in the sense of candy, rather than the sense of Moses making water “sweet” (I remember this was a source of considerable confusion in bible-indoctrination class). But then I don’t know in what sense we’re saying D2O tastes “sweet” either.


Sounds dangerous. Didn’t the Penguin’s powdered goons get reduced to subatomic particles because they were accidentally re-hydrated with heavy water from the Batcave’s nuclear reactor?


Distilled water is mildly acidic, though, isn’t it? Pure water is neutral by definition, but distilled water tends to be exposed to air, which has carbon dioxide… the carbon dioxide dissolves in the water, making a weak carbonic acid solution, giving it a pH below 7. I mean, the pH is probably, like, 6.5 or something, so it wouldn’t be sour, but it probably wouldn’t be sweet either.


GI Joe warned me that the spots in the ocean with heavy water were guarded by giant Tube Worms


Well, I’ve seen nothing that proves they AREN’T guarded by giant tube worms, so let’s go with that…


A colleague who distributes 18O water (the other “heavy” water), had a lady inquire about getting some because she thought that it might have some special health properties… Probably would be a much more lucrative market than cyclotron facilities.



I only drink 3H2O.


Where’s the imprecision? It is the extra neutrons in the deuterium that give heavy water its greater weight, isn’t it?


it would! but only in the Moses sense (good reference, BTW), which is the type of sweetness he’s referring to in the video.


You’re totally right - I was conflating two things. Distilled water tastes “clean” (as in, no sense of aftertaste), not sweet - my error. So we’re down to just the deuterium water pH then…


You’d die if you tried to replace your regular water habit with heavy water. A little of it won’t do you much harm, though, since there’s already heavy water in the regular water on Earth, and your metabolism can cope with that:


I saw a documentary about heavy water just recently.


What about that “lite water” that has zero calories?

I’m trying to lose weight, I sure as hell ain’t drinking no “heavy” water!