John Ellis claims that water has a "hydrogen bond angle" ranging from 104° to 114°, and that his patented distillation machines can produce water with a permanent hydrogen bond angle above 113°.

Does water at standard temperature and pressure have a stable "hydrogen bond angle?" And can that angle be permanently modified to the range between 113-114°?

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    I notice at the bottom of the linked page is the claim "Your water machines cure cancer." There is also "Scientific Data" where the first study from 1983 asserts that the distilled water from a machine submitted for testing has less hardness and fewer dissolved solids than undistilled water. Wow. – Weather Vane Sep 21 '20 at 20:13
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    Note that this John Ellis is not the well-known theoretical physicist of the same name. – Gordon Davisson Sep 22 '20 at 6:56
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    This is rather annoying to answer according to the rules of the site. The angle is a fundamental property of the molecule, it is entirely implausible that distillation could affect this. But it's hard to cite this apart from just pointing to an entire chemistry textbook. – Mad Scientist Sep 22 '20 at 9:35
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    For the people not following the 'shocked' comments above, the whole point of distilled water is that distillation removes the impurities for it. Claiming to have invented a new kind of distillation machine that removes impurities is like claiming to have invented a new kind of car that "moves on wheels". – DJClayworth Sep 22 '20 at 15:20
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    Changing the bond angle of water from 105 degrees to 109.5 degrees is a very common procedure, and many people own a machine which does just that. It’s called a freezer. – Adam Chalcraft Sep 23 '20 at 2:04

The linked site mentions that this has been validated by the USPTO. Not true. John Ellis has a few patents on distillers that do not mention hydrogen bonds (from USPTO patent search site with search string IN/"Ellis, Jr; John C"


Method and apparatus for water degasification and distillation

Method for water degasification and distillation

Water degasification and distillation apparatus

Water degasification and distillation apparatus

Distillation apparatus

Another search at google/patents "hydrogen bond angle and distiller ininventor:Ellis" produced 39 hits none of which were about this inventor.

He does have a pending application US 2020/0095136 that makes a claim about changing the angle of hydrogen bonds. Contrary to the implication on the linked web site within the question, this is not a granted application. In fact it received a rejection 7/6/2020. It is non-final rejection but it does argue in one of the several grounds of rejection:

  1. Claims 1-13 are rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or 35 U.S.C. 112 (pre-AIA), first paragraph, as failing to comply with the enablement requirement. The claim(s) contains subject matter which was not described in the specification in such a way as to enable one skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and/or use the invention.
  2. The claimed limitation in claims 1 and 9 that ”water flowing out of the condensing channel has a hydrogen bond angle of greater than 110°”; and in claims 8 and 13 that it is from 113° to about 114° isn't enabled for one having ordinary skill in the art. The equilibrium hydrogen bond angle of water is generally understood in the art as being 104.48°; see abstract of Hoy et al. The following factors, from in re Wands, lead the conclusion of the undue experimentation required to show how the invention was not enabled at the time the invention was made:

The translation is that it can't possibly work unless the inventor presents a lot more proof. It is out of the ordinary that an examiner essentially says an application violates known physics other than perpetual motion cases. I think this is the Hoy paper.

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    Also worth noting that patent examiners do not validate claims made in patents. They usually rule out the impossible (perpetual motion machines) but don't perform any checks that the idea works in practice. – matt_black Sep 22 '20 at 8:32
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    Based on my own experience, I am very nervous about relying on the USPTO search string by author to exclude the presence of patents. I am registered as an inventor on several patents, but trivial differences in the way the different patent lawyers have recorded my name means that you need to use several different search strings to find them all. – Oddthinking Sep 22 '20 at 9:23

There is a lot to unpack from that site; the majority of it seems to have little basis in reality. The short answer is that you cannot permanently change the hydrogen bond angle (104.5°) in water.

EDIT: Free H+ binds to water molecules to form H30+ hyrdonium ions which do have a bond angle of 113°, these are small in number even in very strong acids and would not be more common in purified water.

What is the bond angle determined by?

Water is based on a tetrahedral structure, where 2 of the 'corners' are instead electron pairs, giving it an overall "angular" structure. It is useful to visualise how this looks in 3D compared to the 2D visualisations we may be more familiar with:

Structure visualised in 3D

Tetrahedral structures have a bond angle of 109.5°, however, water has a smaller bond angle due to repulsion between the two electron pairs. This can be determined both theoretically using molecular orbital simulations and empirically using x-ray crystallography.

This would ordinarily result in a tetrahedral geometry in which the angle between electron pairs (and therefore the H-O-H bond angle) is 109.5°. However, because the two non-bonding pairs remain closer to the oxygen atom, these exert a stronger repulsion against the two covalent bonding pairs, effectively pushing the two hydrogen atoms closer together. The result is a distorted tetrahedral arrangement in which the H—O—H angle is 104.5°. https://www.chem1.com/acad/sci/aboutwater.html

What about vibration?
One of the modes of vibration of water molecules is "bend" where vibration of the atoms does indeed cause the atoms to wiggle about and the bond angle to change. However, this is not a permanent state that can be "locked", all molecules vibrate and the vibrations happen at well characterised frequencies which can be measured by spectroscopy.

enter image description here


ETA: What about pH?
Hydrogen ions in water readily form H3O+ Hydronium ions, which, once again, do have a different bond angle (113°). However these will be vanishingly small in number and purifying water would certainly not make these more common.

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    Hm, that last point about H3O+ is an interesting one; I get the impression that among the wild claims on the site there are a few grains of truth, and I wonder if that's where the "114° bond angle" claim comes from. Are there factors that would lead to more or fewer such ions in otherwise pure water? – IMSoP Sep 22 '20 at 17:08
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    @IMSoP - The degree to which water autoionizes is dependent on temperature. Basically as water gets hotter the number of ions in pure increases. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-ionization_of_water // However this has nothing to do with the stupid claim of distilling water to make a different kind of water molecules. – MaxW Sep 22 '20 at 18:00
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    @MaxW Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way defending the outlandish claims on that website, but I'd never heard of "bond angles" or "self-ionization" before, so I'm just curious about where the reality ends and the fantasy begins. – IMSoP Sep 22 '20 at 18:18
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    Is H3O even considered "water"? And if not, then the more there is, the less "pure" the water is anyway. So the fact that its bond angle may be different from H2O doesn't seem to support any of the claims. – StayOnTarget Sep 22 '20 at 19:13
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    If someone gives you a glass of water with enough H3O in it to materially change the average bond angle, do not drink it. Do not spill it on anything you want to keep (e.g. furniture, vehicles, pets, ...) The only way to achieve this is to have a high concentration of strong acid. – Jason Sep 23 '20 at 12:14

It is not the distillation so much as it is the key being to channel a pressurized influx of water where it is super heated in a surgical steel patented container and then cooled as a continuous cycle hundreds of times and this -John Ellis an engineer- found stabilized the hydrogen bond angle at 114.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25747486/ See other hydrogen med studies on hydrogen. All are positive!

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    Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. The first paragraph is unreferenced (and using John Ellis as the reference is begging the question). The reference in the second paragraph does not support the claim and is a red herring. – Oddthinking Dec 3 '20 at 7:39

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