Today's radium WTF

Revigator (ca. 1924-1928)

Intended to add radioactivity to drinking water.

Advertised by the company as "an original radium ore patented water crock," it sold in the hundreds of thousands between 1922 and the mid-1930s.

As a company brochure stated, "Results overcome doubts." "The millions of tiny rays that are continuously given off by this ore penetrate the water and form this great HEALTH ELEMENT--RADIO-ACTIVITY. All the next day the family is provided with two gallons of real, healthful radioactive water . . . nature's way to health."

The tan version shown here is the most commonly encountered style of Revigator.

Users were provided the following printed instructions on the side of the jar:

1. Fill jar every night.

2. Use hydrant or any good water.

3. Drink freely when thirsty and upon arising and retiring. Average six or more glasses daily. Scrub with a stiff brush and scald monthly.

The glazed ceramic jar had a porous lining that incorporated uranium ore. Water inside the jar would absorb the radon released by decay of the radium in the ore. Depending on the type of water, the resulting radon concentrations would range from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand picocuries per liter.

Considerable confusion persists about the correct pronunciation of "Revigator." The solution can be found in the question-and-answer section of a 1928 sales brochure of the Revigator Water Jar Company. The answer: "re-vig-a-tor. Accent on the vig."

Produced by the Radium Ore Revigator Company (aka the Revigator Water Jar Company) of San Francisco California. Although the address on the jar itself is 260 California Street, their headquarters were at Sutter and Taylor in the Revigator Building which is still there. Their Hayward offices were located at 519 Castro Street, and 641 Castro Street. Some of their regional offices included the following addresses:

Park Row Building (regional office)
New York, NY

601 S. Clarence St. (regional office)
Los Angeles, CA

1002 (and 1302 and 1807) Mallers Building (regional office)
5 S. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL

Bone Building (regional office)
800 N. Main
Wichita, KS

820 Union Street (regional office)
New Orleans, LA

Suite 201 (regional office)
Merrill Building
211 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI

Size: Approximately 9" diameter at base and 12" high
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I have held one of these in my hands. We found it at a flea market and my friend who collects radioactive stuff (seriously. No, don't ask.) bought it.

He gave it to a friend along with a few other items from his collection when his wife got pregnant.
True. And with the money you save on electric bills, you can use it for all of the upcoming hospital bills.
I actually had to read the word "Revigator" three times before I realised it wasn't actually a misspelling of "refrigerator".
Oh my god, I think we have one of these at the farm in the junk barn....
It ain't heavy, It's our water...
Hmm, No Texas office? I wonder why...
How did people EVER get deluded into thinking radioactivity was good for the body?

I mean, this was probably low level radiation that didn't really hurt you too badly, but still! Damn quackery, it's a miracle we survived as a species.
I have to wonder exactly how much of this shit is out there in landfills, or in basements, or attics.

Also, why didn't everyone in the generations that used this stuff die of cancer? I wonder if there is a study out there on cancer rates and how they had to have increased in the decades these products became widespread.
I think it helped that most of the products advertised as "radioactive" actually weren't, and since most people didn't have Geiger counters around the house, they didn't know. Or, if the products were genuinely radioactive, they weren't *very* radioactive - and the health fad for radioactive products was relatively short. So the exposure level of an average consumer probably never neared that of, for instance, a Radium Girl who worked with the stuff all day long.

Maybe I am getting old and can't find it, but I don't see a link to the webpage from which all the text was taken. If the link is there, no harm in repeating it.