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What does ion foot detox do?


Ion foot detox, also known as ionic foot bath detox or foot spa detox, is an alternative medicine treatment that claims to draw toxins out of the body through the feet. It involves soaking the feet in salt water while an ionizer device sends a low level electric current through the water. Proponents believe the ions help pull toxins out of the body through osmosis. The water turns shades of orange, brown, or black which supporters say is evidence of toxin removal.

However, there is no scientific evidence that ion foot detox actually removes toxins. The discoloration of the water likely comes from oxidation of the metals in the array combined with impurities already present on the skin. The safety and benefits are unproven and organizations like the Mayo Clinic caution against using it.

How Does Ion Foot Detox Work?

Ion foot detox involves soaking your feet in warm salt water while placing them in a basin attached to an ionizer. The ionizer is a device that is claimed to help remove toxins from the body by producing ions. Here are the basic steps for how ion foot detox works:

Set up the foot basin

The basin for ion foot detox is filled with warm water and salt. Typically ordinary table salt is used. The salt helps conduct the electric current. The water should cover the feet and ankles.

Connect the array

An array (also called an ionizer) is placed in the basin of water. The array consists of a set of metal plates, often made from iron or aluminum. It is connected to a battery device that sends a low level of electric current through the plates.

Turn on ionizer

Once the feet are in the water, the ionizer device is switched on. This creates an electromagnetic field in the water. The electric current breaks down the salt in the water into positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions through a process called electrolysis.

Ions draw toxins out

The positively and negatively charged ions are said to help draw toxins out of the body through the feet. According to proponents, the ions enable the toxins to be pulled out through the pores of the feet through osmosis. The toxins are believed to attach to the ions as they are neutralized and carried out of the body.

Toxins change water color

During an ion foot detox session, the color of the water will begin to change, usually turning shades of yellow, orange, brown or black. Proponents of the practice claim these color changes indicate the toxins exiting the body. The toxins are visible as they accumulate in the water, or so it is claimed.

Session length varies

A typical session of ion foot detox can last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. The darker the water becomes, the more evidence of toxin removal according to supporters of the practice. Sessions are sometimes followed by a “grounding” period where users walk on magnets or place mats.

Proposed Mechanisms and Claims

There are a few key mechanisms and claims made about how ion foot detox supposedly works to remove toxins:


The negatively charged ions are said to pull toxins with a positive charge out of the body through osmosis. Similarly, the positive ions draw out negatively charged toxins. According to this claim, the ions facilitate the toxins exiting the body through the feet.


The electric current breaks down the salt in the water into sodium and chloride ions through electrolysis. Proponents believe this process not only produces ions but also creates an electromagnetic field that optimizes detoxification.

Visible Toxins

The water changing color to brown, orange, or black is claimed as visible evidence of toxins leaving the body during an ion foot detox session. The different colors supposedly correspond to different toxins like ammonia, fluoride, mercury, lead, zinc, cholesterol, uric acid, and phosphates.

Neutralizes free radicals

Some say the ions produced during ion foot detox neutralize free radicals in the body. This is claimed to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation associated with excess free radicals.

However, there is currently no scientific research or evidence demonstrating these mechanisms of action actually occur or that the ion foot bath detox delivers the benefits claimed by manufacturers and practitioners.

Claimed Benefits of Ion Foot Detox

While lacking scientific support, there are many claimed benefits of ion foot detox floating around the alternative medicine marketplace. Here are some of the purported benefits:


The main claimed benefit is a full body detoxification achieved by soaking feet in the ionized foot bath. Advocates believe toxins are eliminated from all organs and tissues through this foot cleansing.

Improved energy

By ridding the body of toxins and heavy metals, proponents claim ion foot baths increase energy, reduce fatigue, and boost vitality.

Enhanced immune function

Removing toxins is said to support the immune system and minimize the impact of toxins and free radicals that weaken immunity.

Reduced inflammation

The neutralization of free radicals and oxidation is claimed to reduce inflammation in the body that contributes to numerous diseases.

Weight loss

Some alternative health spas and clinics include ion foot detox as part of their detox and weight loss programs. Removing toxins is believed to help shed excess pounds.

Improved sleep

Detoxification and relaxation during treatment is claimed to help rebalance hormones and neurotransmission to promote sleep.

However, there is currently little to no scientific research available demonstrating these purported benefits or proving ion foot bath detox delivers what it claims.

Scientific Research and Criticisms

There are several criticisms and problems with the claims made about ion foot detox from a scientific perspective:

Lack of evidence for toxin removal

– There is no research proving the darkened water contains toxins released from the body, only metals from the ionizer unit.

Water discoloration explained

– The color change in the water is due to oxidation of the metal ions and impurities already present on the skin’s surface, not toxins exiting the body.

No increase in toxins found

– Analyses show the water contains no more toxins than water without feet present, debunking the toxin claims.

No impact on toxin blood levels

– Blood tests before and after ion foot detox sessions show no change in toxin levels in the body.

Safety concerns

– Improper sterilization could potentially spread bacterial or fungal infections on feet from equipment. Electrical safety also needs to be ensured.

Osmosis explanation problematic

– Osmosis draws water, not toxins, across membranes toward higher ion concentrations. Soaking feet would not draw toxins out of bloodstream.

No impact on free radicals

– There’s no evidence the ions generated can neutralize free radicals inside the body or reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

Detoxification functions unproven

– The liver, kidneys, lungs, and colon eliminate toxins effectively without needing ion foot baths.

Overall the lack of evidence supporting detoxification claims and potential health risks mean regulatory bodies like the FDA do not recommend ion foot detox as a clinical treatment. More rigorous research is needed to demonstrate any potential benefits.

Ion Foot Detox Providers and Cost

Ion foot detox is primarily offered in alternative medicine clinics and spas as part of cleansing and detox programs. Some medical practitioners may also provide it. Home foot spa kits can also be purchased for personal use.

Average Costs

The average cost for one ion foot detox session ranges from $30 to $100 in most places. Packages of multiple sessions are also sold, lowering the per-session price. Home foot spa ionizer kits can cost $100 to $500.

Places Offering Ion Foot Detox

Here are some places ion foot detox is offered and estimated price ranges:

Alternative medicine clinics $30 – $60 per session
Detox spas $40 – $100 per session
Naturopathic centers $30 – $60 per session
Acupuncture clinics $40 – $60 per session
Chiropractic offices $30 – $50 per session
Holistic health centers $50 – $100 per session
Medispas $50 – $100 per session
Online vendors $100 – $500 for home kits

Prices can vary quite a bit based on your location. Packages offering multiple sessions tend to cost less per session than paying individually.

Is Ion Foot Detox Safe?

Potential risks and safety concerns with ion foot detox include:

Risks if improperly sterilized

– Shared foot baths carry risk of transmitting bacterial infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or fungal infections like athlete’s foot between users if not properly sterilized after each use.

Risks with open wounds

– Cuts or broken skin on feet and lower legs may allow more heavy metals and contaminants to enter the body during a foot bath session.

Electrical safety

– Faulty batteries or electrical wiring can pose shock hazards with ionizer units, especially for at-home kits.

Interactions with medical devices

– Electrical currents may interfere with implantable devices like pacemakers, although low amperage limits risks.

Use during pregnancy

– Safety for pregnant women has not been established, so most experts recommend avoiding use.

Proper usage and sterilization techniques can help minimize some of these risks when receiving ion foot detox from a professional provider rather than using home kits. Discuss any health concerns with your provider.

Who Should Avoid Ion Foot Detox

Certain medical conditions and health factors may indicate avoiding ion foot detox unless cleared by your physician, including:

Pregnant or breastfeeding women

– Lack of safety research means pregnant/nursing women are advised to avoid ion foot detox.

People with medical implants

– Pacemakers, insulin pumps, nerve stimulators, and other implants may carry electrical interference risks.

People with metal implants

– Metal pins, screws, plates, or joint replacements can interact with electromagnetic fields.

People with broken skin

– Cuts, sores, or wounds on feet and lower legs may lead to infection risks.

People with circulatory disorders

– Conditions like diabetes and peripheral artery disease can reduce wound healing.

People with neuropathies

– Lack of sensation in feet raises potential for burns from warm water undetected.

Checking with your doctor can help identify any precautions to take or health factors indicating avoidance of ion foot detox. Providers should screen for conditions that may exclude someone from treatment.


While claims for ion foot detox sound appealing, there currently lacks scientific evidence proving its safety, efficacy, and proposed mechanisms of action. Controlled studies demonstrating health benefits and toxin removal are needed. Critics argue the changes seen in the water are oxidation rather than toxins and that risks may outweigh unproven benefits.

Proponents believe the anecdotal benefits reported for enhanced wellbeing. But until quality research confirms these effects, medical experts recommend applying skepticism when it comes to the accuracy of the claims. Ion foot detox remains an unproven and controversial alternative therapy. More study is needed to determine if and how it works before mainstream medical acceptance.