Life in a Shoebox…a Shoebox of Lies

Recently, Skeptic North contributors Scott, Mitchell and I went on a mini-field trip to the Whole Life [and wallet] Expo 2009 in Toronto, and speaking for myself at least, I was provided with easily several months-worth of skeptical fodder.  Mitchell already did a brief write-up, and has a fairly extensive and enjoyable photo stream of the event, which I recommend you all go check out for some hilariously mind-blowing sights that made our eyeballs bleed.

Today’s entry is on a particular piece of Expo-hilarity, The SaunaRay.

The SaunaRay is a human-sized wooden box with a ceramic heater in it.  The heater gives off heat that is a little warmer than the room you’re sitting in right now, but nowhere near the heat of a conventional steam-sauna.  It’s a little like sitting in a box made up of dry, mid-July weather.

But if you listened the saleswoman, you’d think that the SaunaRay has so many magical properties that it’s one step away from being the wondrous wardrobe you’d take on your way to Narnia.  You’d also think that Mitchell and I are incredibly dangerous and sneaky people  from a far-off land (more on that later).
Standing in a wheat field with raised will yield similar results
According to their website, sitting in the SaunaRay will purge your body of the toxins that accumulate in the body, especially lead and mercury. It does this by the special, “Medical Grade” ceramic heater which “emits heat in the far infrared wavelengths between 4.0 “ 20 microns” (though their brochure says that it emits the far IR at 4-14 microns).  After purging these toxins, a person can supposedly expect to have “total relief” of numerous health conditions, such as fibromyalgia, psoriasis, and asthma! I’ve lived with asthma all my life, and I had no idea that it was the toxins in my blood this whole time!  If only they had invented the human-sized wooden box earlier!
Ummm….nevermind…
I’ll just take a moment to point out a bit about their “Far Infrared” claim.  Firstly, they claim that their heaters emit far IR at 4-14 (or 20) microns.  However, the far IR begins to emit at 25 microns, and 4-14 is not far-IR, but rather in the range of near, to mid IR.  Not a big deal, I’ll admit, but still: if you’re going to make the effort to sound sciencey, you could at least take the 2 minutes that I did to google “Far IR” and get it right.  “Near IR” sounds just as sciencey.  Add to that, the human body emits IR at around 7-10 microns, so sitting in this little box is not all that different from what your own body does anyway, especially on a hot day.
The brochure I grabbed.  Physical Proof of what they claim…And a free Comfort Package!  Whatever.  I’ve got one of those already.
This product is just another over-priced detox-scam.  Repackaged with some new bit of language and sciencey-sounding words, the company gets to sell a wooden box equipped with a $95 heater that is more likely to be seen in a college dorm room than being taken seriously by any scientist or consumer watchdog.
Ethyl Mercury and formaldehyde (two buzz-words from the website) do not accumulate in the body, especially not in the low-dosages that we are exposed to on a regular basis.  The best way to stay healthy is to eat healthy, stay active, sleep regularly, and avoid pumping terrible chemicals into your body, such as by cigarettes and drug abuse.  It does not take a medical degree or a naturopathic ‘education’ to know this, nor does it take a colon cleanse, some bitter fruit-drinks, or a wooden box to achieve.
Buying this wooden heater-box would set me back $4000. Sitting in the same box for a funny caption is free.
One final note of interest.  If you poke around the SaunaRay website, you may notice repeated references to low-quality Chinese knockoffs, some that may even catch fire!  Well, I’m guessing this company might have a bit of a paranoid streak to them.  As Mitchell and I were taking pictures, the saleswoman quite forcefully demanded to know who we were “with”.  Our response was a predictable, “Buh???”, but she pressed on:
Saleswoman: “Why are you taking pictures of our products?”
Me: “Ummmm….Was I not supposed to?”
Saleswoman: “We sometimes get Chinese spies photographing our equipment for their own uses”
Me: “Buh???”
Saleswoman “I’m just really curious as to why you’re taking pictures”
Me: “Ma’am, I’m not a spy……I’m a music teacher from Niagara!”

I mean, I suppose it’s a reasonable assumption for the woman to make.  Just look at that picture:  Surely, I just scream “I am a Chinese spy.  Don’t mess with me.”  With my fair skin and red-hair, maybe she thought I was a spy from the rarely-discussed all-Irish sub-population of China in the Guiness O’ Zhang region.

Deadly, dangerous, sneaky Steve.

One Response to “Life in a Shoebox…a Shoebox of Lies”

  1. Ryan says:

    Maybe they are really TARDISes? lol

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  • Steve Thoms

    Steve is a professional music teacher living in Kitchener, Ontario. He studied recorded music production at Fanshawe College, and Political Studies/History at Trent University, where he specialized in political economy and global politics. He is an amateur astronomer, and an award-winning astro-photographer. Steve also runs the blog, Oot and Aboot with Some Canadian Skeptic." can can be followed on Twitter, @SomeCndnSkeptic.