Radium Spä (ca. 1926-1930)

The Radium-Spa was manufactured by the American Radium Products Company of Los Angeles. 

Quoting a product brochure:

"Radium Spä Duplicates Nature's Process! The Radium-Spa is a Water Jar, permanently lined, with especially selected high grade radium ore. This ore imparts to any water placed therein, millions of tiny gaseous particles known as Radio-activity, in exactly the same manner as Nature does herself." "Keep Well With a Radium-Spa in Your Home!" "The Radium-Spa Lasts Forever." "Sold at a Price You Can Afford to Pay."

Radium Spä (ca. 1926-1930)

The label reads as follows:

"This Radium Spa is unconditionally guaranteed to make any water placed herein radioactive within twelve hours equal in strength to the average of the most effective health springs of the world. Keep the Radium Spa filled by adding water as used. Rinse and dry in the sun every week. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily."

The following quote is also from company literature:

“For centuries the famous “Well of Beauty” at Donje Vodne, near Urkub, Turkey have been guarded as sacred and kept only for the beauties of the Turkish harems... These favored women actually retained youth and beauty long after others of the same age had become old and wrinkled... The Radio-Spa [Radium-spa] faithfully duplicates the “Well of Beauty” and is now ready for you.”

An early advertisement (Los Angeles Times, September 29, 1926) proudly announced:

"100 Generations from Now Your Radium Spa will still be bringing Health and Happiness to your descendants."

Size: ca. 15" high, 10" diameter at widest point

Exposure rate: ca. 50 uR/hr above background at one foot

American Radium Products Company

American Radium Products Company was located in Los Angeles, California. As best as I can determine, they operated from 1926 until 1932 or so, but the last few years of their existence might have been in name only. After 1929, the company was no longer included in the Los Angeles City Directory.

The company's upper management:

Neil M. Jones was the president

Robert D. Emery (an osteopathic physician) was the medical director. Emery and Jones were copartners.

Hal Blair served as the treasurer

The following company addresses are from the Los Angeles City Directories:

Room 312 of the Story Building, 610 S. Broadway (ca. 1927)

620 W. 6th Street (ca. 1928)

618 S. Figra Street (ca 1929)

They also had an office in Pasadena:

17 Richardson Building, 100 East Colorado Street.

American Radium Products Company vs. the Federal Trade Commission

In January of 1930 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused the company of falsely claiming that the Radium Spa had “any therapeutic or curative value for any bodily ailment or disease whatsoever.” In October of 1932, the complaint was upheld and the American Radium Products Company was issued a cease and desist order (Federal Trade Commission Decisions Vol. 17, Docket 1752).

The ruling was based on the inability of the Radium Spa to produce water that was sufficiently radioactive:

"Science has demonstrated that water poured into, permitted to remain therein for a period of 12 or 24 hours, and thereafter drawn from a radium emanation generator which yields less than 2,000 millimicrocuries of emanation per litre during each period of 24 hours, has a dosage of radium emanation so small as to have no therapeutic value"

"Scientific investigations of the actual radium emanation imparted by said water jar [the Radium Spa], manufactured and sold by respondents [Neil Jones and Robert Emery], to water poured into, permitted so to remain in, and afterward drawn therefrom, demonstrates that the same is in every case less than 60 millimicrocurles of emanation per litre during any period of 24 hours"

A notice titled "Beware of "Radium Spa" appeared the next year in the Los Angeles Times (May 7, 1933). It reported that the American Radium Products Company had agreed to forgo any future claims regarding the therapeutic and curative properties of the jar's water.

Neil M. Jones

Neil Meredith Jones was born October 2, 1894 in Jasper, Missouri. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1922. While a student there, he met and married his wife Ruth. By 1925, they were living in Los Angeles and he was in the process of founding the American Radium Products Company. Following the collapse of the company, approximately 1929/1930, he moved from LA to nearby Gardena where he worked as a mining engineer. He died of cancer in 1963.

R.W. Thomas's ore-lined jars (e.g., the Thomas Radium C.R. jar and the Revigator) undoubtedly served as the inspiration for the Radium Spa. The innovation that Jones introduced with the Radium Spa was the manner in which the radioactive lining of the jar was applied. Jones developed a cement-like material that could be mixed with radium ore and then applied to the walls of the jar. The mixture would adhere to the walls with no additional treatment, i.e., firing the jar at high temperatures. This process was described in Jones' patent (1,645,599) "Radioactive Adhesive Plastic Composition" which he filed in 1925. The patent was granted in 1927.

Steve Cartmill

According to Duval Edwards (2007), the science fiction writer Steve Cartmill once worked for American Radium Products Company where he "studied radium and its properties." Later, Cartmill "branched out into uranium, discussing U-235 and atomic energy with science-fiction writers and scientists Robert Heinlein"

In 1944 he published a story called "Deadline" that dealt with an atomic bomb plot on another planet. The U.S. Army's Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) were not amused because editors and broadcasters had been warned to stay away from any references to atomic energy or the radioactive materials that might be employed to release it. As a result, the editor of the pulp magazine that published "Deadline" and the story's author, Steve Cartmill, were subjected to some unpleasant interviews with CIC agents.


Edwards, D.A. Jungle and Other Tales: True Stories of Historic Counterintelligence Operations. 2007.