The Radium Emanator (1928 - 1929)

This unusual device, approximately 10 inches tall, was manufactured by Radium Life, Inc. of Los Angeles. Like the Thomas Radioactive Cone and the Zimmer Radon Generator, the Radium Emanator was intended to be placed overnight in water so that a ready supply of radioactive water would be available the next day for drinking. It appears to have been made from cement mixed with uranium ore.

The device's five-plated design created a large surface area for enhanced emanation. It also allowed the owner to vary the emanating power by adding or removing plates. Initial treatments would probably require the use of all five plates, but, as the cure progressed, the number could be reduced.

The drawing of the emanator (above right) is from design patent D77452 that was filed November 7, 1927 and granted January 8, 1929.The design of the device was patented by the same H. R. Zimmer who produced the Zimmer Radon Generator. An early version of the latter was known as the Zimmer Radium Emanator.

The following newspaper account (Wichita Daily Times, Sept. 30, 1928) is the earliest I have found that seems to describe the Radium Emanator: “The device for making drinking water “radio active” is a circular disk arrangement that can be placed in any glass or jar, making the water therein radio-active.” “Zimmer, after years of study and experimentation, has perfected a process that produces and controls radium emanations without refining the radium element from the ore."

Radium Life, Inc. of Los Angeles appears to have been short-lived. As luck would have it, they came along in the late 1920s. Just in time for the collapse of the radium-containing patent medicine business. Their only listing in the Los Angeles City Directory was for the year 1929. L.R. Freer was the company president, Zimmer was vice-president, and H. H. Steiner was the secretary-treasurer. They were located at 110 West 11th Street, Room 406, Los Angeles, CA.

A small advertisement in the Joplin Globe from May 20,1928 that was trying to recruit salesmen listed another address: 1615 South Vermont. Quoting the ad:

“Sensational treatment for plants, flowers, etc. Increases growth, fruit, blossoms. Every home, florist, nursery, prospect. $20 to $30 dollars day earnings.”

Another ad from 1928 by a Radium Life Product Distributors refers to this as the “Zimmer Radium Treatment for plants, orchards and acreage.”

Size: ca. 7 1/2" high, 5" diameter

Exposure Rate: ca. 20 uR/hr above background at one foot

Donated by the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety, courtesy of Sheryl Soderdahl.

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Last updated: 02/17/09
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