Radium Water Jars (late 1920s, early 1930s)

The purpose of this ceramic jar, like that of the other jars in the collection, was to add radioactivity (radon) to drinking water.  

In this case, the source of the radioactivity is a circular disk (lower right hand corner of the photo to the left) that would normally be kept inside the jar. The disk (photo below left) is identified as the "Hammer Radium Activator." I have not performed an analysis but suspect that it was made by mixing uranium ore with cement. I doubt that it incorporated purified radium. The name suggests that the disk might have been made by the Hammer Radium Company of Denver Colorado, but there is no way to tell.

The jar shown to the left has the remnants of a paper label on which portions of the letters "ER" can be made out. The version of the jar shown below did away with the fragile paper label and replaced it with text stenciled directly on the jar. The same sort of situation is found with the Torbena Jar which came in two versions: one with a paper label and one without. 

According to an article by Scott Jordan in the Canadian Bottle and Stoneware Collector magazine, the paper label on a possibly identical two-tone jar indicated that it was manufactured (or sold) by Radium Health Products of Canada, a company located at 120 Danforth Avenue in Toronto. 

Size:  Jar, ca. 9" tall and 7" diameter

         Activator disk,   ca. 4" diameter, 1" thick

Exposure Rate: ca. 14 uR/hr at one foot.

The one gallon jar to the left (with the missing lid)is identified as having been produced by the same company, Radium Health Products of Canada, that I believe manufactured the two-tone jars shown above. 

When I obtained it, there was no "activator" inside.

Size:  ca. 9" tall and 7" diameter



Jordan, S. The Real Thing. Canadian Bottle and Stoneware Collector 20. April, 1997.

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



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Last updated: 12/01/11
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