Can You Use Magnet To Detect Heavy Metals In Tea Bags?!

Can you use a magnet to detect heavy metals in tea bags?! Take a look at the viral video, and find out what the facts really are!


Claim : Use Magnet To Detect Heavy Metals In Tea Bags!

People are sharing a video, which appears to show how a magnet can be used to detect heavy metals in our tea bags! It’s also being used to promote alternative healthcare products to detox or purge your body of these “heavy metals”.

Died Suddenly : They put metals in baby formula, vaccines, and also our food. Why?

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Truth : You Cannot Use Magnet To Detect Heavy Metals In Tea Bags!

This is yet another example of fake news circulating on X (formerly Twitter), and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : It Was A Herbal Tea Bag

Let me start by pointing out that the tea bag in the viral video is not a typical black / green tea bag that many of us commonly consume.

I traced the tea bag to the Swiss company, Coop, which produces and sells this tea bag as Alpenkräuter-Tee mit Orangenminze. or Organic Alpine Herbal Tea with Orange Mint, under the Naturaplan brand.

This tea bag does not contain any actual tea from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Instead, it only contains herbs, and orange mint:

Nettle (Switzerland), goldenrod (Switzerland), orange mint 20% (Switzerland), lemon balm (Switzerland). All agricultural ingredients come from organic production.

Fact #2 : Most Heavy Metals Are Not Magnetic

The video shows a magnet being used to separate and capture some blackish powder. While it is impossible to determine what the blackish powder is from a low-resolution video, that is likely oxidised iron filings (rust).

It is unlikely for magnets to pick out heavy metals, because most of them are not magnetic. The only three elemental metals that are naturally ferromagnetic, and can be “detected” by a magnet, are iron, cobalt, and nickel.

Coincidentally, those three are also micronutrients that are essential for human health, so we won’t count them in the “bad” heavy metals category for the purpose of this article. The “bad” heavy metals that we really want to avoid in our diet, like arsenic, lead, cadmium, thallium, etc. are not magnetic, and cannot be picked up by any magnet.

Therefore, it is highly likely that the blackish powder seen in the video is just iron filings, which is easily picked up by a magnet, and is also a common contaminant in tea. I will explain in the next section…

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Fact #3 : Iron Filings Are Common Contaminants In Tea

What many people don’t know is that iron filings are a common contaminant in tea powder and tea bags, due to the manufacturing process, which relies on iron machinery.

To make tea powder or the crushed tea leaves used in tea bags, the tea leaves are dried in a sieve fitted with an iron mesh. The dried tea leaves are then cut using iron rollers, before being crushed by crushing / shredding machines made of iron.

The final shredded / powdered tea leaves will naturally contain fine iron particles. Even though large magnets are used to remove those iron filings, some will inevitably remain in the tea.

That is why food authorities worldwide have limits on how much iron content is allowed in tea. For example, Sri Lanka sets the maximum limit at 200 milligrams per kilogram of tea, while the permissible limit in India is 150 mg/kg (although tea producers here have asked for the limit to be increased to 500 mg/kg).

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


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