out what Harry Reasoner discovered in his interview of Doc Willard
As an Authorized
Willard Water™ Distributor, we'd like you to hear this story and make
up your own mind.
All the way
from the South Dakota town where it originated to a segment on the
CBS 60 Minutes...Willard Water has been brewing up a storm
of controversy and simultaneously has gathered some loyal users.
it to fix whatever ails them while others brush it off as a form of quackery.
course, you'll have to decide for yourself. Here is the transcript from
the 60 Minutes interview of Dr. John W. Willard Senior by Harry Reasoner
on November 23, 1980.
transcript of the show
you prefer not to watch the 60 minutes segment, you can
read the entire news story below.
What is your problem, my friend? Dandruff? A calf with water belly? Perhaps
you want to grow a 32 lb. squash? Do you have emphysema, or a painful
burn? Well, if I told you I had something right here in this little bottle
of Doc Willard's Wonder Water that would solve all of those problems....
You’d possibly say that's the same kind of talk I heard from that snake
oil salesman we ran out of town.
you went to Rapid City, South Dakota, you'd find a lot of folks who swear
by something they say will do all these things ... the wondrous water
of Doctor John Wesley Willard. Too good to be true, you say? We went out
to take a look.... with an open mind ... but on the alert for the first
whiff of snake oil.
What we found was a vat of hot brew being stirred up out back in a truck
repair shop and watching over it was Doc Willard who is not a wizard,
but a Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the South Dakota School of Mines.
(Editor's Note: It is now produced in a modern facility and is tested
by the FDA in random visits to the plant to be certain it is safe for
human consumption. It has never failed the test.)
some folks say his "Real" Willard Water can do: Doc Lemley says it's good
for his emphysema. Chauncey Taylor used it on his second and third degree
burn. Ranchers give it to cattle to keep them healthy. Farmers say it
makes wheat grow better. A quail breeder says it helps his birds grow
faster and fatter.
People can't comprehend that this is possible and they're skeptics. And
I suppose I would have been the same way if I hadn't spent the past ten
years of my life living and sleeping with this water.
So what's in it that could make so many things happen? Well, a little
liquid road salt, that's what melts snow and rots your car, and sodium
silicate and magnesium sulfate and sulfated castor oil and then Doc Willard
mixes some of it with powdered lignite. What you have finally are various
mixtures called by different names: LA Water, (it has nothing to do with
that town in California, it means lignite activated water) or CAW water,
catalyst activated water. But it's all Willard Water, whatever it is.
Well, it's the calcium magnesium, polysilicate polymer with a castor oil.
Now that's chemist talk. You've already lost me.
All right. It's a catalyst that alters the structure of the water making
water behave in a manner that heretofore has not been reported in the
Whatever "Real" Willard Water is, we set out to visit some folks around
Rapid City who talk about what it has done for them. On burns for example,
producer Paul Loewenwarter talked with Chauncey Taylor who scorched his
leg doing some welding on an old oil drum.
The fumes in it, I guess, ignited and blowed out a hole and melted my
overalls. I had a pair of poly .. polyester overalls on and it melted
them and melted my shirt and burnt my leg.
So you looked down and just saw your leg charred?
I looked down and the skin was just hanging all different ways there.
Well what did you do to treat it?
Oh, I had a bottle of this LA Water and I just started squirting it on
there and just kept pouring it on, a fine mist.
And what does it do?
It heals it I guess.
And I said now look, let's try this out.
Dr. Ray Lemley is a prominent surgeon, now retired, but still Chauncey
Taylor's family doctor. He told Chauncey to keep spraying the burn with
"Real" Willard Water. We wondered what the normal treatment would have
Well you'd put different kinds of medicine on it. There are all kinds
of medicine for burns. Any housewife has a dozen and that would kill off
the new cells and damage the wound. It would be too strong, usually, and
burn it and interfere with the healing of it. This, we did nothing to
interfere with the healing of it.
Would the normal procedure be to graft?
Well, if you took him to the hospital they would have probably grafted
that by this time and by the time that he gets the scabs off of this and
it's all healed up, your place you took your graft off from it would still
be raw. So we're way ahead.
Chauncey's scab was all gone about three weeks after the burn, and three
months after that we dropped by to see the final results.
Well, it's all healed up.
Dr. Lemley does not just recommend "Real" Willard Water for others. Several
times a day he guzzles the stuff which, incidentally, tastes just like
I have emphysema and I wanted to see if it would help that. I mix up a
jug of it, about three times as strong as it's supposed to be. So if it's
gonna hurt anybody, it would me.
The surprising thing is that Dr. Lemley, at 78, with emphysema, is nonetheless
able to pursue his hobby of paleontology, at which he's a recognized expert,
digging for fossils.
I don't walk too far for anything on account of my emphysema but I get
And you would credit the water with part of that ability?
Well I've seen a lot of emphysema in my long years of practice and most
of them get worse all the time. And mine, it's a little worse than it
was ten years ago, but it isn't anything like anybody I've seen before.
(MUSIC) And then there's Vern Sheppard, a popular Rapid City broadcaster,
who used to miss weeks on the air every winter with a bad throat. Now
Sheppard sprays the throat with Willard Water every day and rarely misses
a day on the air.
When I have pink eye in my eye I just squirt some LA Water in it and then
after a while it isn't so pink anymore.
I spray it on my head for my dandruff and I put it in my bath water and
drink some of it some of the time.
Because people are drinking Willard Water and pouring it on burns and
infections, we wondered whether this unlikely mixture has anything in
it that could do anybody any harm. We took samples to Industrial Testing
Laboratories in New York City. Their results were the same as other tests.
They found nothing harmful, either in the way of bacteria or metals that
could hurt you. But they didn't find much else either. So, what it does,
how it doe it, if it does it remains a mystery. It remains a mystery even
to the Chief Medical Officer of South Dakota's Department of Health, Dr.
My professional opinion about it, of course, is, has been that a lot of
people use it. I've seen results of what they said it did. I've never
had occasion to use it on a patient. Have had no more opinion than that,
You've never used it yourself?
No, sir. I haven't.
On the other hand, you've had no reason to assume it would hurt anybody?
No, I haven't, as a matter of fact, anything I've heard about it has been
nothing bad. It has always been on the positive side.
Would you like to see it tested, Doctor?
I sure would. I've in fact had a question in my mind why it wasn't tested
before and I, I think most doctors in this area who have patients who
have come in contact with it would like to see it tested.
Willard Water gets packed for sale at a kind of Willard family bottling
bee. It's not licensed in any way for sale as a drug or a fertilizer and
state agencies in South Dakota watch closely to see that no false claims
are made about what it can do. The little bottle costs three dollars,
to be mixed with a gallon of water the way most people use it. The biggest
commercial distributor of Willard Water is Tom Callahan. How much of this
stuff have you distributed?
Well, in the last four years, close to forty thousand of those ounce bottles.
Have you had any trouble with regulatory agencies?
Yes. They've stopped the sale of it twice and I'm sure that we'd have
a lot more except that we have so much public opinion around this area
that when the first stop sale order came out the governor got hundreds
of letters from people that were very irate about stopping this product.
And they've more or less kind of let us live ever since.
About the only laboratory work on what Willard Water does, has been done
at the South Dakota School of Mines by Sister Marmion Howe, a Professor
I took some different species of microorganisms and tested them with CAW
or with Doc Willard's Water and without it and then I used different antibiotics
on it to see if Willard Water enhanced the action of the antibiotic.
Yes. I found that it did with certain organisms, not all.
The water also seemed to sometimes speed up the growth of bacteria, doesn't
Yes, we found that out. Some of my students did some work on that.
Do you have any theories based on your tests as to why it does what it
Well no, we need about a million dollars to do some studies on it but
I think the fact that this is a surfactant - or a detergent-like acting
material might make it penetrate a little bit more quickly and effectively.
Doc Willard developed the water as a cleaner. But he learned it could
treat burns when he burned his own arm on a hot plate, years ago, dowsed
it with his water, the sting disappeared, the burn healed. As a cleaner,
he heats up some of the water and soaks an engine piston in it that's
coated with carbon and the burnt on carbon comes off easily with a rag.
Normally that's done only with a lot of scrubbing that can damage the
piston or with harsh solvents that can be dangerous.
This we can take and bathe in it or drink it, if it wasn't so hot.
(SOUND OF COWS) Ranchers and farmers of Rapid City aren't waiting for
scientific proof about Willard Water. They're using it now because they
say it puts money in their pockets. At roundup time, Don Taylor uses it
on his calves when they're branded, spraying it on fresh burns. The calves
seem to quiet down right away. Taylor says it helps the burns heal without
infection, fewer veterinary bills. If there's a sick calf, he'll get a
stiff dose out of a pop bottle and ranchers say that Willard Water can
cure a calf that might otherwise die. Ranchers put it in the wells, in
drinking water, and cattle drink it year around. And it's said to be particularly
good as a kind of tranquilizer when calves are weaned away from their
mothers and become nervous, even frantic.
And we've seen this where you crowd these chickens together or quail together
how they quiet down and it definitely has an effect on the nervous system
and it isn't imagination with a calf or a chicken or a quail.
Quail that get the Willard Water don't bite and scratch each other the
way other quail do and Jim Dickey, who breeds quail in Rapid City, says
they gain more weight on less high cost feed.
They're plumper. They're a little heavier on Willard Water.
Out in the wheat fields there has been a little testing done by farmers
like Paul Zelfer who has one field with normal, untreated wheat and another
whose seed were soaked in the Willard Water before planting.
From the start it was a better color and it came up quicker and it was
a thicker stand and it would yield more, would be more bushels per acre
and every bushel per acre means that many more dollars per acre.
Zelfer then took producer Loewenwarter into an untreated wheat field to
show him the difference.
This here is the treated wheat and this is the untreated and you can just
see the difference in the hair roots. That's what feed the plant, that's
what makes them grow is them little hair roots. The proof is here, you
can see it. But what makes the plant do so much better with the water,
I just don't know.
(NUNS SINGING) You wouldn't expect an order of nuns to be a little hot
bed of Willard Water boosters but at St. Martin's Academy, the Benedictine
Sisters use it daily. And it's not just because one of the members is
Sister Marmion Howe, the Biology Professor we met at the School of Mines.
Many of the sisters bathe in it, drink it, treat burns with it in the
kitchen. And there's the garden where we found Sister Jenna spraying and
spraying with Willard Water last spring, hoping for vegetables like the
crops she had gotten in '79.
you had some prodigious squash?
(A little embarrassed) Yes, I did.
What would be the size of a good, big squash?
Well my largest one was 32 pounds and a 25 pounder and from there on down
to 18 and I believe 15 was the smallest.
We couldn't resist going back this fall to see whether Willard Water had
worked in spite of the drought that struck the plains this summer. Sure
enough, monster squash, though not quite the size of the year before.
I'm no judge,
but that's 20 pounds I'd say anyhow, wouldn't you?
I would say 20 at least.
It would make a lot of meals (LAUGHTER)
So here is Doc Willard, with a magic juice that people say works on quail
and squash and people and cattle and no scientific proof at all.
I've worked with some top-flight men at other universities and they've
made the statement, as I have myself, "I see it but I still don't believe
Well, where do we stand? We haven't proved anything and we didn't expect
to. But we've met a lot of nice people and we found a product that, everyone
agrees, can't hurt you. Maybe that's enough. Besides, anything made with
road salt and castor oil can't be all bad.
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