Sniffex – Probably Just Had Hayfever (Updated)

Update: A commenter pointed me to the very useful Sniffexquestions blog. Not that you shouldn’t read my stuff. But any Sniffexquestions you might have, will be answered there. (S)he even has the report of the test shown below.

James Randi, of JREF, Sharon Weinberger, lover of government mind control stories and Imaginary Weapons (now in paperback!) and Bruce Schneier, crypto-guy have all pointed to the Sniffex modern munitions dowsing rod foolishness.

As Sharon put it over at Danger Room

Penny stock schemes are a dime a dozen, but you gotta love ones that involve far-fetched military technology. A few months ago, I received in the mail information on Sniffex, a company touting a dream technology in the age of terror: a hand-held explosive sniffer. The company’s claims about its uses — sniffing through concrete and at great distances, sounded a bit too wonderful. I tossed the brochure — labeled “hot stocks on the street”– in my pile of possibly stupid weapons, and promptly forgot about it.

Others didn’t. Famed magician and uber-Skeptic James Randi unearthed a Navy report evaluating Sniffex, and from the snippets he published online, it’s rather damning

Bruce Schnieder picked up the story. His intrepid commenters found the more interesting stuff. One reader describes a blind test of the Sniffex ‘product’ conducted at Bob Hope airport . “Tourism and Safety 2006”, a conference for law enforcement professionals held at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in April of 2006 [Updated: See Comments – Thanks MY]. Now the videos of this blind test of ‘detection equipment’ are up at YouTube. The test is simple. Several envelopes, 9 filled with salt, 1 filled with gun powder – now use the Sniffex ‘device’ to find the dangerous one.

It starts off with a description of how Sniffex works (like the energy source – YOU!).

Then a simple test is proposed

And they huff, and they puff, and huff again. But they can’t find the explosive.

My favourite part? Perhaps the ever-present elevator music in the background. Like some surreal cross between Heidi and 24, frantically search for the nuke while “What A Wonderful World” plays as a soundtrack. Perfect.

Despite all the negative waves being sent their way, Sniffex is still being pushed on it’s European site with a “patented method based on detection of magnetic interference.” As a matter of fact, they even have a patent number: 6,344,818. See – down at the bottom

Oh!. Maybe they don’t have that patent any more.

Status: Patent Expired Due to NonPayment of
Maintenance Fees Under 37 CFR 1.362
Status Date: 03-08-2006

So not only do they have a device that doesn’t work, they can’t even keep their patent “working”.

2 comments so far

  1. M. Y. on

    Thanks for mentioning this series of test conducted by a friend of mine. One minor correction– it wasn’t done at the Bob Hope Airport– far as I know, the tests took place at “Tourism and Safety 2006”, a conference for law enforcement professionals held at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in April of 2006.

    The muzak / elevator music is my favorite part too– the tests were done in public hallways of the hotel and some of the conference participants witnessed a part of them. Surreal indeed!

    There’s a detailed (too detailed maybe) written report here (scroll down a bit when you get there):

    and you can see all the videos of the tests collected together and explained here:

    The videos are also on (just search for “sniffex” -without the quote marks)

    So how does Homeland Safety International, stock symbol HSFI.PK, continue to exist? I have no idea. My friend offered to repeat the tests with any amount of any explosive the company wanted to try but the company never responded to his email and certified snailmail requests.

    Unfortunately, people in some countries tend to be more gullible than others and may not check the internet for objective tests. If they ever use Sniffex to search for real explosives, they may get blown up. It’s pretty sad. Thanks again for drawing attention to this!!

    These tests should serve as a good scientific model for simple testing of any “detector” claim, especially when the detector seems to be a dowsing rod.

  2. LL on

    Thanks for the link to my blog,

    I hope people will find out this information before they buy one of these Sniffex rods or risk their life by using one.


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