The procedure described here is used at Analytical Research Laboratories in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the other labs probably use somewhat similar procedures. However, almost all of them add another step. They wash the hair in various ways. This ruins the accuracy according to several studies. The basic analysis procedure is:
Hair samples arriving at the lab are first cut into small pieces with surgical scissors.
A precisely weighed amount of hair is placed in a test tube with nitric and perchloric acid and left overnight to dissolve. The acids dissolve away all of the hair except the minerals.
The following day the sample is rehydrated precisely and placed in the measuring instrument, which is often an ICP-mass spectrometer. Inside the test instrument, the dissolved sample is burned at a high temperature. Each mineral gives off a characteristic spectrum or frequency of light. This is picked up by detectors in the instrument. Precision calibration and control of the flame temperature are essential to obtain accurate readings.
The ICP-mass spectrometer is a highly sophisticated hybrid, computer-controlled machine costing several hundred thousand dollars. This is not a home or office unit. Any doctor who runs this test in his office is not using the same equipment and results will not be as accurate.
Reprinted with permission from the book “Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis,” page 218, by Dr. Lawrence Wilson.