Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 16:37:12 -0000 From: "Paul Murphy" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Message-Id: <aabcdefg4276$foo@default> Subject: water
Hi all, Here is a copy of the study that I did for last years UK CP
Journal, I tried to write it as basic as possible for those who
have never studied chemistry;
I am a chemical processor and I have picked up, gained, or have
access to the knowledge of chemicals, water (H2O) being no
exception. It can come in quite useful at times.
As we carnivorous plant enthusiasts know the use of house hold
tap water is a no no, natural bottled water should also be
steered clear of. Both for reasons I will now explain.
In its movement over and through the earth's crust, water
reacts with minerals in the soil and rocks. The main dissolved
constituents of surface and ground water are sulphates,
chlorides and bicarbonates of sodium and potassium and of
calcium and magnesium oxides. The addition of fluoride to
house hold tap water to help reduce tooth decay, it beats
banning chocolate I suppose. Fluoride is a compound of the
element fluorine together with a metallic element such as
sodium, this compound is called 'sodium fluoride'. Suspended
and dissolved impurities are present in untreated naturally
occurring water, these organic and inorganic materials are
removed together with suspended materials. Active compound can
be used to remove tastes and odours, and to kill off any
micro-organisms filtration and chlorination or irradiation
process takes place.
I must point out at this point that the boiling of water in
order to soften it is false information, as this can actually
make matters worse by concentrating the salts content of water.
There are two types of hard water, there is: (A) Temporary
hard water, and; (B) Permanent hard water.
(A) Temporary hard water releases salts when boiled which then
attaches itself to such as a kettle shell and element, these salts
do not return to the water when cooled, and are commonly known as
'scale'. Depending on the rock element in your area the salts could
range from magnesium and calcium carbonates (thus forming a white
scale in your kettle), to iron chelates compound (forming a brown
discoloration to your kettle), you may even see traces of green
coloured scale which has come from copper compounds.
(B) Permanent hard water will not lose any salts when boiled but
will in fact become more concentrated due to the loss of steam
(steam is pure water) thus leaving behind a higher ratio of salts to
So to recap, the hardness of water is caused mainly by calcium
and magnesium salts and to a small extent by metal compounds
such as iron and aluminium compounds. Temporary hardness is
caused by bicarbonates and carbonates of calcium and magnesium.
Permanent hardness is known as 'noncarbonate hardness'. This
water is the most dangerous to carnivorous plants and should
not be used for watering purposes, especially after boiling.
Distilled water is the steam (pure water) we talked about in
section [(B) 'permanent hard water'] which has been collected
and condensed into a pure water form, thus leaving behind any
minerals causing contamination. Rain water is much the same
process, where by water vapour rises into cloud form, the cloud
becomes saturated, cools from vapour to fall as pure water
droplets. Although nowadays rain is not as pure as God
intended it to be, due to precipitation of atmospheric
pollution's such as; sulphur trioxide (SO3), and carbon dioxide
(CO2). These gasses when absorbed by rain droplets (H2O) form;
sulphuric acid (H2SO4), and carbonic acid (H2CO3),
respectively. i.e. Acid rain, an excellent recipe for
The addition of sulphuric acid to tap water in order to water
ones plants does not sound right to me,
because although you are increasing the acidity of the water you are
also making the water harder by
precipitation of sulphates with the existing salts in the water. I
know that in the last paragraph I mentioned about sulphuric acid
forming in acid rain, but remember also that the water droplets from
the clouds are pure water to begin with, therefore making the water
into a very-very mild form of acid water (of sulphuric acid). Where
as adding sulphuric acid to tap water will cause the sulphates to
attach themselves chemically to some of the existing salts such as
calcium salts and iron chelates, thus forming more noncarbonate
water i.e. permanent hard water.
Now I'm not saying that this would work but if you do need to
increase the acidity (lower the 'pH') of the water used on
carnivorous plants, then you might want to try Acetic Acid
(vinegar), the acetates in this acid are more soluble in water,
there won't be the same problems with adding more salts and it
is a weaker acid than sulphuric which would give you more
control over the alteration of pH levels in the water.
Sulphuric acid is a very strong acid and one droplet too many
could send the pH way too low thus forming actual acid instead
of acidic water.
Either way the addition of chemicals to tap water whether to
increase acidity, or to change the structure of the salts only
leads to a build up of excess chemicals in the compost and
eventually dissapointment. I would suggest that anyone who has
been forced to use tap water should only use it for a few weeks
maximum. Then they should change the compost as soon as
So in order to maintain good healthy carnivorous plants it is
not advisable to use tap water unless your local water
authority can tell you that you have 'soft' or 'temporary hard'
water that you can boil, but use sparingly. Alternatively you
could pay out for distilled water or a de-ionizing unit, which
I know I personally cannot afford, and which still leaves
chemicals inthe water. So I will stick to the favourite that
most of us use, the good old acid-ish rain.
A good way of testing hard to soft water is the soap test, if
soap or washing up liquid lathers easily
when added to your tap water then that is a sign you have soft
water, but if when the soap or
washing up liquid is added and it is very difficult to get a lather
then that is a sign of hard water.
I hope this hasn't bored you too much, my wife suggested that
it would, but then again she calls me an 'anorak' for my
interest in carnivorous plants, which says a lot for her lack
I hope this is of some help to anyone,
Paul J Murphy West Mids, UK.
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