From: Paul Murphy (pjmurphy17@fdn.co.uk)
Date: Thu Dec 30 1999 - 08:37:12 PST

Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 16:37:12 -0000
From: "Paul Murphy" <pjmurphy17@fdn.co.uk>
To: cp@opus.hpl.hp.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
pure water.

     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
     carnivorous plants.

     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
     of taste.

    I hope this is of some help to anyone,

            Paul J Murphy West Mids, UK.

[HTML file part2 deleted by listprocessor]

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Jan 02 2001 - 17:32:09 PST