Solubility 101



No, that picture is not from the latest horror movie, despite serving as an excellent backdrop for the screeching and repetitive stabbing motion from Halloween.  This is a scene from  . . . my recurring and eternal battle with  . . .  WATER.

Since we moved into this apartment in 2013, I have encountered a series of water-related catastrophes.  OK, “catastrophe” might be a stretch.  More like an inconvenience/nuisance.

The latest water conflict involves the picture above.  That’s actually our bath tub, despite looking like the sinister backdrop for a magic show.  Underneath those bubble bath islands, the water is blue.  As there is no foul smell, the culprit is likely copper, and it’s likely harmless, but after a completely useless generic water testing kit that relied on my judgment of identical shades of beige, I decided that matters should be placed in management’s hands.  Which went something like this:

Me: “Hi, when I fill the bath tub, the water is blue.  It’s been blue for a week.  I’d like someone to come over and check it out.”

My least favorite of all the receptionists, let’s call her Edwina*: “What was that?”

I repeat my first statement.

Theresa: “Let me repeat it back to you and then I’ll find out what to do.  When you fill the bath tub, the water is blue.”

Me: “Yes.  And the hotter the water, the brighter the blue.”

Theresa: “REALLY?!?!” with all the emphasis on the first syllable, and in a shocking tone, as if I had just told her I saw the sun rise in the west.

Sigh.  And this is when I really, really wished everyone had Solubility 101 in their back pocket.  It would just make things so much easier.

So, I thought I’d put together the following guide on solubility, or, the subject of how things dissolve into (aka, mix with) other things.  Most of the time we are talking about dissolving some substance into water.

And, most of the water we encounter — coming from taps or bottles — is actually a mixture of water molecules (H2O) and other things, like calcium carbonate, or fluoride, for instance.  Not everything mixed in the water is bad; in fact, many of the things are helpful, like fluoride.  Water that comes in a bottle with a label on it that says “Distilled” is pure H2O, otherwise, the water you are working with is likely a mixture.


Important Things to Know About Solubility:


Warm water will generally dissolve more solids, like the copper in my bath water or the sugar in your tea.  Conversely, fewer solids will dissolve in cold water.

WHY WE CARE:  Struggling to demineralize your teapot or humidifier?  Well, fill it with cold water.  There will be less total dissolved solids to begin with, and thus, less scale to scrape off during those regular cleanings.  It will also likely prolong the life of your appliance.



Warm water will generally dissolve less gas.  Think about it.  Does a glass of soda go flat (ie, lose the carbon dioxide gas in it) faster when left A) at room temperature or B) in the fridge?


The answer is A.

Stay tuned for Solubility 102, next week.

*Edwina is not her real name.

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