05 March 2009

Trouble in the shower

It all began with an (even!) earlier than usual arrival at school the other morning.  Time there was to fit in a run down the hill to the Lake.  And back.  Time too to fit in a hot refreshing shower on my return.  Or so I thought.

Oh my goodness.  The first problem was the water; chilly to say the least.  Brrr!  And then there was the amount of it; a few pathetic needles, jabbing at me.  Ouch!  What on earth could have been the problem?  Time I think to take a closer look at the shower head.


Ah ha!  See those three or four pin-pricks of light?  Those are the only places that the water is able to get through.  The rest of the holes seem to be plugged up with something.  Can you see?


What can it be?  Where can it have come from?  Let’s have a think.  What is the only thing that goes through the shower?  Yes; water.  So it must be something that was in the water.

During its travels, (rain)water (which is acidic) passes along, through and between rocks.  The rocks in these parts are made from limestone.  The rainwater dissolves some of the (alkaline) minerals (called calcium) in the limestone and unfortunately this gets into the water that comes out of our taps.  And showers.  When the water dries, it leaves these minerals behind.  After a time these block up the holes in the shower head.

So.  What can we do to get rid of it?  Maybe we could use an acid.  Something like vinegar, perhaps..


Pour some (acid) vinegar into a jug.


Pop in the (alkaline) shower head.  And listen…..


What do you hear?  A fizzing sound.  Now watch…..


What do you see?  Bubbles.  What can be happening?

Well, when an acid and an alkali are put together you get a chemical reaction.  The fizzing and bubbling are the chemical reaction.  The  (acid) vinegar is dissolving the (alkaline) calcium.

And after a short while; well take a look.


One calcium-free shower head.  Which works.


A treat!


Now, just one more little problem.  My kettle seems to be taking simply ages to boil…..


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