Thursday 17 October 2013

Working in Ottawa today --Live better through chemistry

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

Get back to work!  Yes, that's right folks - the U.S. has has ended their bickering for now and have passed law that will provide for paying of the bills.  Yawn.

U.S. Federal employees are to report back to work this morning.

But what the hell was this about you ask?  (You did, it wasn't very loud, but you were asking).

Sigh.  The U.S. has private health insurance.  And a huge number of folks there can't afford it.  A family of four could pay 7, 8, 9, $1000 per month easily, moreover the insurance companies invariably rule persons uninsurable if they have prior conditions.

The Obamacare plan is to level the field, make all persons insurable and to subsidize (ooooh evil scary word) those that cannot afford the full pop.  The Tea Party anti-care plan is to thwart the implementation.  This of course despite that Obamacare was a campaign item, was proposed in law, was voted on and passed and signed into law.

If you ask me, those Tea Party folks are just plain UN-AMERICAN! They don't seem to believe in the democratic process of the U.S.  

Incidentally, they raise the invalid argument that Obamacare puts a bureaucracy between citizen and his doctor, and involves the gov't and corporations in healthcare.  yeah?  So?  That is the system that you have -- I notice that you bastards weren't giving up your own health insurance!  Seem quite satisfied to have Kaiser Permanente involved in your own trips to the G.P.

After all, this is really about NOT sharing the wealth, about NOT having tax dollars help out those most in need.   Ah screw it, I don't have the energy to write about it.


Anything else Interesting in your life there Pucky?

Uh. Yeah!  I have been working on water recipes.  Since starting down the road of making my own carbonated aqua (, I had come to conclusion that my tap (and filtered) water was boring.  

it is not very hard, low calcium, low magnesium, low total dissolved salts in general.  

Side bar here.  Not all salts are the evil heart stopping sodium chloride.  Salts are a class of ionic compounds, NaCl being just one of them.

My first plan was to raise the magnesium content of my water into the 50 mg/L range and the calcium above 200 mg/L.  This required a shopping trip. I figured the best way to raise the magnesium was through magnesium sulphate heptahydrate, should be cheap, easy to find, and generally considered safe, After all MgSO4-7H2O is better known as Epsom Salt.  As long as you find USP rated, it is safe to consume.  Bear in mind that at couple of teaspoons quantities it will increase you washroom activities, but I as using WAY less :).          

The next was the calcium.  Yeah.  I first tried calcium carbonate.  Bad idea.  I had tried to shop for Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) but was generally unsuccessful as apparently pharmacists are not aware that this stuff is about as dangerous as Jello and I was met with very suspicious looks and much typing into their computers.   

One pharmacist did offer that she had calcium carbonate (CaCo3), and while at first I passed, I reconsidered.  After all, calcium carbonate is calcite.  Calcite is what deposits around natural springs, and what the hell, I was trying to make spring water.

It was in the trying that I understood why the calcite deposits are there.  Water deep in the earth is under high pressure.  There are also large Co2 deposits, spring water is often naturally carbonated.  This highly pressurized Co2 charged water has a fairly low pH (carbonic acid is formed when carbonating water) and is able to dissolve the calcium carbonate.  Upon the water exiting the spring and as the pressure falls rapidly, the Co2 exits the water (Le Chateleir's principal), the water's pH raises and the calcium carbonate precipitates, that is, it falls out of the water much like rain falls out of clouds.

Try as I might, I could not create a strong enough carbonic acid even at 55 PSI to dissolve the 200 mg/L that I aimed for.  Only about half of that, and just had this annoying 'rainfall' of white particles in my water.  Not appetizing at all, although it did look a little like of one those snow --- ???  What are those things called, the Christmas scene in a plastic bubble with white flecks... maybe even calcium carbonate snowing down?

Back to shopping!  It was after searching unsuccessfully for a chemical supplier for calcium chloride (at less that 100 Kg quantities) that I found that a product used by home pickle makers, Pickle Crisp, has but one ingredient.  Calcium chloride. Yay!

The long and short of it is that I know have 2 liters of delicious carbonated mineral water in my refrigerator with around 220 mg/L of calcium and around 60 mg/L of magnesium - about the same as San Pellagrino but with less sodium.

I know, not very exciting, but next I plan on adding potassium chloride and perhaps some iodine and selenium!  I can barely contain my own anticipation!!

Have a great day.  Drink up.

Remember, I am not a chemist but have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.


  1. Snow Globe!
    That's what they are called.

    Thanks :)

  2. Indeed -- not all salts are bad. Some salts are fantastic. The dextroamphetamine variety. Great for concentration -- "Look! A butterfly!"

    You kind of lost me with all calcium stuff. All those chemical names reminded me of math, and pretty much everyone can agree that math is stupid. Anyhow, I just finished watching the last season of Breaking Bad and it got me thinking -- what would you say to subsidizing our incomes? You could be the brains of the operation, and you'd of course be the cook. You know, with your math. I'd handle distribution. We'd start small so as not to upset the hornet's nest, as it were. Hornet's nest? Yes. Gangs. We wouldn't need to be greedy, 'cause that's how we'd get into more trouble than income subsidy would be really worth. Just a small, tidy operation. If you can hit 90% purity, shoot, we'd be driving Humvee's rolling on 24's in no time, buddy.

    "Remember, I am not a chemist...". Right. You did say that. Sigh. Never mind. I'll go back to my cascading style sheets.

    Have an effervescent day!