Do Air and Water Mix?
It has been known for a very long time that aerating water is a generally good thing to do. If you have a fish tank or garden pond you’ll know that a pump or ceramic diffuser to produce fine bubbles, or a fountain to shake up the water surface, are necessary to maintain aquatic life. And since we came from the fishes, what’s good for them is generally alright for us too.
Take the jacuzzi or the whirlpool bath – they turn an ordinary soak in the tub into a memorable and invigorating spa-type experience.
In some parts of the country, there can be sulphur content in the water supply. It’s corrosive and smelly. In order to avoid the use of chlorine, which is scarcely any better for you, you can pump water into a non-pressurised tank and agitate it. This vents out the sulphur compounds. Oxygen exposure oxidises some of them, creating ‘atomic sulphur’ that can be filtered out. The same process can be effective in removing any radon present in the water.
The basic idea in all of the above is to maximise the dispersion of oxygen in the water mass by creating the largest possible contact surface area.
One more recent development, spurred on by the desire to improve home economy and make environmental improvements, is the aerated tap or shower head. In these, an ‘aerating restrictor’ mixes air and water so that you experience the same pressure but with a lower water content. This allows you to use less water, saving on your meter; and less hot water, saving on your heating boiler costs.
Don’t get carried away by all the energy-saving claims – in the kitchen with an aerated tap you will tend to wait longer to fill the kettle or pan to the required level and the net effect will be zero – but it is actually in the bathroom or WC that you will make the most savings. You tend to enjoy the same length of showering session or run the basin tap for the same amount of time: the finite amount of water and heating will be less.
In addition, you should notice a more luxurious feel to your water contact. It’s described as a ‘champagne effect’. The tiny bubbles make the flow seem softer and more luxurious. As a side benefit, less water diverts to the side – it tends to run more directly and consistently, and to splash less. Just like the finest hotel bathrooms.
It is possible to buy aerating restrictors that will screw in place on existing (modern) taps in place of their standard flow straightener nozzles. Alternatively at Plumbworld, there are new taps and showers that come with the feature as standard. One such is illustrated here: Grohe’s Eurostyle mixer tap, with what they call their ‘Mousseur’ aerator.