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Chris

Should I use distilled water?

The water around our way is really very hard. I have ran my engine a couple of times with just tap water, but figure I don't want to do that too often.

Should I be using distilled water? I have read that deionised stuff can be bad news for corrosion.

I run a dehumidifier at home during the winter months, so maybe I could use the water out of that (technically distilled water I guess).

Any views?
SPOKESMAN

Boil the water first!
Mamodman123

Just boil the tap water for use! Then it'll be fine!
IndianaRog

Distilled water or tap?

IMO, it is always better to use distilled water in your boilers vs. tap given much tap water contains disolved minerals such as calcium.

A good test to see if you have "hard" water (containing minerals), is to put a few drops on a clean glass or other smooth surface and let it evaporate. If it leaves a residue, that same residue will be left in your boiler to coat the insides, the steam lines and the sight glass surfaces.

In the US distilled water is easily available in stores such as Walmart and I currently pay 64 cents a US gallon...cheap price to pay to keep my boilers clean.

Again, the need for distilled water is dependent on the hardness of your local water, the drop/dry test should answer that in short order. I believe in the UK distilled water is sold as battery top off water, but I hear folks use rain water run through cotton cloth to remove dirt and sources like the humidier you mentioned.

cheers,
Roger
tmuir

I always use distilled water but have read that water from dehumidifiers is ok too.
Deionised water apartently can do nasty things to the boiler by removing ions from the metal making solder joints more likely to give way and damaging the boiler it self.
Mamodman123

If in doubt follow the instructions... I don't think Mamod recommend any 'special' water for use with their engines. Just says use clean tap water
tmuir

Mamodman123 wrote:
If in doubt follow the instructions... I don't think Mamod recommend any 'special' water for use with their engines. Just says use clean tap water


Who has clean tap water?
Look in your kettle if you see white deposits in it its full of calcium which can clog up your engine.
Distilled water is so cheap why risk it.
I bought a 15 litre box of it for a few dollars for my car raditor and only needed half for have tonnes of the stuff.
SPOKESMAN

I live in a very soft water area - dont get scale in my kettel at all. Always use boiled tap water - have done for years!
tmuir

SPOKESMAN wrote:
I live in a very soft water area - dont get scale in my kettel at all. Always use boiled tap water - have done for years!


Your lucky I have so much calcium in my water I have to use Calcium remover to clean the glass in my shower and I still cant get it all off.
Wallace

Just adding my bit.

I just use boiled tap water. Once it's boiled, it's fine.
Our tap water is what I call "normal", and is fine.

We don't get scale in our kettle, but moreso a brown tinge.
My parents live in the same town, and they have a water filter on their tap, and same kettle as us. Their kettle is perfectly clean inside, ours is discoloured.

So I guess if you guys have water filters, that'd work too.

But boiled water is fine.
Chris

Our kettle gets calcium deposits very quickly, don't really want that to happen to my boiler.

Think I will check out using distilled water/water from the dehumidifier.
Wallace

Chris wrote:
Our kettle gets calcium deposits very quickly, don't really want that to happen to my boiler.

Think I will check out using distilled water/water from the dehumidifier.


Yeah mate, if it's that bad, just go for distilled.

I assume that once it's boiled it gets rid of calcium from water, but to be sure, try your distilled.
Mamodman123

tmuir wrote:
Mamodman123 wrote:
If in doubt follow the instructions... I don't think Mamod recommend any 'special' water for use with their engines. Just says use clean tap water


Who has clean tap water?
Look in your kettle if you see white deposits in it its full of calcium which can clog up your engine.
Distilled water is so cheap why risk it.
I bought a 15 litre box of it for a few dollars for my car raditor and only needed half for have tonnes of the stuff.


Been using boiled tap water for years, never let me down . No white deposits in my kettle either

I wouldn't say the tap water here is dirty....
SillyBilly

I use boiled tap water. Out here in the hills of Wales the waters great, but I still boil it so i can bet the loco off to a better start.
Steve_S

I use rainwater... very cheap... very plentiful at the moment. I do pre-boil it in a cheap electric kettle bought just for this purpose, but that's to save waiting for the meths to heat it from cold.
Mamodman123

Steve_S wrote:
I use rainwater... very cheap... very plentiful at the moment. I do pre-boil it in a cheap electric kettle bought just for this purpose, but that's to save waiting for the meths to heat it from cold.


Get longer runs too!
Steve_S

Mamodman123 wrote:

Get longer runs too!


Yes!
TE1A_man

Well, I used tap water once on my first engine because i couldn't wait for my mom to get home with distilled water. I have had the same gallon for about a year too. I usually take the extra water in the boiler and add it back to the gallon. That reminds me, i need to get some soon. Also, boiling water gets rid of germs and bacteria, in order to get distilled water from tap, you need to catch the steam. Correct me if i am wrong, but distilled water is made by boiling the water, and catching the steam in a trap, leaving the impurities behind in the container it was boiled in. I don't know if that is what you guys are talking about, if it is, seems kind of tedious to sit there over a stove and catch steam in a cup.
tmuir

TE1A_man wrote:
Well, I used tap water once on my first engine because i couldn't wait for my mom to get home with distilled water. I have had the same gallon for about a year too. I usually take the extra water in the boiler and add it back to the gallon. That reminds me, i need to get some soon. Also, boiling water gets rid of germs and bacteria, in order to get distilled water from tap, you need to catch the steam. Correct me if i am wrong, but distilled water is made by boiling the water, and catching the steam in a trap, leaving the impurities behind in the container it was boiled in. I don't know if that is what you guys are talking about, if it is, seems kind of tedious to sit there over a stove and catch steam in a cup.


That is how you make distilled water but I just buy it.
I live in a hard water area with lots of calcium in it so I dont think my water is suitable.
Some of the other members live in a 'soft' water area where there is less calcium in it.
They boil it in a kettle not to distill it but to preheat it so it takes less time to heat it up in the boler so they get a longer run.
Boiling it may also help remove some of the impurities in thier tap water before use.

Basicially it boils down to this (excuse the pun )
Look inside your kettle if there is a lot of calcium buildup (white residue) in the bottom of your kettle your water supply has a lot of calcium in it so probably not the best for toy steam engines but if kettle is pretty clean it will probably be ok.
Wallace

TE1A_man wrote:
Well, I used tap water once on my first engine because i couldn't wait for my mom to get home with distilled water. I have had the same gallon for about a year too. I usually take the extra water in the boiler and add it back to the gallon. That reminds me, i need to get some soon. Also, boiling water gets rid of germs and bacteria, in order to get distilled water from tap, you need to catch the steam. Correct me if i am wrong, but distilled water is made by boiling the water, and catching the steam in a trap, leaving the impurities behind in the container it was boiled in. I don't know if that is what you guys are talking about, if it is, seems kind of tedious to sit there over a stove and catch steam in a cup.


You add your left over boiler water, to a container for later use??

Now that is being conservative with water

The rate the drought is going over here, we might have to do it by law. However safe so far in this town.
flywheel61

wallace wrote

Quote:
You add your left over boiler water, to a container for later use??
Now that is being conservative with water
The rate the drought is going over here, we might have to do it by law. However safe so far in this town
.

Yes, we live on the mellow yellow principle, & save the rainwater for better use like running the Mamods.

Cheers

chris
Mamodman123

Wallace wrote:
TE1A_man wrote:
Well, I used tap water once on my first engine because i couldn't wait for my mom to get home with distilled water. I have had the same gallon for about a year too. I usually take the extra water in the boiler and add it back to the gallon. That reminds me, i need to get some soon. Also, boiling water gets rid of germs and bacteria, in order to get distilled water from tap, you need to catch the steam. Correct me if i am wrong, but distilled water is made by boiling the water, and catching the steam in a trap, leaving the impurities behind in the container it was boiled in. I don't know if that is what you guys are talking about, if it is, seems kind of tedious to sit there over a stove and catch steam in a cup.


You add your left over boiler water, to a container for later use??

Now that is being conservative with water

The rate the drought is going over here, we might have to do it by law. However safe so far in this town.


You can have some of our rain if you want
Roly Williams

The simple answer is, if you live in a hard water area you MUST use distilled water or an equivalent. If you get fur in your kettle you have hard water - DON'T USE IT! If you get no fur it's safe to use in your boiler.

Boiling hard tap water first does NOT work.

I've also heard that deionised water is not a good idea but I've seen no real evidence against it. Best to avoid it to be on the safe side.

Water from a dehumidifier is ok - that's what I use. Likewise rainwater or water from defrosting the fridge - these are all distilled water. In these cases it's best to filter the water first and boiling it first is sometimes advisable, especially with water from defrosting the fridge.

Having said all that - if you are stuck without distilled water, it's ok to use hard water once in a while only.
TE1A_man

You may want to be careful about what filters you use, you should use a coffee pot filter, not a filter from a pitcher for they contain minerals that not only filter the water, but add themselfs to the water. Speaking of filters, if anyone has a deisel car/truck, go to your local resturant and get they're grase from their grease traps, filter it through a coffee filter, and you have a alternitive fuel for a deisel!!!
tmuir

TE1A_man wrote:
Speaking of filters, if anyone has a deisel car/truck, go to your local resturant and get they're grase from their grease traps, filter it through a coffee filter, and you have a alternitive fuel for a deisel!!!


When I lived in the UK someone got a tactor and drove it across England by visiting all the schools on the way and collected the oil from thier chip frier to run it.
They said it ran great but as they drove past you all you could smell was frying chips.
Mamodman123

tmuir wrote:
TE1A_man wrote:
Speaking of filters, if anyone has a deisel car/truck, go to your local resturant and get they're grase from their grease traps, filter it through a coffee filter, and you have a alternitive fuel for a deisel!!!


When I lived in the UK someone got a tactor and drove it across England by visiting all the schools on the way and collected the oil from thier chip frier to run it.
They said it ran great but as they drove past you all you could smell was frying chips.


Yeah don't drive past the tax man either he'll be chasing
benchmark

The water here in Denmark is very high in calcium content, kettles quickly cake up on the inside which also reduces the heat conductivity ,not to mention the eyesore it creates.I cant risk that happening to my engines , furthermore the so called distilled water sold at the tank stations are also deionized too , which is bad for the engines kettle too.
to solve this problem, i make my own distilled water by melting snow in the winter, a couple of buckets of snow melted in a large pot and i easily get enough to last me the winter. In the summer months , i use rainwater i collect from my plastic garden shed roof that i have channeled to runs off into a large plastic container that i also use to water some types of plants.  
Celsius 100

I remain to be convinced that deionised water will cause any significant boiler problems.Hard water will cause scale formation over time and is not really suitable.
Boiling hard water will not remove the dissolved inorganic chemical compounds, they are still there. Distillation will leave them behind as an insoluble residue in the distillation vessel.
I use deionised water with complete confidence.
Dauntless

I've always used tapwater, but ever since I've bought the Jensen I run that on Water collected from My Dehumidifier.

Paul.
gremlin

I remember reading here sometime ago that boiled tap water in hard areas does't work, it still contains something or other. Since then I've been using rain water.
Roly Williams

Dauntless wrote:
I've always used tapwater, but ever since I've bought the Jensen I run that on Water collected from My Dehumidifier.

Paul.

In South Wales, you probably have soft water in your pipes so you're right to use it.
Dauntless

Roly Williams wrote:
Dauntless wrote:
I've always used tapwater, but ever since I've bought the Jensen I run that on Water collected from My Dehumidifier.

Paul.

In South Wales, you probably have soft water in your pipes so you're right to use it.


Yes Roly we are lucky here the water is soft the kettle stays pretty clean!
benchmark

Celsius 100 wrote:
I remain to be convinced that deionised water will cause any significant boiler problems..


The only reason why i believe that deionised water  is not optimal after i read sites on the internat that claimed so. Amongst them was this

Deionized water contains no ions, which means it has had the chemically reactive molecules removed. If put into contact with metals, however, it will happily take on new ions, with disastrous results. Mike Chaney wrote about the effect of using deionized water at a UK exhibition:

   After about a weeks running some of the loco boilers started to "weep", although they had been properly tested and certified. An investigation showed that the silver soldered joints were failing because the water was trying to grab back ions from any metal with which it came into contact. Copper, zinc and silver were found to be particularly susceptible.

 from http://www.nmia.com/~vrbass/steam/stmintro.htm#DIwater
tmuir

I know of no solid Scientifically tested results that prove deinonised water is harmfull, but there are a lot of people who say it is.
So working on the idea of its better to be safe than sorry I don't use deionised water.

I will conceed though that the occasional use of deionised water is not going to cause any harm though.
tmuir

Actually I've got an idea.

Whose up for some science experiments?

How about a few of us with blow torches get a coup of small sections of copper or brass pipe and solder a cap over the end.

Put one in a jar of distilled water and one in deionised water and change the water each week.

We can then check to see if anything degrades over time.
It would be good if we can get enough people involved that we could try soft and silver solder as well as copper and brass.
dampfmaschinenjoe 1967

I take distilled water, but as mentioned above you can not be shure to get d e i o n i z e d water instead. There´s a trick, I put a pint  glass of tap water into the "distilled" water to avoid dezincification of the solder joints, but it is not enough tap water to build up limescale . So my boilers stay clean inside !

cheers Joe
Wallace

I heard of deionized water affecting boilers, from my brother who is a plumber and had to undertake additional training to be able to do plumbing in a commercial factory situation

He had mostly told me about it affecting the solder joints

I did a quick search and came up with these links....


It affects copper
http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=146011&page=8

and brass
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1985MTA....16.1671P

I tested PH of tap water and rain water, and rain water was more PH neutral, however I never tested distilled water.

Our kettle stays pretty clean here, so still using boiled tap water. I would use rainwater but can't get enough as I have to use buckets to collect it. We don't have a rain tank  

Only 3 of my engines have sightglasses. A fleischmann, jensen and Mamod challenger.
I assume the fleischmann is actual glass, and the Jensen certainly is. They are still very clear. The Mamods is very cloudy, but as the others are ok I suspect it's due to it being a plastic glass
Celsius 100

Let me attempt to clarify what happens to hard water when it is treated to remove the chemical compounds which cause scale formation.
Scale is a combination of the following-
Calcium and magnesium sulphates.Calcium and magnesium chlorides and their respective carbonates may also be may also be  present.
Scale formation is not due to a chemical change but to a loss of water by evaporation until the saturation points of the dissolved compounds are reached.The solubility of calcium sulphate also decreases with rise in temperature, at at the higher temperatures in steam boilers it is almost insoluble.Sulphates are the main cause of scale formation.
Distillation leaves all the above compounds behind in the distillation vessel.
The deionisation process removes the compounds by passing the water through beds of synthetic resins containing separate acidic and basic reactive groups to remove all the calcium and magnesium compounds.
The net effect is that both distillation and deionisation produce the same quality of soft water by removing the same scale forming chemicals.
Water also needs to be ph neutral(7) neither acidic or basic whatever its source to prevent any chemical reactions within a boiler system.
Deionised water is safe to use.
I hope this information helps .
zzubnik

I'm quite confused now about it all.

Having read about the affects of DI water, I don't think I'll be using it again. I have only used it once in my boiler, thankfully.

I think I will purchase some distilled water, as the water in Norwich is really quite sharp, and the kettle has to be cleaned monthly to get rid of the white fur that builds up.

------

Question: I have been boiling water, allowing it to cool, and filtering that (roughly). Is this better than using regular tap water?

Thanks,
Celsius 100

Filtering tap water after boiling will make no diffference the same dissolved compounds are still there.
Tap water could be added, say 10% by volume to deionised water, for those who are deionised doubters.However,this somewhat defeats the purpose of using soft water.
zzubnik

I'm not a doubter as such, but having read that it leeches ions from copper, and causes it to become weak, I am concerned.

I don't know what to do now.

Perhaps I should just use vinegar instead of water, to keep the pipes clean!
Roly Williams

zzubnik wrote:
I'm not a doubter as such, but having read that it leeches ions from copper, and causes it to become weak, I am concerned.

I don't know what to do now.

Perhaps I should just use vinegar instead of water, to keep the pipes clean!

I hope you're joking when you say that!

If you're concerned then use only distilled water, or tap water if it's soft.

Personally, I'm not convinced that deionised water is harmfull. I'm of the opinion that distilled and deionised water are essentially the same thing produced by different processes. However, I'm no expert on the subject and, given that I have a supply of "distilled" water from a dehumidifier, I use that just in case. It's also cheaper than shop bought water of any sort.
Roly Williams

BTW, there's nothing magic about ions or deionised water. Ions are just disolved substances. All disolved solids (except elements) are in the form of ions. De-ionised water is just water with the ions removed; i.e. with disolved solids removed. When someone says something like "deionised water leeches ions from the metal" all they are saying is that the water disolves the metal. True, pure water is a (not very good) solvent of most things, but that applies equally to distilled water, or pure water produced by any other means.

However, as I've said, I'm not an expert (despite appearances) and I'm open to correction (or confirmation) by someone who is. In the mean time, I'll continue to use only distilled water when I have it.
zzubnik

Thanks for the comments, Roly. I am inclined to agree with your logic.

And, you will be happy to hear that I was joking  
steam4ian

G'day all

Neither distilled or demineralised water are good for boilers because as others have writen the low or no concentration of basic ions makes them very aggressive to metals.

Some tap water may be OK but could contain chloride ions as well as hardness from calcium and magnesium. Boiling before putting in your engine will remove some of the hardness and boil off disolved gases like chlorine and ammonia. Ammonia attacks copper and Chlorine attacks brass.

My club uses rain water for our engines and my boiler is a clean as a whistle inside. One of the boiler inspectors suggested adding small quantities of Calgon to raise the pH of the water. Calgon is a calcium phosphate compound.

Humidifier water will have all kinds of gaseous things dissolved in it including CO2, H2S (from fart) and whatever dust is floating around.

If you have nothing else use distilled/deionised water but add a small trace of washing soda or bicarb soda to raise the pH. Adding these compounds is referred to as buffering and the sodium ions prevent the copper and zinc being attacked. For copper boilers your pH should not exceed 8.5

Regards
Ian
Roly Williams

steam4ian wrote:
...
Humidifier water will have all kinds of gaseous things dissolved in it including CO2, H2S (from fart) and whatever dust is floating around.
...

I should add that, when I use water from a dehumidifier, I filter and boil it first. This removes all the "nasties", including fart gas.
Atticman

Roly Williams wrote:
steam4ian wrote:
...
Humidifier water will have all kinds of gaseous things dissolved in it including CO2, H2S (from fart) and whatever dust is floating around.
...

I should add that, when I use water from a dehumidifier, I filter and boil it first. This removes all the "nasties", including fart gas.


 
That surely would improve the performance of our engines though Roly    
Roly Williams

Atticman wrote:
Roly Williams wrote:
steam4ian wrote:
...
Humidifier water will have all kinds of gaseous things dissolved in it including CO2, H2S (from fart) and whatever dust is floating around.
...

I should add that, when I use water from a dehumidifier, I filter and boil it first. This removes all the "nasties", including fart gas.


 
That surely would improve the performance of our engines though Roly    

It might do in the burner. I'm not so sure in the boiler
kevininasia

Deionised water is quite a bit more pure than distilled water. The people who use deionised water (the semiconductor and pharmaceutical people) will tell you that distilled water is relatively dirty compared to DI water and that DI water is indeed corrosive towards metals. The sensitive equipment in the QC labs in semiconductor fabrication plants can actually measure the metals that leach out of the teflon and PFA tubing that makes up the ultra-pure water system. It is a genuine source of concern for them, as metal atoms can dramatically affect the conductivity of the insulating layers in the chips they are making. I figure they are the experts, so I steer well clear of deionised water for my engines.

Even distilled water may be a bit too pure for our boilers. The instructions for the Marklin 16051 suggest to use 95% distilled water with 5% normal tap water added. This is in line with what Dampfmaschine Joe suggested, and gives you water that is probably the equivalent of very soft tap water.

Personally, I would say that soft tap water, rainwater, melted snow (as long as it's not yellow ) humidifier/aircon condensate, a distilled/tap water mix, or distilled water in a pinch, are all ok. But, again, I'd steer clear of DI water.

That said, DI water is not corrosive in the same sense that acids are corrosive. It will take a while for DI water to eat through your boiler. But give it long enough, and it will...
Celsius 100

Dehumidifier water,soft water, clean rainwater are all fine.This ion business is nonsense,as is trying to remove soluble chemical compounds by boiling water,it is just not going to happen.
When water is distilled all that leaves the distillation vessel is vapourised water in the form of steam and this condenses as hydrogen oxide/water.There is no alchemy involved, it is just basic chemistry. As long as the water is at a relatively neutral ph and there are no other contaminants lurking in  a boiler all will be well.
Deionised water is the same,the process removes the basic and acidic radicals and leaves hydrogen oxide.
The simple rule of thumb is, if you live in a hard water area(observe that from the state of the domestic kettle) do not use tap water if you want to avoid boiler scale.
Roly Williams

kevininasia wrote:
Deionised water is quite a bit more pure than distilled water. The people who use deionised water (the semiconductor and pharmaceutical people) will tell you that distilled water is relatively dirty compared to DI water and that DI water is indeed corrosive towards metals.
...

The requirements of the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries are somewhat tighter than ours and, I suspect, the water used by these industries is not the same stuff we buy from Halfords; but point taken.
kevininasia wrote:
...
That said, DI water is not corrosive in the same sense that acids are corrosive. It will take a while for DI water to eat through your boiler. But give it long enough, and it will...

Are we talking years, decades or centuries? If it's years then I'm woried. If it's centuries then I think my engines would wear out before the boiler became a problem  
Celsius 100

Deionised water will vary in quality due to variables in the resin exchange process.For example frequency of resin bed regeneration.Different industries will have their own water specifications and the water should not have an acidic ph value where micro contamination in ppm could cause problems.
We are highly unlikely to experience any problems in the boilers we use unless we  fire them on a long term continuous basis.However,it is always advisable to empty the boiler completely at the end of a run.
tmuir

Celsius 100 wrote:
However,it is always advisable to empty the boiler completely at the end of a run.



If think this is something we can all agree on.
scorpion2nz

to cut a long story short.
how long have steam engine toys/models been around ??

Do you think our fathers and grand fathers worried about soft water /hard water/dehumidifier water,ions /no ions ??? or just got the water out of the tap from the lead pipes or cast iron water pump out the back??
These old engines they used/abused seem to be still around .

do you think we are making mountains out of mole hills..
BK

scorpion2nz wrote:
to cut a long story short.
how long have steam engine toys/models been around ??

Do you think our fathers and grand fathers worried about soft water /hard water/dehumidifier water,ions /no ions ??? or just got the water out of the tap from the lead pipes or cast iron water pump out the back??
These old engines they used/abused seem to be still around .

do you think we are making mountains out of mole hills..


Yep.
Celsius 100

Yes to" mountains out of molehills"
I now surrender, after attempting in previous posts to explain the basic science associated with various types of water.  
Fire your engines and enjoy them.
houtje

I bought this thingy .

http://www.smartstill.com/

Not only suitable for distilling water.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonshine
xlchainsaw

ive followed this thread for years. if we had bad water here i would use rainwater or water from the air con... but our water is ok. a cleanout with vinegar on a regular basis should keep things clean.
Atticman

scorpion2nz wrote:
to cut a long story short.
how long have steam engine toys/models been around ??

Do you think our fathers and grand fathers worried about soft water /hard water/dehumidifier water,ions /no ions ??? or just got the water out of the tap from the lead pipes or cast iron water pump out the back??
These old engines they used/abused seem to be still around .

do you think we are making mountains out of mole hills..


Not entirely actually Dennis, though i do see your point.

My Dads engines hes had from new in the 1930s. He used well water to run them for years, water softened as well, so little if any calcium.  Then in the 1970s he moved, and the mains water made a huge difference- the guages got gunked up, a number of the taps seized up, many to this day inoperable. I was given an old Smokey Wilesco TE and within 2 runs the glass guage went white from the calcium.

So yes, my father does worry about hard tap water- as do any plumbers who face huge problems from limescale build up in heating systems, ythough I suppose it worries customers who pay the plumbers bills .

Im pretty sure that deionised water is a newish thing for car batteries, so wasnt an issue for parents and grandparents. Thus for some years Ive run our engines on rainwater from a waterbut in the greenhouse. There isnt the calcium deposits you get otherwise.

Im not sure that washing boilers often with vinegars a good idea- it is after all acidic, and is likely to be more harmful than using rainwater or distilled water.

Sure, a few runs on tapwater in hard water areas wont do much harm, but its not a good idea in the long run, especially on what is becoming some pretty pricy antiques
IndianaRog

I've got to agree with Tom on value of using distilled or rainwater vs. something straight out of tap or well.  

I personally live in an area of Indiana where limestone that built half of Washington, DC was mined...we sit atop limestone everywhere.  This means our local tap water drawn from wells is very high in calcium content...so much so that ice cubes if left to melt in a glass will leave a white slurry of particles in the bottom.  This despite extensive filtering and local softening efforts.

Perhaps folks of old who ran these engines without problem on tap water were simply from areas that had naturally soft water.  The engines we buy that are heavily limed up come from the rest of the world!!!!

At the price these old engine have climbed to, and the lack of parts to replace plugged up whistles and valves...distilled water (or filtered rain/snow) holds a lot of appeal to me.  I buy mine from Walmart for about 79 US cents per gallon...a great value to protect my engines.  If such a source is not handy, capture some rain water, melt some snow, save dehumidifier or air conditioner water etc. etc.  You would have to filter it to get out the little nasties, but it's free.

Rog
Pete the steam

I'd just descaled our kettle with Viakal and used the water in a MM2,took the piston off and let it blow through.
Arden Blayney

steam4ian wrote:
G'day all

Neither distilled or demineralised water are good for boilers because as others have writen the low or no concentration of basic ions makes them very aggressive to metals.

Some tap water may be OK but could contain chloride ions as well as hardness from calcium and magnesium. Boiling before putting in your engine will remove some of the hardness and boil off disolved gases like chlorine and ammonia. Ammonia attacks copper and Chlorine attacks brass.

My club uses rain water for our engines and my boiler is a clean as a whistle inside. One of the boiler inspectors suggested adding small quantities of Calgon to raise the pH of the water. Calgon is a calcium phosphate compound.

Humidifier water will have all kinds of gaseous things dissolved in it including CO2, H2S (from fart) and whatever dust is floating around.

If you have nothing else use distilled/deionised water but add a small trace of washing soda or bicarb soda to raise the pH. Adding these compounds is referred to as buffering and the sodium ions prevent the copper and zinc being attacked. For copper boilers your pH should not exceed 8.5

Regards
Ian


I always thought that it was Methane when you farted not Hydrogen Sulfide
Roly Williams

Arden Blayney wrote:
steam4ian wrote:
G'day all

Neither distilled or demineralised water are good for boilers because as others have writen the low or no concentration of basic ions makes them very aggressive to metals.

Some tap water may be OK but could contain chloride ions as well as hardness from calcium and magnesium. Boiling before putting in your engine will remove some of the hardness and boil off disolved gases like chlorine and ammonia. Ammonia attacks copper and Chlorine attacks brass.

My club uses rain water for our engines and my boiler is a clean as a whistle inside. One of the boiler inspectors suggested adding small quantities of Calgon to raise the pH of the water. Calgon is a calcium phosphate compound.

Humidifier water will have all kinds of gaseous things dissolved in it including CO2, H2S (from fart) and whatever dust is floating around.

If you have nothing else use distilled/deionised water but add a small trace of washing soda or bicarb soda to raise the pH. Adding these compounds is referred to as buffering and the sodium ions prevent the copper and zinc being attacked. For copper boilers your pH should not exceed 8.5

Regards
Ian


I always thought that it was Methane when you farted not Hydrogen Sulfide


It's mainly methane but it's the trace amounts of H2S that makes it smell.
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