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Utility Sink, Hard or Soft Water?


#1

Hello, I am just getting set up to do casting, and I am going to put
a utility sink in my basement to facilitate all of my jewelry work
including casting. I also have a full jeweler’s bench and do repair
work. The question is…, I can either tap my water line for hard
or soft water and I am not sure which one is better suited for
jewelry repair work, casting, etc. Also, any suggestions for proper
draining from utility sink to deal with investment, etc. Thanks for
your comments, suggestions.

Glenn Block
Shardan Jewelry


#2

Glenn, One caution. Do not dump mixed investment in the sink.
Investment will even harden under water. I have used both tap water
and softened water and never have been able to tell the difference.
I now use water obtained form a water mart store. It contains less
impurities. Helpful hints: I pour the investment int the flask through
a kitchen strainer. The strainer always stops small unmixed clumps
of investment from getting into the flask. I mix the investment
with an electric mixer for about 1.5 minutes. I vacuum cast. I use
the curved surface of a trowel to form a slightly concave surface in
the end opposite the sprue. I believe the concave surface allows
the vacuum to be distributed equally over the entire bottom of the
flask. If you vacuum cast leave about 1/4 inch of head space for
every inch of flask diameter. If you loose the vacuum check the
bottom of the flask to insure the mold did not fracture. Good Luck

Lee


#3

Glenn, You NEVER want to wash investment down your drain.It will
build up in the drain and clogg it like concrete.I use a five gallon
bucket filled with tap water to quench my flasks. J Morley Coyote Ridge
Studio


#4

Hi Lee, Thanks for the caution on disposing of investment. I am
aware of that. I believe I am going to use the softened water line
for the cold water tap, because I think it will make for better mix
with cleaning agents. Insofar as using water for casting, I like
your idea of using a water store. It’s probably well worth it
considering that it is inexpensive, and I am sure the casting results
are better.

I have perforated flasks with my casting system, and I was wondering
if the same would hold true about leaving a 1/4 inch of head room for
each inch of the perforated flask. Also, I presume when you say
"head room", you are referring to the amount of investment that is
poured into the flask with respect to the top of the flask. I never
vacuum cast before, but I kind of get the idea that if you fill up
the flask, it will overflow. Is this what you are referring to with
regard to leaving enough head room? Also, I remember reading about
what you said with regard to the concave part on the bottom of the
vacuumed flask somewhere in my jewelry escapades. Do you think this
also holds true or is necessary for perforated flasks? Thanks again
for your comments.

Regards,
Glenn
Shardan Jewelry


#5

Hi Glenn, Head room is the investment above the wax and the top
portion of the flask as you pour. Normally I pour so that the
investment slightly overfills the flask then I have to scrape the
investment surface so that it is below the edge of the flask. I
don’t think you have the same problem with perforated flasks. I am
not familar with preforated flasks but I think the vacuum is sealed
at the ring around the top edge of the flask. If so the concave
surface on the bottom of the flash is not required. I assume the
vacuum is pulled thru the perforations and the bottom of the flask.
I am just guessing that the head space could be less without causing
the investment to break away from the wax and destroying the mold. I
developed a very simple way to prevent fire scale when vacuum
casting. the process produces a reducing atmosphere around the mold
as it cools thereby preventing oxygen from forming cupper oxides on
the silver. I would be glad to send you a copy of the paper if you
send my your snail mail address. I also include a copy of a
magizine article that was describes the process. Won’t cost you
anything. Your Orchid Friend Lee


#6

G’day; I have noticed a few recent comments about water; tap water v
distilled water. My suggestion is that you collect a few gallons of
rain water next time it rains. I have used rain water from the roof as
a domestic supply (there wasn’t town’s water) for about 40 years and
there really isn’t much difference between it and distilled water;
Nearly all NZ garages use rain water to top up batteries. However, I
haven’t lived in a city for 40 years, so I couldn’t vouch for your
rainwater! Good for doing the laundry too! – Cheers for now,

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#7

Hello Glenn and calling on John Burgess,

A random thought occurred to me in regard to using softened water

for mixing investment. John Burgess should probably give us his
opinion on the chemistry here. Nothing was mentioned about the
method of water softening. Is this a home water softener that uses
salt?

  Glenn said:  
I believe I am going to use the softened water line for the cold
water tap, because I think it will make for better mix with
cleaning agents.

If the water is softened by a home softener using brine, the
hardness is lowered by replacing the Ca and Mg with Na from the
brine. John, would that higher Na level in the water affect the
investment set-up in some way?

Just wondering out of the box here in sultry KS and looking forward

to being in CO next week. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936


#8

Hi J. Morley,

I purchased a 5 gallon bucket today to be used to quench my flasks.
Also came in handy for plumbing in the utility sink I put in my
basement. (for draining out all of the water in the pipes before I
sweat soldered the pipes together) In the mean time, I am now in
business…, I got my sink in and now I am ready to have fun doing
some casting. Thanks.

Regards,

Glenn
Shardan Jewelry


#9

G’day John, Rainwater, what a wonderful idea. Here in Oceanside, Ca.,
our 12 month July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002 was 3.02 inches. How many
buckets need I put out?

To Texans in flooded areas, my heart goes out to you.

Teresa


#10
Hello Glenn and calling on John Burgess, 

You Rang, Modom?

        A random thought occurred to me in regard to using
softened water for mixing investment.  John Burgess should probably
give us his opinion on the chemistry here.  Nothing was mentioned
about the method of water softening.  Is this a home water softener
that uses salt? 

G’day; The ‘hardness’ of water is caused either by the presence of
calcium carbonate, (permanent hardness) or bicarbonate. (Temporary
hardness) The word ‘hardness’ refers to difficulty of obtaining a
lather with ordinary soap. (Sodium stearate) Because of the presence
of salt (sodium chloride) in sea water, that cannot give a lather
with ordinary soap. Thus, I find it difficult to understand how
the addition of salt to hard water can possibly soften it.

I’ll digress slightly by saying that soap is made by boiling caustic
soda (sodium hydroxide) with beef fat (stearic acid) which produces
soap (sodium stearate) If the resultant liquid is poured into salt
solution the soap is precipitated, leaving unreacted fat behind. The
soap is filtered off, washed, and pressed into blocks.

Water can be softened by the addition of ammonia or washing soda,
(sodium carbonate) These soften the water by the addition of hydroxyl
ions (OH) which help soaps lather well.

The industrial way of softening water is to pass it over certain
ion exchange resins, which remove all calcium, and can indeed remove
most metals, even sodium and potassium. The natural zeolites which
are a type of clay-like rock will also remove calcium hardness.

Now I know about Calgon, but confess that I have no idea what it
consists of, but I do know that it softens water effectively. > If
the water is softened by a home softener using brine, the >
hardness is lowered by replacing the Ca and Mg with Na from the >
brine. John, would that higher Na level in the water affect the >
investment set-up in some way?

Like I said, I cannot see how the addition of brine can soften
water. I know very little indeed about casting investments, and can
offer no real but I suspect the presence of salt might
retard the hardening of an investment. But I don’t KNOW! (There’s
an awful lot I don’t KNOW!) – Cheers for now, John Burgess;
@John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#11

G’day; Regarding my earlier posting on the subject, I should get
brain into gear before pressing the send button. #@$%&@!!

Calcium carbonate is not soluble in water; calcium bicarbonate is,
and it is calcium bicarbonate which causes temporary water hardness.
It is called temporary hardness because on heating the water the
bicarbonate is converted to calcium carbonate which being insoluble
causes the deposit in kettles and hot water pipes, leaving the water
soft. Permanent hardness is caused by the presence of calcium
SULPHATE which cannot be removed by boiling. The addition of ammonia
or washing soda will help produce a lather in the presence of calcium
sulphate.

Another way to remove salts from water is by what is called reverse
osmosis. That is a special membrane is made which is porous, but the
holes in it are so small that they will let only water molecules
through under pressure, leaving salt behind. This is now included in
all lifeboats. I didn’t mention distillation because that is very
expensive.

I am sorry about the nonsense. Perhaps I should just shut up and
stay quiet.

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


#12

Just a word of caution here. Softeners that use salt do not replace
the calcium with brine. The water would be undrinkable. The salt is
uded to remove the calcium ions form the materials that do the
treatment. It does not enter the water supply.

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone
http://www.goldandstone.com


#13
    Nothing was mentioned about the method of water softening.  Is
this a home water softener that uses salt? 

Hi Judy,

Yes. It is the typical home water softener that uses salt pellets.
Your point about the hardness being lowered in the water is my
precise question with regard to whether or not this effects the
investment being able to setup properly. You just helped me to
better zero in on that precise subject matter and put it in a much
better scientifically posed question to the forum. Perhaps some of
those in the forum with knowledge in this area can chime in.
Thanks.

Glenn Block
Shardan Jewelry
Allentown, PA
Email- Chronoswiss1@hotmail.com


#14

Hi John,

Thus, I find it difficult to understand how the addition of salt
to hard water can possibly soften it.  

You’re right, it doesn’t. In the US, most domestic water softners are
of the ion exchange type. The raw water is passed through a column of
resin or zeolites. When the capacity of the column to remove the
’hardening’ agent(s) is exhausted, it’s regenerated by back flushing
with a brine solution. In some cases potassium chloride is used
instead of sodium chloride. Column capacity is usually rated in the
number of gallons of water that can be treated between regenerations.

Most softeners regenerate automaticly & all that’s required of the
homewner is to keep the unit supplied with salt or potassium
chloride. Most units can hold about 200 lbs of salt.

Many Drs & nutritionists reccomend the potasium chloride since
potassium is in short supply in a lot of diets & sodium is in excess.

Dave


#15

I feel like I am beginning to sound like a broken record but the
Santa Fe Symposium is about the only place in the US where
scientific and technical papers for the jewelry industry are
presented and published if you have a question of a technical nature
it does not hurt to look at the symposium web site
http://www.santafesymposium.org/ they have abstracts from all the
papers on the site and you can see if the paper looks interesting
enough to order the book it is in. Anyhow here are a couple of
papers on water quality affecting investment properties that are in
the proceedings books. I saw one of them presented it was titled
"Effects of Water Quality and Temperature on Investment Casting
Powders" by Ralph Carter. He used several different sources of water
to mix investments under laboratory conditions and got some
interesting results. It convinced me that using de-ionized or other
forms of pure water was a good idea.

Jim
James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#16

Here’s a link to how a water softener works, and why salt is
involved in the process. http://www.howstuffworks.com/question99.htm

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry
http://www.featheredgems.com


#17
        You're right, it doesn't. In the US, most domestic water
softners are of the ion exchange type. The raw water is passed
through a column of resin or zeolites. When the capacity of the
column to remove the 'hardening' agent(s) is exhausted, it's
regenerated by back flushing with a brine solution. In some cases
potassium chloride is used instead of sodium chloride. Column
capacity is usually rated in the number of gallons of water that
can be treated between regenerations.  Many Drs & nutritionists
reccomend the potasium chloride since potassium is in short supply
in a lot of diets & sodium is in excess. 

Now I’m confused. If the sodium chloride is just used to regenerate
the column of resin or zeolites, and the sodium chloride isn’t
supposed to become mixed with the water, why would nutritionists be
concerned with the sodium in our diet being influenced by soft
water?

Annette


#18
    G'day; The 'hardness' of water is caused either by the
presence of calcium carbonate, (permanent hardness)  or
bicarbonate. (Temporary hardness)  The word 'hardness' refers to
difficulty of obtaining a lather with ordinary soap.  (Sodium
stearate) Because of the presence of salt (sodium chloride) in sea
water, that cannot give a lather with ordinary soap.    Thus, I
find it difficult to understand how the addition of salt to hard
water can possibly soften it. 

Here’s a link to how a water softener works, and why salt is
involved in the process. http://www.howstuffworks.com/question99.htm

G’day Kathy. If you look at the URL contents you kindly supplied,
you will see that the salt (sodium chloride) is not added to the
water to soften it, but is used to regenerate the zeolite or plastic
ion exchange resin to enable the water softener device to be re used.
OK? Adding salt directly to the water will only make it harder to
get a lather! Don’t believe me? Try it! PS see my apology email too.

Cheers, john burgess


#19

Hi Annette,

 why would nutritionists be  concerned with the sodium in our diet
being influenced by soft water? 

You may get a better answer f you ask a nutritionist, but one of the
things that affects some folks is sodium. They’ve got to watch their
sodium intake. Water that’s been softened using a water softener
regenerated with sodium chloride (NaCl) has a higher conentration of
sodium than unsoftened water. Using this water for cooking & human
consumption results in the body getting more than a normal amount of
sodium.

Dave


#20
    Here's a link to how a water softener works, and why salt is
involved in the process.
http://www.howstuffworks.com/question99.htm G'day Kathy.   If you
look at the URL contents you kindly supplied, you will see that the
salt (sodium chloride) is not added to the water to soften it, but
is used to regenerate the zeolite or plastic ion exchange resin to
enable the water softener device to be re used. OK?  Adding salt
directly to the water will only make it harder to get a lather! 
Don't believe me? Try it! 

I believe you! I was just providing the link for those who were
confused about why salt was involved at all. And I’m thankful that we
don’t have to use a water softener here where I live. I’ve visited
friends who had one, and I couldn’t drink the water. Despite all the
jabber that the salt doesn’t get into the softened water, I think it
does sometimes. Their softened water was too salty for me to drink,
it was quite nasty tasting. And yes, it was hard to get soap to
lather with it… If I ever move to an area with hard water, I think
I’ll just rely on bottled water as much as possible, especially in
the casting shop!

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry
http://www.featheredgems.com