The nature of water is a case study in like dissolves like. Water molecules have an affinity for other water molecules. There is such a thing as pure water – it comes in the form called distilled water. This is plain water, pure and simple – consisting of nothing but water and water. The distillation process involves changing the form of water from a liquid to a vapor and then removing the vapor phase into a separate glass container. The impurities are left behind. This water is so clean that it does not conduct electricity – the conductivity of distilled water is nearly zero.
This would not be very good drinking water. The idea that there are no ions dissolved in the water clears the decks of minerals – the healthy things that our bodies use as catalysts in their biological systems. The idea of reasonably inert cations and anions swimming in your drinking water is not likely to be an exciting thought – but the quantities are limited and serve to resupply your existing system – water flushing is a major requirement for open living systems.
Water atoms align with each other whenever they are in solution. The degree of alignment is very temperature dependent, as the water slowly approaches the freezing state called ice – the atoms of water come into alignment, either in great bulk as sheets of ice, or in smaller form like snowflakes. Dr. Emoto's work demonstrating the beauty of photographed crystals at peace is a work of art within nature. Water appears to sense vibration at a level that generates novel nucleation – crystal form grows emergent from crystal form. But what is really happening at the micro-scale level of crystalline chemistry?
Water like to share the hydrogen atoms it owns with other water atoms. In a gathering of water, the oxygen atom is surrounded by four hydrogen atoms in a tetrahedral array. In a liquid – there is free movement and exchange and the individual atom always retains its own two home hydrogen atoms, and constantly has different visitors in the other two positions. Each adjacent hydrogen that is not self, brings an oxygen atom from the water atom that is self to another adjacent water molecule. To refresh – elements are pure substances that exist as atoms. Atoms combine into compounds in small whole number ratios. A molecule is a collection of bound together atoms that has a stable recurrent form. Iron is an element, rust is an iron compound, hemoglobin has iron atoms as part of a complex organic molecule.
What does organic mean? Despite what your grocers might suggest – all their produce is organic by the strict chemical definition. Organic chemistry involves combinations of the four elements hydrogen H, oxygen O, nitrogen N and carbon C, supplemented by sulfur S and phosphorus P. The carbon structures provide several backbone chains that have becomes keys to explaining all biochemical life – known as proteins, enzymes, fats and lipids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and many other forms. The jump between biochemistry and chemistry is mitigated by the presence of water as a form unto itself – we can liken it to the air that we breathe on a human scale. Everything small and living is all-contained by water.
Water is a solvent that aligns by nature of its polar character to form a hydration sphere around every different solubilized ion. Ionic compounds are solids that can generally be dissolved in water – the cations separate from the anions and each are surrounded by water molecules. The cations have a positive charge and attract the negative oxygen end of the water molecules, the anions have a negative charge (extra electrons) and attract the positive hydrogen end of the water molecule.
The size and charge of the cations and anions determine how many water molecules appear in the cluster of waters that each ion carries as a hydration sphere. This serves in a buffering capacity – allowing ions to move freely about until the loss of water causes an attraction between the ion pairs. If done slow enough, one can grow crystals of a pure salt, simply by evaporating water to form a super-saturated solution and allowing it to cool about a center of nucleation.
Water is included in the crystal lattice in many cases – the chemical forms of these salts (ion pairs of balanced charge) are sold as hydrates. Chemicals that can pick up water from the air are called hygroscopic and should be stored in a dessicator. This is a closed system where a more hygroscopic molecule like P2O5 is allowed to take water slowly away from the other chemical – rendering it dry. Drierite is a commercial clay compound that serves the same function or those little packages of silica beads packed with electronics. Using dry chemicals in chemistry is very important, as the water can be involved in less than desired chemistry of organic syntheses. Water tends to get in the way – so drying is an important step of many chemical processes.
If you know where the water molecules are, you can figure out their role in what they are doing. Water is an essential ingredient in cooking – whether it be hydrating dried beans or the solvent for soups. Drinking water is different than drinking beverages containing water. I attempt to drink two glasses of water each day, in addition to the many cups of coffee and tea that are the functional drivers of my between-meal system. Seeing that the plumbing is working is a function of growing old – we can assume responsibility for our own medical status by tracking the flow of water through our systems – noticing color changes in urine as a function of concentration – the light color, the more flushing of the system. Vitamins and minerals tend to be water soluble and get conveyed to the organs where they are metabolized and restocked during the sleeping process, so to speak.
Thus ends the second lesson on he nature of water. Please feel free to ask questions about the concepts that may seem foreign – this is written as a primer for new students as well as old hands and should remain entertaining on several different levels. By dealing with the concepts of everything is a solvent with some water content, we can begin to create a think framework as a basis of thought – we are large sacks of water and the water itself creates the seeds of consciousness. All water is created equal, but the memory of water demonstrates that water in use has vastly different properties than water in bulk. I hope to investigate this thought next time.
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