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Topic: Water Filtration Question (agressive water?) (3 msgs / 85 lines)
1) From: ellen howlett
I use distilled water for every food related purpose, and it's not negotiable (I feel better w/o the minerals and chemicals in the city water).   
I have a considerable investment in distilling equipment, and I have to ask for advice from any water chemistry mavens here.
I found at a thriftstore a 1400w kettle which in a minute or two boiled a few cups of water.  When I got it home I repaired the weak connection within the cord (it got quite warm), and descaled it with vinegar (surprise, the heating elements are copper and not embedded in the stainless steel...no wonder the wondrous speed of the heat exchange!).  I then noted that it dribbled from the spout like a joke coffeecup I once saw.  So I pried up the plastic spout-handle assembly enough to inject it with some silicone sealer (this thing was not intended to be taken apart, ever).  
It was not such a bargain, in time and materials, but I was happy to have the kettle (since I have time more than money invested).
This missive may serve to alert the naive thrift store shopper that there is often a reason or two for the charitable donation beside the former owners' intent that you find a great bargain.
To get to my question, though.  I have had this fabulous kettle sitting idle for a few weeks, maybe, and when I read about Eddie's surplus of new brewers, I knew the Bodum double-walled drip pot would solve all my problems.  Never mind what the problems were, I just had to have this pot.  Just as it is arriving at my door, I am reminded of the possibility of toxic metals leaching dangerously into that naughty agressive distilled (or RO) water.  I used to understand water chemistry as it related to boiler water but I can't seem to get a handle on how to generate some protective scale on this copper heating element (it would be impractical?).  Or alternatively, does anyone know if a pinch of soda bicarb would prevent the copper leaching into the water?  Or a bit of seasalt?  It is not possible to completely drain this kettle after use, due to the design of the plastic spout.  And I am hesitant to drink city water, at all.  Maybe the amount of copper leaching would be
 healthful (but I doubt it).
As usual, I feel I may come across as a sort of crank, so I want to explain that I used to be a skilled blue collar person.  I operated the steam/HVAC plant at USF before they installed the computerized controls that now make it idiot proof.  And I engaged fearlessly (stupidly) in various other toxic endeavors until a big toxic event stopped me from doing anything toxic (or much of anything at all, it seems sometimes).  I have managed to accumulate enough heavy metal and petrochemical exposures (exacerbated by then necessary beer exposures) in my various endeavors to necessitate this caution about my water supply.  Any insights or comments would be appreciated.    
Best regards and happy, healthy and prosperous new year to all.   Ellen
RO systems shouldn't be used with coffee machines for 2 reasons.
First, water from RO systems is pretty aggressive chemically and can 
cause you problems with eating away tubing and boilers.
Second, there's supposed to be some hardness to the water.  I forget 
the actual number, but you need some.  RO systems used for commercial 
shops add hardness back into the water after the RO step.
Check these guys out to learn more -http://www.cirqua.com/Also, you might read Jim Schulman's  "Insanely Long Water FAQ", which 
is quite good.  It can be found here:http://www.big-rick.com/coffee/waterfaq.html-Greg
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2) From: Vicki Smith
I use a Brita pitcher for coffee-coffee and RO water with Evian (not 
much, but I went through the whole water testing exercise to figure out 
how much for my machine) added into it for espresso.
I know I started with the insanely long yada yada to figure it out.
vicki

3) From: Mike Koenig
Ellen,
Copper is a necessary metal (there are many proteins in your body that
require it, and copper deficiency can be somewhat awful).  It's only
toxic if ingested in gram quantities (and there's probably not more
than 10-20 grams of copper in total, in your kettle).  So unless your
entire heating element dissolves after 10 or so uses, you don't need
to worry about copper toxicity.
What I would worry more about is the distilled water gradually
corroding the copper in the heating element, letting water get at the
inner heating wire.  If you are OK with tossing the kettle after a
little while, I wouldn't worry too much.  Don't leave any water
sitting around in the kettle, and you should be able to minimize this.
I wouldn't add any sodium or potassium salts to your water, since
that's what is associated with the lousy taste of water from
softeners.  Calcium salts taste better (that's usually what's in the
expensive "mineral waters"),  but are poorly soluble.
Some RO users (especially in commercial settings) have a cartridge of
Calcium Carbonate (calcite, aka chalk) after their RO unit to add some
calcium and alkalinity back into the water to prevent metal corrosion.
 The poor solubility of calcium carbonate causes only a little to be
dissolved, so it won't reach the point where scale will form in
plumbing or espresso machines.
--mike
On Jan 4, 2008 9:30 PM, ellen howlett  wrote:
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