Water: it shouldn’t even be a liquid [strange water facts]

Water has been the subject of countless studies and people are still wondering how on Earth could it exist and behave the way it does? I started learning a bit more about water when I stumbled upon Trends in bond angles for H2O and other substances on Chemistry Stack Exchange. The question begs and answer and it is best that we learn a bit of chemistry before falling into the traps of many sharlatans who sell you miraculous alkaline water that cures cancer and such.

Reading about water I spent a bit of time on Steve Lower’s website where you are taught about some basic chemistry things. In order to understand those things you may need a Table of Elements and a basic knowledge of electron orbitals or configurations.

Knowing that Oxygen has 8 electrons you then know how to calculate the orbitals: 1s2 2s2 2p4. Since the p suborbital should have 6 electrons, you can see that Oxygen can accept 2 new electrons from Hygron who is missing one from the s suborbital (it has 1s1 instead of 1s2).

Basic arithmetic for orbial levels (shells) and sublevels (subshells).
– there are 7 main orbitals : K, L, M, O, P, Q and each can have a max of 2n^2 electrons (n= 1,2,3…)
– there are 5 suborbitals: s, p, d, f, g and each suborbital can have a max of 2(2l+1) electrons (l= 0,1,2,…)

Oxygen has 8 electrons and that means that:
– it will have 2 electrons in the K orbital (2*1^2= 2) and 6 electrons in the L orbital (L has a max of 2*2^2 = 8 )
– it will have 2 electrons in the s subshell (1s2, s = 2 (2*0+1) = 2 ) and then 2 in the second s subshell of L shell 2s2 and then 4 electrons in the p subshell of the L shell 2p4 (p = 2(2*1+1)= 6 )

Now, some water facts:
– the bond angles in water should have been 109 degrees, but they are 104.5 degress and can never be changed. Read more on Stack Exchange and from Harvard PDF. The angles in bonds are calculates using a formula like cos( angle) = -1/ sqrt(li*lj), where li, lj are the number of outermost electrons in the hybrid molecular orbital. Like for sp3 there are 3 such electrons. The pdf will make that clearer, search for the Coulson’s Theorem.
– water should have been a vapour at room temperature as it should have become a gas at -70 degrees. See here more. The Hydrogen bonds which show up between the atoms of Hydrogen of one molecule and the Oxygen from another molecule. These bond last only for some picoseconds.
– from the same link above you will learn that water increases volume when is frozen below zero degrees
– water has the highest density at 4 degrees Celsius
– inserting salt into water will get the boiling point upper and the freezing point lower
– surface tension will keep a paper clip on the water
– you cannot get pure water, there will always be some forms of it depending on what type of Hydrogen you have in it (regular, deuterium, tritium)
– we lose about 1.5 litres of water per day from our bodies and most of it (800 mL) from breathing ( Loss through breath: 800 mL, Minimal sweat loss: 100 mL, Fecal loss: 200 mL, Minimal urine loss: 500 mL, Total: 1600 mL)
– water does NOT have memory and it does not get clustered
– the blue color is given by the hydrogen bonds

Read more about the strange properties of water from Martin Chaplin, Water structure and science and from Steve Lower, Water and its structure.

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