Melting Snow and Ice

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 5th, 2014

Technology 101

When Temperatures fall below Freezing Liquid Water turns into Solid Water

You know what the best thing about water is?  You don’t have to shovel it.  Well, that, and its life-giving properties.  Let’s face it.  We couldn’t survive without the stuff.  We couldn’t grow food.  We even couldn’t live without drinking water.  So perhaps its life-giving properties is the best thing about water.  But a close second would be that thing about not having to shovel it.

When it rains water soaks into our green areas.  It runs off driveways and sidewalks into green areas.  And into streets.  Where it runs off into a storm drainage system.  Which takes it to a river or lake.  The rain lets our gardens grow.  And any excess water conveniently just goes away.  We may have a puddle or two to slosh through.  But even those go away without us having to do anything.  Water is nice that way.  As long as the temperature is above its freezing point.

When the temperature falls below the freezing point of water bad things start to happen.  Liquid water turns into solid water.  And hangs around for awhile.  Accumulating.  On our driveways, sidewalks, porches and roads.  It’s pretty much everywhere we don’t want it to be.  Making it difficult to walk.  And drive.  We slip and fall a lot in it.  The sun may melt it a little during the day.  Creating puddles of water where the snow once was. But when the sun sets those puddles freeze.  And become even more slippery.  Making solid water more dangerous than liquid water.  So a big part of making it through winters in northern climes, then, is transforming solid water back into the liquid form.

Even though Bourbon melts Ice Cubes Bourbon would be a Poor Choice to melt Snow and Ice

All material can be in three different stages.  It can be a solid.  A liquid.  Or a gas.  What determines the phase of this material depends on a couple of things.  Mostly temperature and pressure.  And the chemical properties of the material.  At ambient temperature and pressure material typically exists stably in one phase.  Water, for example, is stable in the liquid phase on an 80-degree summer day.  Allowing us to swim in it.  While on a freezing February day it is stable in the solid phase.  Which is why we hold the Winter Olympics in February.  The cold temperatures give us the best solid water conditions.

If we raise the temperature of water we can turn it from a liquid to a gas.  We could also do this by lowering the ambient air pressure.  Such as putting it into a vacuum.  For a liquid remains a liquid as long as the vapor pressure (the tendency for particles to escape from the liquid they’re in) of the liquid is less than the ambient air pressure.  If we lower the ambient air pressure below the vapor pressure of the liquid we can lower the boiling point of that liquid.  This is why different liquids have different boiling points.  They have different vapor pressures.  Oxygen has a very high vapor pressure and requires a high pressure and cold temperature to keep oxygen in a liquid phase.

When we take ice cubes out of the freezer and add them to a glass of bourbon they melt.  Because the ambient temperature outside of the freezer is above the freezing point of water.  So the solid water changes its phase from solid to liquid.  It would follow, then, that pouring bourbon on snow and ice would help melt it.  Of course we don’t do that.  For wasting bourbon like that would be criminal.  Not to mention costly.  Even if you used the cheap stuff.  Making bourbon a poor choice for melting snow and ice.

Salt dissolves into a Brine Solution that lowers the Melting Point of Snow and Ice

We see that a material will change its phase at different temperatures and pressures.  Which is good to know.  But it doesn’t help us to melt snow and ice during winter.  For we can’t lower the atmospheric air pressure to lower the boiling and melting points of water.  And we can’t raise the ambient temperature above the melting point of water.  If we could our winters would probably be a lot more comfortable than they are now.  So because when we can’t change the air pressure or temperature of the ambient environment the snow and ice is in we do something else.  We use chemistry to lower the melting point of snow and ice.  And the most common chemical we use is salt.

To melt snow and ice salt needs heat and moisture.  The moisture comes from the snow and ice.  Or from the humidity in the air.  The heat comes from the warmth of the earth or air.  Heated by the sun.  It also comes from the friction between tires and the road.  When salt comes into contract with water and heat it dissolves into a brine solution.  And this brine solution has a much lower melting point than water.  Which in turn lowers the melting point of the snow and ice it comes into contact with.  Allowing it to be in the liquid phase at temperatures below freezing temperatures.  Melting that snow and ice so it can run off like rain water.

The warmer it is when it snows the quicker salt will melt that snow.  While the colder it is the longer it takes to melt.  If it gets too cold (around 15 degrees Fahrenheit) salt proves to be ineffective.  In temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit other chemicals work better.  Such as calcium chloride.  But calcium chloride is more costly than sodium chloride (salt).  Ambient temperatures, time of day, sunny or cloudy, wind, etc., all determine the chemical to use.  And the amount of chemical to use.  They consider all of these factors (and more) before sending those ‘salt’ trucks out on the roads.  Allowing us to drive in the worst of winters just as we drive in the best of summers.  It may take more time.  And there may be a little more cussing.  But we still go to work, take our kids to school, go shopping, etc., when it snows.  Thanks to chemicals.  Chemistry.  And the people that put those chemicals and that chemistry to work.

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The Left’s War on Women brought about the Vicious Cycle of Thong Use and Bacterial Vaginosis

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2013

Week in Review

The left say the Republicans have a war on women.  Because they want to restrict abortion.  Make women pay for their own birth control.  And other heinous anti-women behavior.  Such as encouraging them to marry instead of having casual sex with multiple partners.  The left says Republicans want to turn women into the housewives of the Fifties.   Having sex only with one man and getting pregnant when they do.  Instead of a woman exploring her sexuality.  And enjoying it.  That’s how uptight Republicans are.

Of course, the left’s idea of a liberated woman probably pleases men more than women.  Once upon a time men married one woman and either stayed with her or had ‘discrete’ affairs on the side.  Then the Sexual Revolution came along and women were just giving it away.  Short shorts.  Miniskirts.  Going braless.  Men just loved the women’s movement.  As women no longer wore shape-hiding dresses but revealing clothing showing all of their curves.  Then the ladies took it up a notch.  Bare midriffs.  Low rise jeans.  And thongs.  Allowing women to wear tight clinging dresses without showing any visible panty lines.  Or showing some thong riding out the back of their low-rise jeans for the men to see just to be super sexy.

Of course when we ask why women want to wear tight and clinging dresses or low-rise jeans there is but one answer.  They want men to look at them.  To see them as a sexual object.  It has to be.  For they sure aren’t doing it for the comfort.  Or the hygiene (see Why Your Thong May Be Bad For Your Health by Ellie Krupnick & Rebecca Adams posted 10/15/2013 on The Huffington Post).

Many thongs, particularly the sexy lacy kinds, are made of non-breathable materials, as opposed to cotton.  “We should all always be wearing all cotton underwear,” Dr. Ghofrany advises…”When patients say [to me], ‘But the crotch is cotton,’ my response is that the layer outside the crotch is not, thus making the cotton less breathable and thus allowing more moisture to be trapped and more possible imbalance leading to infections.”

Plus, even if the entire garment is cotton, the skinny shape creates an inherent risk. “The patient’s vulva is much more ‘exposed’ to whatever they’re wearing,” Dr. Ghofrany explains, “and given the increase in leggings and ‘skinny’ jeans, all of which have Lycra, Spandex, etc., there again is trapped moisture.”

Lastly, the thin band of material at the crotch tends to move around, possibly transferring bacteria from one spot to another. As Dr. Rabin tells, us, “If you have a little bacteria — E. coli is the most common bacteria in the colon — in the back part of the fabric and you’re physically active, that material may move. All it has to do is move an inch or two and it’s next to the vagina or urethra. That thong may be depositing colonic bacteria into your vagina or urethra.”  Yikes.

Infections can occur when the balance of the vaginal environment, including the moisture levels from vaginal secretions, is thrown off, says Dr. Ghofrany. The most common? Yeast infections and bacterial infections, mainly bacterial vaginosis. The extra bacteria usually manifests with increased discharge, which leads to what Dr. Ghofrany calls the “vicious cycle of thong use”: the increase in discharge leads to an increased use of panty liners, which leads to even more trapped moisture, which leads to more infections and more discharge.

Thongs also carry the risk of external irritation. “I see more patients with skin tags on their vulva and near their rectum, in the exact distribution of the thongs,” Dr. Ghofrany tells us. “I sometimes will be mid-pap and ask a patient, ‘So you wear thongs a lot?’ And their response is always ‘Ya! How can you tell?’ And it’s because of the skin tags, small ‘piles’ of soft tissue that occur from the skin being constantly rubbed in the same spot. These happen traditionally at bra lines and neck lines, and now increasingly at thong lines!”

Infections?  Bacteria?  E. coli?  Bacterial vaginosis?  Vicious cycle of thong use?  Skin tags?  Piles?  That’s a pretty steep price to pay to be sexy for men.  But in our highly sexualized world where the left has sexualized women this is how women feel good.  By being sexy.  To, of course, please men.  Yet it is the right that has a war on women.  Go figure.

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