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Old 01-20-2018, 05:43 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Will salt in a vicks vaporizer end up in the vapor

I have a vicks vaporizer I'm using since I have a productive cough and humidity is low. I've had it for years, so it is not in the best shape.

It says if it doesn't produce steam, add a small amount of table salt to the water. When I do that it runs much better. My understanding is the reason why is that over time hard water minerals like Mg & Ca build up on the carbon electrodes, and prevent it from working. So my assumption is you add some table salt, it dissolves the Mg & Ca and it works again.

However is there any risk of the table salt ending up in the vapors, and coating the walls? Wouldn't a thin coating of salt be bad for whatever metal or electronics there is in my living room? Or am I overthinking this? If it were destructive they wouldn't recommend it on the device I suppose.

It says add a pinch or two of salt to a 1 gallon tank. So its not a lot of salt. But does the salt stay in the tank or does it get vaporized too?

Seeing how they steam distill water to remove all the minerals, I'm guessing the salt stays in the tank, but I want to check.

Even if it did end up in the vapor, would the amount of salt in question cause any damage to anything in the living room?
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 01-20-2018 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 01-20-2018, 06:01 PM
ZonexandScout ZonexandScout is offline
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I'm not a vaporizer engineer, but I'm pretty confident that a steam vaporizer will not put salt in the environment. An ultrasonic or spray vaporizer will put salt in the air, but not a steam unit. (This is based on my experience, where my SO started using tap water in an ultrasonic unit and we found a lovely white layer on absolutely everything in the room after just a couple days.)
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Old 01-20-2018, 06:29 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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[QUOTE=Wesley Clark;20736806
It says if it doesn't produce steam, add a small amount of table salt to the water. When I do that it runs much better. My understanding is the reason why is that over time hard water minerals like Mg & Ca build up on the carbon electrodes, and prevent it from working. So my assumption is you add some table salt, it dissolves the Mg & Ca and it works again.[/QUOTE]

I don't believe that's a plausible way for it to work. No one's ever descaled anything with sodium chloride. You could always try it on some heavily scaled metal.

Adding salt adds conductivity, which helps the water conduct electricity better and make more steam arrive faster. Also, I'd expect the electrodes are some sort of steel, I know the ones in my shitty old-fashioned Vicks vaporizer are.
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Old 01-20-2018, 06:32 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Yeah, a vaporizer that works by making little droplets will have salt in the droplets, but one that makes vapor (i.e., gaseous-phase water) won't, because it takes a heck of a lot of energy to vaporize salt.
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Old 01-20-2018, 06:58 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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What the vaporizer is doing is essentially distilling the water. So the vapor should be "practically" pure water. I do mean that you might see some salt making the trip. Because this is a sloppy distillation rig, and some salt will get aspirated as the vaporizer works. You will, over time see some salt in the vicinity of the steam. Even though, as was said, vaporizing sodium chloride is very hard to do.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:08 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
I don't believe that's a plausible way for it to work. No one's ever descaled anything with sodium chloride. You could always try it on some heavily scaled metal.

Adding salt adds conductivity, which helps the water conduct electricity better and make more steam arrive faster. Also, I'd expect the electrodes are some sort of steel, I know the ones in my shitty old-fashioned Vicks vaporizer are.
Thanks for that info. Is there anyway I can descale the electrodes using liquid chemicals? I can't get the vaporizer to come apart to clean them manually.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 01-20-2018 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:28 PM
kayT kayT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZonexandScout View Post
I'm not a vaporizer engineer, but I'm pretty confident that a steam vaporizer will not put salt in the environment. An ultrasonic or spray vaporizer will put salt in the air, but not a steam unit. (This is based on my experience, where my SO started using tap water in an ultrasonic unit and we found a lovely white layer on absolutely everything in the room after just a couple days.)
I use an ultrasonic unit with tap water and it gets a little white on the unit itself but nothing else. I do use the filter they tell you to use, though. Anyway that white stuff isn't salt, exactly, is it?
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Old 01-20-2018, 11:16 PM
ZonexandScout ZonexandScout is offline
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Originally Posted by kayT View Post
I use an ultrasonic unit with tap water and it gets a little white on the unit itself but nothing else. I do use the filter they tell you to use, though. Anyway that white stuff isn't salt, exactly, is it?
No, it wasn't salt, but it WAS the dissolved minerals in the (well) water being deposited throughout the room. And it ended up everywhere. My SO figured that the water tasted just fine, so it must be OK to use for this purpose.
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Old 01-21-2018, 12:56 AM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
It says if it doesn't produce steam, add a small amount of table salt to the water. When I do that it runs much better. My understanding is the reason why is that over time hard water minerals like Mg & Ca build up on the carbon electrodes, and prevent it from working. So my assumption is you add some table salt, it dissolves the Mg & Ca and it works again.
The instructions on my steam vaporizer say it boils the water by raw AC conducted between the two electrodes; water with very low mineral content won't conduct the current, and the vaporizer won't work. You add the salt only to make the water conductive. For my model, they say to add 1/8 tsp of water MAX per gallon ONLY if there's no steam after 9 minutes. Too much will shorten the life of the electrodes.

Quote:
However is there any risk of the table salt ending up in the vapors, and coating the walls?
If it's a steam vaporizer, no. The steam/water vapor is produced by boiling, so it's pure. The salt may deposit on the electrodes or the container walls; if it does, I'd think it would dissolve as soon as you turn the vaporizer off. But I don't know for sure.

My vaporizer is cleaned after each use by immersing the electrodes in vinegar for 15 minutes. After that I scrape the remaining minerals off of the electrodes with a plastic picnic knife. The vinegar can be re-used a few times by extending the immersion time.

If you can't get the electrode covering off to see any mineral deposits, there may be a lot there, and I suspect that's your real problem. Follow the cleaning instructions.

Last edited by rowrrbazzle; 01-21-2018 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 01-21-2018, 08:02 AM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Thanks for that info. Is there anyway I can descale the electrodes using liquid chemicals? I can't get the vaporizer to come apart to clean them manually.
As was said, there are methods published for removing scale deposits. Usually an acid soak, say household vinegar or that coffee maker cleaner, or some such. If you expose the electrodes in the progress, you'll likely see what I've always seen -- the electrodes are as corroded and rusty and eaten away as much as they are scale coated. These things wear out, simply put.
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:24 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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My first thought here was that the salt is providing nucleation sites for the water droplets to form around ... that's definitely a thing with rain water ... my clue here is such a small amount of salt added, if this was to clean the electrodes, then why not much more salt? ... I have a big problem with this whole "cleaning the electrodes" theory, but please correct my basic chemistry if I'm wrong ... the calcium deposits on the electrodes will readily combine with chlorine, however the chlorine will combine with sodium much more readily, the equilibrium state between the two will drive much more heavily towards forming NaCl rather than CaCl2 ... and my other problem is what happens to all the excess sodium, after all, sodium and water don't play well together ... would the manufacturer recommend something that pumps lye vapor into our lungs? ...
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Old 01-23-2018, 09:49 AM
beagledave beagledave is offline
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If you do a YouTube search on how to take apart a Vicks Vaporizer

https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...icks+vaporozer

You'll get tips on hot to descale it. I use a CLR soak on the electrodes (after carefully taking them off)
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