Using inferior materials for plumbing and faucets for purified water can lead to serious hardware corrosion and introduce foreign bodies to your water source, but Stainless Steel faucets will stand up to the corrosive properties of pure water.
In our quest for the best sterile techniques, we often use the purest form of water that we can get. We use processes such as reverse osmosis (RO) or Deionization (DI) to get pure water. We will not get into the methods in this article as our objective is to speak about the effect of using purified water.
Scrub sinks and decontamination sinks typically use purified water to reduce the chance of foreign particles appearing in a sterile environment; however, it also brings other features that are sometimes less understood. Pure water is corrosive and must be used with the appropriate faucets to avoid the degradation of your hardware!
Although pure water is essential for sterility, it can be ineffective when using the wrong faucets! The leading cause of breakdown in medical sinks is the corrosive properties of RO and DI water (the purest forms of water). Water produced by reverse osmosis has a comparatively low pH and little or no alkalinity. Therefore, the water lacks the hardness to function like a buffer and is highly corrosive. (SOURCE 1) The water can have devastating effects on the faucets permitting unwanted foreign bodies to separate from the tap and into the water. DI water has most of its minerals removed and is actively trying to compensate by gathering any minerals from the surrounding environment. Both processes will degrade the softer materials.
There is a way to prevent corrosion; it all depends on your faucet's build quality and materials. In today's market, you can purchase brass, chrome, stainless steel faucets and more. However, they all react differently to RO/DI water, especially over time. Brass and chrome are the more common materials and are more likely to wear and corrode than stainless steel. Initially, cosmetic changes will appear, such as decolouration. However, it eventually leads to destructive erosion where the water will wash particles from the metals into the water that goes through the faucet daily.
Stainless Steel is the one material that will outlast the others. Due to the properties of the metal, it can withstand much harsher temperatures and pressure as it is 2.5 times stronger than copper and performs much better on the strain and stress tests. (SOURCE 2)
In conclusion, the risk of using inappropriate faucets is not worth the cost savings of copper or chrome products when using pure water. In a world with many imported products available to us, we are in a buyer-beware market, and if it is too cheap to be true, it is probably not a good choice. We have seen off-brand faucets for sale with mixed metals, and the mixture will be the weak link that causes the problems. Healthcare facilities should use only solid stainless-steel faucets in any sink using pure water sources.
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