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Flushing cartridges – which water?

Something that crops up a lot is flushing cartridges so they can be refilled.

As a general rule you can use water to flush out the ink but ordinary tap water will contain all sort of minerals, compounds and microbial life that you don’t really want to be leaving in your cartridge sponge so if you can it’s worth flushing out using purified water.

Now, the next point is which one… There are two common types:

  1. De-ionised/De-mineralised water
    This is the most commonly accessible one as it’s used in topping up car lead-acid batteries amongst other things. The process is described as follows:
    “This method relies on passing water through ion exchange resins, where contaminating anions and cations present in the water are exchanged with hydrogen (H) and hydroxide (OH), which then are combined to form water. Examples of ions that can be removed include chloride, calcium and potassium, as well as nitrate, sulphate and bicarbonate.The only limitation with this process is an inability to capture and remove microorganisms and organic compounds, as they’re not charged and therefore not recognised by the resins. To remove such compounds, the water needs to go through a second special resin bed to generate “double deionised water”.”*
  2. Distilled water
    “The production of distilled water involves heating the water above boiling point to form water vapour, which is then recovered in a separate container leaving any impurities behind. As it cools down, water vapour returns to liquid form originating distilled water. The process can eliminate heavy metals and even trace elements, but it’s not effective to remove volatile compounds, such as some alcohols, which have a boiling temperature close to 100 degree Celsius.Also, non-volatile compounds may get “trapped” inside a bubble of water vapour and stay in the final condensed water. To eliminate these particles, the solution is to distil a second time, producing “double distilled water”.”*

Distilled water can usually be found at chemists/pharmacies and because chemists tend to be more demanding regarding specification/purity, you are more likely to find your Distilled water is double distilled rather than your De-ionised/mineralisd variety at the garage.

Short version, Distilled water is the recommended option and the one we supply for anyone who can’t identify their own local source.

Note: Water definitions have been borrowed from The Chemical Blog as they describe the differences far more eloquently that we even could

Updated on 9 February 2022

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