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Water 1

Water is a chemical substance with the
chemical formula H2O. Its molecule
contains one oxygen and two hydrogen
atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water
is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often
co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice,
and gaseous state, water vapor or steam.

Water covers 70.9% of the Earth's surface,[1]

and is vital for all known forms of life.[2] On
Earth, it is found mostly in oceans and other
large water bodies, with 1.6% of water
Water in three states: liquid, solid (ice), and (invisible) water vapor in the air.
below ground in aquifers and 0.001% in the Clouds are accumulations of water droplets, condensed from vapor-saturated air.
air as vapor, clouds (formed of solid and
liquid water particles suspended in air), and precipitation.[3] Oceans hold 97% of surface water, glaciers and polar ice
caps 2.4%, and other land surface water such as rivers, lakes and ponds 0.6%. A very small amount of the Earth's
water is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.

Water on Earth moves continually through a cycle of evaporation or transpiration (evapotranspiration), precipitation,
and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over
Clean drinking water is essential to human and other lifeforms. Access to safe drinking water has improved steadily
and substantially over the last decades in almost every part of the world.[4] [5] There is a clear correlation between
access to safe water and GDP per capita.[6] However, some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of
the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability.[7] A recent report (November 2009) suggests that by
2030, in some developing regions of the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50%.[8] Water plays an
important role in the world economy, as it functions as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances and
facilitates industrial cooling and transportation. Approximately 70% of freshwater is consumed by agriculture.[9]

Chemical and physical properties

Water is the chemical substance with chemical formula H2O: one
molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to a
single oxygen atom.
Water appears in nature in all three common states of matter and may
take many different forms on Earth: water vapor and clouds in the sky;
seawater and icebergs in the polar oceans; glaciers and rivers in the
mountains; and the liquid in aquifers in the ground.
At high temperatures and pressures, such as in the interior of giant
planets, it is argued that water exists as ionic water in which the
molecules break down into a soup of hydrogen and oxygen ions, and at
even higher pressures as superionic water in which the oxygen
Model of hydrogen bonds between molecules of
crystallises but the hydrogen ions float around freely within the oxygen

The major chemical and physical properties of water are:

Water 2

Water is a tasteless, odorless liquid at standard temperature and

pressure. The color of water and ice is, intrinsically, a very slight
blue hue, although water appears colorless in small quantities. Ice
also appears colorless, and water vapor is essentially invisible as a
Water is transparent, and thus aquatic plants can live within the
water because sunlight can reach them. Only strong UV light is
slightly absorbed.
Impact from a water drop causes an upward
Since the water molecule is not linear and the oxygen atom has a "rebound" jet surrounded by circular capillary
higher electronegativity than hydrogen atoms, it carries a slight waves.

negative charge, whereas the hydrogen atoms are slightly positive.

As a result, water is a polar molecule with an electrical dipole
moment. Water also can form an unusually large number of
intermolecular hydrogen bonds (four) for a molecule of its size.
These factors lead to strong attractive forces between molecules of
water, giving rise to water's high surface tension[12] and capillary
forces. The capillary action refers to the tendency of water to move
up a narrow tube against the force of gravity. This property is relied
upon by all vascular plants, such as trees.

Water is a good solvent and is often referred to as the universal

solvent. Substances that dissolve in water, e.g., salts, sugars, acids,
alkalis, and some gases especially oxygen, carbon dioxide
(carbonation) are known as hydrophilic (water-loving) substances,
while those that do not mix well with water (e.g., fats and oils), are
known as hydrophobic (water-fearing) substances.
Snowflakes by Wilson Bentley, 1902
All the major components in cells (proteins, DNA and
polysaccharides) are also dissolved in water.
Pure water has a low electrical conductivity, but this increases
significantly with the dissolution of a small amount of ionic material
such as sodium chloride.
The boiling point of water (and all other liquids) is dependent on the
barometric pressure. For example, on the top of Mt. Everest water
boils at 68C (154F), compared to 100C (212F) at sea level.
Conversely, water deep in the ocean near geothermal vents can
reach temperatures of hundreds of degrees and remain liquid.
Water has the second highest molar specific heat capacity of any Dew drops adhering to a spider web
known substance, after ammonia, as well as a high heat of
vaporization (40.65kJmol1), both of which are a result of the extensive hydrogen bonding between its
molecules. These two unusual properties allow water to moderate Earth's climate by buffering large fluctuations
in temperature.
Water 3

The maximum density of water occurs at 3.98C (39.16F).[13] It

has the anomalous property of becoming less dense, not more, when
it is cooled down to its solid form, ice. It expands to occupy 9%
greater volume in this solid state, which accounts for the fact of ice
floating on liquid water.

Capillary action of water compared to mercury

Water is miscible with many liquids, such as ethanol, in all

proportions, forming a single homogeneous liquid. On the other
hand, water and most oils are immiscible usually forming layers
according to increasing density from the top. As a gas, water vapor
is completely miscible with air.
Water forms an azeotrope with many other solvents.
Water can be split by electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen.
As an oxide of hydrogen, water is formed when hydrogen or
hydrogen-containing compounds burn or react with oxygen or
oxygen-containing compounds. Water is not a fuel, it is an
end-product of the combustion of hydrogen. The energy required to
ADR label for transporting goods dangerously
split water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis or any other
reactive with water
means is greater than the energy released when the hydrogen and
oxygen recombine.[14]

Elements which are more electropositive than hydrogen such as lithium, sodium, calcium, potassium and caesium
displace hydrogen from water, forming hydroxides. Being a flammable gas, the hydrogen given off is dangerous
and the reaction of water with the more electropositive of these elements may be violently explosive.

Taste and odor

Water can dissolve many different substances, giving it varying tastes and odors. Humans and other animals have
developed senses which enable them to evaluate the potability of water by avoiding water that is too salty or putrid.
The taste of spring water and mineral water, often advertised in marketing of consumer products, derives from the
minerals dissolved in it. However, pure H2O is tasteless and odorless. The advertised purity of spring and mineral
water refers to absence of toxins, pollutants and microbes.
Water 4

Distribution of water in nature

Water in the universe

Much of the universe's water is produced as a byproduct of star formation. When stars are born, their birth is
accompanied by a strong outward wind of gas and dust. When this outflow of material eventually impacts the
surrounding gas, the shock waves that are created compress and heat the gas. The water observed is quickly
produced in this warm dense gas.[15]
Water has been detected in interstellar clouds within our galaxy, the Milky Way. Water probably exists in abundance
in other galaxies, too, because its components, hydrogen and oxygen, are among the most abundant elements in the
universe. Interstellar clouds eventually condense into solar nebulae and solar systems such as ours.
Water vapor is present in
Atmosphere of Mercury: 3.4%, and large amounts of water in Mercury's exosphere[16]
Atmosphere of Venus: 0.002%
Earth's atmosphere: ~0.40% over full atmosphere, typically 14% at surface
Atmosphere of Mars: 0.03%
Atmosphere of Jupiter: 0.0004%
Atmosphere of Saturn in ices only
Enceladus (moon of Saturn): 91%
exoplanets known as HD 189733 b[17] and HD 209458 b.[18]
Liquid water is present on
Earth 71% of surface
Strong evidence suggests that liquid water is present just under the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Jupiter's
moon Europa may have liquid water in the form as a 100km deep subsurface ocean, which would amount to more
water than is in all the Earth's oceans.
Water ice is present on
Earth mainly as ice sheets
polar ice caps on Mars
Saturn's rings[19]
Pluto and Charon[19]
Comets and comet source populations (Kuiper belt and Oort cloud objects).
Water ice may be present on Ceres and Tethys. Water and other volatiles probably comprise much of the internal
structures of Uranus and Neptune and the water in the deeper layers may be in the form of ionic water in which the
molecules break down into a soup of hydrogen and oxygen ions, and deeper down as superionic water in which the
oxygen crystallises but the hydrogen ions float around freely within the oxygen lattice.[20]
Some of the Moon's minerals contain water molecules. For instance, in 2008 a laboratory device which ejects and
identifies particles found small amounts of the compound in the inside of volcanic pearls brought from Moon to
Earth by the Apollo 15 crew in 1971.[21] NASA reported the detection of water molecules by NASA's Moon
Mineralogy Mapper aboard the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in September
Water 5

Water and habitable zone

The existence of liquid water, and to a
lesser extent its gaseous and solid
forms, on Earth are vital to the
existence of life on Earth as we know
it. The Earth is located in the habitable
zone of the solar system; if it were
slightly closer to or farther from the
Sun (about 5%, or about 8 million
kilometers), the conditions which
allow the three forms to be present
simultaneously would be far less likely
to exist.[23] [24]

Earth's gravity allows it to hold an

atmosphere. Water vapor and carbon The Solar System along center row range of possible habitable zones of varying star sizes.
dioxide in the atmosphere provide a
temperature buffer (greenhouse effect) which helps maintain a relatively steady surface temperature. If Earth were
smaller, a thinner atmosphere would allow temperature extremes, thus preventing the accumulation of water except
in polar ice caps (as on Mars).

The surface temperature of Earth has been relatively constant through geologic time despite varying levels of
incoming solar radiation (insolation), indicating that a dynamic process governs Earth's temperature via a
combination of greenhouse gases and surface or atmospheric albedo. This proposal is known as the Gaia hypothesis.
The state of water on a planet depends on ambient pressure, which is determined by the planet's gravity. If a planet is
sufficiently massive, the water on it may be solid even at high temperatures, because of the high pressure caused by
gravity, as it was observed on exoplanets Gliese 436 b[25] and GJ 1214 b.[26]
There are various theories about origin of water on Earth.

Water on Earth
Hydrology is the study of the
movement, distribution, and quality of
water throughout the Earth. The study
of the distribution of water is
hydrography. The study of the
distribution and movement of
groundwater is hydrogeology, of
glaciers is glaciology, of inland waters
is limnology and distribution of oceans
is oceanography. Ecological processes
with hydrology are in focus of

The collective mass of water found on,

under, and over the surface of a planet
A graphical distribution of the locations of water on Earth.
Water 6

is called the hydrosphere. Earth's approximate water volume (the total

water supply of the world) is 1,360,000,000km3 (326,000,000mi3).
Groundwater and fresh water are useful or potentially useful to humans
as water resources.
Liquid water is found in bodies of water, such as an ocean, sea, lake,
river, stream, canal, pond, or puddle. The majority of water on Earth is
sea water. Water is also present in the atmosphere in solid, liquid, and
vapor states. It also exists as groundwater in aquifers.
Water is important in many geological processes. Groundwater is
present in most rocks, and the pressure of this groundwater affects
patterns of faulting. Water in the mantle is responsible for the melt that
Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface; the
oceans contain 97.2% of the Earth's water. The
produces volcanoes at subduction zones. On the surface of the Earth,
Antarctic ice sheet, which contains 61% of all water is important in both chemical and physical weathering processes.
fresh water on Earth, is visible at the bottom. Water and, to a lesser but still significant extent, ice, are also
Condensed atmospheric water can be seen as
responsible for a large amount of sediment transport that occurs on the
clouds, contributing to the Earth's albedo.
surface of the earth. Deposition of transported sediment forms many
types of sedimentary rocks, which make up the geologic record of
Earth history.

Water cycle
The water cycle (known scientifically
as the hydrologic cycle) refers to the
continuous exchange of water within
the hydrosphere, between the
atmosphere, soil water, surface water,
groundwater, and plants.

Water moves perpetually through each

of these regions in the water cycle
consisting of following transfer
evaporation from oceans and other
water bodies into the air and
transpiration from land plants and
animals into air. Water cycle
precipitation, from water vapor
condensing from the air and falling to earth or ocean.
runoff from the land usually reaching the sea.
Most water vapor over the oceans returns to the oceans, but winds carry water vapor over land at the same rate as
runoff into the sea, about 36Tt per year. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute another 71Tt per year.
Precipitation, at a rate of 107 Tt per year over land, has several forms: most commonly rain, snow, and hail, with
some contribution from fog and dew. Condensed water in the air may also refract sunlight to produce rainbows.
Water runoff often collects over watersheds flowing into rivers. A mathematical model used to simulate river or
stream flow and calculate water quality parameters is hydrological transport model. Some of water is diverted to
irrigation for agriculture. Rivers and seas offer opportunity for travel and commerce. Through erosion, runoff shapes
Water 7

the environment creating river valleys and deltas which provide rich soil and level ground for the establishment of
population centers. A flood occurs when an area of land, usually low-lying, is covered with water. It is when a river
overflows its banks or flood from the sea. A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a
deficiency in its water supply. This occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation.

Fresh water storage

High tide (left) and low tide (right)

Some runoff water is trapped for periods of time, for example in lakes. At high altitude, during winter, and in the far
north and south, snow collects in ice caps, snow pack and glaciers. Water also infiltrates the ground and goes into
aquifers. This groundwater later flows back to the surface in springs, or more spectacularly in hot springs and
geysers. Groundwater is also extracted artificially in wells. This water storage is important, since clean, fresh water
is essential to human and other land-based life. In many parts of the world, it is in short supply.

Sea water
Sea water contains about 3.5% salt on average, plus smaller amounts of other substances. The physical properties of
sea water differ from fresh water in some important respects. It freezes at a lower temperature (about 1.9 C) and its
density increases with decreasing temperature to the freezing point, instead of reaching maximum density at a
temperature above freezing. The salinity of water in major seas varies from about 0.7% in the Baltic Sea to 4.0% in
the Red Sea.

Tides are the cyclic rising and falling of Earth's ocean surface caused by the tidal forces of the Moon and the Sun
acting on the oceans. Tides cause changes in the depth of the marine and estuarine water bodies and produce
oscillating currents known as tidal streams. The changing tide produced at a given location is the result of the
changing positions of the Moon and Sun relative to the Earth coupled with the effects of Earth rotation and the local
bathymetry. The strip of seashore that is submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide, the intertidal zone, is an
important ecological product of ocean tides.
Water 8

Effects on life
From a biological standpoint, water has many distinct properties that
are critical for the proliferation of life that set it apart from other
substances. It carries out this role by allowing organic compounds to
react in ways that ultimately allow replication. All known forms of life
depend on water. Water is vital both as a solvent in which many of the
body's solutes dissolve and as an essential part of many metabolic
processes within the body. Metabolism is the sum total of anabolism
and catabolism. In anabolism, water is removed from molecules
(through energy requiring enzymatic chemical reactions) in order to
An oasis is an isolated water source with
grow larger molecules (e.g. starches, triglycerides and proteins for
vegetation in desert
storage of fuels and information). In catabolism, water is used to break
bonds in order to generate smaller molecules (e.g. glucose, fatty acids
and amino acids to be used for fuels for energy use or other purposes).
Without water, these particular metabolic processes could not exist.

Water is fundamental to photosynthesis and respiration. Photosynthetic

cells use the sun's energy to split off water's hydrogen from oxygen.
Hydrogen is combined with CO2 (absorbed from air or water) to form
glucose and release oxygen. All living cells use such fuels and oxidize
the hydrogen and carbon to capture the sun's energy and reform water
and CO2 in the process (cellular respiration).

Water is also central to acid-base neutrality and enzyme function. An

acid, a hydrogen ion (H+, that is, a proton) donor, can be neutralized by
a base, a proton acceptor such as hydroxide ion (OH) to form water.
Water is considered to be neutral, with a pH (the negative log of the
Overview of photosynthesis and respiration. hydrogen ion concentration) of 7. Acids have pH values less than 7
Water (at right), together with carbon dioxide while bases have values greater than 7.
(CO2), form oxygen and organic compounds (at
left), which can be respired to water and (CO2).
Water 9

Some of the biodiversity of a coral reef

Aquatic life forms

Earth's surface waters are filled with life. The earliest life forms
appeared in water; nearly all fish live exclusively in water, and there
are many types of marine mammals, such as dolphins and whales.
Some kinds of animals, such as amphibians, spend portions of their
lives in water and portions on land. Plants such as kelp and algae grow
in the water and are the basis for some underwater ecosystems.
Plankton is generally the foundation of the ocean food chain.

Some marine diatoms a key phytoplankton

Aquatic vertebrates must obtain oxygen to survive, and they do so in
group various ways. Fish have gills instead of lungs, although some species
of fish, such as the lungfish, have both. Marine mammals, such as
dolphins, whales, otters, and seals need to surface periodically to breathe air. Some amphibians are able to absorb
oxygen through their skin. Invertebrates exhibit a wide range of modifications to survive in poorly oxygenated
waters including breathing tubes (see insect and mollusc siphons) and gills (Carcinus). However as invertebrate life
evolved in an aquatic habitat most have little or no specialisation for respiration in water.

Effects on human civilization

Civilization has historically flourished around rivers and major
waterways; Mesopotamia, the so-called cradle of civilization, was
situated between the major rivers Tigris and Euphrates; the ancient
society of the Egyptians depended entirely upon the Nile. Large
metropolises like Rotterdam, London, Montreal, Paris, New York City,
Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Tokyo, Chicago, and Hong Kong owe their
success in part to their easy accessibility via water and the resultant
expansion of trade. Islands with safe water ports, like Singapore, have
flourished for the same reason. In places such as North Africa and the
Water fountain
Water 10

Middle East, where water is more scarce, access to clean drinking water was and is a major factor in human

Health and pollution

Water fit for human consumption is called drinking water or potable
water. Water that is not potable may be made potable by filtration or
distillation, or by a range of other methods.
Water that is not fit for drinking but is not harmful for humans when
used for swimming or bathing is called by various names other than
potable or drinking water, and is sometimes called safe water, or "safe
for bathing". Chlorine is a skin and mucous membrane irritant that is
used to make water safe for bathing or drinking. Its use is highly
technical and is usually monitored by government regulations
Environmental Science Program, Iowa State
University student sampling water. (typically 1 part per million (ppm) for drinking water, and 12 ppm of
chlorine not yet reacted with impurities for bathing water). Water for
bathing may be maintained in satisfactory microbiological condition using chemical disinfectants such as chlorine or
ozone or by the use of ultraviolet light.

In the USA, non-potable forms of wastewater generated by humans may be referred to as greywater, which is
treatable and thus easily able to be made potable again, and blackwater, which generally contains sewage and other
forms of waste which require further treatment in order to be made reusable. Greywater composes 50-80% of
residential wastewater generated by a household's sanitation equipment (sinks, showers and kitchen runoff, but not
toilets, which generate blackwater.) These terms may have different meanings in other countries and cultures.
This natural resource is becoming scarcer in certain places, and its availability is a major social and economic
concern. Currently, about a billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water. Most countries accepted
the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people worldwide who do not have access to safe water and sanitation
during the 2003 G8 Evian summit.[27] Even if this difficult goal is met, it will still leave more than an estimated half
a billion people without access to safe drinking water and over a billion without access to adequate sanitation. Poor
water quality and bad sanitation are deadly; some five million deaths a year are caused by polluted drinking water.
The World Health Organization estimates that safe water could prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea each
year.[28] Water, however, is not a finite resource, but rather re-circulated as potable water in precipitation in
quantities many degrees of magnitude higher than human consumption. Therefore, it is the relatively small quantity
of water in reserve in the earth (about 1% of our drinking water supply, which is replenished in aquifers around
every 1 to 10 years), that is a non-renewable resource, and it is, rather, the distribution of potable and irrigation water
which is scarce, rather than the actual amount of it that exists on the earth. Water-poor countries use importation of
goods as the primary method of importing water (to leave enough for local human consumption), since the
manufacturing process uses around 10 to 100 times products' masses in water.
In the developing world, 90% of all wastewater still goes untreated into local rivers and streams.[29] Some 50
countries, with roughly a third of the worlds population, also suffer from medium or high water stress, and 17 of
these extract more water annually than is recharged through their natural water cycles.[30] The strain not only affects
surface freshwater bodies like rivers and lakes, but it also degrades groundwater resources.
Water 11

Human uses


The most important use of water in agriculture is for irrigation, which

is a key component to produce enough food. Irrigation takes up to 90%
of water withdrawn in some developing countries[31] and significant
proportions in more economically developed countries (United States,
30% of freshwater usage is for irrigation).[32]

Water as a scientific standard

On 7 April 1795, the gram was defined in France to be equal to "the

absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to a cube of one Irrigation of field crops
hundredth of a meter, and to the temperature of the melting ice."
For practical purposes though, a metallic reference standard was required, one thousand times more massive, the
kilogram. Work was therefore commissioned to determine precisely the mass of one liter of water. In spite of the fact
that the decreed definition of the gram specified water at 0Ca highly reproducible temperaturethe scientists
chose to redefine the standard and to perform their measurements at the temperature of highest water density, which
was measured at the time as 4C (39F).[34]

The Kelvin temperature scale of the SI system is based on the triple point of water, defined as exactly 273.16K or
0.01C. The scale is a more accurate development of the Celsius temperature scale, which was originally defined
according the boiling point (set to 100C) and melting point (set to 0C) of water.
Natural water consists mainly of the isotopes hydrogen-1 and oxygen-16, but there is also small quantity of heavier
isotopes such as hydrogen-2 (deuterium). The amount of deuterium oxides or heavy water is very small, but it still
affects the properties of water. Water from rivers and lakes tends to contain less deuterium than seawater. Therefore,
standard water is defined in the Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water specification.

For drinking

The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water depending on

body size.[35] To function properly, the body requires between one and
seven liters of water per day to avoid dehydration; the precise amount
depends on the level of activity, temperature, humidity, and other
factors. Most of this is ingested through foods or beverages other than
drinking straight water. It is not clear how much water intake is needed
by healthy people, though most advocates agree that 67 glasses of
water (approximately 2 liters) daily is the minimum to maintain proper
hydration.[36] Medical literature favors a lower consumption, typically
A young girl drinking bottled water
1 liter of water for an average male, excluding extra requirements due
to fluid loss from exercise or warm weather.[37] For those who have
healthy kidneys, it is rather difficult to drink too much water, but (especially in warm humid weather and while
exercising) it is dangerous to drink too little. People can drink far more water than necessary while exercising,
however, putting them at risk of water intoxication (hyperhydration), which can be fatal. The popular claim that "a
person should consume eight glasses of water per day" seems to
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have no real basis in science.[38] Similar misconceptions concerning

the effect of water on weight loss and constipation have also been

Water quality: fraction of population using

improved water sources by country

An original recommendation for water intake in 1945 by the Food and

Nutrition Board of the National Research Council read: "An ordinary
standard for diverse persons is 1 milliliter for each calorie of food.
Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods."[40] The latest
dietary reference intake report by the United States National Research
Council in general recommended (including food sources): 2.7 liters of
water total for women and 3.7 liters for men.[41] Specifically, pregnant
and breastfeeding women need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
According to the Institute of Medicinewho recommend that, on
average, women consume 2.2 liters and men 3.0 litersthis is
recommended to be 2.4 liters (10 cups) for pregnant women and 3
liters (12 cups) for breastfeeding women since an especially large Hazard symbol for Not drinking water
amount of fluid is lost during nursing.[42] Also noted is that normally,
about 20% of water intake comes from food, while the rest comes from drinking water and beverages (caffeinated
included). Water is excreted from the body in multiple forms; through urine and faeces, through sweating, and by
exhalation of water vapor in the breath. With physical exertion and heat exposure, water loss will increase and daily
fluid needs may increase as well.

Humans require water that does not contain too many impurities. Common impurities include metal salts and oxides
(including copper, iron, calcium and lead)[43] and/or harmful bacteria, such as Vibrio. Some solutes are acceptable
and even desirable for taste enhancement and to provide needed electrolytes.[44]
The single largest (by volume) freshwater resource suitable for drinking is Lake Baikal in Siberia.[45]

The propensity of water to form solutions and emulsions is useful in various washing processes. Many industrial
processes rely on reactions using chemicals dissolved in water, suspension of solids in water slurries or using water
to dissolve and extract substances. Washing is also an important component of several aspects of personal body

Chemical uses
Water is widely used in chemical reactions as a solvent or reactant and less commonly as a solute or catalyst. In
inorganic reactions, water is a common solvent, dissolving many ionic compounds. In organic reactions, it is not
usually used as a reaction solvent, because it does not dissolve the reactants well and is amphoteric (acidic and basic)
and nucleophilic. Nevertheless, these properties are sometimes desirable. Also, acceleration of Diels-Alder reactions
by water has been observed. Supercritical water has recently been a topic of research. Oxygen-saturated supercritical
water combusts organic pollutants efficiently.
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As a heat transfer fluid

Water and steam are used as heat transfer fluids in diverse heat
exchange systems, due to its availability and high heat capacity, both
as a coolant and for heating. Cool water may even be naturally
available from a lake or the sea. Condensing steam is a particularly
efficient heating fluid because of the large heat of vaporization. A
disadvantage is that water and steam are somewhat corrosive. In almost
all electric power stations, water is the coolant, which vaporizes and
drives steam turbines to drive generators. In the U.S., cooling power
plants is the largest use of water.[32]

In the nuclear power industry, water can also be used as a neutron

moderator. In most nuclear reactors, water is both a coolant and a
moderator. This provides something of a passive safety measure, as
removing the water from the reactor also slows the nuclear reaction
down - however other methods are favored for stopping a reaction and
Ice used for cooling.
it is preferred to keep the nuclear core covered with water so as to
ensure adequate cooling.

Extinguishing fires

Water has a high heat of vaporization and is relatively inert, which

makes it a good fire extinguishing fluid. The evaporation of water
carries heat away from the fire. However, only distilled water can be
used to fight fires of electric equipment, because impure water is
electrically conductive. Water is not suitable for use on fires of oils and
organic solvents, because they float on water and the explosive boiling
of water tends to spread the burning liquid.

Use of water in fire fighting should also take into account the hazards
of a steam explosion, which may occur when water is used on very hot Water is used for fighting wildfires.

fires in confined spaces, and of a hydrogen explosion, when substances

which react with water, such as certain metals or hot graphite, decompose the water, producing hydrogen gas.
The power of such explosions was seen in the Chernobyl disaster, although the water involved did not come from
fire-fighting at that time but the reactor's own water cooling system. A steam explosion occurred when the extreme
over-heating of the core caused water to flash into steam. A hydrogen explosion may have occurred as a result of
reaction between steam and hot zirconium.
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Humans use water for many recreational purposes, as well as for

exercising and for sports. Some of these include swimming,
waterskiing, boating, surfing and diving. In addition, some sports, like
ice hockey and ice skating, are played on ice. Lakesides, beaches and
waterparks are popular places for people to go to relax and enjoy
recreation. Many find the sound and appearance of flowing water to be
calming, and fountains and other water features are popular
decorations. Some keep fish and other life in aquariums or ponds for
show, fun, and companionship. Humans also use water for snow sports Grand Anse Beach, St. George's, Grenada, West
Indies, often reported as one of the top 10
i.e. skiing, sledding, snowmobiling or snowboarding, which requires
beaches in the world.
the water to be frozen. People may also use water for play fighting
such as with snowballs, water guns or water balloons.

Water industry

The water industry provides drinking water and wastewater services

(including sewage treatment) to households and industry. Water supply
facilities include water wells cisterns for rainwater harvesting, water
supply network, water purification facilities, water tanks, water towers,
water pipes including old aqueducts. Atmospheric water generators are
in development.

Drinking water is often collected at springs, extracted from artificial

borings (wells) in the ground, or pumped from lakes and rivers.
Building more wells in adequate places is thus a possible way to
produce more water, assuming the aquifers can supply an adequate
flow. Other water sources include rainwater collection. Water may
require purification for human consumption. This may involve removal
of undissolved substances, dissolved substances and harmful microbes.
Popular methods are filtering with sand which only removes
undissolved material, while chlorination and boiling kill harmful
microbes. Distillation does all three functions. More advanced A water-carrier in India, 1882. In many places
techniques exist, such as reverse osmosis. Desalination of abundant where running water was not available, water had
seawater is a more expensive solution used in coastal arid climates. to be transported by people.

The distribution of drinking water is done through municipal water

systems, tanker delivery or as bottled water. Governments in many
countries have programs to distribute water to the needy at no charge.
Others argue that the market mechanism and free enterprise are best to
manage this rare resource and to finance the boring of wells or the
construction of dams and reservoirs.

Reducing usage by using drinking (potable) water only for human

consumption is another option. In some cities such as Hong Kong, sea
water is extensively used for flushing toilets citywide in order to
conserve fresh water resources. A manual water pump in China
Water 15

Polluting water may be the biggest single misuse of water; to the extent
that a pollutant limits other uses of the water, it becomes a waste of the
resource, regardless of benefits to the polluter. Like other types of
pollution, this does not enter standard accounting of market costs,
being conceived as externalities for which the market cannot account.
Thus other people pay the price of water pollution, while the private
firms' profits are not redistributed to the local population victim of this
pollution. Pharmaceuticals consumed by humans often end up in the
Water purification facility waterways and can have detrimental effects on aquatic life if they
bioaccumulate and if they are not biodegradable.

Wastewater facilities are storm sewers and wastewater treatment plants. Another way to remove pollution from
surface runoff water is bioswale.

Industrial applications

Water is used in power generation. Hydroelectricity is electricity obtained from hydropower. Hydroelectric power
comes from water driving a water turbine connected to a generator. Hydroelectricity is a low-cost, non-polluting,
renewable energy source. The energy is supplied by the sun. Heat from the sun evaporates water, which condenses as
rain in higher altitudes, from where it flows down.

Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydro-electric power station.

Pressurized water is used in water blasting and water jet cutters. Also, very high pressure water guns are used for
precise cutting. It works very well, is relatively safe, and is not harmful to the environment. It is also used in the
cooling of machinery to prevent over-heating, or prevent saw blades from over-heating.
Water is also used in many industrial processes and machines, such as the steam turbine and heat exchanger, in
addition to its use as a chemical solvent. Discharge of untreated water from industrial uses is pollution. Pollution
includes discharged solutes (chemical pollution) and discharged coolant water (thermal pollution). Industry requires
pure water for many applications and utilizes a variety of purification techniques both in water supply and discharge.
Water 16

Food processing

Water plays many critical roles within the field of food science. It is
important for a food scientist to understand the roles that water plays
within food processing to ensure the success of their products.
Solutes such as salts and sugars found in water affect the physical
properties of water. The boiling and freezing points of water are
affected by solutes, as well as air pressure, which is in turn affected by
altitude. Water boils at lower temperatures with the lower air pressure
which occurs at higher elevations. One mole of sucrose (sugar) per
kilogram of water raises the boiling point of water by 0.51 C, and one
Water can be used to cook foods such as noodles.
mole of salt per kg raises the boiling point by 1.02 C; similarly,
increasing the number of dissolved particles lowers water's freezing
point. Solutes in water also affect water activity which affects many chemical reactions and the growth of
microbes in food.[47] Water activity can be described as a ratio of the vapor pressure of water in a solution to the
vapor pressure of pure water.[46] Solutes in water lower water activity. This is important to know because most
bacterial growth ceases at low levels of water activity.[47] Not only does microbial growth affect the safety of food
but also the preservation and shelf life of food.

Water hardness is also a critical factor in food processing. It can dramatically affect the quality of a product as well
as playing a role in sanitation. Water hardness is classified based on the amounts of removable calcium carbonate
salt it contains per gallon. Water hardness is measured in grains; 0.064 g calcium carbonate is equivalent to one grain
of hardness.[46] Water is classified as soft if it contains 1 to 4 grains, medium if it contains 5 to 10 grains and hard if
it contains 11 to 20 grains. [46] The hardness of water may be altered or treated by using a chemical ion exchange
system. The hardness of water also affects its pH balance which plays a critical role in food processing. For example,
hard water prevents successful production of clear beverages. Water hardness also affects sanitation; with increasing
hardness, there is a loss of effectiveness for its use as a sanitizer.[46]
Boiling, steaming, and simmering are popular cooking methods that often require immersing food in water or its
gaseous state, steam. Water is also used for dishwashing.
Water 17

Water law, water politics and water crisis

Water politics is politics affected by water
and water resources. For this reason,
water is a strategic resource in the globe
and an important element in many
political conflicts. It causes health impacts
and damage to biodiversity.

1.6 billion people have gained access to a

safe water source since 1990.[48] The
proportion of people in developing
countries with access to safe water is
calculated to have improved from 30% in
1970[4] to 71% in 1990, 79% in 2000 and
84% in 2004. This trend is projected to
continue.[5] To halve, by 2015, the
proportion of people without sustainable An estimate of the share of people in developing countries with access to potable
access to safe drinking water is one of the water 19702000

Millennium Development Goals. This

goal is projected to be reached.

A 2006 United Nations report stated that "there is enough water for everyone", but that access to it is hampered by
mismanagement and corruption.[49] In addition, global initiatives to improve the efficiency of aid delivery, such as
the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, have not been taken up by water sector donors as effectively as they have
in education and health, potentially leaving multiple donors working on overlapping projects and recipient
governments without empowerment to act.[50]
The UN World Water Development Report (WWDR, 2003) from the World Water Assessment Program indicates
that, in the next 20 years, the quantity of water available to everyone is predicted to decrease by 30%. 40% of the
world's inhabitants currently have insufficient fresh water for minimal hygiene. More than 2.2 million people died in
2000 from waterborne diseases (related to the consumption of contaminated water) or drought. In 2004, the UK
charity WaterAid reported that a child dies every 15 seconds from easily preventable water-related diseases; often
this means lack of sewage disposal; see toilet.
Organizations concerned with water protection include International Water Association (IWA), WaterAid, Water 1st,
American Water Resources Association [51]. Water related conventions are United Nations Convention to Combat
Desertification (UNCCD), International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea and Ramsar Convention. World Day for Water takes place on 22 March and
World Ocean Day on 8 June.
Water used in the production of a good or service is virtual water.

Water in culture

Water is considered a purifier in most religions. Major faiths that incorporate ritual washing (ablution) include
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Rastafari movement, Shinto, Taoism, Judaism, and Wicca. Immersion (or aspersion or
affusion) of a person in water is a central sacrament of Christianity (where it is called baptism); it is also a part of the
practice of other religions, including Judaism (mikvah) and Sikhism (Amrit Sanskar). In addition, a ritual bath in
pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam. In Islam, the five daily prayers
Water 18

can be done in most cases (see Tayammum) after completing washing certain parts of the body using clean water
(wudu). In Shinto, water is used in almost all rituals to cleanse a person or an area (e.g., in the ritual of misogi).
Water is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, for example: "The earth was formed out of water and by water"
(NIV). In the Qur'an it is stated that "Living things are made of water" and it is often used to described Paradise.

The Ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles held that water is one of the four classical elements along with fire,
earth and air, and was regarded as the ylem, or basic substance of the universe. Water was considered cold and moist.
In the theory of the four bodily humors, water was associated with phlegm. The classical element of Water was also
one of the five elements in traditional Chinese philosophy, along with earth, fire, wood, and metal.
Water is also taken as a role model in some parts of traditional and popular Asian philosophy. James Legge's 1891
translation of the Dao De Jing states "The highest excellence is like (that of) water. The excellence of water appears
in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men
dislike. Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Tao" and "There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than
water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of itfor there
is nothing (so effectual) for which it can be changed."[52]

Water is used in literature as a symbol of purification. Examples include the critical importance of a river in As I Lay
Dying by William Faulkner and the drowning of Ophelia in Hamlet.
Sherlock Holmes held that "From a drop of water, a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara
without having seen or heard of one or the other."[53]

See also
The water (data page) is a collection of the chemical and physical properties of water.
Water is described in many terms and contexts:
according to state
solid ice
liquid water
gaseous water vapor
according to meteorology:

precipitation according to movement precipitation according to state

Water 19

vertical (falling) precipitation liquid precipitation

rain rain
freezing rain freezing rain
drizzle drizzle
freezing drizzle freezing drizzle
snow dew
snow pellets solid precipitation
snow grains snow
ice pellets snow pellets
frozen rain snow grains
hail ice pellets
ice crystals frozen rain
horizontal (seated) precipitation hail
dew ice crystals
hoarfrost hoarfrost
atmospheric icing atmospheric icing
glaze ice glaze ice
mixed precipitation
in temperatures around 0 C

levitating particles
ascending particles (drifted by wind)
stirred snow
according to occurrence
meteoric water
connate water
fresh water
surface water
mineral water contains many minerals
brackish water
dead water strange phenomenon which can occur when a layer of fresh or brackish water rests on top of
denser salt water, without the two layers mixing. It is dangerous for ship traveling.
according to uses
tap water
bottled water
drinking water or potable water useful for everyday drinking, without fouling, it contains balanced minerals
that are not harmful to health (see below)
purified water, laboratory-grade, analytical-grade or reagent-grade water water which has been highly
purified for specific uses in science or engineering. Often broadly classified as Type I, Type II, or Type III, this
category of water includes, but is not limited to, the following:
distilled water
Water 20

double distilled water

deionized water
Reverse osmosis plant Water
according to other features
soft water contains fewer minerals
hard water from underground, contains more minerals
distilled water, double distilled water, deionized water contains no minerals
water of crystallization water incorporated into crystalline structures
hydrates water bound into other chemical substances
heavy water made from heavy atoms of hydrogen deuterium. It is in nature in normal water in very low
concentration. It was used in construction of first nuclear reactors.
tritiated water
according to microbiology
drinking water
stormwater or surface water
according to religion
holy water

Other topics
Dihydrogen monoxide hoax
Water Pasteurization Indicator
Water intoxication
Water pinch analysis

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Water 22

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Further reading
OA Jones, JN Lester and N Voulvoulis, Pharmaceuticals: a threat to drinking water? TRENDS in Biotechnology
23(4): 163, 2005
Franks, F (Ed), Water, A comprehensive treatise, Plenum Press, New York, 19721982
PH Gleick and associates, The World's Water: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources. Island Press,
Washington, D.C. (published every two years, beginning in 1998.)
Marks, William E., The Holy Order of Water: Healing Earth's Waters and Ourselves. Bell Pond Books ( a div. of
Steiner Books), Great Barrington, MA, November 2001 [ISBN 0-88010-483-X]
Debenedetti, P. G., and Stanley, H. E.; "Supercooled and Glassy Water", Physics Today 56 (6), p.4046 (2003).
Downloadable PDF (1.9 MB) (

Water as a natural resource

Anderson (1991). Water Rights: Scarce Resource Allocation, Bureaucracy, and the Environment.
Maude Barlow, Tony Clarke (2003). Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water.
Gleick, Peter H.. The World's Water: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources. Washington: Island Press.
Miriam R. Lowi (1995). Water and Power: The Politics of a Scarce Resource in the Jordan River Basin.
ISBN0521431646. (Cambridge Middle East Library)
William E. Marks (2001). The Holy Order of Water: Healing Earths Waters and Ourselves.
Postel, Sandra (1997, second edition). Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity. New York: Norton Press.
Reisner, Marc (1993). Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. ISBN0670199273.
Vandana Shiva (2002). Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit. London: Pluto Press [u.a.].
ISBN0-7453-1837-1. OCLC231955339.
Anita Roddick, et al (2004). Troubled Water: Saints, Sinners, Truth And Lies About The Global Water Crisis.
Marq de Villiers (2003, revised edition). Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource. ISBN0618030093.
Diane Raines Ward (2002). Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly and the Politics of Thirst. ISBN1573222291.
Worster, Donald (1992). Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West.
Water 23

External links
OECD Water statistics (
Article Sources and Contributors 24

Article Sources and Contributors

Water Source: Contributors: -Majestic-, 11nniuq, 1qaz!QAZ, 334a, 5 albert square, A Softer Answer, A.b.s, A8UDI, ABlake,
AEMoreira042281, ALIENDUDE5300, AWeishaupt, Abarton777, Abdullais4u, Absolwent, Acalamari, Acatkiller, Acceptable, Aceofhearts157, Achristl, Acroterion, Acs4b, Acspsg,
Adambiswanger1, Adampantha, Adashiel, AdjustShift, Adsomvilay, Afluent Rider, Ahoerstemeier, Ahruman, Aillema, Airplanedude550, Aksi great, Al Adriance, Alan Liefting, Alansohn,
Alegoo92, Alesnormales, Alex earlier account, AlexiusHoratius, Alexultima, Alhutch, Alight, Alison, Alistair b, Alloquep, AmandaFraser, AmiDaniel, Amiruka, Amkozmo10, Anastrophe,
Andonic, Andre Engels, Andrewjlockley, Andrewpmk, Android79, Andy M. Wang, Andy Marchbanks, Andypandy.UK, AngelOfSadness, Angela, Angelatheaven, Angelclown3,
Angelofdeath275, Anger22, Animum, Anlace, Ann Stouter, Anna Lincoln, AnneDELS, Anonymous Dissident, Anonymous editor, Anqdrew, Antandrus, Antelopotamus, Anthony Appleyard,
Antilived, Antipode, AntonioMartin, Aoi, Aquillion, Aqwis, Aranherunar, Aranmore, Aravindk editing, Arbitrarily0, Archanamiya, Argon233, Arjun01, Arkuat, Arnesh, Arnomane, Art LaPella,
Arush79, Asdofindia, Ashenai, Ashley Y, Ashlopedia, Ashmoo, Ashton1983, Ashtonrocksmysox, Ashvidia, Ashwatham, Asmah01, Astral, Asweni, Ataleh, Athomsfere, Atmoz, Attack 2400,
Audriusa, Augustus Rookwood, Auntof6, Aushulz, Autiger, Avatar, Avenue, Avicennasis, Avigdor6, Awesomeman7788, Awesomeness37, Awickert, AxelBoldt, Ayumbhara, Az1568, AzaToth,
B00P, BW52, Backtothemacman32, BadCRC, Badger Drink, Bahahs, Ballajames33, Banes, Barliner, Baronnet, BarretBonden, Basicdesign, Bbatsell, Bcnof, Bdesham, Beddowve,
Bedrupsbaneman, Beefball, Beetstra, Begoon, Beland, Belovedfreak, Ben-Zin, BenFrantzDale, Bender235, Bendzh, Bennelliott, BennyD, Berethor222, Bergsten, Berserkerz Crit, Beryish
mourner, Bhadani, Bigbluefish, Bigbobc293, Bill Thayer, Binary TSO, Biophys, Birkett, Bjarki S, Bladechampion, Bladesofblood112, Blah63, Blanchardb, Blindman shady, BlogforHealth,
BlueEarth, Bmicomp, Bob Palin, Bob billydoe joe, Bob the ducq, Bobblewik, Bobo192, Bogey97, Bolivian Unicyclist, Bongwarrior, Bonnie91, BookSquirrel, Boothy443, Booyabazooka, Bornhj,
Bowei Huang 1, BozMo, BrainyBabe, Bratch, Brian0918, BrianGV, BrianHansen, Brianga, Brighterorange, Brisvegas, BrokenSegue, Brownings, Bryan Derksen, Bullybum1, Burntsauce,
CPAScott, CSWarren, CW, Cacahueten, Cactus Guru, Cacycle, Calliopejen1, Calltech, Caltas, Calypso, CambridgeBayWeather, Camw, Can't sleep, clown will eat me, Canadian-Bacon,
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