Industry battles: Fizzy drinks vs. bottled water

Bottled water

For decades, fizzy drinks have dominated the bottled refreshment market. Visit any store refrigerator or cafe, and you’ll see shelves upon shelves of cola, lemonade, and sodas. However, the times, they are a changing! 2016 saw an explosion in the bottled water market, with varieties such as vitamin infused, coconut, flavoured, and medical water, and the consumers are paying attention. Between July 2016 and July 2017, bottled water sales in the UK outstripped cola sales, with 1.77 billion litres of bottled water being purchased, in comparison to 1.72 billion litres of cola, this is the first time in refreshment history that this has happened, and is the fourth consecutive year of double digit growth for the bottled water industry in the UK.

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What to Consider when Buying a Water Cooler or Dispenser

Having a water cooler or dispenser at the home or office can be a benefit for many reasons. Apart from the obvious hydration and general health benefits, we have also talked before about how they can actually help to boost productivity. Choosing the right one, however, isn’t always as simple as it sounds. So, what are the important factors to consider?
The first thing to decide is whether you require a cooler or a dispenser. While both are capable of providing a refreshing drink, the difference between the two is, well, obvious really. While a dispenser holds the water within at room temperature, coolers actually chill their contents. Generally, coolers are the preferred option, although dispensers do usually have the benefit of not requiring any kind of power source.
Now we move onto the questions of free-standing vs. countertop dispensers. While free-standing units a far more commonplace in large offices, countertop dispensers do have a few key benefits. Firstly, they tend to be the significantly cheaper option (I shouldn’t have to tell you why…), and they do of course take up much less space. This could make them ideal for home use. The downside is that due to smaller compressors, they don’t tend to cool the water as much as free-standing dispensers.
The free-standing option, while more expensive and larger, is often preferred due to their typically larger tanks and better cooling performance. Generally, my advice would be to invest in the bulkier unit for buildings of any substantial size.
You should also take a peek at the product specifications if you’re torn between a few options. A good basic rule to stick by: larger compressors mean colder water. Unfortunately these specs aren’t always easy to find or understand, but it could be worth a bit of research to get the best performing model.
You can also get dispensers which include a tap for hot water. For me, this is largely unnecessary; the hot water is far from boiling temperature, making it less than ideal for many hot drinks, and separate dispensers for hot water tend to perform a lot better.
There are of course many more little variables if you look hard enough, but this should give you enough information to make a fully informed purchase. If you need a little extra help, some companies, such as

Borg & Overström, incorporate elements into their site to help you choose between their own selections.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Drinking Water: A Useful Weight-Loss Aid?

Nobody is going to dispute that drinking water is good for you; in terms of not only hydration itself, but also the plethora of knock-on effects such as increased brain activity, awareness and attention span, the flushing of harmful toxins and even relief from headaches and migraines. One benefit you may not have realised, however, is weight loss.
When I say that water helps you lose weight, I don’t simply mean that replacing sugary, high calorie drinks with water will benefit you in this manner, that much is a given. I’m talking about a few other little tricks we can play on our bodies, turning an average glass of water into an active weight loss supplement.
There are a couple of different factors that play into why water can be used as such. The first, when you think about it, is actually pretty obvious; water takes up space, space that you might otherwise use for fatty/high calorie food. A glass or two of water before a meal will substantially reduce your appetite because of this. Eat less, weigh less is the basic principle at play here.
The second factor is that water actively helps the body with the breakdown and elimination of fat cells, as well as actually increasing the rate at which your body burns through its fat reserves. So, not only are you taking on fewer unwanted calories, you’re burning through them quicker as well.
My advice? The next time you’re browsing the supermarket shelves, sifting through an endless array of quick-fix weight loss supplements priced as if they’re made of diamond dust, stop, turn around, and grab a glass of water instead. You could shave off a few pounds in more ways than one.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

The Controversy Concerning Water in Beauty Care Products

It’s a subject that’s regularly up for debate and consistently called into question: the beauty care industry. From the nearly unregulated use of “natural” and “organic” to the veritable smorgasbord of chemicals hiding behind the simple word fragrance, the beauty industry has a lot to answer for. Consumers continue to purchase products that are reportedly plant-based for peace of mind, but even then it’s a toss-up on whether or not the product is actually safe.

In most every product, water is one of the top chemicals used. Usually listed as aqua on labels, it’s an ingredient that is rather high on most beauty product labels. Ingredients listed on labels are ordered by descending order of weight meaning that the sooner an ingredient is listed, the more of it there is in the product. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; water does hydrate skin and can help certain ingredients be absorbed. However, on the flip side of this argument, water is a cheap ingredient that can be used to cheapen products.
Flower waters are another kind of liquid that can used in beauty care products, often with added benefits over distilled water. They can be made of herbs, needles, leaves, woods, barks, seeds and flowers, and are referred to as hydrosols in aromatherapy. These special waters are similar to essential oils but with a milder concentration, and are great for use in toners, bathing, and wound/anti-inflammatory treatment. The downside of flower waters is the variable nature of the product, dependent on the growing season along with many other factors. This means inconsistency, not something big name companies are ready to deal with.
Water, then, is the chemical of choice for the hydrating component in beauty products. Distilled water is the standard since it has no impurities to potentially interfere with the product or damage skin. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t address the problem with having water as the main ingredient in beauty products. It’s a cheap filler, literally watering down expensive products.
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Shelling out something like £18 ($25) for eye cream is ludicrous if the first ingredient listed is water. This might seem harmless, but it’s also ineffective. The outer layer of skin only needs a 10% concentration of water to stay soft. According to several studies, an overabundance of water can interfere with how skin is bonded and how water is contained within outer layer of skin.
Realistically, water dehydrates the skin. Since your body regularly secretes oils to hydrate the skin, water-based products eliminate this protective oil barrier. In Korea, water-free beauty products are the next big thing. By getting rid of such a major filler, useful and effective ingredients can make a great product. Additionally, since the product is so concentrated, it doesn’t take much. A little goes a long way.
Tip: For the truly concerned, I highly recommend checking your product on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

How to Build Your Own Rainwater Collection System

In the most mountainous regions of the UK, there can be more than 4 metres of rainfall every year, and the rest of the country isn’t far behind. We talk about rain as if it’s this horrid, irritating blight that keeps us all inside playing Scrabble with our disgusting families, but in reality it’s a vital, replenishing force that keeps our planets green, our soil moist and our ecosystem stable.

Beyond simply letting nature water your plants, or reenacting your favourite scenes from any romcom released in the last 20 years, there’s another practical use for rain – collect and storing it. You can buy water butts in most DIY shops, but why bother with that when you can build you own? It’s a surprisingly simple process, and the rewards are well worth the effort.

Firstly, you need to get a storage unit. This can be a plastic barrel, bin or another other large storage container, as long as it has a lid. You want to be looking at a minimum of 100 litres of storage, anything smaller is pointless, you’ll be emptying it too often. If you decide to source one second hand, you need to make sure it had something non-toxic in it before, and then clean it with hot, soapy water. Get as many as you think you’ll need.

The next step is to create an actual collection system. There are a few different ways to do this, the main ones are to either redirect one your existing gutter spouts, or mount a length of hosepipe and a funnel. In the former case, you’ll need to buy an angled spout fitting to your home gutter system, replace one of the other spouts, place a grate at the top (so leaves and other debris don’t end up in the collector) and attach it to the barrel, sealing it all off with caulk. Alternatively, you can use bungee chords to hoist up a length of hose with a funnel (and filter) on the end and it does the same job without you having to lose a spout.

The last two things are the spigot and the overflow. Buy a spigot and make a note of the value size, then drill a hole of the same circumference in the side of the container, near the bottom, but high enough to fit a watering can or bucket beneath (the container should stand on some bricks or breeze blocks as well). Line the hole with caulk and then fit the spigot. Drill another hole of the same size near the top, parallel to the spigot, and fit it with a hose adapter, this way if you want a second container to catch the overflow, you can easily fit it.

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

Hydrosols – Fleeting Fad or Sustainable Trend?

We have long had the supposed merits of essential oils forced down our throats by incessant TV adverts and social media campaigns. It seems that these days, the most important thing to many people is how they look and are perceived by others. As such, it comes as no surprise that this industry has grown to the scale it has in cosmetic markets, but they have been reported to have some useful health benefits as well. 
These oils are in fact used for a wide variety of purposes including anti-aging creams and lotions, as bath oils designed to reduce stress and improve circulation, or inhaled as steam in order to relieve congestion, among many others. I can’t profess to have tried any of these myself, but plenty of people swear by them.
There is, however, a new variation on the essential oils trend that has gathered steam as of late. Known as hydrosols, these sprays are derived either as a bi-product of the oil gathering process, or from specialist distillers designed to create only the vapour, which is then in turn used to create the hydrosols. They contain the same essential oils as people already buy in droves, only in a much lower concentration.
Concerning the distillation process, author and aromatherapist Jeanne Rose is quoted as saying:
“The best comes from a distillation where it is the hydrosol that is being produced rather than the essential oil. Often the best comes from the earliest part of the distillation rather than the body of the distillation. This usually smells bright and pleasantly fragrant. Although, some of the therapeutic part of the hydrosol is also produced at the very end of the distillation, and usually has a rather grassy or vegetative note. As the plants are being distilled, micro-particles of essential oil are in suspension, they give the aromatic distillate its scent and will separate out as the hydrosol cools. There is approximately .02% essential oil in hydrosols.”
Now that we understand what hydrosols are, it’s time to take a closer look at their benefits. 
The exact benefits gained from hydrosols will depend entirely on the ingredients used to create it. For example, a lemon verbena hydrosol can be used as a cleaning agent/disinfectant, a refreshing spray to wake you up, an air freshener or even consumed as a drink. 
Other solutions such as clary sage and witch hazel can be used as a facial toner, while lavender can be used as a pillow spray, helping you to relax into a good night’s sleep. 
There are countless more uses that people have found for the plethora of water-based sprays available, but listing them all here would be a bit excessive. There are, however, countless websites focused on providing new combinations and recipes, along with suggested usage, so if you want to find out a little more, trust in your old friend Google.
As for the question posed in the title of this article, if for nothing else other than the versatility of the products in their various forms, I would expect hydrosols to become a more sustainable trend.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Using Water as a Preservative

Considering how we use water around the world as a cleaning agent, whether for our food, our clothes or ourselves, there is logic in wondering about its validity as a preservative. For the purposes of this article I will be avoiding talking about salt water as, while it is a known preservative, this is due to the salt content, not the water itself.
When it comes to the preservation of food, water isn’t really suited to the task. This is because bacteria loves water, and will flourish in wet environments. Certain foods, such as a freshly sliced apple, may benefit from submersion in water purely because it slows down the oxygenation process taking place within the fleshy interior on contact with the air, and will prevent it from drying out. While this may help to keep food in a more appealing state for a couple of days, to call it an effective preservative would be inaccurate.
So, that’s the question of water as a preservative thoroughly debunked, right? Well, not quite. Food is far from the only thing in need of preservation, and in certain situations, water has some interesting applications
Electrical components, such as cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders found on board aircraft are regularly preserved in water upon recovery if the aircraft itself has become submerged. It may seem illogical to place electronics into water, but this is done to combat the corrosive effect of the salt abundant in sea water. As the device dries out this salt forms in deposits on important circuitry, and can seriously and irreparably damage it. By keeping the device submerged this process is delayed, allowing more time to recover any important data.
Another benefit of using water for such applications is that the dissolved oxygen content will be much lower than the levels found in the air, and oxygenation is often a leading cause of deterioration.
For similar reasons, water is also used for the preservation of archaeological discoveries, particularly where delicate objects have been exposed to water or anaerobic environments for an extended period of time. Contact with the outside air would quickly cause these objects to dry out, crack and oxygenate, all of which will irreversibly damage the item.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Water Cooling for PC – The Basics

The wide wonders of the PC world offer a motley of add-ons to optimise both PC and personal performance. These advancements can stretch far into the future in a never-ending quest for the next best thing. For example, a mouse bungee will make your wired mouse feel wireless for the reasonable price of £26.77.  Water cooling, an efficient, quiet and visually-appealing method of cooling your PC, can cost anywhere from £70 to upwards of £300 for a custom job. It all depends on what you choose to invest in.

Traditional air-cooled CPU’s operate based on principles of thermodynamics; heat will disperse to different components to reach equilibrium. If something warm is next to something cool, the heat will transfer from the warm object to the cool object until both reach the same temperature. This is assuming that the cool object is able to absorb the heat and that there is an avenue over which heat can transfer.
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For air-cooled rigs, a heatsink with heat pipes is attached to the CPU’s heat spreader by a layer of thermally-conductive paste. This paste is the avenue, enabling heat transfer by filling in any gaps between the heatsink and CPU. Once the heat has reached equilibrium across the CPU and heatsink, the heat pipes are responsible for ridding the system of heat. Pipes are “filled with a fluid that vaporises as it heats up and rises to the end of the heat pipes, which are usually festooned with thin aluminium or copper heat fins.” The fins are then cooled by a fan, transferring the heat to the air and cooling the fins. This is a basic explanation for how air cooling works.

Opting for traditional air cooling won’t be doing your computer a disservice since the difference in CPU temperature is negligible regardless of the cooling method chosen. However, water cooling is the superior method, because it allows computer fans to run at a lower speed for less overall noise.
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Water Cooling
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For the truly dedicated, overclocking your CPU will increase the performance of your PC (a plus), but will draw more energy, generating excessive heat in the process (a negative). Water cooling is the recommended method for computer enthusiasts who pride themselves on high speeds and multiple cores/cards/etc. since it can prolong the life and function if done correctly. For most people, the computer alone costs enough without fancy add-ons, but water cooling does tend to keep CPUs colder. Since water absorbs more heat per second, less heat lingers in important components.  In fact, water moves more heat than air in the same amount of time. Unlike traditional air cooling, water cooling allows everything to be cooled on the same loop.

Parts and Process
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 Water cooling does use different parts than air cooling, but operates pretty similarly on principles of thermodynamics; it just has a more efficient avenue over which heat can transfer: liquid. Using water blocks, a pump, radiator, fan, reservoir, and, of course, hosing to facilitate movement, liquid cooling is a complex game designed for the rich man.

  • Heat energy is transferred from the component of your choice to liquid using a water block which, like a heat sink, benefits from a large surface area. Blocks measure up against one another based on surface area and capacity. These blocks can add unnecessarily to your investment, depending on how many components you want to cool (CPU, GPU, RAM, HDD). Each will require a designated block and potentially cost more depending on your pump/routing. 
  • The pump you choose will depend on how many blocks you’ve chosen and your configuration plans. Comparatively, pumps differ in a variety of ways, but we’ll focus on the important things: flow rate and head pressure. Flow rate tells you how much liquid can be pumped without restriction (0). Conversely, head pressure is how hard a pump can push liquid with full restriction (100). The tricky bit is figuring out which pump offers the best flow rate. Move too quickly and the water doesn’t have time to absorb heat, too slowly and heat can build up, all of which is affected by the complexity of the path liquid will travel on. 
  • The radiator or heat exchanger is next on the list, used to transfer heat from the water to the air. Having a quality radiator will increase the efficiency of your water cooling system since the quicker your water is cooled, the more heat it will dispel. The radiator you choose will need to correspond in size to a fan, if you choose to have one. The heated radiator will be cooled by it, heating the air in turn. 
  • Reservoirs, not included in every system, are where you’ll have a store of liquid connected to the pump. Weird, shouldn’t the amount of liquid stay consistent? Air bubbles are going to pop up, but with a reservoir fitted, these bubbles can be replaced as the water loops through the system. 
  • Tubing and fittings are best left to a leisurely Saturday morning of research, what with different materials, sizing, and accessories.

If that’s been explained poorly, just think of it like the liquid-cooling system used in your car. The parts are almost identical, save for the water blocks. Car engines can handle direct contact with liquid whereas electronic components cannot. That’s where the water blocks factor in.
System Types:
All-In-One Coolers
For simplicity, opt for all-in-one or self-contained coolers, a closed system meaning that the liquid is not changeable. In fact, many sealed liquid-cooling kits come pre-filled and require no additional steps from the purchaser outside of installation. The liquid used, propylene glycol, is a compound commonly found in edible goods and e-cigarette liquid as a type of preservation. Easy to install with almost no maintenance, this is the lower end of the water cooling spectrum, although prices do vary. These systems operate using a contained radiator, pump, water block, and reservoir to cool the CPU. If a bit more is invested in the system, you can find ones that will cool the CPU and GPU. 
Custom Coolers
For those who have hundreds of pounds (or dollars) burning a hole in their pocket, a custom cooling loop could be the way to go. Multiple components can be liquid-cooled by incorporating water blocks and connecting them to the cooling loop. There are two ways to go about this: invest hardcore in a full-on custom set up or opt for a partially-customised system. Going for a partial system will read the same as an all-in-one cooling loop, but with customisable aspects. For example, the Swiftech H220 is an innovative liquid cooling system that offers high-quality parts over other cooling kits. With this system, a person can pair this system with after-market parts to create a “custom” loop.
The tubing used in water cooled systems can be routed almost anywhere, saving valuable space that would otherwise have been occupied by fans and a heatsink. Plus, you just can’t argue with looks. Water cooling has endless possibilities from LED additions to crazy tubing.
Custom loops can be a great way to guarantee good performance and take your PC to the next level; however, unlike all-in-one systems, the liquid in these does need to be changed every couple years. Depending on the liquid used (water or coolant), this time can vary. 
Having a fully-customized water cooling loop is a big investment, one that most people won’t benefit from unless you’re regularly running editing programs and drawing applications. Computers with stock/low-end parts do fine with air cooling.  The most notable downside to this approach is that, if installed incorrectly, water cooling takes a toll on the system, shortening the component lifespan. 
Let’s say you do decide to take the plunge, be prepared to do tons of research. Not only will you have to find parts that fit your PC, you’ll have to find parts that match each other in sizing and plan out the parts needed to cool additional components.
It’s important to remember that, while water cooling is all flash, you get what you buy. So, while the cheaper options are more appealing, consider the longevity of products before committing. This article has been a very brief overview for those interested in water cooling their PC, but if you want a more in depth guide, check out Gmac’s Water Cooling 101. It’s a congregation of forum posts which go into the science of water cooling, explains each component and includes videos showing how water cooling systems work. 
Jacqui Litvan
Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor’s degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).

The Health Benefits of Cold Water Swimming

Typically, warm water is considered the more therapeutic option, while cold water is thought to be, well, dangerous. Even when you’re not danger of getting hypothermia, jumping into a lake of cold water sounds like the absolute worst thing, but it can actually be a safe, healthy pastime. 
Cold water swimming is said to be good for blood flow, boosting your immune system and even improving your sex drive. There’s little in the way of scientific weight to these claims, just anecdotal examples, but one thing is for sure – with so many people swearing by it, there must be some benefit. 
Numbers for winter swimming events have continued to climb with each passing year, and there’s even talk of the ‘ice mile’ ice swimming event eventually being included in the Winter Olympics. There’s obviously some level of risk involved, under the wrong circumstances you might be in danger of hypothermia or even drowning, which is why cold swimmers only do so in groups, and with plenty of safety measures on hand. 
The actual reaction, known as the ‘cold shock response’, is actually one of the main draws of the activity, as it ushers in a boost of endorphins, and a subsequent increase in energy, which is why many people opt to take a cold water dip first thing in the morning. Much like free diving, cold water swimming is thought to awaken certain impulses in the body which usually lie dormant, but can allow us to withstand things which might seem too extreme to tolerate.
In the most basic sense, repeated exposure will gradually create a tolerance to the low temperatures, while the supposed benefits remain intact. It’s recommended to start during summer, and make it a regular thing from the outset for this reason. It’s also advised to consult a doctor before actually starting, and to avoid it altogether if you have any kind of heart condition. 

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.