Have you ever noticed that when you pull a mouthful of water directly from the bathroom faucet, you have to let the bubbles collect and exhaust them from your mouth before you can get a good rinse? Conservationists have added air to your water (making it less wet per unit volume, the sacrilege) in order to reduce your water usage and hide the fact. My wife and I are both a bit sensitive to white noise, so I’ve crusaded around the house replacing all of the obviously noisy faucet attachments most annoyingly loud. In addition to making life just generally quieter, having streams of water that are more densely wet helps get hands and teeth and dishes and everything else cleaner faster than if the water is constantly interrupted from wiping the surface with eco-friendly bubbles of air.
D’you remember the Obama-era compact fluorescent bulb craze? “We mustest phase incadescents out!” The technocrats screeched, “All that infrared light is simply wasted! Compact florescent bulbs emit light only in the visible spectrum, and the energy savings are immense!”
As with all consumer-focused plays, ’twas specifically engineered to pit half the country against the other half, and keep us fighting while our corporate masters continued under their mandate to extract and pollute as much as possible while the focus remains on changing consumer behavior rather than industrial output. Delightful bonuses to industry included legislative mandates for products that nobody wanted (incandescent bulbs were cheap due to nigh-on a century of cost reduction in manufacturing), and were obviously inferior to that which they replaced (did you know that the human eye is magnificently sensitive down into the near infrared? The very same hunk of the spectrum callously labeled as “waste” by the various energy efficiency propaganda organs? Have you noticed how god-awful the lighting is after sundown in homes that have eschewed incandescent or halogen lighting for CFL or LED lighting? Have you noticed the tenth second lag when you turn on an LED, or the 2-second warm-up period when you turn on a CFL? Have you noticed that unless you explicitly go hunting “high Color Reproduction Index” LED bulbs, that their output is eerie and headache inducing?), with absurd handling and waste management characteristics throughout their lifecycle (you have to take care not to break a CFL when disposing of it, lest you contaminate your home with mercury, and now the entire waste stream is filled with shattered CFLs and their toxic waste)? Has anyone noticed that the harsh, blue, spectrally-peaky output of a CFL is now synonymous with neighborhoods of poverty and cheaply-operated short-term rentals?
Faucet aerators are another product in the same category. Something approximately nobody wants, foisted upon us by technocrats and made standard by the one-size-fits all manufacturing and procurement toolchains of the American DreamNightmare.
Early patent: 1950.
Modern variant: 1985.
Wikipedia claims the following features:
- Splash reduction
- Stream shaping
- Water conservation
- Noise reduction
- Increase perceived pressure
- Slight debris filtration
“You line ’em up, we knock ’em down!”
Splash reduction: this argument only works on the poor kids who didn’t get their fluid dynamics numeracy kindergarten courses. Unfortunately, this is most of America. Assuming two fluid flows of equal velocity, it is plausible that the aerated multi-stream (assuming that it’s truly a multi-stream design, and not merely infused with air bubbles) would self-cancel, and dissipate more of its energy locally than the laminar flow would. However, the two flows are not equal velocity: since the aerated stream has a higher backpressure, its flow must be faster (thanks, Bernoulli!). Empirically, I can also tell you that between equivalent-flow laminar and aerated nozzles, the aerated nozzle splashes way fucking more.
Stream shaping: I have yet to see a laminar faucet attachment not produce a straight and evenly pressurized stream, so I have NFI what folks are going on about here. Moreover, a stream of water in free air will of necessity be evenly pressured across an arbitrary cross section perpendicular to the flow, so this has to be more self-justifying innumerate nonsense.
Water conservation (and increased perceived pressure): possibly the only legit concern here. However, an aerator doesn’t conserve water: a flow restrictor does the water conservation. I suspect that what the Wikipedia author is gruntingly groping towards is that by including air, the cross-sectional area of the stream is larger than it would otherwise be (and the water moves more quickly, see above), which gives the impression of delivering more water while doing precisely the opposite.
Noise reduction: patently, empirically false (compared to laminar flow). The aerator itself is loud, and the aerated stream impacting surfaces is additionally loud. The strength of this claim comes from thermodynamic (or perhaps we should say information-theoretic) innumeracy: a laminar stream is more orderly, and so therefore more quiet on impact. An aerated stream is more chaotic, and so therefore louder both during aeration and on impact. Doubly noisy and doubly stupid.
Slight debris filtration: look, if your pitch is “slight”, you get right the fuck out of here.
Faucet aerators are merely another ploy by the technocracy to establish its domain over everyday decisions in the home like how many wives one’s allowed to have or how much hot water one’s allowed to use in doing the dishes. Don’t let the bastards get you down! Get out there and buy some laminar flow aerators with reasonable flow: at least 1.5 GPM for the kitchen sink (and ideally 2.2, but you’ll need a faucet with a standard 15/16 inch socket).
In a truly funny detail, Amazon won’t even ship high-flow laminar aerators to California. Sucks to be you, CA!