The Pitfalls of Water Chemistry in Your Loop [GUIDE]

Alright, you've finally saved up enough cash to get yourself some waterblocks and the like, only to not stop and consider the consequences of what you're putting in it. This is a small guide quickly covering the most important things you need to take into account when making a custom loop.

  1. Metals

PC liquid cooling has always required contact with raw metals. Copper, aluminium, silver, nickel, and brass are all common in this work and react differently (possibly violently) together. So what is the final word? Don't mix metals. I personally recommend sticking to copper. It transfers heat best and plays fine with brass (fittings) and silver can be used as a biocide. If you buy nickle coated blocks, you need an anti-corrosive agent as well as a biocide other than silver. Using silver as a biocide can void your warranties with some companies. Aluminum corrodes very badly with copper when they are electrically connected through water. Mixing these two is a big no-no and in general aluminium is only used in poor quality radiators and fittings; stay away from it.

2.PH/Water types/Additives

"What water do I use?"
"But... some guides say bottled because..."
"What about for cleaning out..."

Bottom line, the only liquid components that should ever touch the inside of your blocks are: Distilled water, 99% alcohol, water wetters, biocides/algecides, and dyes (at own risk).

Always buy premixed or make sure to mix OUTSIDE the loop.
Never EVER use FOOD COLORING or anything with any sort of glucide component. Glucides are sugar, sugar is food that will turn into gunk and later bacterial growth.
All dyes carry the risk of discoloring tubing, clear blocks, and non-glass reservoirs.
A way to combat this is by draining your dyed coolant every 3-6 months and running a 50/50 99% alcohol and distilled mix in your loop for no longer than 2 hours, waiting an hour for the alcohol to evaporate before refilling.

On the topic of additives, everything you add to your water makes it perform WORSE. Almost...

The only exception is a water wetter, when used in small amounts (about a 95% water, 5% percent wetter mix [depending on concentrate]) you can slightly enhance the performance of distilled water beyond that of its own. I've only tried this with a brand called hy-per lube. hy-per lube also boasts anti-corrosive properties, which distilled water NEEDS speaking of corrosion...

Distilled water is often considered the best and ONLY thing you should be running in a PC loop and for the most part its true. The thing about distilled water is that it is a rather low PH, around 6. The problem is that because it's had all its minerals (ions) removed, distilled water becomes ionically hungry. This is like an acidity to metal, and needs to be combated. In order to cure the innate corrosive properties of distilled water, you need to up its PH anywhere from 8-10. How you do this is up to you, although some water hardeners do have glucides which can act as food for bacterial growth. Avoid glucides at all cost.

3.Growth Retardation

As already mentioned, the final component of proper water chemistry is your biocidal and algecidal treatment.
Over time your loop if left unchecked will begin to host bacteria and alge, which will gunk out your blocks and water pathways.
No no.
Now, depending on your block type and manufacturer policy you won't be able to use one of the cheapest and most effective methods.
Silver kill coils or any piece of 99% pure regular silver will keep your loop clean and clear due to its natural biocidal properties. However, it is known to react badly with nickel, which is why its used less and less with high-end loops due to EK's nicer blocks being nickel plated.
in this case, I would recommend running EK's own coolant and PT nuke for additional protection.

PT nuke is a very effective additive for loops that will react with silver.

Alright, that's all I've got for now. Will edit in any additional advice you guys have that belongs. Happy looping, build it beautiful.

1 Like

You could always overclock your CPU to 100 degrees and just boil the water and kill everything off that way too : D

1 Like

"Hungry water" is pretty much pure myth. There's never been a conclusive study done showing that distilled or "deionized" water is more solvent than tap water. All this stuff about distilled water comes from quacks like Dr. Mercola and the like, trying to sell it as a natural health remedy. If any corrosion is occurring it would either be from turbulence (bubbling), galvanization from electrical currents (which is why you want distilled water) or a low pH, which is a separate issue from lack of ions in the water.

The pH of distilled water is probably closer to 7.0 than 6.0, unless you leave it sitting in an open air container for several days. Obviously 7.0 is completely neutral, so a lack of ions ("hungry water") is not what causes the corrosion. Buying it bottled and putting it immediately into a closed system should keep it somewhere in the 6.8 range. The distillation is not what is causing the pH drop. Pure, distilled water, done in a laboratory will have a pH of 7.0 exactly. If atmospheric air comes int contact with distilled water, it will dissolve CO2 into the water. That CO2 will dissolve into the water to become Carbonic Acid (H2CO3) and will drop the pH slightly, probably no lower than 6.5, 6.8 if you do it properly. Distilled water is not innately corrosive - all water is polar and will attract metal cations. Distilled water will not corrode the metal unless it is exposed to air for too long and dissolves too much CO2, to lower the pH, and oxygen or some other gas to serve as an oxidizing agent.

Water wetter will reduce corrosion from turbulence, and using some additives, may "harden" the water, but those additives could also clog the loop. I'd be very wary of them, it looks like bullshit to be honest. Take for instance, the statement on hy-per's website:

Their chemistry is completely backwards. Water won't and is mostly incapable of stripping electrons. If the water is distilled, it's neutral. There is nothing to do to "regain its chemical balance." even with a slight pH drop. Again, water is a poor oxidizing agent.

I'm pulling a lot of this from's article on the subject they seemed to lab it out pretty conclusively, but hey ultimately your loop your rules.