MadSci Network: Other

Re: What cause the steam in the bathroom during a shower?

Date: Wed Sep 27 01:30:08 2000
Posted By: Donald Howard, Staff, Nuclear Engineering, Retired
Area of science: Other
ID: 969726520.Ot

What cause the steam in the bathroom during a shower?

This may not be the question you want to ask.  If your project is 
concerned with the mirror, then the additional question might be "Why does 
the mirror fog up?"

The bathroom steams up for the same reason clouds form and water condenses 
on the outside of a cold glass.  There is water in the air - called 
humidity.  Warm air can hold more water than cold air, so on a warm, humid 
summer day anything cold taken from the refrigerator will begin to collect 

The bathroom steams up, and it really isn't steam in the sense that it can 
burn you, because there is more water in the air than it can hold.  The 
humidity is 100%  The air can't hold any more moisture so it begins to 
appear as a cloud - tiny droplets.

The mirror, the walls, the floor and anything else in the room that is 
colder than the air will begin to collect condensation.  If you really 
wish to keep the mirror clear, put a hair dryer on it and warm it until it 
is warmer than the air.  Some cars have electrically heated outside 
mirrors to keep them clear of ice and condensation.  I believe that you 
can buy bathroom mirrors for the home that too are electrically heated.

An old remedy that sometimes works is to rub it with a potato; something 
used to help keep diving masks clear.

But, the simplest method of keeping the mirror clear is prevention.  Don't 
run the water long enough to get significant moisture in the air of the 
bathroom.  Take a Navy shower.  Ships at sea have water rationing.  You 
get in the shower, wet down, and immediately turn the water off.  Soap 
yourself, rinse quickly, and get out.  There is no rule that I know of 
that says you must run the water constantly in a shower.

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