Hard water and trumpet cleaning

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by motteatoj, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. motteatoj

    motteatoj Mezzo Forte User

    Feb 23, 2013
    Tuckahoe, NY
    Does anyone have any information on cleaning trumpets and hard water (well water without softener) issues?

    Was just wondering if it contributed to scale on the inside of the instrument or not.
  2. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Hi John,
    I would have thought that hard water would still be OK to clean, it just will not suds up with detergent as much.

    If it was boiled then the deposits would get left behind, (we do not use boiling water) but the small amount of moisture left in the horn after flushing and cleaning would not affect it IMO. But happy to hear from others on this.
  3. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    In many ways, hard water is better since the high calcium content keeps the chemistry on the alkaline side of neutral. Soft water can easily pick up a bit of carbon dioxide and stray into the acidic side.

    If your tap water is prone to significant scaling, you'll see either a white (calcium) or brown (iron) crustiness around your hot water tap nozzles, and the sink/bath below. They won't harm the instrument and are quite easy to shift.
  4. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    I live in the land of crunchy water and I can tell you that it makes absolutely no difference.

  5. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    I'll second that. Any minerals in the tap water is nothing compared to the minerals that can accumulate in a horn just from playing it one time.
  6. Randall Nelson

    Randall Nelson Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 26, 2011
    WA State
    ....you know a simple way of running a weak slightly alkaline descaling and very mild chelating agent (the sodium citrate) through the horn is simply to buy some Alka Seltzer and toss a couple of the tablets in warm water and use the solution after all the fizzing dies down to flush/wash out the horn.

    Alka Seltzer has some aspirin, sodium citrate, and sodium bicarbonate in it so will buffer and clean and tie up tramp metals like calcium and magnesium from hard water. It also takes many of the minerals as gzent mentions. The aspirin does nothing unless your horn gets migraines.... but the other ingredients are the most easy way to get properly buffered and compounded sodium citrate if you are not a chemist and into mixing your own stuff. You can also mix most dishwater detergents like Dawn etc into the warm Alka Seltzer treated solution. Just be sure to rinse everything out well at the end of this with regular water when you are done.

    Not comfortable with this? Then test this procedure and see how it performs with you and your local water supply (they vary a lot across the US) on a student horn before using it on a prized 1946 LB Martin Committee or Olds Super Recording. That's what I did myself....my old 1933 Liberty really cleaned up nicely inside with this and some snake action.
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Unless you plan to use your trumpet as a nozzle for a garden hose, hard water will make no contribution to the use of your horn. If you still worry about this after all the above posts validating the safe use of hard water, perhaps hard liqueur will help.
  8. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Unless you plan to run water through the horn 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and do this for a number of years, there is no problem. Point being, you will have absolutely NO buildup washing your horn once a month. now, for those who use the salt and aluminum foil method to clean the sliver on their trumpet, I have an idea hard water likely keeps this process from working as efficiently (any of you chemistry folks are welcome to confirm or correct me).

    Put the horn in hot water for silver plate, mild temperature if an older lacquered horn, all in a tub (plastic preferably or put a towel on the bottom to keep down scratches if porcelain etc.), add several good squirts of Dawn (hey they use it to clean water fowl soaked with oil from oil spills), let soak, then scrub well with your bristled brush and snake.

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