Date: November 2006
What is the best way to oxygenate distilled
water? I need to do this for a science fair experiment, and I have
found conflicting information on the Internet. Some say that
shaking the water, or putting it in a blender will be sufficient,
while others suggest using an oxygen pill such as the ones used to
keep bait alive. However, I want to make sure I am only adding
oxygen to the water, and not other chemicals. What do you
If you do not want to add other stuff, then forget an oxygen
pill. Shaking, blending, or using a fish tank bubbler will give you
the oxygen you want.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming
The only way that you can be sure to get only oxygen into your water
is to have a very complex setup and pure oxygen from a gas
cylinder. Since you are in 6-8th grade, this type of setup is not
feasible. I would suggest an oxygen pill if you can find one, as
that is something that you can measure and put into the water
yourself. The pill should have a list of ingredients on it so that
you can know what you are actually putting in the water. Putting
the water in a blender will put air into the solution, which is
mostly nitrogen and only about 20% oxygen, so the pill might get you
more oxygen for your experiment. Write back to us and tell us more
about what your experiment is about so that we can help you decipher
what the best approach may be and what variables you might have to think about.
The easiest way to add air to the water would be to use a air pump
that one uses to get oxygen to fish in an aquarium.
- If you use a pill, it will include other chemicals. So you probably
want to avoid that.
Bubbling with air is chemically pure but might drag in some dirty
unless you have a little air-filter on the pump intake tube.
That inot hard to do.
Bubbling with 100% oxygen from a compressed gas bottle is rather
The only "chemical" that is almost pure is Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).
It looks and feels just like water, but
it slowly breaks down into pure water (H2O) and Oxygen (O2).
Hydrogen peroxide is real hard on living things, (tastes kind of
ashy or tongue-biting too,)
because it goes everywhere water goes while it is H2O2,
and then tries to do bleaching actions as it breaks down there.
So you probably need to use air or oxygen gas.
- How high is the oxygen level supposed to be?
A) about "100% of air-saturated" level (quite good enough for most
Since air is 20% oxygen, 100% air-saturated means oxygen
builds up until
it's partial pressure is 20% of 15psi, meaning about 3psi of
(The rest of the 15psi is mostly nitrogen gas (N2).
Bubbling with air does this. Blending does it faster.
B) 100% to 500%: Imagine the air in a blender was 100% oxygen
instead of just 20%.
That water would dissolve 5 times as much oxygen, up to 15psi
partial pressure of O2 alone.
However, blenders might not be real safe filled with pure
Because plastic and oil catch fire easier in oxygen, if there
are sparks from the motor.
Brisk bubbling in cool water is pretty safe, though.
So bubbling oxygen gas through water is the usual way to do it.
I think water in this oxygenation range won't always
precipitate oxygen bubbles.
C) more than 500%. This can happen. The water will merely have a
to make little oxygen bubbles, just like soda makes CO2
It will not last very long; it will go "flat" much
quicker than a
similar-sized glass of soda sitting out.
Pills, or peroxide, or bubbling with 100% oxygen in a
pressurized container, is required.
I doubt you need this option.
- How long will the dissolved oxygen be needed to be kept high?
a) Are you doing this only once and then a quick one-shot
(like measuring oxygen level with a chemical kit, or
letting a fixed amount of oxygen get used up.)
The blender does this.
b) Is it a long-running continuous-use experiment?
( like keeping an aquarium, or feeding bio-degradation,
or other growth experiment,
with used oxygen constantly being replaced)
The bubbler does this.
- How long can you spend setting up your oxygen level?
1) sitting quietly in air (open container, filter-covering) might be
good enough if the water is clean and you have a week to blow.
2) stirring does the same thing a bit faster. A swirling bowl of
water would be saturated in less than a day.
2) bubbling does the same thing, but faster still.
Also can be left on, to continually re-saturate the
It's a little slow to get going, compared to a blender.
Might take an hour at the start to make the water
For the same flow if air, many small bubbles use more of
and do the job faster than few large bubbles.
3) blender does the same thing, just fastest.
Better than sitting a week; allows little time for dust to
fall in or for slime to start growing.
4) Suppose there's some pill a that slowly decomposes generating
maybe it starts fast like a blender, but is not completely
so it also continues at a trickle like a bubbler. Good luck
finding exactly this pill.
I would probably use (A)(2), bubbling with filtered air.
It produces a widely recognized standard concentration of oxygen.
Measure your bubble rate in cm3/sec or some other numeric units,
and tell the volume of your water bath,
because together they tell any scientists that read your report
how fast the bubbles can refresh the oxygen concentration in your water.
Of course, you forgot to tell me what your science fair experiment was
So it is possible the blender is what you need instead.
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Update: June 2012