Why does tea stain metal?

08 Dec

I've got a sinking feeling

This follows nicely on from the question “Why is the top half of my tea too hot but the bottom half too cold?”

The reason tea does not always lose heat evenly is because it is a powerful electrical conductor, as explained in the link above. This gives it the ability to calm excessive electrical nerve signals in the body caused by pain and stress, making you feel better when you drink it.

The reason it is such a good conductor is because tea is magnetic.

What we commonly refer to as rust is the process of oxidisation. This is where oxygen from the surroundings bonds with metal to make it go a grungy colour.

We’ve all heard that tea contains lots of anti-oxidants which are good for us in a number of ways. This mostly involves a type of molecule called a ‘free radical’ which oxidises with bits and bobs in the body, basically causing us to rust inside. It’s what makes us age. What scientists are now looking at is the possibility that anti-oxidants found in foods like tea prevent us from going rusty. They do this by bonding with the free radicals instead.

What this means in practical terms for your sink is that tea is capable of causing things to oxidise. And not just metal, either – you get tea-rust on your mugs, teaspoons and anything tea is left in contact with for a long time. The only way to deal with this is to bleach it so it isn’t grungy-looking, or use good old elbow-grease to scrub until it is all removed. You will find that using a metal scourer to dislodge the magnetic tea will help.

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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Why?


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