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I know I should have asked this question on a different site. but this was the most suitable site available right now for my question. Perhaps after this proposed site goes on Beta, we can move it there.

Coming to the question,

Some of my well-wishers always say that electrically heated (specifically using a coil heater) when used to wash hair, affects the hair adversely. Though I always thought it was a myth, lately I remembered the concept of electrolysis that I had studied in school.

According to what's running on my mind, in this setup, the electric heater may act as anode and the water container may act as cathode or vice-versa and the minerals in water may act as electrolyte. So, my fear is that there may be some chemical reactions going on that may result in different compounds which affect the hair.

How far is my fear justified?

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Sounds like something for skeptics.stackexchange.com –  Chris White Apr 22 '13 at 13:40
    
I don't know plumbing, but surely the heating element is electrically isolated from the water. And therefore the water is actually heated by hot metal, same as if it was heated by gas... –  Nic Apr 22 '13 at 13:41
    
In a coiled heater electricity is isolated from water, so no electrolysis is possible. Heat is heat no matter how produced, so there is nothing to fear –  Slaviks Apr 22 '13 at 13:42
    
Hi Ahmed. Welcome to Physics.SE. As Chris says, this maybe OK to Skeptics.SE. But, please don't cross-post in sites. A mod can migrate it for you unless there isn't a duplicate over there ;-) –  Waffle's Crazy Peanut Apr 22 '13 at 13:43
    
And even if there were electrolysis, this produces hydrogen and oxygen gas, some of which stays dissolved, some of which escapes to the air, and none of which will have any effect on your hair. –  Chris White Apr 22 '13 at 13:43
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

No, it cannot. With coil heaters, the electricity flow is insulated from the water. If there was any way for electricity to flow from the coil to the water, the coil would be shorted, electricity would no longer flow through the coil, and you wouldn't have any heating.

Electrically heating water has the same effects as heating it over a stove. There may be a slight change in dissolved gas content, but that's it. Nothing to be afraid of. And there shouldn't be any chemical changes going on, except possibly a slight amount of formation of verdigris (rust) for a copper coil. (this would happen anyway while heating if the pot was copper, and it is of a negligible extent)

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If the heater is insulated, why is it that i experience a mild to severe shock if I happen to touch the water and yet the water gets heated? . . . You may now point out that the heater is old. Don't worry I'll replace it. But I was just trying to clarify your point If there was any way for electricity to flow from the coil to the water, the coil would be shorted, electricity would no longer flow through the coil, and you wouldn't have any heating. –  Tabrez Ahmed Apr 22 '13 at 15:24
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