When you turn on the faucet do you ever stop to marvel at the convenience of running water? Of course not! It’s a given in this day and age. But stop for a moment and consider that it wasn’t too many generations ago that indoor plumbing was unheard of. Just having water meant a trip to the well, or river, or other water source. And hot water meant building a fire to heat it up! Can you imagine how your life would change today if jumping in the shower was so complex as to need to go fetch water, build a fire, heat the water, and then and only then could the bath commence!
In comparison, today we are all used to running water in our homes, and hot water as well, of course. We even take it completely for granted that our faucets are so clever they can mix the hot and cold together, to give us the just right temperature we desire. Mixer taps, as this technology is actually named, was invented and patented in 1880 by Thomas Campbell of Canada. Before then, and even well after the invention, water came out of two taps, one for hot, the other for cold.
Another aspect of our faucets that we all tend to take for granted is the fact that hot is located on the left side and cold is to the right. This is a building standard and all homes built to code have hot on the left and cold on the right. Sometimes, the hot and cold is designated by the initials H and C on the spigot. Interestingly, in countries where French, Italian, Spanish or other of the romance languages are spoken, the initials are C and F from the French word “chaud”, Italian “caldo” or Spanish “caliente” for hot and French “froid”, Italian “freddo” and Spanish “frio” for cold. This can cause some confusion for English speaking travelers abroad!
Faucets are an everyday convenience that none of us give much thought to. But the next time you turn on the shower while still half asleep, consider how fortunate we all are to live in such comfortable times!