I have a sinking feeling about this sink.

March 26, 2006

A sink with separate taps for hot and cold water.I have been meaning to write about this for sometime, but then I saw Paul beat me to the punch, from his recent writing on New Zealand:

Who the hell does this? separate hot and cold water taps? kai and i have seen this phenomenon _everywhere_ in new zealand. check it, kiwis: by combining hot and cold water into one faucet, one is able to achieve a wide variety of water temperatures. _why do they do this?_ hot water conservation maybe?

They do the same thing all over South Africa and it makes it awfully hard to was your hands with hot water and avoid getting burned. I really don’t get it either. Maybe it is just a southern hemisphere thing.

I’d like to add my own little sink using observations. There are some conventions that are so deeply engrained in me that I was completely unaware of them until they were defied in South Africa.

The first is that the hot is always on the left and the cold is always on the right.

The second is that taps marked in red are hot and those marked in blue are cold.

Both of these conventions hold true about 80% of the time in South Africa, or just often enough to lull you in to a false sense of safety before you scald yourself. I have waited forever and a day for my shower to get hot before I realized that it was “backwards”.


  1. This is such a great generational shift…in the houses in which I grew up, hot and cold water taps were always separate. When i found myself living in a house that “mixed,” it felt like a great modern invention. If I recall, Jonathan, when we lived in Phila and you had the attic room, the old sink didn’t mix.

    Now, I never think about mixing but I do miss the last house we had with “instant hot” so that you needn’t wait minutes for the hot water to arrive at the spout. So goes technological progress. s.a.l.

    Comment by susan lieberman — March 26, 2006 @ 2:53 pm

  2. (one of the girls you met at Sani Lodge here)

    A bit of a delayed response, but it might amuse you to know that the baths have two faucets as well. Fortunately, the showers come through one faucet (though, with the sheer extremes with a slight twist of the knob, you’d never know…).

    Comment by Erika — April 19, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

  3. My speculation is that the sink at one time served more as a vessel to hold both hot and cold water and the faucet were treated kinda like a well where you draw the water from. I derived this by speculating on the evolution of thought instead of a retrospective analysis of logic or conveinence.

    Comment by chi hung — July 16, 2006 @ 3:42 am

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