A hot shower – one of life’s little pleasures. No matter how tense you are, a nice long, hot shower leaves you feeling more relaxed. But is it just the heat relaxing those tired muscles?
In chlorinated water, carbon molecules from your body or carbon naturally present from plant or animal matter in the water can combine with the added chlorine to form chloroform (CHCl3).
A powerful relaxant, chloroform was used as an anaesthetic during the first part of the 20th century – until the toxic side effects became more widely known.
The heat and splashing of the water in a shower allows the tiny water droplets in the air to be inhaled. You can also absorb chloroform from the water directly through the skin.
Thus part of the relaxation from a long, hot shower could well be chemical. You are partially anaesthetising yourself!
Jo W.K., Weisel, C.P. and Lioy, P.J. (1990) Routes of Chloroform Exposure and Body Burden from Showering with Chlorinated Tap Water, Risk Analysis, 10(4) 575.