The Power of Vinegar and Baking Soda

Having been a Mad Scientist in the classroom for many years, I learned that there is no better way to get a room full of people of any age to say “OOoooohhh” than by pouring vinegar into a container of baking soda.  Gets ’em every time.  I admit that I was hooked with my first papier-mâché volcano in the 4th grade, spewing forth frothy ‘lava’ on cue for my science project.

Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base.  When you mix acids and bases together, you get a chemical reaction, in this case, effervescence and the release of CO2.  These bubbles are great for cleaning all sorts of things, from dishes and silver to counter tops, toilets, and sinks, as a cleaner in your laundry, for your car, your dentures, and your jewelry.

Recently I had to unclog my kitchen drain.  For this process I invest in a few small boxes of baking soda and at least a gallon of vinegar.  I make a slurry of baking soda and water, then heat about a quart of vinegar on the stove. I also heat a full tea kettle full of water.  When the liquids are hot, I pour the baking soda and water slurry down the drain, then follow with the hot vinegar.  A great deal of bubbling will ensue.  I wait for it to subside and then pour in more vinegar.  I will then follow with the tea kettle of hot water and let it bubble while I heat another kettle full of water.  Repeat with vinegar and water treatments until I hear the bubbling happening deeper in the pipes.  Things might clog up worse during the process, so having a plunger on hand is useful.  I continue treating with more hot water, use the plunger if necessary, and soon the clog should give way and start to drain freely.  Finally I follow up with more hot water.

If I remember to treat my drain to a baking soda and hot vinegar rinse once a month or so, I don’t get clogs.  It works so effectively that I forget though, and have to be reminded as it becomes necessary again.

The cost for this treatment may be as much as 5 dollars, vinegar not being as cheap as it once was.  A bargain!  Safe for the environment and my hands and gentle on my pipes.  You may not like the smell of hot vinegar, but it won’t burn your lungs the way drain cleaners will.

Best of all is the entertainment value.  I’ve had students and adults watch me do this and every one of them has been fascinated by the bubbling, especially as it goes deeper into the drain.

Still gets ’em every time with that ‘OOoooohhhh’ factor!

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