Baking Soda for Drains
Does your household suffer from slow or clogged drains? If someone would asked me that I decide on one of the worst jobs in the universe, being a drain certainly qualifies for the top 5.
Silently and patiently taking in all the grease, oil, sludge, hair, soap scum, spit, snot, and other various slimy, disgusting stuff, with continuous overtime hours and without qualified union representatives, is a complete bummer of a job. It is a real miracle that they are willing to do it.
We, the people, can do some things to alleviate their suffering though. While some folks report that they could break the strongest drain clogging by using baking soda, vinegar, and patience, most of the people agree that the following procedure is best suited for drain maintenance and speeding up the slow drains. Read on.
Why would anyone sane use this method for drain maintenance?
There are actually several pretty good arguments:
- Way more eco-friendly than any commercial radioactive stuff from the store.
- Way cheaper than commercial chemical unclogging products.
- You can get it in almost any store.
- Safe for storing – for children, pets, and your furniture. I had a funny case when some random commercial unclogger ate its way through the plastic packaging and then through half of the bathroom shelf. It was a nice, new shelf!
- Safe for the environment and plumbing system – it won’t hurt the pipes.
Baking soda and vinegar for drains instructions
Ready? Go go go:
1. Pour about 0.1L baking soda into the drain
TIP1: Dry the drain area, so baking soda won’t be sticky
TIP2: Some recommend leaving the baking soda for 5 or more minutes before taking the next step
2. Pour about 0,1L white vinegar into the drain
TIP: Some recommend heating the vinegar in the microwave. This could be an ideal opportunity for quick cleaning the microwave as described in the cleaning section of the website.
3. Immediately after pouring the vinegar all hell will break loose. Be ready to clog the drain with some cloth or plug/tampon to stop the mixture from escaping out.
TIP: Some recommend leaving this baking soda/vinegar mix in the drain from several minutes to several hours before taking the next step.
4. Boil some water (more the merrier) and slowly pour it down the drain.
5. Repeat if necessary.
Alternative method using saltHowStuffWorks recommends the following technique for slow, greasy drains:
Pour in 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda in the drain. Then, pour some boiling water, and allow to sit overnight.
How does baking soda and vinegar mix work for unclogging drains?
It is a known fact that the alkalies dissolve fats, grease, oils, and some other nasty deposits, and because of that, they are widely used in the industry in manufacture of soaps and detergents. Alkalies form an emulsion (a mixture where oily or solid particles are held in suspension) and keep the fat material from getting back on the surface that is being cleaned. Baking soda is an alkaline compound – so, that fits.
But, where is mixing-vinegar in this picture? Some people believe that mixing baking soda and vinegar just neutralizes them both by producing some useless funny fizz in the process. However, their belief system is constantly made invalid by real-world user experiences – it just seems to work. Indeed, what happens is this: baking soda + vinegar reaction forms sodium acetate (salt), carbon dioxide gas, and water The fizz is the carbon dioxide gas. So, basically, what we have here is very neutralized water with some salt in it. Not much use in that.
So, why the hell does it work?
Some argue that the explosive chemical reaction will produce pressure in the vent system, pushing the slime down the drain. I personally find it hard to believe, with all the vents and the sink overflow, there might be no pressure at all.
The other theory is distribution: the “leftovers” from baking soda (the amount of baking soda that was not cancelled in the chemical reaction) is better distributed by all the created foam, entering hard-to-reach places, and it coats the interior of the pipe; the rest is described alkaline magic.
Of course, we can intuitively conclude that fizzy foamy vinegar volcano will help mechanically loosen and dislodge stuck pieces of dirt in the crevices, and hot water will simply flush the ugly things away.
What do you think?
However it might actually work, it is highly recommended that this method is used weekly or monthly for drain maintenance. While some people are skeptic about using this to deal with very troublesome drains, some other people happily report that they have successfully unclogged the toughest drains – it just took a while. So, be patient and consistent.
I personally have had a great experiences when dealing with slow drains – completely clogged drains are yet to be tested. Or hopefully not, because I plan to maintain my drains, preventing possible clogs, using this mystical baking soda + vinegar method.