Pour some science down the drain

Do baking soda and vinegar solutions clear clogs?

The nastiest clogs need to be tackled with tenacity – dissolved into goo and flushed down your pipes as you scream: “Victory!” But not every clog needs all that. Sometimes a gentle shove is enough. Enter baking soda and vinegar. Literally. It’s is a tried-and-true method of clearing drains, for those who don’t mind a few extra steps.

Let’s begin the experiment:

  1. Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain.
  2. Then pour a cup of baking soda and an equal solution of vinegar and water (1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar).
  3. Cover with the drain plug and wait 5–10 minutes.
  4. Flush the drain with boiling water.
The bubbling reaction from the baking soda and vinegar helps to loosen the clog, before the boiling water helps remove it from your pipes. Ready for the science behind how it works?


Displacement

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a base. Vinegar is made up of water and acetic acid, which is, you guessed it, an acid. When you combine these, a reaction happens where molecules get exchanged, creating carbon dioxide and water that bubbles through the clog, breaking it up and moving the looser material.

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Gravity and Pressure

All drains use gravity to draw the water away, but drainage pipes aren’t pressurized like your water system is. Using boiling water to flush the drain, pressure is added. Along with gravity, this pressure helps remove unwanted goop out of the pipes.

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Acidification

As a side benefit, the carbon dioxide created lowers the water’s pH, making it a relatively weak acid. With time it may work on weaker clogs, but for really stubborn ones that need to be dissolved right away, use Liquid-Plumr® Foaming Clog Fighter™.

Liquid-Plumr® Foaming Clog Fighter contains two powerful liquids, that when combined, create a deep-cleaning foam that dissolves hair and gunk throughout the entire pipe. The key active ingredients sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite release heat to effectively dissolve the blockage. Now that’s some powerful science!

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