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Vinegar Does More Than Flavor Food

September 14, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Chemistry, Safest Cleaning Agents

white vinegar

white vinegar

Vinegar results from a natural fermentation process – the oxidation by acetic acid bacteria of the ethanol found in beer, cider, wine or any other alcoholic liquid. Acetic acid bacteria are a gram-negative, aerobic, rod-shaped bacteria present universally in foodstuffs, water, and soil. The acetic acid concentration of vinegar usually falls around 5 percent by volume for table vinegar up to 18 percent or higher for pickling vinegar. At a 5% concentration vinegar has a pH of about 2.4, slightly less acidic than lemon juice. Acetic acid is detectible by a characteristic smell.

Concentrations by weight of 10% to 25% are classified as an irritant. Higher than 25% is corrosive and must be handled with great care as it can cause skin burns, mucous membrane irritation, and permanent eye damage that may not even appear until hours after the exposure. Concentrations over 90% are also flammable. Common table vinegars, including distilled white vinegar, are safe for humans and animals.

Among vinegar’s versatile aspects you’ll find the following:

  1. Vinegar is antibacterial.

  2. It is also antifungal.

  3. Vinegar will dissolve mineral deposits including limescale and hard water spots from glass and hard surfaces.

  4. Vinegar included in a bath and tile formula as a rinsing agent will help prevent bathtub rings and soap scum.

  5. It is an effective solvent for epoxy resin and hardener.

  6. Vinegar is safe as a herbicide as the acetic acid is not absorbed into root systems. It will kill top-growth but perennials will reshoot.

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Why Water Will Clean Almost Anything

September 12, 2009 By: NB Category: Clean Chemistry, Safest Cleaning Agents

universal solvent

universal solvent

Water is a very strong solvent and often referred to as the universal solvent. A solvent is a liquid or gas that dissolves another substance resulting in a solution. Substances that dissolve in water, like salts, sugars, acids, and alkali are called hydrophilic (water-loving) while those that do not mix well with water, like grease or oil, are called hydrophobic (water-fearing).

Water is, of course, the substance created when two molecules of hydrogen form a chemical bond with one molecule of oxygen – commonly abbreviated as H2O. Water is a polar molecule. The oxygen has a negative charge while the hydrogen has a positive charge giving the water molecule a strong dipole structure – like a magnet with it’s north and south (positive and negative) poles. And just like a magnet’s poles, a water molecule’s poles are attracted to the opposite charge in other water molecules. This weak interaction causes both water’s cohesive property and adhesion property and is responsible for the high surface tension of water. If you’ve seen water bead up on a surface you’ve seen surface tension. This tension also exhibits another of water’s properties and that is capillary action – or the tendency of water to move upward in a tube against the force of gravity.

Unlike a bar magnet with a single positive and single negative pole the water molecule has two positive poles (the hydrogen atoms) and one negative pole (the oxygen atom) so a U shaped magnet with the bend of the U being the negative pole is a better model. Because magnetic poles attract the opposite charge, if you had 100 water molecules, the negative poles (the oxygen atoms) would be attracted to one of the negative poles (a hydrogen atom) of one of the other 99 water molecules. What about the second hydrogen atom on each of the molecules? They attract other negatively charged molecules. Guess what has a negative charge? Dirt.

Have you ever wondered why fine particles of dirt settle on all the surfaces in your home? Yes, dust is just fine airborne particles of dirt. Well, our planet is constantly bombarded by waves of energy that we can’t see. Besides the UV (ultraviolet) rays that cause sunburn, there are longer wave lengths of energy called Gamma Rays. Unlike UV rays, however, which can be blocked by materials (like a hat) or chemicals (like a sunblock lotion), gamma rays go right through everything – including us. When the gamma rays pass through objects they knock electrons out of the atoms the object is made of. And when atoms lose electrons they become slightly positively charged. Since this occurs constantly, most objects in our homes have an overall positive charge. Along comes a breeze that disperses some fine dirt particles in the air that are negatively charged and – you guessed it – the negatively charged dust is attracted to the positively charged surfaces and sticks there.

So let’s imagine a dirty surface, a counter-top for instance, and think what would happen when we spread some water on the counter. Firstly, the “extra” positive poles (hydrogen atoms) would be repelled by the slight positive charge of the counter-top so that the water molecules would be positioned like a U with both positive poles upward and the negative pole downward. The dirt particles on the counter-top, because they have a slight negative charge would be attracted to the “extra” positive poles at the “top” of the water. The dirt particles have now be separated from the surface of the counter and in effect are being held in suspension by the water. Now we simply wipe away the water and the dirt in solution right along with it. In my humble opinion, water certainly deserves the moniker of universal solvent.

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