$8 at Menards
Santeen Sulfuric Acid Drain Opener
Greatest acidic drain cleaner
Ahh, residence upkeep. The place clogged drains are an all-too-familiar nuisance. The buildup of particles inside our plumbing techniques can disrupt the circulation of water and consequently, our lives. Whereas the usage of chemical drain cleaners has lengthy been a go-to resolution for tackling these cussed blockages, their low effectivity and unsafe nature have raised concern amongst owners, plumbers and specialists alike.
To make clear the effectiveness of those controversial merchandise, I leaned on my background as a chemical engineer and launched into a easy but revealing experiment. I took eight of essentially the most generally obtainable chemical drain cleaners — six alkaline and two acidic — and subjected them to dissolution assessments designed to guage how effectively they’re every in a position to dissolve the aforementioned offending blockages. The target was easy: to find out which merchandise, if any, succeeded in disintegrating a number of the most typical clogging supplies.
A few disclaimers to begin issues off. First, it is important to acknowledge the prevailing stance amongst most respected plumbers, who strongly advise towards the usage of chemical drain cleaners. Their issues revolve round potential harm to our plumbing techniques and the buildup of dangerous fumes. These professionals emphasize the significance of preventive measures, common upkeep and nonchemical options as your best option for many properties.
In case you have been coping with common drain blockages, I encourage you to contact a plumber and ask for recommendation. More often than not, blockages needs to be eliminated by mechanical means (similar to a plumbing snake operated by a skilled skilled) and a radical inspection is required to find out the foundation trigger for a long-term resolution. Should you’ve already used any kind of chemical drain cleaner, you need to let your plumbing skilled know prematurely. Withholding this data can put somebody’s well being and security in danger, together with yours.
All of that apart, and recognizing the ample availability and protracted utilization of chemical drain cleaners, I undertook this analysis to supply perception and steering to these of you who should take into account them as an emergency exit. My objective is to equip you with the data wanted to make an knowledgeable alternative. Now, let’s play with some laboratory glassware and reveal the outcomes.
Averaging $23 on the time of this publication, the Inexperienced Gobbler Foremost Line Opener emerged as the highest performer in our batch dissolution take a look at, excelling in nearly each class. It efficiently dissolved 100% of the pet hair, 78% of the natural compounds, 35% of the grease and 16% of the paper merchandise. When blended with water, the answer maintained a reasonable stage of basicity with a pH of 10.73, and it generated minimal warmth, as evidenced by the negligible enhance in water temperature after mixing (< 0.5 levels Celcius).
The Zep 10-minute Drain Opener Gel is at the moment priced at $14, nevertheless it punched above its weight in our lab, performing remarkably effectively in our dissolution take a look at. It successfully dissolved 70% of the hair, 80% of the natural matter and 15% of the grease, and confirmed one of the best efficiency in dissolving paper merchandise, attaining a price of 16%. That is terrific contemplating that it is only a bit greater than half the price of our general winner for the class.
The Santeen Sulfuric Acid Drain Opener proved to be essentially the most potent amongst all of the chemical drain cleaners we examined, successfully dissolving 80% of the hair, 80% of the natural matter, 40% of the grease and 76% of the paper merchandise. When mixed with water, it creates a extremely acidic resolution with a pH of 1.59, roughly the identical acidity because the gastric fluids in your abdomen. For added security issues, please check with the part beneath on how we take a look at chemical drain cleaners.
How we take a look at chemical drain cleaners
For this rundown, I headed to CNET’s product-testing lab in Louisville, Kentucky to conduct a complete batch distillation experiment with eight of essentially the most generally used chemical drain cleaners available on the market. My main goal was to find out the effectivity of every product in dissolving numerous kinds of clogging supplies, together with natural matter, grease, paper merchandise and pet hair (the identical pet hair we use for our robotic vacuum assessments, as a matter of reality). All through the experiment, I additionally famous the pH ranges of the cleansing options when blended with water and monitored any adjustments in temperature. Moreover, I thought-about the chemical composition and flexibility of use of every product when evaluating them to 1 one other.
Acids vs. bases
Earlier than conducting experiments with these substances, I separated them into acids and bases. As you could recall from highschool chemistry, acids are compounds that donate a hydrogen ion (H+) when blended with water and have a pH decrease than 7. However, bases are compounds that settle for these ions (or hydroxide, OH- ions) and have a pH larger than 7. Understanding this distinction is essential, on account of two vital elements related to these merchandise: corrosivity and causticity.
Corrosivity refers back to the potential of a chemical substance to trigger rust and deterioration of the supplies that make up your piping system. Causticity, however, pertains to how a chemical substance reacts when it comes into contact with natural matter, particularly breaking down proteins and different natural molecules, which may result in tissue destruction or chemical burns.
To find out the acidity or basicity of every compound, we measure their pH. In easy phrases, the extra acidic or primary a compound is, the larger its potential for corrosivity and causticity.
Pattern pH studying from considered one of our take a look at topics. 11.38 pH corresponds to an alkaline resolution.
Acidic drain cleaners, notably these with excessive acid concentrations like sulfuric acid drain cleaners, are extra hazardous in comparison with their primary or alkaline counterparts. In chemistry, order of addition does matter. Usually, you’ll steadily introduce an acid to water, slowly growing the focus of the acid. By no means add water to an acid as this response is understood to generate a major quantity of warmth and launch hazardous fumes. See for your self within the GIF beneath (and do not do this at residence).
Including water into this beaker of sulfuric acid creates an instantaneous exothermic response, boiling the water on contact and releasing hazardous smoke into the air. Don’t do this at residence!
To make sure security through the experiments, I took obligatory precautions by carrying private protecting gear, together with security goggles, gloves, long-sleeved clothes and a masks. The dissolution take a look at was carried out in a well-ventilated laboratory space to reduce publicity to any hazardous fumes which may be launched.
Dissolution take a look at
To start the experiment, I weighed particular quantities of the clogging supplies into separate 1,000 ml beakers:
4 grams of hair20 grams of natural matter (10 grams every of apple peels and carrot peels)40 grams of lard for grease14 grams of paper merchandise (7 grams every of bathroom paper and paper towels)
Utilizing a graduated cylinder, I fastidiously measured and added 200 ml of every primary drain cleaner and 70 ml of every acidic drain cleaner to the respective beakers, stirring the mixtures with a glass rod and making certain thorough mixing with out spills. Following the directions supplied with every product, I allowed the options to sit down for the really helpful time, sometimes between 15 and half-hour.
An important step in my take a look at was the inclusion of water, a element typically neglected in related experiments discovered on-line. Chemical drain cleaners are designed to work within the presence of water, which facilitates the transportation of the cleaner to the clogs and evenly distributes the answer over their surfaces, enabling the dissolution course of. Subsequently, after the designated time had elapsed, I added faucet water to every beaker containing the cleaner options and clogging supplies. For primary drain cleaners (pH > 7.0), I used 500 ml of scorching water at 46 levels C, whereas for acidic drain cleaners (pH < 7.0), I used 700 ml of chilly water at 19 levels C.
To permit adequate time for the chemical compounds to work, I left the samples to sit down in a single day and resumed the analysis the next morning. By this level, the samples had remodeled into sludgy, slimy mixtures.
Hair dissolution take a look at in progress
To proceed with the experiment, I employed a vacuum filtration course of utilizing a Buchner funnel linked to a 1,000 ml filtering flask outfitted with a pump. The contents of every beaker have been fastidiously poured into the funnel whereas the pump was activated. As soon as many of the chemical drain cleaner had been drawn out of the funnel, I carried out a water wash to take away any residual chemical compounds from the floor of the particles samples, making certain that solely moist solids remained within the Buchner funnel.
Our Buchner funnel, made from chemically resistant borosilicate glass, featured a perforated plate with 2-millimeter openings, permitting solely the tiniest particles to go by way of. In my take a look at logic, “if a substance, strong or liquid, might go by way of the two mm openings within the filter, it was extremely unlikely to trigger pipe clogging.”
On the left, our vacuum filtration setup. Liquid and dissolved solids go by way of 2mm holes within the Buchner funnel plate on the suitable — something that does not go by way of is taken into account potential clog materials.
Lastly, I separated the samples and subjected them to a fan-drying course of for a couple of hours to evaporate any remaining water from the wash. I recorded the ultimate weight of every pattern and in contrast it to its preliminary weight. The ratio of the ultimate weight to the preliminary weight supplied us with the dissolution effectivity of every drain cleaner product.
Different chemical drain cleaners we have examined
Liquid Plumr Industrial Gel: A terrific possibility for successfully dissolving hair and natural matter, this drain cleaner within reason priced and claims to be secure to make use of with most kinds of pipes. Contains a combination of bleach, caustic soda and different highly effective solvents. The one cause it did not safe the highest spot on our record is its ineffectiveness at dissolving paper merchandise and its extremely alkaline nature, 11.01 pH.
Eco Punch Drain Clog Dissolver: With the bottom dissolution efficiency among the many merchandise examined, this drain cleaner is primarily composed of caustic soda, bleach and a surfactant. Surprisingly, it achieved a 40% dissolution price for hair, 72% for natural matter and only one% for each grease and paper merchandise. Moreover, it’s on the pricier aspect when contemplating its price per gallon. Highest alkalinity of the bunch, 11.33 pH when blended with water.
Drano Max Gel: Average efficiency in dissolving hair and natural matter, attaining a dissolution price of 60% and 59%, respectively. Nevertheless, it confirmed restricted effectiveness in dissolving grease and paper, with charges of solely 12% and a pair of%. This drain cleaner is competitively priced, rating because the third-most reasonably priced possibility when evaluating worth per gallon.
On the spot Energy Foremost Line Opener: This concentrated lye drain cleaner presents glorious efficiency in dissolving hair and natural matter. Sadly, it had nearly negligible impact on grease and paper, scoring 1% and 0% respectively. It has the second lowest worth per gallon. Nevertheless, it is vital to notice that this product is designed for use in a single go, pouring everything of the bottle. Given its alkaline habits (10.1 pH), corrosion is unquestionably a priority.
Zep Sulfuric Acid Drain Opener: Surprisingly low efficiency dissolving hair, given it is a sulfuric acid drain cleaner. Highest efficiency dissolving paper merchandise; it was the one one to attain 100% on this class. Nevertheless, it nearly doubles the remainder of its competitors in worth per gallon. Use with excessive warning and comply with all directions.
Chemical drain cleaners FAQ
What are chemical drain cleaners?
Chemical drain cleaners are specifically formulated merchandise designed to unclog and clear drains by dissolving numerous kinds of natural and inorganic supplies, similar to hair, grease, paper and different particles.
Are chemical drain cleaners secure to make use of?
Whereas chemical drain cleaners could be efficient in an emergency, you will need to use them with excessive warning. These merchandise include highly effective chemical compounds that may be hazardous if mishandled. At all times comply with the directions supplied by the producer and put on acceptable private protecting gear similar to security goggles, gloves and long-sleeved clothes when utilizing them.
Can chemical drain cleaners harm my pipes?
Normally, chemical drain cleaners are secure for emergency use in numerous kinds of piping techniques. Nevertheless, sure kinds of pipes, similar to steel or porcelain, could also be extra inclined to break from sure chemical cleaners. Remember to verify the product labels and proposals to make sure compatibility together with your particular pipes.
How lengthy ought to I depart the chemical drain cleaner within the drain?
The really helpful contact time varies relying on the product’s chemical composition and the severity of the clog. I encourage you to comply with the directions supplied by the producer. Most merchandise require a sure period of time for the chemical response to happen and dissolve the clog successfully.
Are there any options to chemical drain cleaners?
Sure, there are various strategies to unclog drains that don’t contain the usage of chemical cleaners. These embody utilizing a plunger, a drain snake, or pure cures similar to baking soda and vinegar. Assess the character of the clog and select the suitable methodology.