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Clean With Cleaners You Can Eat by Raven Ranson

 
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A quick note on the idea (or question) of cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar. I find the volcanic reaction can break loose clogs, in the following fashion- first, get a gallon of water boiling. Next, dissolve a quarter cup or so of baking soda in a cup of really hot water. Make sure it’s completely dissolved, then pour it down the drain. This will fill the trap with baking soda slurry, and the trap is where the clog happens. Then dump a half cup of vinegar down the drain. After the volcano subsides, dump the gallon of boiling water in. The volcano loosened the clog, the boiling water washes it away.
I’ve rarely had to do this, but when I do, it works to clear the drain for a long time!
 
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The volcano can help; however, it depends entirely on where "away" is for your house.

If the clog is in the trap then it's much easier on the plumbing and the human to use a zip-tool to pull out the plug instead of dislodging it so it can join forces with other clogs further down the pipes.  

As is the way of the world, the main clog point in my house is 48.75 feet away from the cleanout point.  I know that because we measured.  It's not fun!  It stinks.  It makes one heck of a mess to clean the snake and dry it before recoiling it.  
 
Julie Reed
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What happens at 48.75 feet that causes the clogging? Can that be re-plumbed? Typically the drain pipes get larger as they move toward the septic or city sewer connection, thus preventing bottleneck points that would lead to clogs. The trap is often the worst offender, as water sits there and holds soap scum and hair plus whatever other bits of stuff.
I’ve found the zip tool will pull out some (maybe most) of the hair, but still leaves all the scummy stuff, whereas the volcano and boiling water will get rid of the stuff the zip barbs can’t grab. Plus it isn’t moving the ‘blob of clog’ as one mass, but it breaks up and disperses with the gallon of water, so it shouldn’t be adding to another clog anywhere else. A gallon or two of boiling water down each drain once a month or so is actually really good prevention of clogs in the entire system, and it won’t harm your septic system if that’s what you have.
 
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I ended up causing leaks in our plumbing from doing the baking soda and vinegar trick, and we had to replace piping. It wasn't fun!

I've also heard the boiling water might not be good for the seals on the pipes.

Our best help against clogged sinks is one of those little mesh sink catchers. It works pretty well, and keeps our pipes working better. I should invest in a snake, though, for when we do get a clog!
 
Julie Reed
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I would guess that you didn’t cause leaks, but rather, found them. In other words, they were already there, but the gunk was sealing them (temporarily). When you foamed away the gunk, the leak opened. So, you would have had to make those repairs regardless. The vinegar volcano can not cause a leak in proper plumbing drain lines. The pressure created is not great enough to blow pipes or fittings apart, unless they are weak to begin with, which means they already were in need of repair. Similarly, boiling water will not damage any proper drain system, including any seals. There may be plastic pieces that, if you boiled them in a pot, would deform, but running boiling water through them briefly, as in the case of a gallon or two, will cause no damage at all. Plumbing drain line, whether copper or plastic, is made to handle this stuff.
 
r ranson
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Julie Reed wrote:What happens at 48.75 feet that causes the clogging? Can that be re-plumbed?



They are old pipes and we would have to dig up a big chunk of the house to fix it.  We had the camera down there and it's just age and metal plus water.  Also, the old owners used some nasty chemicals that weren't septic safe so (according to the professionals who did the scan) that probably contributed to the damage.

The less expensive option is to be aware of what causes clogs and not do that behaviour.  
 
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Any time we have to do plumbing related to sinks, we splurge and replace the traps with the sort that have screw fittings. That way, rather than having to fiddle with the snake, we simply put a pan under the trap and unscrew it.
The downside of that is the sink usually has a cabinet, so it's usually a *really* awkward job. When we renovated the kitchen of a previous house which had a full basement, I suggested putting the trap below the sink in the basement. Hubby thought about this "outside the box" idea and was convinced to try it. The first time he had to rescue something from that trap, he was thrilled - he was totally sold on the idea! My intention was to have more space in the cupboard as it was a *really* small kitchen, but it really did make cleaning the trap easier.

That said, I totally agree with Raven - learn not to let stuff get into the plumbing that is best captured some other way. I wipe greasy pots with something I can burn in the wood stove, anything compostable goes in the compost bucket which is right there, I wash veg in a bucket and that goes to plants, we try to be sparing with soaps, and sinks/showers exposed to hair have filters although they're not perfect.
 
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i have been using the drain weasel:  https://amzn.to/3fIdF9S  -- far better.
 
r ranson
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paul wheaton wrote:i have been using the drain weasel:  https://amzn.to/3fIdF9S  -- far better.



Yes!  Something like that beats the vinegar volcano hands down!

It gets the clog UP and out of the drain, instead of sending it to the fictional land of "away".

You don't have to weigh your b-soda and vinegar to make sure you haven't upset the PH of your septic system.  

Lots and lots of reasons why this is good.  
 
Julie Reed
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While I agree the best solution is to avoid the clog to begin with, we don’t live in a perfect world, and despite our Own best efforts there are kids, visitors, and of course people not even  taking proper care of their drains. Clogs happen. I doubt the septic tank (typically an average of 1000 gallons) would be adversely affected by (or even notice!) such a comparatively tiny amount of vinegar/baking soda, especially since the 2 neutralize each other and a healthy septic tank runs between 6-7.5, or, neutral. Your own water from the well may be outside that range, and contribute far more to an imbalance of the septic tank! The weasel thing looks like it would work great, but it’s a disposable plastic product, which many of us choose to avoid. It removes the hair, but not all the other gunk. Obviously there’s no fictional land of ‘away’, but it would either be a Muni waste treatment plant, a septic tank, or a greywater treatment system such as a reed bed, all of which have been proven to handle worse stuff than the occasional ph neutral mix of a 1/2 cup of vinegar volcano.
 
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I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns.

I love the approach of this book; cleaners that are not only safer, but simpler. We humans tend to love complicated things, but Raven Ranson's methods start with the simplest methods and pretty much keep them that way. That makes so much more sense to me than complicated recipes and expensive ingredients.

After the introduction, the meat of the book begins with a chapter on ingredients. It's not just a list of what natural cleaners to use, but why they work, the best ways to use them, and when not to use them. Includes discussions on detergents, soaps, bleach, and unwanted microbes.

The chapter on tools tells you how to make your own. The next chapter, "Surfaces," is the recipe chapter. All the ingredients are simple, common kitchen items; truly ingredients you can eat!

The next several chapters address specific areas that we commonly clean. These contain a lot of great tips, not only on how to, but on the best cleaners and tools for each application.

"Oddbits" contains some helpful extras, including how to remove adhesive residues, reducing unwanted odors  in the house, and several very effective oven cleaners (I know, because I tried one of them.)

While the book isn't big on pages, it's very big on information. An excellent addition to any household library.
 
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Just to follow up on the soap scum issue in drains...

I have been making soap for over 10 years and am only just now learning about chelates and how they help reduce the soap scum that comes from using homemade soap with hard water. We've been battling soap scum gumming up our drains for years, so this is a huge revelation to me.

The best articles I've found are by DeeAnna Weed, PhD:

DeeAnna Weed's soapmaking articles

The particular article that talks about what chelates do in soap: What is a chelator?

And fyi, "chelate" is pronounced "KEE-late"
 
pollinator
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r ranson wrote:  

So I went to the library and discovered that they have over 100 books on the topic.  WOW!  A hundred books on green cleaning!  How could there be anything new to say on the topic?  So I borrowed ALL OF THEM!  



Libraries are such a fabulous resource for writers.  Where else are you going to get to read so much around your subject and, as you say, 97% of them you could just dismiss for various reasons.  All this for a minimal cost. Research can be so much fun for those of us who like to have a tidy, organised mind!

I've just downloaded your ebook, Raven, and I am looking forward to spending some quality time going through it all and making notes. Your integrity as a person shines through all your writing.  Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.    

   
 
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I'm not sure where I originally saw the citrus peels and vinegar trick, but I've been doing it at least 10 years as we've lived here for 9 and I did it at the farm we owned prior to this one.

I'm a lemon addict. I use 2 a day in my tea. I also eat a lot of tangerines and mandarins in the winter. I have 3 cut class 1/2 gallon canisters with tight sealing tops - 2 on my counter, 1 in a cupboard - which I use to make citrus cleaner. I have them at different levels of "doneness."

I also use cleaning vinegar which is a higher acidity. I can always water it down, but this works really well for tough jobs.

I love to make up gallon bottles of the cleaner, decorate them with ribbon with some dehydrated lemon and orange slices strung on, and give them to friends and family who comment on how clean my home is. ;o)

Shelley
 
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Sorry but for some reason says cannot display download as off in I correct format. .? I'm using duck duck go.
 
r ranson
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Waxi Sargent wrote:Sorry but for some reason says cannot display download as off in I correct format. .? I'm using duck duck go.



I can see you have access to the file.  The file is a PDF which most computers can open.  Is your PDF viewer up to date?  
I haven't tried to open a PDF in Duckduckgo browser.  I usually save them and open it in adobe.  

I'll ask around and see what I can discover.
 
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Waxi,

Have you been able to download the PDF file?
 
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Duckduckgo does mess with downloading, for me. It's the main reason I haven't yet completely ditched chrome.
 
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I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns. I like that this book presents the information matter-of-factly. The asides are short and filled with purpose. The book is laid out in a clear fashion with the most important bits easy to find.

Read this book.
 
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