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acetic acid instead of horticultural vinegar?  RSS feed

 
Gilbert Fritz
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I can get 1 gallon of 20% horticultural vinegar for $25. I can get 5 gallons of 100% acetic acid for $104, which could be diluted with water. Is there any reason this would be a bad idea for killing weeds? Of course, the acetic acid is probably made "artificially" in a lab; does this make a difference?
 
John Elliott
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It's the same molecule, whether it was made by fermentation or by oxidative chemical processing.  The only reason to buy horticultural vinegar is for the taste components that are carried along in the process: red or white wine, apple, etc.  If you don't have a culinary end use in mind, might as well buy the cheapest, which is turned out at the chemical plant by the tank car load.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I thought as much; it would certainly be a lot cheaper. I'm thinking about using it to kill off cover crops (with a couple of passes) in the same way that agribusiness no-till operations use roundup.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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100% acetic acid is much more dangerous than 20% acetic acid... I believe that it couldn't be safely handled at home. MSDS.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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You are right; looks like one could get into all sorts of trouble. Its flammable, toxic by contact, inhalation, and orally, and is corrosive.

What percent do you think would be safe?

Strangely, nobody is selling 20% stuff except as (expensive) horticultural vinegar.

Why would diluting it to a safe level make it MORE expensive?
 
David Livingston
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Why would diluting it to a safe level make it MORE expensive?
Because its potentially dangerous. Often diluting acids can give off heat lots of heat eqals steam equals explosion if you are not careful .plus  Its cheaper to transport concentrated acids than heavy diltued one because you are paying for transport of the water .

David
 
John Elliott
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:100% acetic acid is much more dangerous than 20% acetic acid... I believe that it couldn't be safely handled at home. MSDS.



I must be showing my age here, but when I was in high school, we could buy 100% (glacial) acetic acid over the counter at the photography store.  Lots of people handled it safely at home.  But that was in the days before MSDSs, before the dumbing down of America.
 
John Wolfram
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:100% acetic acid is much more dangerous than 20% acetic acid... I believe that it couldn't be safely handled at home. MSDS.

While 100% acetic acid is a stronger acid, I believe it is still just on par with standard toilet bowl cleaner (20% HCl) which is handled safely in millions of homes. That being said, I wear safety glasses when using toilet bowl cleaner and have a water source near by to rinse myself off if I get any one me.
 
David Livingston
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remember always add acid to water not water to acid

David
 
Gilbert Fritz
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What about the explosive/ flammability issue? And the vapor problem?

That said, they are selling the stuff online in 5 gallon buckets with a pour spout. It would be convenient . . .  how much protective gear would I need? Sounds like a vapor respirator, face shield, coveralls, boots and gloves?

What will this stuff do to the soil long term? Will anything accumulate?
 
Tyler Ludens
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It looks like under certain conditions acetic acid can build up in the soil, but I doubt this would be a problem in an annual garden:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00380768.1995.10419569

I think it will tend to acidify the soil, but this might be a benefit in an area with alkaline soil.

 
David Livingston
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How much would it cost to get lemon juice? Why not use that instead ?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Lemon juice is only 5 percent acid and costs $20 a gallon, so it would be prohibitively expensive and difficult to concentrate.
 
John Wolfram
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:What about the explosive/ flammability issue? And the vapor problem?

It's been a while since I've used glacial acetic acid, but from what I recall the vapors and flammability were less than gasoline. Wikipedia states that it's pretty hard to ignite acetic acid at temperatures below 100F, so in that regards it is much safer than gasoline.
 
John Elliott
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John Wolfram wrote:
Gilbert Fritz wrote:What about the explosive/ flammability issue? And the vapor problem?

It's been a while since I've used glacial acetic acid, but from what I recall the vapors and flammability were less than gasoline. Wikipedia states that it's pretty hard to ignite acetic acid at temperatures below 100F, so in that regards it is much safer than gasoline.


John has the flammability issue covered, so I'll speak to the corrosiveness of it.  Since it is a weak acid (doesn't ionize very much), it is much less corrosive in concentrated form than the concentrated mineral acids (HCl, nitric, sulfuric).  That said, you don't want to get it on skin or clothing, and eye protection is a must. It's not particularly volatile, so it doesn't go for the nose and throat, but you should still stay on the upwind side when you open the container.  After you pour it and make your dilutions, you will have the unmistakable odor of vinegar around for a while, so be sure you can ventilate your work space.  If any of it splashes around, you want to be able to rinse it down with lots of water. 

The good thing about it is that acetic acid is the most biodegradable compound ever -- all living cells can metabolize it.
 
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