Introduction: Cleaning With Chemistry

Wouldn't you like to use simple cleansers that cost less?  Here's how to make heavy-duty cleansers with common household ingredients.  Let's use the magic of chemistry!

Step 1: Foaming Drain Cleanser

If you've got gunk lodged in your drain, you can combine vinegar and baking soda to get a foaming cleanser.  Place the mixture of vinegar and baking soda in a bottle and invert to get a good foam going, then pour it into your drain.  Chase it with hot water.  This is best for dislodging softer clogs by foaming them apart.  

1 C baking soda
3 C hot water
1 C vinegar

For a really heavy clog, use a funnel to pour the cup of baking soda onto the clog.  Follow with 1 cup of vinegar and let them react for 10 minutes.  Flush the whole thing with hot water.

What's happening?  
The vinegar and baking soda are reacting to form carbonic acid, which then instantly breaks down into carbon dioxide and water.  The carbon dioxide bubbles out and creates the foam that forces your clogs apart.

Step 2: Silver Polish

I don't like abrasive polishes because they rub away fine details over time.  Here's an heirloom bowl that's been in the family a while.  It's already really thin, so I'm using a non-abrasive method to avoid losing any silver.  

Caution: this chemical reaction will release the smelly and toxic gas hydrogen sulfide, so ventilate the area really well or do this outside.

Line a bowl with aluminum foil.  Ensure it's aluminum to get the right chemical reaction!

Fill the bowl with warm water and dissolve equal parts of baking soda and table salt (about 2 tablespoons of each)

Place the silver items in the bowl, making sure they all have a point of physical contact with the foil.

The tarnish will transfer from the silver items to the foil, leaving the silver behind!  Continue checking until you get the desired polish or patina, then remove your shiny silver.

What's happening?

The aluminum is oxidizing (tarnishing) in place of the silver.  Look closely and you'll see new tarnish spots on the aluminum foil.  The silver releases its sulfur tarnish to form the gas hydrogen sulfide.  The baking soda then reacts with the toxic hydrogen sulfide to produce sodium hydrosulfide, which makes the reaction somewhat safer than if baking soda weren't used.

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