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TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW
03-06-2006, 08:33 PM
I live in an apartment building, and our maintenance guy's a real dick. Our tub clogs up a lot even though we use the hair catcher in the drain, probably just because this is such an old building.

Anyway, it's clogged again, and I picked up a cheap Drano/Liquid Plumber knockoff at the dollar store and poured it down the drain. It was only after really looking over the container that I realized that this knockoff is based on Hydrochloric Acid rather than the much more common Sodium Hydroxide found in Liquid Plumber and Drano.

So, uh, what do I do now? The drain is still clogged, though I've basically filled the tub with cold water, which will drain through slowly. Is there any worry about the effect of the HCL on the pipes (which are metal and old)? I'm going to call the maintenance guy and let him know about it, because I still need him to come and fix the drain. I'm worried that if he opens the trap, he's going to have a bunch of acid coming at him. I also don't want him to pour something else, esp. something Sodium Hydroxide-bsaed, down the drain if that Hydrochloric junk is still in there.

How much water do I need to flush through before I can reasonably assume that the Hydrochloric Acid is all flushed through?

appleciders
03-06-2006, 09:27 PM
HCl in drain cleaner? I'd heard of H2SO4 in drain cleaner, but HCl is a new one. If it's highly concentrated, I'd be quite worried about the state of your drains, especially if they're iron- copper pipes would hold up slightly better, I believe. You should run lots of water, and maybe a weak base dissolved in the water; baking soda would be appropriate. Still and all, I'd be worried about your drains, since a strong acid will oxidize ("rust" for the uninitiated) the hell out of the pipes.

Waterman
03-07-2006, 01:11 AM
...since a strong acid will oxidize ("rust" for the uninitiated) the hell out of the pipes.
I don't mean to be a smart ass, but acids do not oxidize the metals that they dissolve. Oxidation is exactly as you state, which is the reaction that produces a metal oxide (or hydrated form or intermediate) whereas the reaction of an acid and metal results in the formation of the salt of the anion from the acid and the metal.

Suburban Plankton
03-07-2006, 02:17 AM
I also don't want him to pour something else, esp. something Sodium Hydroxide-bsaed, down the drain if that Hydrochloric junk is still in there.

I wouldn't worry too much about mixing Sodium Hydroxide and Hydrochloric Acid.

NaOH + HCl = NaCl + H2O

In other words, salt water.

Soylent Gene
03-07-2006, 02:41 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about mixing Sodium Hydroxide and Hydrochloric Acid.

NaOH + HCl = NaCl + H2O

In other words, salt water.

uuh..yeah, except for the violent reaction where that equal sign is.

Waterman
03-07-2006, 02:53 AM
Pour silver nitrate down the drain, that will clear out the pipes.
What, in your infinite knowledge and desire to offer helpful advice, will that accomplish?

matt
03-07-2006, 06:40 AM
Pour silver nitrate down the drain, that will clear out the pipes. In the unlikely event that you have some silver nitrate, don't do this. At best, it'll precipitate solid silver salts (e.g. silver chloride with the HCl) which aren't harmful but won't help your clogging problem. At worst, it'll plate out silver metal all over the insides of your pipes, which'll give you pinhole corrosion problems.

Re the OP, the product is unlikely to be very concentrated. Even commercial "concentrated" HCl is only about 30% strength. Your filling the tub and leaving it to drain should flush it enough and dilute it enough so you don't need to worry about it.

I'm a little confused as to why HCl is being used as a drain cleaner anyway. It's good for removing limescale, but most clogged drains are the result of organic material, and HCl won't help much with that.

Annie-Xmas
03-07-2006, 08:35 AM
You are the type of person rental property managers hate. I know, I'm one of them, and also the head of the "Straight Dope Marching Band and Anti-Drano Society."

You've just turned a $50 unclogging job into a $200 nightmare. Don't mess with this yourself--you risk serious injury. Call a licensed plumber, tell them what happened, and be prepared to pay big bucks. You might even have to replace some pipes.

When will people learn: Drain uncloggers are dangerous nasty chemicals that eat skin, eat pipes, and often DO NOT WORK!

Kalhoun
03-07-2006, 09:27 AM
I use 20% hydrogen chloride ("The Works") on my rusty toilet and a little on the tub where the water leaves a rusty stain. This stuff is heavy duty. We own our home, and I'm not afraid to use this stuff here, and in many years of use I've never experienced a problem, but you can bet if I were renting a place, I'd leave it up to the owner to unclog my drains. You don't want to incur the cost to replace plumbing.

astro
03-07-2006, 10:23 AM
Handy Reference

REFERENCE DATA SHEET FOR
CHEMICAL AND ENZYMATIC DRAIN CLEANERS (http://meridianeng.com/draincle.html)

friedo
03-07-2006, 11:39 AM
When will people learn: Drain uncloggers are dangerous nasty chemicals that eat skin, eat pipes, and often DO NOT WORK!

They work great for me. Every six months or so my tub drain gets so full of my thick, luscious hair and assorted gook that I have to whip out the old Drano bottle. After a couple treatments it's back to its old self.

You're right about the nastiness, though. You have to be careful with that stuff.

Nava
03-07-2006, 03:04 PM
Pour silver nitrate down the drain, that will clear out the pipes.

Cute...

this one is the qualitative test for Chrloride Ion. It can also be used quantitatively.

HCl(aq) + AgNO3(aq) ---> AgCl(s) + HNO3(aq)

so basically you have all these H+, Ag+, Cl- and NO3-, all floating happily in their respective containers, and then you put them together and bam! the H+ and NO3- don't notice a thing but the AgCl becomes a quite expensive, insoluble as all hell, new piece of clogging shit in your drain.

TAER

Nava
03-07-2006, 03:05 PM
Chrloride

Chloride, excuse me. I can do chemistry and I can spell, I simply can't type.

chaoticbear
03-07-2006, 03:13 PM
I don't mean to be a smart ass, but acids do not oxidize the metals that they dissolve. Oxidation is exactly as you state, which is the reaction that produces a metal oxide (or hydrated form or intermediate) whereas the reaction of an acid and metal results in the formation of the salt of the anion from the acid and the metal.

It does too oxidize it. You go from a metal with oxidation state 0, to a metal ion with positive charge => loss of electrons = oxidation.

Wesley Clark
03-07-2006, 03:26 PM
Cute...

this one is the qualitative test for Chrloride Ion. It can also be used quantitatively.

HCl(aq) + AgNO3(aq) ---> AgCl(s) + HNO3(aq)

so basically you have all these H+, Ag+, Cl- and NO3-, all floating happily in their respective containers, and then you put them together and bam! the H+ and NO3- don't notice a thing but the AgCl becomes a quite expensive, insoluble as all hell, new piece of clogging shit in your drain.

TAER

Plus nitric acid isn't much of an improvement over HCL. The HCL should be converted to H3O by now so it won't convert into HNO3 anyway. In fact, all the chem eqns should use H3O instead of HCL as that is what all the HCL converted to.

If it makes you feel any better VCO3 I did that with my old apartment's clog once too. Nothing bad happened, it just cleared the clog. I doubt that you could buy stuff that never works and only harms drains from a legitimate store. Was this in a large grey bottle?

Nava
03-07-2006, 03:40 PM
Plus nitric acid isn't much of an improvement over HCL. The HCL should be converted to H3O by now so it won't convert into HNO3 anyway. In fact, all the chem eqns should use H3O instead of HCL as that is what all the HCL converted to.



Uh, no.

You see, the nitric acid obtained in the reaction isn't exactly the same as pouring it from the bottle. It would be a pretty low concentration, most likely. You would have the same H+ floating about "before" and "after" the mixing. As for the other ion in the acids, NO3- is much worse at dissolving metals than Cl-, which has the nasty habit of being a complexant (this complexant ability is the reason sea air pretty much eats through steel, and the reason it eats stainless steel faster than regular steel; anybody who wants the shorthand version of a trimester of Chemistry of the Complexes just drop me a line on MSN).

Converting HCl into H2O would require a nuclear reaction, not just a chemical reaction; we're talking about the kind of physics for which you need one of those Ciclotrons which people like CERN have. Dissolving something into water does not produce water, it produces a solution of the whatever; water plus AgNO3 does not produce insoluble white powder that likes to stick onto anything other than glass.

DrDeth
03-07-2006, 03:53 PM
You are the type of person rental property managers hate. I know, I'm one of them, and also the head of the "Straight Dope Marching Band and Anti-Drano Society."

You've just turned a $50 unclogging job into a $200 nightmare. Don't mess with this yourself--you risk serious injury. Call a licensed plumber, tell them what happened, and be prepared to pay big bucks. You might even have to replace some pipes.

When will people learn: Drain uncloggers are dangerous nasty chemicals that eat skin, eat pipes, and often DO NOT WORK!

Well, I agree, mostly. The OP doesn't need to call the Plumber, he needs to call his Landlord- who will call the Plumber and then pay for the bill, as this is maintenence, very likely. Do tell the plumber & landlord what you used, of course. If the water is flowing slowly out, it's likely OK, and you haven't caused any real damage.

For you renters (and homeowners too)- don't use caustic drain cleaners. When it is running slow -BEFORE IT PLUGS UP COMPLETELY- use boiling water (some use vinegar) or enzymatic/bacteriogical drain products. Both are mostly safe- with the usual caveats about not getting either in your eyes, etc. I suggest using the enzymatic stuff in your drains once a quarter/every three months.

When plugged, use a plunger. For the shower, there is this neat little plastic thing that has backwards hooks on it that you can push down the drain, and on the way back it'll clean out a lot of hair and gunk. If that doesn't work, call a plumber. Don't use caustic drain cleaners.

Frank
03-07-2006, 05:25 PM
Mix everything mentioned above, mix well, then pour gently. Its gotta work!
Mojoman, I let your first reply go as an attempt at humor. Continuing this makes you appear to be a jerk. Stop it.

Frank
03-07-2006, 05:34 PM
If he actually does that, he deserves whatever stange consequences occur, no?
Well, internet advice is, of course, worth every penny one pays for it. Nevertheless, you're beginning to sound like a broken record, 'kay?

Annie-Xmas
03-07-2006, 05:54 PM
DO NOT MIX CHEMICALS EVER EVER EVER! I knew someone who used drain cleaner and, when it didn't work, thought some bleach might help. Instant toxic gas and a trip to the emergency room.

There are little stainers you can buy to put over the drain that are good at collecting hair, lint, etc. If you notice a drain is running a little slow, put down a cup of baking soda, followed by a pot of boiling water. If it doesn't work, add boiling vinegar. You'd be surprised at how easy, cheap, safe and effective this is.

Queen Tonya
03-07-2006, 06:08 PM
I don't like the effects of the nasty chemical sludge left behind after using most de-cloggers, so I don't use them.

Since I have long hair, and shed like a Golden Retriever apparently, I have to de-tribble my shower drain every couple of months or so. You too can become a master de-tribbler!

1. Unscrew the poorly-named hair-catcher thingy.

2. Peer into drain and mutter ominously at the tribble, works better when they're stunned.

3. Grasp your tool, the twisty end of a metal hanger works, I prefer my extra long needle-nose pliers.

4. Plunge the tool into the drain, twist/pinch until you've got a good grip, apply steady even pressure and slowly back the slimy hair tribble out of the shower drain.

Screaming in horror and going "Ewww, omg lookit that thing, ewww!" are optional additions to step 4.

appleciders
03-07-2006, 06:24 PM
So, what happened? I still think a mild base, like a weak baking soda solution would be the best way to neutralize the acid in the pipes, because the CO2 bubbles would tell you if it's working.

asterion
03-08-2006, 12:15 AM
DO NOT MIX CHEMICALS EVER EVER EVER! I knew someone who used drain cleaner and, when it didn't work, thought some bleach might help. Instant toxic gas and a trip to the emergency room.You can mix chemicals, you just have to know what you're doing (and obviously that guy didn't.) Then again, I know how to read the bottles, draw the molecules (or look them up), and know the reactions. That said, I've never mixed household cleaners because I don't see what good it'd do. I just got a bottle of CLR (bought it because I couldn't find any 16% HCl at Wal-Mart and I've got a rust stain in my sink.) I'm a little mad that I had to go to the manufacturer's website and pull the MSDS instead of just being able to read it off the bottle. Interesting. Mostly water, with some lactic acid, gluconic acid, lauryldimethyl hydroxysultaine, and 1-butoxy-2-propanol. Yeah, don't want to mix it with much of anything.

gotpasswords
03-08-2006, 11:53 AM
Just so this thread has a smidge of practical information on drain cleaners...

The primary application for acid drain cleaners is drains that contain or might contain (cooking) grease, oils or fats.

Fats plus lye (most caustic drain cleaners) = soap. Lumpy soap. Hard soap. Ain't gonna dissolve for three years soap.

If your kitchen drain's backing up, do not use regular "Drano" cleaners, or you're apt to make a bigger problem requiring hands-on mechanical methods to grind up and scrape out the hard soap, or replace the pipes. Either use a snake, a plunger, an acid cleaner, or save some time and just call a pro before a slow drain becomes an expensive mess.

DrDeth
03-08-2006, 01:14 PM
The primary application for acid drain cleaners is drains that contain or might contain (cooking) grease, oils or fats.

If your kitchen drain's backing up, do not use regular "Drano" cleaners, or you're apt to make a bigger problem requiring hands-on mechanical methods to grind up and scrape out the hard soap, or replace the pipes. Either use a snake, a plunger, an acid cleaner, or save some time and just call a pro before a slow drain becomes an expensive mess.

I have a better suggestion- but only IF the drain is still working, just "slow". Run very hot water down it, with the addition of Dawn type anti-grease detergent. The Dawn is optional. Keep running the very hot water down the sink for several minutes after it starts running good.

In fact, with your kitchen sink- do this every so often if you think you are apt to get grease down that drain.

But yes, don't use Drano.

Oh, and don't use your sink disposal, either, if you can help it. Toss that stuff or compost. Disposals will ruin your septic tank (if you have one) and often cause nasty clogs.

Waterman
03-08-2006, 02:57 PM
It does too oxidize it. You go from a metal with oxidation state 0, to a metal ion with positive charge => loss of electrons = oxidation.
Without beating this to death, I would agree with you that the general term "oxidation" or "oxidized" would apply when the oxidation state of the element has been increased. However, I still believe that my critique was correct by virtue of the fact that appleciders threw in the parenthetical "rust" which definitely is a reference to a reaction with oxygen.

appleciders
03-08-2006, 09:31 PM
My use of "rust" and "oxidize" were probably not synonomous here. I threw in "rust" because most people wouldn't understand "oxidize". In retrospect, "dissolve" might have been a better choice than "rust".

Moving away from the hijack here- VCO3, what happened in the end?

TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW
03-09-2006, 12:32 AM
Well, it stayed just as plugged for about a day. I kept filling the tub with water and letting it slooooooooowly drain through hoping to at least flush the acid junk through.

Then, just this morning, completely clear drain. I don't know what happened in the interim, but the drain is draining like it's completely brand new with not a hint of stoppage. I don't know if the clog caused a problem further down the line and they called someone to deal with it, but without any further intervention it has completely cleared up.

Just a few notes...

1. I cannot stress enough that this was some sort of Drano/Liquid Plumr knockoff, not pure hydrochloric acid that I just picked up at some Mad Scientist's Mart. I bought it at the dollar store, it was explicitly meant for clearing clogged drains, and so on. I cannot imagine that it would cause the sort of problems mentioned like "instant rusting" of the pipes, "hundreds of dollars in damages and pipe replacements" and so on as it's a commercially available product, and moreso it's billed as a rust remover as well.

2. You are the type of person rental property managers hate. I know, I'm one of them...

Well, then my property management is made up of the type of people that renters hate - they refuse to perform even basic and routine maintenance without us having to make a big stink and put up an enormous fight just to get them out here. When they finally DO send out maintenance, they only employ a surly russian guy that grunts, leaves enormous messes behind when even performing basic maintenance, and can barely speak english but managed to call my wife "stupid" last time he had to come to the apartment, coincidentally for the clogged tub drain (thank God I wasn't here when he did that!). To put it kindly, they're real slumlord bastards even though we live in a nice neighborhood and pay good money for this place. I'd be willing to cause a big crisis if that's what it took to get them to actually fix the problems!


Either way, it's been completely clear for a day now and there's no sign of burst pipes or panic in the rest of the building, so I'm going to assume that everything's cool.

TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW
03-09-2006, 12:47 AM
And another Q: now that it's draining clearly and I've taken several showers, can I safely assume that the solution has "washed out" of the pipes and the drain area? For example, if I want to use a bleach-based solution to clean the tub, how long should I wait before I can be confident that no residue of the acid junk remains?

DrDeth
03-09-2006, 10:35 AM
And another Q: now that it's draining clearly and I've taken several showers, can I safely assume that the solution has "washed out" of the pipes and the drain area? For example, if I want to use a bleach-based solution to clean the tub, how long should I wait before I can be confident that no residue of the acid junk remains?

Turn the tap all the way to HOT. Run it like that for as long as you can, say 5-10 minutes. At that point in time both the remnants of the clog and the HCl will all be long gone. (The HCl is likely all gone now, but let's make sure about the clog, too, eh?)

Get some of the Ezymatic drain cleaner and use that (or just lots of hot water) every 3 months or so as maintenence.

CookingWithGas
03-09-2006, 01:10 PM
An oldie but goodie which was circulating when photocopying jokes was done before they invented the Internet:

A plumber wrote to the Bureau of Standards saying that he had found hydrochloric acid good for cleaning out clogged drains. The Bureau write back "The efficacy of hydrochloric acid is indisputable, but chlorine residue is incompatible with metallic permanence."

The plumber replied that he was glad the Bureau agreed.

The Bureau tried again, writing "We cannot assume responsibility for the production of toxic and noxious residues with hydrochloric acid, and suggest that you use an alternate procedure."

The plumber again said that he was glad the Bureau agreed with him.

Finally, the Bureau wrote to the plumber, "Don't use hydrochloric acid; it eats hell out of the pipes."

ladybug
03-09-2006, 08:31 PM
You too can become a master de-tribbler!

1. Unscrew the poorly-named hair-catcher thingy.

2. Peer into drain and mutter ominously at the tribble, works better when they're stunned.

3. Grasp your tool, the twisty end of a metal hanger works, I prefer my extra long needle-nose pliers.

4. Plunge the tool into the drain, twist/pinch until you've got a good grip, apply steady even pressure and slowly back the slimy hair tribble out of the shower drain.

I tried that on my shower last night, using a latch hook instead of pliers, and it worked better than anything else I've tried. Thanks for the advice! :)

Screaming in horror and going "Ewww, omg lookit that thing, ewww!" are optional additions to step 4.

No screaming, but I gagged a few times. I've only lived in this apartment for six months. There's no way that all that hair in the drain was mine. ::shivers::

Queen Tonya
03-10-2006, 12:24 AM
Oooh, yeah, usually I wind up in that transcendental place, shooting right past disgust into shock and awe. Like the zit threads, eh?

But adding random stranger's hair to the mix, I can see where that'd hold you back a bit. Just think, the next tribble is totally yours though! :)

EddyTeddyFreddy
03-10-2006, 01:44 AM
If you notice a drain is running a little slow, put down a cup of baking soda, followed by a pot of boiling water. If it doesn't work, add boiling vinegar. You'd be surprised at how easy, cheap, safe and effective this is. Wow, I just tried pouring a teapotful of boiling water down the shower drain -- AND IT WORKED! Better, faster than any drain chemical I've ever tried. Even better than taking a crochet hook to the gunk. Didn't even need the baking soda (although I'll keep it in mind for a really stubborn drain).

Thanks!

Annie-Xmas
03-10-2006, 08:18 AM
You're welcome. I'm an expert on non-toxic cleaning, and non-toxic drain cleaners are easy and good.

About lye & grease making soap....If you have ever seen a plumber remove a section of pipe with nasty dark green soap in it, you would never use lye drain cleaner again. Lye is good at dissolving hair clogs. Hair is part of you, and lye is also good at dissolving other body parts, including skin. It's just too risky.

Baking soda, vinegar, and boiling hot water will usually do the trick.

Isosleepy
03-10-2006, 10:47 AM
Does boiling water work on slow draining toilets as well?

appleciders
03-10-2006, 10:56 AM
I second DrDeth's answer about the amount of HCL still there and what to do about it. Actually, his answer is probably a little on the cautious side, but that's never a bad thing.

Annie-Xmas
03-10-2006, 10:58 AM
Does boiling water work on slow draining toilets as well?

It's worth a try. Turn off the water to the toilet tank (the cut off valve should be under it), flush twice, then put boiling hot water in the toilet and flush. Repeat if necessary.

DrDeth
03-10-2006, 11:07 AM
Does boiling water work on slow draining toilets as well?

Well, it likely won't hurt, but boiling or just plain very hot water is best for cutting grease (kitchen) or soap residue (tub) drain problems. In a toilet, I just flush, plunge, flush, plunge, flush, flush, flush, flush, flush, flush. The enzymatic drain cleaner will work in the toilet pipes, however.

If you do this, and then the enzymatic stuff (use as directed, but the beauty of this stuff is that it is very safe in comparison to lye or acid)) and it's still slow- call a plumber. What likely is the problem then is a solid item caught in the "trap".

Oh, and instead of pliers or hooks, try what I suggested here "For the shower, there is this neat little plastic thing that has backwards hooks on it that you can push down the drain, and on the way back it'll clean out a lot of hair and gunk." It looks like a strip of plastic about 2 or 3' long. They sell them at hardware stores. Man, you get some serious "ewwww" with one of those things. Neat.

Excalibre
03-10-2006, 01:45 PM
DO NOT MIX CHEMICALS EVER EVER EVER! I knew someone who used drain cleaner and, when it didn't work, thought some bleach might help. Instant toxic gas and a trip to the emergency room.
That wasn't a very bright idea. Nevertheless, if you know what chemicals you're mixing and what they'll do, mixing chemicals is fine. Not everyone is as ignorant as your friend.


About lye & grease making soap....If you have ever seen a plumber remove a section of pipe with nasty dark green soap in it, you would never use lye drain cleaner again. Lye is good at dissolving hair clogs. Hair is part of you, and lye is also good at dissolving other body parts, including skin. It's just too risky.
It's not risky unless you can't use it without spilling it on yourself, and even then the bigger risk is to your clothes since it takes quite awhile to do anything to your skin. In the few chemistry courses I took, I used sodium hydroxide all the time. In fact, I used the pure granules once when there was a beaker with stubborn crud on it. Just filled the thing about halfway up and topped it off with water. Sure got hot as it dissolved (I left it in the fume hood in case it spattered. Safety first.), but I didn't lose any flesh in the process. Drano's not a great idea for all sorts of reasons, but you don't have to use fearmongering here - it's not going to leap out of the bottle and rip the flesh off your bones. Besides, it takes awhile for it to eat through your skin. You'd notice concentrated sodium hydroxide on your skin - it has a distinctly slippery feel. (Once again, been there, done that.) It doesn't turn your flesh into goo all that quickly.

wolfman
03-10-2006, 02:01 PM
Oh, and instead of pliers or hooks, try what I suggested here "For the shower, there is this neat little plastic thing that has backwards hooks on it that you can push down the drain, and on the way back it'll clean out a lot of hair and gunk." It looks like a strip of plastic about 2 or 3' long. They sell them at hardware stores. Man, you get some serious "ewwww" with one of those things. Neat.

In one of my frustrated McGyver moments I invented my own by cutting the end off a Cat 5 (just the right balance of stiffness and flexibility) and duct taping carefully bent paper clips. Worked pretty well too. :)

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 03:29 PM
So, uh, what do I do now? The drain is still clogged, though I've basically filled the tub with cold water, which will drain through slowly. Is there any worry about the effect of the HCL on the pipes (which are metal and old)?

Keep adding water. However long you think it should take to reasonably clear out the fluid, and then double it for good measure.

Are the pipes a concern? Yes. The more concentrated the acid, the more rapidly the acid will attack the pipes. More water = Less Problem

Then call a plumber.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 03:35 PM
I don't mean to be a smart ass, but acids do not oxidize the metals that they dissolve. Oxidation is exactly as you state, which is the reaction that produces a metal oxide (or hydrated form or intermediate) whereas the reaction of an acid and metal results in the formation of the salt of the anion from the acid and the metal.

Acid corrosion of iron is an oxidation reaction (Fe -> Fe3+). However, it's not rust. Rust is a loose term referring to metal oxides. Hydrochloric acid will dissolve and remove "rust" actually. We use the word "oxidation" in scientific chemistry more loosely than when the term was first coined. In it's original sense, water and oxygen often cause materials to corrode by "adding oxygen" to them. Now, we are more specific.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 03:40 PM
uuh..yeah, except for the violent reaction where that equal sign is.

Mixing acid and base produces heat. The "violence" is a consequence of the heat. As the concentrations are low, so will be the heat production. Neutralizing the acid as a tactic, however, will be of limited value as the chloride ion concentration is probably not much better for old metal pipes than dilute acid.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 03:43 PM
You should run lots of water, and maybe a weak base dissolved in the water; baking soda would be appropriate.

If the acid is strong enough to require neutralization then choosing sodium bicarbonate as the base of choice will result in a hideous mess. But, on the plus side, it would be a hoot to watch, so by all means rent a video camera.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 03:52 PM
What, in your infinite knowledge and desire to offer helpful advice, will that accomplish?

It will immediately precipiate silver chloride which is about as water soluble as granite. If he is lucky it will wash through and remove the chloride ions from the iron pipes. If he is unlucky, it will block the drain the rest of the way still leaving it exposed to the, acidic, solution.

I don't think I'd be willing to roll those dice on my own pipes, but I'd love to watch someone else try it.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 04:00 PM
They work great for me. Every six months or so my tub drain gets so full of my thick, luscious hair and assorted gook that I have to whip out the old Drano bottle. After a couple treatments it's back to its old self.

You're right about the nastiness, though. You have to be careful with that stuff.

They work great for a while. As the original poster noted, Drano is caustic based. Each time you use this, most of the clog will wash down, and it will start working again. However, it is not 100% effective, and that which does not wash down will harden on the insides of the pipe. Over time, the layers that Drano leaves on the pipe will thicken and thicken.

Acid cleaners are worse because of the aggressive attack on most pipe materials.

But the important thing to remember is that just because it works right now does not mean it is a good long term solution. Drano is a short-sighted solution. Call a plumber.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 04:01 PM
DO NOT MIX CHEMICALS EVER EVER EVER!

Do not mix, dispose, or make use of chemicals IN IGNORANCE. Learn, then do.

Stormyweathers
03-10-2006, 04:05 PM
About lye & grease making soap....If you have ever seen a plumber remove a section of pipe with nasty dark green soap in it, you would never use lye drain cleaner again. Lye is good at dissolving hair clogs. Hair is part of you, and lye is also good at dissolving other body parts, including skin. It's just too risky.

Gloves.

ladybug
03-10-2006, 07:43 PM
Oooh, yeah, usually I wind up in that transcendental place, shooting right past disgust into shock and awe. Like the zit threads, eh?

Yep. For awhile I was so fascinated by the tribbles that I forgot to be grossed out. Then I started pulling up pieces of ... I don't know what it was. I'm hoping it was flecks of soap. But that snapped me back to reality pretty quickly.

Kiminy
03-10-2006, 08:27 PM
One of the appartments we lived in had a big problem with clogged drains, especially in the kitchen. However, since it was a rental, we generally opted to have the maintenance people unclog the drains--after all, maintenance was part of the contract for the appartment, and they were *their* pipes, not ours. We also never put anything in a drain or disposal that shouldn't have been there. We knew not to put chicken bones or artichoke leaves or celery into a disposal, for example.

In this particular apartment, though, the maintenance guys typically used Draino (or Draino knockoffs). I remember one time when an employee who had been there a while was showing a new employee the ropes, the new guy said he thought Draino was bad for the pipes. The long-time guy told him that yeah, the stuff was bad for the pipes, but by the time the damage was done, the pipes would probably be old enough to need replacing anyway.

When we bought our own house, we also bought a pipe snake, so that we could clear the pipes without resorting to chemicals that could potentially damage the pipes.

chaoticbear
03-10-2006, 09:23 PM
That wasn't a very bright idea. Nevertheless, if you know what chemicals you're mixing and what they'll do, mixing chemicals is fine. Not everyone is as ignorant as your friend.



It's not risky unless you can't use it without spilling it on yourself, and even then the bigger risk is to your clothes since it takes quite awhile to do anything to your skin. In the few chemistry courses I took, I used sodium hydroxide all the time. In fact, I used the pure granules once when there was a beaker with stubborn crud on it. Just filled the thing about halfway up and topped it off with water. Sure got hot as it dissolved (I left it in the fume hood in case it spattered. Safety first.), but I didn't lose any flesh in the process. Drano's not a great idea for all sorts of reasons, but you don't have to use fearmongering here - it's not going to leap out of the bottle and rip the flesh off your bones. Besides, it takes awhile for it to eat through your skin. You'd notice concentrated sodium hydroxide on your skin - it has a distinctly slippery feel. (Once again, been there, done that.) It doesn't turn your flesh into goo all that quickly.

Thanks, Excalibre, for coming in, AGAIN, and answering things that I finally have some experience in before I have a chance to read it.

Like he said, if you get any on your skin, you'll feel the slipperiness on your skin (because it made soap of you!) and then it will start to itch a bit. You'll notice, for sure, before it starts burning your skin. In the lab, we're never like OMFG DON'T TOUCH THAT HCL IT'S 12M!!!.

I just quoted 10 people in 10 consecutive posts!

An easy way to do this all in one post is open up another browser window (or tab, preferably, but I'm assuming IE like the majority of the world), and then copy/paste everything that you want to quote into one reply, it makes it easier for us to follow who's replying. Or it makes it easier for me, but I approve of you doing either.

DrDeth
03-11-2006, 01:01 AM
An easy way to do this all in one post is open up another browser window (or tab, preferably, but I'm assuming IE like the majority of the world), and then copy/paste everything that you want to quote into one reply, it makes it easier for us to follow who's replying. Or it makes it easier for me, but I approve of you doing either.

I prefer replying to one post at a time. I seem to like it when someone bothers to reply to my post, so I figured others liked that also. But only for one or two posts, never for 10 in a row. That's just a bit too much like post-count-padding.

robby
03-12-2006, 01:34 AM
I don't mean to be a smart ass, but acids do not oxidize the metals that they dissolve. Oxidation is exactly as you state, which is the reaction that produces a metal oxide (or hydrated form or intermediate) whereas the reaction of an acid and metal results in the formation of the salt of the anion from the acid and the metal.
When an acid reacts with an elemental metal, it raises the oxidation number of the metal from zero to a positive number (the oxidation number of the cation in the salt). This is equivalent to the a loss of electrons by the metal, which is oxidation. Therefore, the metal is oxidized.

Defining "oxidation" to be only a reaction that produces an oxide is a notion that is at least a century out of date.

My use of "rust" and "oxidize" were probably not synonomous here. I threw in "rust" because most people wouldn't understand "oxidize". In retrospect, "dissolve" might have been a better choice than "rust".
You were right the first time.

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