Which Alkali Is Used To Open A Drain?

A drain tends to get clogged when debris blocks the path for water and other wastes. During such situation, any drain opener solution can be used to dissolve the debris and remove the clog. There are different kinds of drain opener solutions and it is basically divided into two types based on the pH of the main ingredient in the solution. Both acids and alkali elements are used for opening a drain. Any element with pH greater than 7 is called as alkaline or alkali element. It is also called as basic (base) element. According to common belief, if a drain opener is not acidic, it has to be alkaline. To be fair, there are other forms of drain openers too and it cannot be just concluded as alkali drain opener just because it is not acidic. Now, let us talk about the top ingredients in any alkali drain opener. There are numerous types of alkali compounds that are used for drain opening.

Type of drain opener

Which Alkali Is Used To Open A Drain?The alkali drain opener can be broadly classified into two types. The first type is strong alkali drain opener and the second is weak alkali drain opener. The strong alkali drain opener is usually prepared in industry settings and the alkali used in such drain openers are at high concentration. You may have to use such openers with care. On the other hand, as the name indicates, weak alkali drain openers have weak alkali compounds and thus, are not a threat for personal safety. Let us talk about the main alkali ingredients in each type of openers.

Strong alkali drain opener

This type of drain opener is very commonly called as caustic soda drain opener. This is because of the common main ingredient in this type of drain openers, caustic soda. Caustic soda is a mixture of lye and sodium hydroxide. Both liquid and solid forms of strong alkali drain openers have sodium hydroxide. Lye is a common name used for sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. In some specific brands of strong alkali drain opener, you can find only potassium hydroxide as the main ingredient.

Some brands of alkali drain opener provide corrosive liquid formulation. Such openers have sodium hypochlorite which is also called as bleach in very high concentration. The solid version of corrosive liquid alkali drain opener will have sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide in granules form.  Sodium hypochlorite alone does not cause any benefit, when it comes to unclogging a drain. It has to come in contact with another salt to create better output. It is not safe to mix other cleaning agents with bleach at home. The corrosive liquid alkali drain opener has bleach along with other alkali elements which helps in unclogging the drain.

Weak alkali drain opener

Weak alkali drain openers are commonly used in cases where having a concentrated drain opener in home is considered dangerous. For instance, in a house with an infant, it is not safe to have a strong alkali drain opener. The most common weak alkali drain opener is baking soda with vinegar. Vinegar is a weak acid and baking soda is the alkali here. Any common cleaning supplies have sodium hydroxide in diluted version. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Both can be used in this type of drain opener. In some cases, baking powder is used instead of baking soda. Though it sounds similar, baking powder is not the same as that of baking soda. However, the main alkali in both the components is same. Baking soda also contains sodium bicarbonate with an acid salt.

Any branded alkali drain opener you buy from market is strong alkali drain opener. Only household drain openers can be weak alkaline one as it cannot be pre-made for future uses. For weak alkaline drain opener solution, throw a cup of baking soda into the drain and add quarter cup of any weak acid (any brand and any type of vinegar would do well). Add a liter of boiling water after five minutes.

There are numerous alkalis that you can find at home like ammonium hydroxide, potassium permanganate and others. Yet, sodium bicarbonate is the most commonly used one. It is because of its following properties.

  1. Easy and common to find and easy to use.
  2. Deodorizes the drain
  3. Does not leave harsh odor
  4. No environmental side effects
  5. Cost effective
  6. No risk with children or those with breathing problems

These are some of the numerous reasons to why baking soda is very commonly used.

Why sodium hydroxide is very common?

Why is the alkali, sodium hydroxide very commonly used in most of the drain openers? Yes, there are even stronger alkali substances in the periodic table. Yet, most of the brands that you choose have sodium hydroxide. Yes, it is a cheaper alkali than most of the other element but, that cannot be the only reason for this popularity. Below is the list of advantages of using sodium hydroxide in a drain opener.

  1. It can be handled with ease when compared to other strong bases.
  2. Strong sodium hydroxide can digest tissues too. Thus, any human wastes like hair can be dissolved, within a few minutes from your drain.
  3. Even hard clog made of organic wastes can be digested with ease and leaves out a coffee like structured solid that can be crushed with finger tips. Fast flowing water would be enough to wash the substance out of your drain.
  4. It also helps in killing fungi, bacteria and other unwanted micro-organisms.
  5. It can easily dissolve grease, oil and other protein based deposits.
  6. It can also dissolve precipitated protein.

This article talks in detail about alkali used in drain openers. The common alkali substances mentioned in this article are sodium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate and potassium hydroxide. This is not an exclusive list. There are numerous brands of drain openers around the world. Each brand uses different chemical components with varying strength. There can be other alkalis used for drain opener manufacturing. This article just pinpointed the most common ones of all.

What Are Drain Cleaners Made Of?

What happens when your drain gets clogged? You would either use any mechanical equipment to unclog it or use any solutions or chemicals which would open the drain when poured into the drain. Drain cleaners or drain uncloggers or drain openers are chemical or non-chemical substances that are poured into a clogged drain for the sole purpose of unclogging it and clearing out any debris that are found blocking the space in the drain. The drain uncloggers should be made in such a form that it would dissolve human waste, food particles and other common substances that get clogged in any drain. The drain uncloggers can be in the form of liquid, pellets or powder.

What exactly is present in that drain opener solution or powder? Yes, they are chemicals but, are all type of drain openers are made out of chemicals? What kinds of chemicals are commonly used in these solutions? Are you curious about these details? Keep reading.

What exactly is a drain cleaner?

what are drain cleaners made ofBefore you step into the ingredients of a drain unclogger, we should learn about the types. There are different types of drain openers basically classified based on the main ingredients used. Most of companies refuse to specify any effective additives that act as an enhancer. This article will talk in detail about the main ingredients present in each type of drain cleaners that you can find in market or make at home.

Acidic cleaners

Acidic drain openers are usually found in liquid form. In case of acidic drain cleaning solutions, the main ingredients would include a few chemicals. The most common one is sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is an important byproduct of iron ore purification process. There are other sources of this acid too. The main reason for adding this element to the drain cleaning solution is its property of highly corrosive. It can react with organic materials and even certain types of metals. Thus, it would easily unclog the debris in a few seconds. You would have already guessed that this drain cleaning solutions cannot be used in which the drain pipes are made of certain metals. Steel does not react with sulfuric acid. Not all acidic drain openers are made with sulfuric acid. The other common main ingredient in a few acidic drain openers is hydrochloric acid. Any concentrated acid that has corrosive property can be used in this type of drain openers.

Additives in acidic cleaners

The drain opener is not completely sulfuric acid or any other chemical. Many additives would be added to make the acid effective in unclogging and comparatively dilute. The choice of additive ingredients changes from one manufacturer to other. Since these additives make a difference in their brand, the companies refuses to share their choice of additives.

Caustic drain cleaners

Caustic drain openers are usually made out of an alkaline substance. The most common one is sodium hypochloride. This is made by mixing sodium hydroxide which is also called as caustic soda with chlorine. Thus, this drain opener gets its name; caustic drain opener. Other surfactants or surface active additives are added to the cleaning solution to reduce foaming, reduce surface tension and for better mixing of solutions. Other choices of main ingredients in drain openers are lye, bleach and others. Some might even contain potassium hydroxide. This is not an exclusive list. You can find a few other caustic drain cleaners brands in which you can find other similar main ingredients.

Additives in caustic drain cleaners

The surfactants are also called as wetting agents and penetrating agents. Companies use two types of wetting agents namely; anionic and ionic. Commonly anionic wetting agent is used like sodium lauryl sulfate, alkyl aryl sulfonates, Aeroso OT and others. Common ionic wetting agents are polyoxyethylene tertiary dodecyl thioether, polyoxyethylene esters of oil of tall, resin acid, coconut alkylolamide, esters of fatty acids and others. These agents are added in very small amount to the caustic drain cleaners for immediate and effective action. It acts as a catalyst or enhancer.

Solid caustic drain openers

Solid drain openers are found in pellet forms. As stated before, acidic drain openers cannot be made in solid form. The main ingredient of this type of drain openers is same as that of caustic drain openers. Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide is added in granules form and aluminum turning is an important additive. Aluminum turning is a patented product in drain openers and is available only in certain brands.

Biological drain openers

The chemicals used in the caustic and acidic drain openers have led to various cases of problems and accidents leading to severe damages. Thus, people are now shifting towards other forms of drain openers. There are people who worry about the effect of caustic and acidic drain openers on environment. Thus, this led to the invention of non-hazard and non-chemical drain opener. This is relatively a new form of drain opener in the market. This drain opener consists of enzymes that dissolve wastes. When the enzymes are mixed with water, the bacteria start to multiply. The enzymes contain bacterial cultures that react to organic residue. They feed on the waste for energy thereby unclogging it. The bacteria multiply twice its size within 30 minutes. Other ingredients in biological drain openers are wetting agents, preservatives and others. This type of drain opener is also called as enzyme biological drain openers.

Homemade drain openers

You can also make your own drain openers. A homemade drain opener will contain baking soda and vinegar. Mixing these two elements will create foaming reaction which would help in unclogging the drain. This is the most commonly found ingredient in all homemade drain openers. There are various other types of drain openers that use cream of tartar, salt, Borax and others. Not all homemade drain cleaning solutions are completely organic.

This is not an exclusive list. There are numerous brands of drain cleaners which use unique forms of main ingredients as stated before. In general, an acidic drain opener will have an acid main ingredient; caustic one with have a base salt as main ingredient, bio drain opener uses bacteria and so on. The types, additives and other elements vary from one brand to another.