There is a wide variety of household products that, for safety, should not be mixed. While there is a belief that their combination "powers" its effects on cleanliness, it can actually be dangerous. Why should not you mix vinegar with bleach?
According to Kate Biberdorf, professor of chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, It is one of the most dangerous matches at the domestic level. Its mixture releases a toxic gas that is harmful to health.
Why do people mix vinegar with bleach?
There are a couple of reasons that explain why people choose to mix vinegar with bleach even though it releases a toxic gas. First, the vinegar lowers the pH of the bleach, which increases its disinfectant action.
On the other hand, most people who make these types of mixtures they do not know the reaction that occurs and, of course, the effects it can have on health.
Then, based only on the advice to make better cleaning products and disinfectants, they decide to make the mixture and use the product without precaution.
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What reaction occurs mixing vinegar with bleach?
To understand what happens with this mixture, first some concepts must be clarified. As Dr. Biberdorf points out, Molecules like those found in vinegar and bleach are made up of atoms.
In turn, in the center of each atom there is a nucleus and, inside, there are two types of particles: neutrons and protons. A third type of particle, electrons, orbits the nucleus.
Another aspect that is fundamental to understand is the difference between an acid and a base. Substances are measured on a pH scale:
- Acids: those whose pH is less than 7.
- Neutral: those whose pH is equal to 7.
- Bases: those that have a pH higher than 7.
When the mixture of a base and an acid occurs, a chemical reaction occurs in which the base takes the proton of the acid and, as a result of this, a new chemical compound is formed.
So, what happens when mixing vinegar with bleach?
As he explains, Biberdorf, One of the main components of the lye is sodium hypochlorite, which is considered a base. For its part, vinegar is an acid (acetic acid).
Therefore, when a person decides to mix vinegar with bleach, the sodium hypochlorite takes a proton from the vinegar and this reaction generates a hypochlorous acid. However, here everything does not end.
The hypochlorous acid reacts with the rest of the vinegar and forms a gas known as chlorine gas, which can be particularly harmful to health.
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Negative effects of chlorine gas
The chlorine gas in its pure state can be seen greenish yellow; however, the gas caused by a mixture of chemicals It disperses in the air and is usually invisible.
Despite this, it can be perceived by its strong smell and the negative effects it causes in the body. Firstly, It affects the mucous membranes, including the eyes, throat and lungs.
As a result of this, symptoms such as watery eyes, chest congestion, breathing difficulties and burning sensation, among others, may occur. Likewise, In case of contact with the skin, it can detonate in blisters and irritation.
What can be done to avoid these risks?
Of course, to avoid the risks mentioned, we must avoid, at all costs, the mixture of vinegar and bleach. Instead, it is best to use fresh bleach when wishing to do the cleaning tasks.
The use of bleach and vinegar separately can help disinfect dozens of surfaces. For security, It is better to use them individually and only when necessary.
Likewise, you can try other alternatives of natural cleaning whose use is safe: lemon juice, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and salt are some options.
Did you know the risks of mixing vinegar with bleach? Now that you know that your combination can be very harmful, avoid it altogether and share this information with yours.