If you’ve not heard of this trick to unblock drains, you’re sure to find it as a quick DIY fix upon hitting the internet. The question is, does this really work? 

We did an experiment;

butter and knife

Taking a bowl, a large tablespoon of butter was added. The idea of the butter was to mirror the likes of a greasy drain clog. 

Half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar was then added to the butter. 

What do you think the results were?

Did the combination of an acid and a base get rid of the greasy butter? Unfortunately not. After five minutes the bowl of butter and our DIY solution remained predominantly unchanged. Aside from a knob of butter coated in vinegar and baking solution, if this were a genuine blockage, it would not yet have budged. 

Why is this combination not effective? 

chemical reaction in scientific beaker

As mentioned above, baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid. When combined, the chemical reaction that takes place produces a small amount of water. Within this water, salt is found resulting in a non-fat destroying drain cleanser. In addition, the solution components used do not help carry away grease and oil. 

Doesn’t the combination create pressure though? 

The chemical reaction from using vinegar and baking soda does in fact create pressure, there is however a caveat. Pressure only happens when the solution is used in an enclosed container. When used for household drainage purposes the solution is not enclosed and therefore cannot build up enough pressure to force away the grease. 

Your drain can hold more than a tablespoon of butter;

Our experiment was carried out using a single tablespoon of butter. If you’re experiencing a blocked drain, it’s going to be holding an amount way larger than this. The pressure would need to be much stronger, in a closed and secure environment to even begin moving clogs. 

drawing of drain pipe tube

So what’s the best solution? 

Treating a blocked drain early is best tried using a good old fashioned plunger. Should this not work, Call in the experts! 

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