You have a clog that your average plunger just can't get out. Your instinct is to turn to some caustic chemical drain cleaner to get the job done, right?
In reality, store-bought chemical drain cleaners are some of the most dangerous chemicals you can bring into your home. According to Plumbing Help Today, more than 1700 people every year suffer from injuries related to chemical drain cleaners, ranging from minor skin burns to blindness, and, in extreme cases, even death can occur from mishandling these toxic chemicals.
What Are Chemical Drain Cleaners Made Of?
Chemical drain cleaners contain a potent cocktail of chemicals, often including particularly corrosive substances like lye and sulfuric acid. These acids eat away whatever they come into contact with, so an accidental spill can end very poorly.
It's important to remember that these chemicals aren't intelligent. Once these chemicals have eaten away the debris in your pipes, they will start to work away at your pipes too. Over time, this can seriously compromise the integrity of your pipes - so much so that you may have a very expensive mess to clean up afterwards.
The Intense Safety Hazards Behind Drain Cleaners
If drain cleaners can burn through debris in an exceptionally corrosive manner, then you can imagine what kinds of damage can occur when it comes in contact with the human body. If you're looking down while you're pouring the solution into the drain, it can easily splash back and hit you in the face and eyes, causing irreparable damage.
Imagine, too, what could happen if these chemicals got into the hands of your child, or if a pet were to walk through the spilled chemicals. Disaster is just one wrong move away - and it could prove deadly.
The effect of chemical drain cleaners over time
As we previously mentioned, these chemicals are so corrosive that often their chemical reaction doesn't stop with your pipe debris, but continue to erode away your pipes themselves.
These chemicals are also exceptionally difficult - if not impossible - for treatment plants to break down once they've flushed through your system. There are even some cases where the chemicals damage the water cleansing process so much that the sewage ends up untreated, cycling back into our water systems.
Safer (and More Effective) Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners
To avoid bringing these dangerous and toxic chemicals and their potential effects into your home, there are plenty of environmentally-friendly and safe alternatives for you to try:
- Baking soda and cider vinegar - 1 cup of each on your drain, following with plenty of hot water
- Vinegar, salt, and borax - 1/2 vinegar, 1/4 salt, 1/4 borax followed by hot water
- Baking soda and lemon juice - 1 cup of each, following with plenty of hot water
- Boiling water - This works especially well for flushing out grease clogs in the kitchen sink