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Why do vinegar and baking soda work well together?

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More and more people are opting for natural cleaning products such as vinegar or baking soda, among others. But have you ever wondered what the secret of its effectiveness is? A scientist explains it in detail.

Chemist May Nyman, from the University of Oregon, says that these substances are literally at opposite ends of the pH scale.

“When you are cleaning using baking soda or vinegar, you are actually doing very complicated manipulations of molecules,” Nyman says.

The expert emphasizes that bicarbonate “is the opposite” of vinegar: the acidity levels of these substances are 9 and 2, respectively.

As they are on opposite sides of the pH scale, both culinary items are excellent cleaning agents. pH is a scale that measures how acidic or basic a material is, ranging from 1 (very acidic) to 14 (extremely basic), with 7 being the neutral value. The pH of pure water is 7.

According to the US Geological Survey, baking soda has a pH of 9, whereas vinegar has a pH of 2.

Although both substances are just as safe for our skin, they are capable of dissolving organic matter. Baking soda not only dissolves compounds like dirt or grease but also acts as a mild abrasive. Vinegar, for its part, destroys the minerals that settle on the surface of the sink and tap.

These substances work very well together. The acid breaks down the bicarbonate, releasing carbon dioxide gas which, in turn, brings the dirt to the surface. 

Everyday items on the pH scale. Image credit: shutterstock

However, you should never mix them in equal amounts, the expert warns, because in this case, the mixture will lose its cleaning properties.

Image Credit: Getty

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