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Discovering Drain Cleaners

When it comes to unclogging drains, the number of options can seem daunting. They come in a variety of chemical compositions that use differing mechanics to open drains, and each type is more or less effective based on the type of obstruction you are trying to remove. Chemical based drain openers are also highly toxic and caustic, giving each variety its own set of safety concerns. The uses and risks of the most commonly available drain cleaners should be examined before choosing the right cleaning supplies for you.

Acidic Drain Cleaners-
Acidic drain cleaners have a low pH and can be extremely dangerous to handle. The active ingredient in most acid based drain cleaners is sulfuric acid, usually in a very high concentration. Sulfuric acid is especially good at dissolving biological material, from human waste to hair, as well as paper based material. Getting even a small amount of an acidic drain opener on your skin can result in severe burns, and has explosive potential, making it especially dangerous to handle.

Alkaline Drain Cleaners-
Most commercially available drain cleaners use caustic alkaline liquids to dissolve blockages in pipes. In general, if a drain cleaner has foaming action it is because of gas released by chemical reaction when two alkaline chemicals are mixed. Alkaline drain openers are useful for removing the proteins and fats of human hair, waste and other biological materials, although it tends to be less effective at removing carbohydrate based blockages like paper.

Non-Caustic Cleaners-

There are number of products that use less caustic measures to remove clogs, although they are usually only effective in specific situations. The most common type of non-caustic drain openers are enzymatic formulas that use biologically based enzymes to essentially digest material that is stuck in drains. These are better used as maintenance measures or to clear up slow running drains. They tend to be slow acting however, and require water to activate and disperse through a system making them ineffective at dealing with complete blockages.

Physical Drain Cleaners-

This category includes a number of devices that use friction to physically break apart blockages. These include augurs which drill through the material, and pressurized water jets which use the force of water to blast apart blockages and drag residue away. These types of drain openers are very effective on almost any blockage, but require training to use safely and effectively and are usually prohibitively expensive.