Cast of Characters:



Karen
Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Is vinegar dangerous?

We have an electric water kettle at work. It often develops a mineral coating on the inside on the bottom. Sometimes, the coating starts breaking up and little crusties float around in the water. Well, the department secretary told me to boil some vinegar in it to get rid of the mineral deposit. I've done this for quite some time. Today or yesterday one of the women in my office came in and said "hold your breath if you go into the copyroom (where the electric water kettle is), because SOMEONE is boiling vinegar!" I responded, "why yes, I am." She then said that I should boil the water first and then add vinegar afterwards. She said that the vinegar fumes are toxic. I decided to do some online investigation to see if the vinegar fumes really are toxic, and I came across this website. Basically, a science teacher got cited for having a sealed bottle of food-grade vinegar not in a special dangerous-acids cabinet. Go figure...your salad will kill you...or something.

I still don't know if vinegar fumes are toxic (annoying, but not toxic), but if you know better, let me know!

21 comments:

Dez said...

I have never heard of vinegar fumes as being considered toxic. I have hear that they can be a respitory irritant to a minute amount of people however, very very minute.
I will sometimes use a simmering pot and fill it with apple cider vinegar to absorb the musty smell in my basement.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard ANYTHING about vingegar fumes being dangerous. I mean...healthy crunchy-granola nature sites recommend it as a cleaning solution for all kinds of things.

I run it through my coffee maker all the time.

I'm nearly forty, have asthma and a LOT of upper-respiratory sensitivities. I have been running straight vinegar through my coffee maker for years.

I haven't died yet.

Jamie said...

Anonymous,

Back at home in Chicago, we used to run vinegar through our coffee maker all the time only because we don't feel that comfortable using bleach through there but we do stick with bleach for regular cleaning around the place.

Karen,

all this time you thought bleach would kill me and all along it was vinegar. Who knew?

-Jamie

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not so much about it being poisonous - it's f@$king annoying, so don't do accost your co-workers with stuff like this. I work in an office with lots of people sitting near the break room and every week some secretary decides she's going to "clean the coffee pot." Every time someone gets sick, but she just won't take the hint. Please take this hint - think about other people for once in your life...

Karen said...

So, is it better to have stuff build up / grow in the coffee pot / tea kettle?

Anonymous said...

I sprayed hot vinegar on wallpaper before stripping it off. By the third day, the fumes really started bothering me. My chest hurts but that damn, ugly wallpaper is gone.

Anonymous said...

We once used vinegar to clean our coffee pot in our office...we thought it would be harmless considering we had all used it at home for the same purpose. I guess we used too much because the fumes were so bad that it made several people light headed and quite ill. I am not sure if it is toxic, however, it makes it hard to get your work done when you feel that way.

Anonymous said...

I was looking online to see if vinegar fumes are dangerous and decided to share my reason why. I just finished cleaning my bathtub with straight vinegar, because nothing else would get the build up off. I've used vinegar for cleaning before, usually diluted, and have never had problems, but now my chest is hurting.

Anonymous said...

I put straight 5% distilled vinegar (no water) in my indoor therapeutic fountain. It keeps my place smelling nice.

homeschoolmom said...

I am sensitive to the fumes in white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar doesn't seem to bother me as much.

My husband just used Tabasco sauce on his rice tonight and the fumes from the vinegar in the sauce caused my chest to pain.

I am very chemically sensitive and fume sensitive anyway but this took me by surprise. Next time I'll have to leave the room if he gets the vinegar or Tabasco sauce out.

Anonymous said...

They are harmful to those with respiratory issues like asthma. If you are cleaning with it, please be mindful of those in your home with these issue. ESPECIALLY if running it through the coffee pot w/o water diluting it.

Anonymous said...

I don't drink coffee and thus don't use a coffee machine, but I pour some in my tea kettle to get off the residue. I don't heat it or anything, just pour it in cold and let it sit for 30 min or so then rinse until the vinegar smell is gone. I use it to clean my bathroom and have to turn on the fan so I don't get chest pain. And recently I was cooking some BBQ chicken wings and when I opened the oven to turn them over, the vinegar fumes actually severely burned my throat.

Anonymous said...

I make white and cider vinegar. It's not toxic. If your in a fumy area like i am with thousands of gallons it can take your breath away but that's all unless your allergic to it. Some people get irritated by it more than others. It is a acid and even the store strength {5%}is left on your skin, like your sock soaked in it, it will take your skin of. Especially higher acids of vinegar like 20,30 or 35%. A;though that 30% is tangy when you put a drop on your tongue.

lauryn said...

I thought it's toxic only if you mix vinegar and bleach.

Anonymous said...

Wait...so if I leave it in my hair with olive oil, it will take my skin off? And will the fumes hurt my infant?

Anonymous said...

Vinegar isn't toxic, but it can affect those with copd and underlying asthma. It depends on the individual as whether or not it's a trigger. Long ecposure to heavy vinegar fumes has me reaching for the inhalant.

Anonymous said...

Beaware!! yes people do have respiratory effects to vingar, I start to cough and cough cant breath, eyes run, and just have to leave the house or building for 15 or 30mins, the room has to totally clean it frightening, I am really sick.

Anonymous said...

Gosh :( I have just used vinegar and water to clean mould off of the walls and ceiling of my sons bedroom. I used it because I thought it would be the safest option. It's all dry, but I can still smell the vinegar. I hope we'll be okay sleeping in here tonight. This blog hasn't really helped because some people are saying it's bad, and some people are saying it's okay. ??? Now I'm just confused and freaking out!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I know this is a very old post, but I wanted to let everyone know that part of the issue is that you're boiling the vinegar. When you do that, lots of the water evaporates and your left with a higher concentration of acetic acid which makes it a stronger irritant.

Anonymous said...

A retarded myth perpetrated by someone with zero knowledge of chemistry. It's an irritant -- not a toxin.

Chrys said...

I agree not toxic but can be dangerous for people. I have a personal coffee pot that has been giving me problems with clogged pipes and i was told to put vinegar in it. I have gotten a migraine from the fumes and someone else in the office just asked that i turn it off as well cause she is getting sick from it. not sure how i will get this unclogged but cant take the fumes anymore so yeas some people can become sick from it.