Monday, 13 November 2017

Chemical Free... Really?

Recently I read a lovely household tip about how to keep glass showers nice and sparkly. Yes, yes, I know: not the usual grist to my mill, but let's think about this as household management.

Most of the post was focused on very sensible things such as squeegeeing the shower down after use. This apparently prevents soapy water from etching the glass and making it cloudy. This was something that I hadn't realised happened - but that I do now. And when you read the chemical composition of the soaps further down the page, you will see just why leaving soap on glass will etch it. The "salt of a weak acid and a strong base NaOH"... salts, salts, all the way.

Someone had supplied a "chemical-free cleanser". The more I read, the more astounded I became about this "chemical-free" 'miracle' cleaner. I was motivated to post in the feedback:
Can anyone tell me how "half-cup of hydrogen peroxide, a half-cup of rubbing alcohol (a natural degreaser), 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 1 tablespoon dishwasher rinse aid", and water, is chemical free?
That's H2O2; C3H8O; a mix of sodium (Na) and/or potassium salts (KCl) of fatty acids plus one or two of stearic acid (animal fat, C18H36O2), palmitic acid (palm oil, C16H32O2), lauric acid (coconut oil, C12H24O2), oleic acid (olive oil, C18H34O2) or linolenic acid (canola oil, C18H30O2); a mix of Sodium cumene sulfonate (C9H11NaO3S), Propylene glycol (C3H8O2) and Citric acid (C6H8O7); and H2O...?
Sorry if there are mistakes: chemistry was never terribly strong for me! My point though is that everything on our wonderful planet is made of chemicals. Many of the ingredients above are 'natural' (ie, used for centuries) and very strong and dangerous in concentration. Lye will eat even our bones... NaOH - sodium hydroxide - which we have inadvertently put in our squirty bottle.
We bandy these terms like 'chemical-free' and 'natural' about without actually thinking about what we are really saying. It is a misuse of language like 'work-life balance' (work does not equal death. I am still alive when I am at work). We need to repeat to ourselves 50 times: there is no such thing as chemical-free; there is no such thing as chemical-free; there is no such thing as chemical-free...

Let's be logical out there.


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