Is Drain Cleaner An Acid Or A Base? – All That You Want to Know

Nowadays, it seems like any household problem has specific products or chemicals to solve it, even the stubborn, annoying clogs happen in your pipes.

However, there’s a bit of a debate on these drain cleaners. The biggest confusion must be: is drain cleaner an acid or a base? Want to find out more? Scroll down!


Is Drain Cleaner An Acid Or A Base?

Theoretically, drain cleaner could be anything from an acid to a base. The way to tell if it’s acid or base is to know the drain cleaners’ pH level.

PH refers to the ‘potential of hydrogen’ or ‘power of hydrogen’ as 7 is the neutral pH scale point.

  • When pH ranges from 0 to 7, it’s acidic properties, as 0 is considered the strongest of all.
  • The pH level of above 7 to 14 is considered the base. The higher the pH level is, the more basic the substance is.

The difference between an acid drain cleaner and a base drain cleaner lies in the chemical compounds. While Acidic Drain Cleaner usually contained Sulphuric acid or Hydrochloric acid, the base Drain Cleaner often comes with Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hypochlorite, or Sodium Bicarbonate. 

Which One Is Better – A Base Or An Acid?

The old school types of drain cleaners were mostly acidic. Low pH level usually comes with an active ingredient like sulfuric acid.

This intense acid would dissolve most messy drain clogs, including hair, plant matter, fats, and fibers. Acid drain cleaner could also pull water from absorbent materials in the clog, like tissue paper or foodstuff.

On the other hand, base drain cleaners are among the most alkaline substances ever, with some products even score a full 14 point on the pH scale. This chemical is even more powerful than bleach, which should ring a bell on how dangerous it could be.

Despite the strength, these drain cleaners are not effective all the time. 

For instance, base cleaner technically can not work effectively without getting direct contact with the clog. To some clogs like toilet clogs, there’s no way to apply the cleaner directly on the clog. 

In this case, on the way to reach the clog, drain cleaners will first hit the materials that are stuck on the side. These materials will flow down and make the whole thing worse.

Warnings And Tips

Safety First

The acidity of sulfuric acid in drain cleaners not only causes serious irritation to your eyes if in close contact, to your skin if touched, to lungs if inhaled the fumes. These injuries could be permanent. 

Not only that, all types of drain cleaners may be deadly if swallowed, especially to children who get a hold of them. Creating explosions, when combined with other household products, can also happen. 

All together makes drain cleaners so far one of the least safe products you can buy for your home.

If you handle the clogs yourself, always use protective gear like rubber gloves, face mask, safety glasses. These preparations are the least you can do to protect yourself. 

Find Out Why Your Drain Clogged First Before Using Any Drain Cleaner

There are so many possibilities for drain-clogging such as hair, tree root, other plant matters, dirt, or even excessive tissue papers, diapers, food wastes, fats, oil mixed with grease, tea bags, and the scum of soap, or even plastics. Cheap pipes could be the reason, too.

We strongly suggest you first locate the blockage, then try to fix it most naturally with an old clothes hanger or a pipe straw, or a pipe clipper. 

There are two reasons for this. Number one, to minimize the danger you might have when contacting chemicals. Another reason is the reaction between drain cleaner and water causes heat. This heat can damage the pipes and cause them to deform and weaken, affect sealants, create more leaks, and need more re-pipes.

Pay Attention To The Septic System

Another thing drain cleaners can damage is the septic system. Because when it flows into the septic tank through the water supply, good enzymes and bacteria that help break down the septic tank’s waste would be killed. Once the balance of this environment is broken, your septic system will no longer work the same.

If you have a septic system running underneath your home, be aware.


Back to our main debate: is drain cleaner an acid or a base? 

Well, it could be an acid or a base; as long as the product meets your needs, it’s the one to go for.

We hope this article has brought you a better look at this whole drain cleaner thing-y. Thank you for reading. And we’ll see you next time!

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