He has put Caustic soda into the drain

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by emanresu, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. emanresu

    emanresu New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Stanford-le-Hope, England
    OK, thought I start a fresh thread for this....

    A friend of mine (honestly!) has put some caustic soda down his shower drain, forgot about it (!!!) and now it has solidified and water isn't shifting it.

    Do you know what will dissolve it? I have sugested vinegar and advised him to beware of any fumes...

    Thanks for any help you can give.
  2. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    NaOH + HCl = NaCl + H2O

    But, It might be dangerous to do an acid - base reaction in your tub.

    So, it's probably best to just use a snake to bust it up and send it down the drain.

    PS: If you are crazy enough to pour Hydrochloric acid down the drain, at least have the fan going and windows open and have the tub partially filled with water.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  3. emanresu

    emanresu New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Stanford-le-Hope, England
    Thanks, I'll pass that on.

    Was my idea of vinegar any good (my Chemistry knowledge has been left behind in long past school days)? I was thinking of acid versus alkali.
  4. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Vinegar is acetic acid (CH3COOH) which also reacts with Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) to produce Sodium Acetate salt trihydrate (Ch3COONa 3H2O). This salt is much more hazardous than NaCl, but then again, Hydrochoric acid is much more dangerous than Vinegar.

    You'll have the same problem reacting away the NaOH as you are having trying to dissolve it in water. There is very little surface area to work with, since it has formed this hardened mass.

    Have you tried dissolving the NaOH in very hot water?

    I used to be a chemist once, and in my first year, I almost killed myself and everone else in the room trying to make a base bath. I poured several pounds of NaOH pellets into a plastic tub in the sink, turned on the hot water, and then walked away. Soon, a noxious cloud of caustic death began to form above the sink, and people began coughing and yelling. Someone had the good sense to carry the tub to a fume hood and evacuate the room.

    So, if you use hot water, make sure the windows are open.:eek:
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  5. emanresu

    emanresu New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Stanford-le-Hope, England
    Well, I heard tonight that he cleared it.

    He bought a bottle of Sulphuric Acid (sold as a outside drain cleaner) from an ironmonger or 'homeware' store. The first small drop didn't do much, maybe
    because it was diluted by the water sitting in the trap, so he poured some
    more in and just dodged out the way in time as it erupted out of the plughole!
    :eek:

    He says it smells a bit, but he was very impressed by the reaction.
  6. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    There is a damn good lesson here................
  7. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Was that the chemical reaction or the reaction of his family to the loud explosion and fire?

    Seriously, though, if anyone else wants to perform an acid-base reaction in their drainpipe, at least where rubber gloves, goggles, and a respirator, have plenty of ventilation, and use a greatly diluted acid. That will slow down the reaction and prevent deadly projectiles from being shot out of the drain.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    He is very lucky he doesn't have any burns and can still see.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    acid + alkali

    And breathe.
  10. caustic soda

    Caistoc soda is pretty mean stuff

    then you add some acid to the mix.....

    probably stunk up the house real good....


    does he still have a shower trap ???


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Drain Cleaning Can I put solid caustic soda into the drain directly?? Dec 23, 2005

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