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Vinegar: A Versatile Zero Waste helper

Vinegar is a versatile Zero Waste helper found in most households. The effectiveness and the multi-functionality of this product can help us to reduce our use of toxic products and certainly reduce the number of single function products we bring into our home.

Vinegar has mainly been used for cooking and pickling.

Vinegar is a liquid consisting of about 5- 20% acetic acid, water, and flavouring.  Vin aigre, meaning sour wine, points to the origins of this product; the discovery that a cask of wine gone past its time had turned to a wonderful new product. Through the centuries vinegar has been produced from many other materials including molasses, dates, sorghum, fruits, berries, melons, coconut, honey, beer, maple syrup, potatoes, beets, malt, grains and whey. But the principle remains unchanged – fermentation of natural sugars to alcohol and then secondary fermentation to vinegar.

The shelf life of vinegar is almost indefinite because the acidic nature acts to self-preserve. Vinegar needs no refrigeration.

It is the acidic nature of vinegar that makes it such a magically versatile product.

Throughout history vinegar has had many uses. Roman legionnaires drank it, Cleopatra dissolved pearls in vinegar to win a wager that she could consume a fortune in a single meal, Hannibal crossing the Alps used vinegar with boiling water to break up boulders that blocked his route, during the American Civil War vinegar was used to treat scurvy and in World War 1 it was used to treat wounds.

Vinegar also has an incredible number of uses today from being the most effective treatment of Box Jellyfish stings by inactivating tentacles and the stinging cells that have been discharged but are left on the skin to making our pickles tart and safe to eat.

What Can You Do With Vinegar?

Renew paint brushes. To remove old paint, place brushes in a pot with vinegar. Soak for an hour, then turn on the stove and bring the vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

Wipe off a dirty faucet. To get rid of lime buildup, make a paste of 1 teaspoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt. Apply to sink fixtures and rub with a cloth.

Get Rid of Ants. To repel ants, mix equal amounts of water and vinegar (either white or apple cider) and spray the solution on the ant hills in your garden. In the home, look out for ant’s entry paths, counter tops, sink, and windows. The strong scent of vinegar will make the ants avoid the places sprayed with vinegar.

Feed acid-loving plants. You can give a quick acid boost to your rhododendrons, azaleas, and gardenias with vinegar. Mix cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water and water you acid loving plants with this solution.

Remove lint and pet hair. Just 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle, will help prevent lint and pet hair from clinging to clothes.

Treat a carpet stain. Make a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and ¼ cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the stain and let dry. Vacuum the residue the next day. (Always test an out-of-sight part of the carpet first.)

Tidy the toilet bowl. Pour a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar into the bowl. Let sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with a toilet brush and flush.

Stop itching. Dab a cotton ball soaked in white vinegar on mosquito bites and insect stings. It will stop them from itching and help disinfect the area so they heal faster.

Refresh leather shoes and handbags. Wipe white distilled vinegar on scuffed leather bags and shoes. It will restore their shine and help hide the marks.

Kill weeds. Pour white distilled vinegar on the weeds growing in the cracks of your walkway and driveway. Saturate the plant so the vinegar reaches the roots.

Keep cheese from getting mold. Wrap cheese in a vinegar-soaked cloth, then place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

De-ice car windows. Prevent car windows from frosting by coating them with a solution of three parts white distilled vinegar to one part water. The acidity hinders ice, so you won’t have to wake up early to scrape off your car.

Whiten teeth. Brush your teeth once a week with white distilled vinegar. Dip your toothbrush into the vinegar and brush thoroughly. It will also prevent bad breath.

Unclog drains. Pour one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white vinegar, down the drain. Let the products bubble and foam, then flush the pipes with a pot of boiling water.

Remove stickers. Instead of trying to scratch off stickers and price tags , apply vinegar to the gunk, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the glue away.

Erase crayon. If your kids get crayon marks on the walls or floor, dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and gently scrub. The vinegar breaks down the wax, making for an inexpensive, nontoxic way to clean up after children.

There are many more uses for vinegar in the home from removing odours, disinfecting, cutting through grease and grime and even removing rust.

Having a bottle of distilled white vinegar in your cupboard can reduce the need for other products that create waste and are harmful to the environment.

Put vinegar on your Zero Waste helpers list.