Reader Questions – Baking Soda and Vinegar vs. Greywater

Once a month I’ll be answering your questions! Ask them in an email (if you want to be anonymous just say so) or just leave a comment – I’ll find them and answer them the best I can.

So here is one I found in our comments that I haven’t had a chance to answer…until now.

From Pamina:
…we are trying to do the bathtub to garden water thing, so have been leary of the baking soda & vinegar shampoo. It seems like that wouldn’t be good for the garden, no? Right now we use the oasis bio compatible soaps, but would love to switch to something more simple. 

I would think baking soda and vinegar would be fine in the garden. Did you ever do that experiment in elementary school with the volcano? You mixed vinegar and baking soda together and it bubbled out like lava. This reaction between vinegar and baking soda  creates CO2 (the bubbles), pure water, and a very dilute solution of sodium acetate. Since you’re already using a diluted amount of both baking soda and vinegar in relation to the amount of water you’re using in the shower the amount of sodium acetate would be negligible.

I did find this information regarding an alternative deicer that utilizes Sodium acetate:

The environmental impacts of Ice Shear™, an alternative highway deicer, have been evaluated using standard laboratory tests; biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) tests, chemical oxygen demand (COD) tests, acute rainbow trout bioassays, and phytotoxicity tests were used. Ice Shear consists of equimolar sodium acetate and sodium formate. The organic matter of the deicer can be readily degraded microbiologically in the natural environment with a slow rate of degradation at lower temperatures but an increased rate at higher temperatures. At elevated temperatures, highway runoffs of the deicer may reduce the level of dissolved oxygen in the receiving waters to cause an adverse impact. However, the apparent activation energy calculated for the BOD rate of Ice Shear is low (8.78 kcal mole−1), indicating that the temperature variation may not significantly influence the biodegradation of the deicer compound. Ice Shear appears relatively harmless to aquatic animals, showing a high 96-h LC50 value (16.1 g/L) derived for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Ice Shear causes minimal toxicity to representative roadside vegetation; herbaceous (e.g., sunflowers, beans, and lettuce) and woody (e.g., pine seedlings) plants. Rather, the deicer at low concentrations (less than 2 g/kg soil) seems to work as a fertilizer, promoting the yield of biomass. The test results indicate that Ice Shear poses minimal environmental disturbance in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

So, in my opinion, the baking soda and vinegar should be a-ok for using.