Is Drain Cleaner Acidic Or Basic?

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If you don’t know what the pH level of your drain cleaner is, it could be a serious problem

A drain cleaner may be acidic or basic, depending on the cause of the clogging. The acidic type helps to break down grease, hair and dissolve tissue paper in pipes. But the basic drain cleaner is effective in opening clogs by releasing electrons that react with the wastes to clear the clog.

Does Drain Cleaner Contain Acid?

Acids are corrosive and can quickly neutralize bases and dissolve tissues that may be blocking the drain. So, the type of cleaner you buy and the amount of acid content in each of the cleaners may contain varying pH values depending on the job at hand.

You can use the cleaners to clean sewer pipes, drains, sinks, and plumbing fixtures. The pH of each cleaner determines where to use the cleaner to solve the special problem at hand.

Typically, the pH scale ranges from 0-14. Anything below 7 is acidic, while substances whose level is zero are most acidic. The pH of 7 is neutral, while anything above 7 is basic.

So, a drain cleaner will either be acidic or basic. You can categorize them as chemical or Enzymatic. The enzymatic type contains enzymes and bacteria that degrade organic waste to keep the drain clean. They are eco-friendly and safe to use at home. But these cleaners are slow in dissolving clogs and may not be the best for opening clogged drains.

The chemical type is fast and effective in unclogging drains. The acidic type contains either sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. While the basic type contains oxidizers such as sodium hydroxide, caustic soda, or even lye.

Acidic drain cleaners majorly contain acid as their active ingredient. They have a low PH level and contain acids such as sulfuric and hydrochloric, which are strong but will easily dissolve stubborn drain clog and grease, tissue paper, and even hair. If the drain cleaner contains sulfuric acid, it can be harmful, so you need to handle it with care.

Note that the acidic drain emits fumes which, if inhaled, can irritate the lungs. Also, if you touch them, you can irritate your skin.

Therefore, avoid using powerful acidic drain cleaners because they can easily damage your pipes and wash the protective sealants and coatings. With time, this can lead to leaks.

Is Drain Cleaner An Acid, Base, Or Neutral?

A drain cleaner can either be basic or acidic. The strength depends on the job at hand. The commercial type can either be extremely acidic or basic. It may be neutral if you plan to use it to unclog substances that are either acidic or basic.

But when buying drain cleaners, be wary of advertisers that claim that their products are 100 percent effective. Some of them may not help you remove the stubborn clog.

Note that the acidic cleaner removes the excess moisture to shrink the clog. Also, very strong caustic drain removers may do more damage than good. They are likely to explode when they get in contact with water and damage pipes. Also, there are cases where they wear away protective sealants and coatings.

In some cases, the drain cleaners are basic. They contain sodium hydroxide, which dissolves hair and grease easily. Also, some alkaline drain cleaners contain potassium hydroxide and come in either solid or liquid form. The sold alkaline cleaners consist of caustic substances with additives like the alkyl aryl sulfonates.

The solid caustic drain cleaner contains aluminum that re-oxidizes and breaks down oxides, oils, and greases into hydrogen gas to help clear clogs.

Typically, naturally, substances such as fats, oils, and hair are the main causes of clogging. So, they can get broken down via a saponification reaction of the triglycerol and a base.

Also, when lye dissolves in water, it releases hydroxide ions which further attacks the fats carbons ions. It helps to isolate fatty acids and glycerols.

Why Are Acids Not Used In Drain Cleaners?

You can not use acidic drain cleaners because of a variety of reasons. Firstly, they are not effective and may take a longer time before you get the desired results. Also, they cannot remove most of the obstructions in sewer drains.

Also, acid cleaners containing sulfuric acid are likely to react with aluminum oxide in pipes and ruin them. Furthermore, the chemical is harmful and can injure the eyes or even lungs when inhaling the fumes. The acid is also corrosive.

Therefore, touching it is likely to irritate or cause injuries to the skin. Also, acid can damage fiberglass, aluminum, and wood paint. Therefore, ensure to use chemical drain cleaners according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Acidic drain cleaners are hazardous. They cause dangerous reactions and can damage household products. They can also react with other chemicals and result in injuries.

Lastly, when water washes, the acid is down the drain, contributing to pollution. Also, the reaction generates heat which softens PVC pipes. Besides, it results in pressure build-up that makes the older pipes burst, resulting in a costly repair.

Why Is Drain Cleaner So Basic?

Most drain cleaners contain substances like caustic potash and lye, which donate electrons to the clogging substance. They contain hydroxide ions which react with the wastes to clear the clog. The materials make organic substances get oxidized when they lose electrons.

Drain cleaners with strong bases feature lye as one of the bases. It is a sodium hydroxide solution, or it may feature potassium hydroxide, which is another strong base.

What Is The Ph Of The Drain Cleaner?

A drain cleaner refers to any chemical that breaks down organic materials to prevent the lavatory or kitchen from getting clogged and clogged. It breaks down grime, muck, and any other particle trapped in pipes to open them up.

The drain cleaner may be acidic or basic. Its pH ranges from 0-14, with zero being the strongest acid while 14 represents the weakest base. Choosing the correct cleaner is vital and determines the final results you get.

The basic cleaners with a pH of 8 are considered strong and can open the most stubborn clogs. Such a cleaner is strong and may require that you hire a professional if you do not know how to administer them.

Caustic drain cleaners are basic and contain substances such as caustic potash and lye. They are the two substances that work as hydroxide ions that release electrons to help unclog the drains.

The cleaner can turn grease into soap by simply heating them to dissolve and unclog the drain. The drains are normally heavier than water, so they are likely to reach any clogged particle even when poured in stagnant water.

Basic drain cleaners cause organic materials to get oxidized and permit stagnant water, and even water held up in pipes to dissolve any solid that causes clogging.

It does this by oxidizing the drain. It also releases gas which further raises temperature that heats up and clear blockage. Basic cleaners contain hydronium ions that draw electronics from substances to hasten the unclogging process.


The acidic cleaners are the most preferred because they are more effective than other types of drain cleaners. But they can be harmful and so you need to be cautious and establish their pH value before you use them.

But determining the pH value of the drain to buy may not be easy. Most vendors sell the cleaners without specifying the pH value.

So, the best thing you can do is buy the available cleaner and pour it into the drain. Depending on the pH value, the hydronium ion will react with the material that may be clocking your drain and generate enough heat to melt the muck, grease, or any other substance clogging your drain.