Chemical drain cleaner
Chemical drain cleaners can be in solid or liquid form that are readily available through hardware stores, though some (primarily acidic ones) are intended for use by licensed plumbers.1
Alkaline drain openers
Bottles of alkaline drain cleaners containing sodium hydroxide can dissolve greases and hair.
Alkaline drain openers primarily contain sodium hydroxide and some may contain potassium hydroxide. They may appear in liquid or solid form.
Liquid formulations of corrosive alkaline drain cleaners can contain sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide) in concentrations up to 50 percent. Other corrosive mixtures come as two-part cleaners that are mixed as they are poured in the drain opening. Inside the drain the two solutions react to release a gas, and surfactants trap the gas as dense foam. The intent of this foaming action is to coat the inside of the drain pipe to dislodge more of the substances that form the clog.
Solid formulations of corrosive alkaline drain cleaners in the form of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide granules can provide more concentrated effective ingredients. Some patented, solid-formula cleaners add aluminum turnings that react with the solid hydroxide in water to heat the caustic mixture to a boil.
Alkaline drain openers can dissolve hair (containing proteins) and fats inside pipes via alkaline hydrolysis of amide and ester respectively:
RCONH2(amide or proteins)+ OH? ? NH3 + RCOO?
RCO2R?(ester or fats)+ OH? ? R'OH + RCOO?
Abou drain cleaner
A drain cleaner is a chemical-based consumer product that unblocks sewer pipes or helps to prevent the occurrence of clogged drains. The term may also refer to the individual who uses performs the activity with chemical drain cleaners or devices known as plumber's snake. Drain cleaners can be classified in two categories: chemical, or device.
If a single sink, toilet, or tub or shower drain is clogged the first choice is normally a drain cleaner that can remove soft obstructions such as hair and grease clogs that can accumulate close to interior drain openings. Chemical drain cleaners, plungers, handheld drain augers, air burst drain cleaners, and home remedy drain cleaners are intended for this purpose.
If more than one plumbing fixture is clogged the first choice is normally a drain cleaner that can remove soft or hard obstructions along the entire length of the drain, from the drain opening through the main sewer drain to the lateral piping outside the building. Electric drain cleaners and sewer jetters are intended for this purpose.
Each type of drain cleaner has advantages, disadvantages, and safety considerations as described below.
Home remedy drain cleaners include boiling water poured into drain openings to clear soap and hair clogs; or, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) poured into a drain, followed by vinegar.7
Advantages of home remedy drain cleaners include ready availability and environmental safety, though they are limited in effectiveness compared to other drain cleaners.
Safety considerations for home remedy drain cleaners include the requirement to handle ingredients (for example, boiling water) with the appropriate care.