The pH level of a substance lets you know how acidic or basic it is. pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Substances over 7 are categorized as basic, with 7 being the neutral point. Water has a pH level of 7. Substances with pH levels under 7 are categorized as acidic.
Vinegar is acidic. Vinegar’s pH level varies based upon the type of vinegar it is. White distilled vinegar, the kind best suited for household cleaning, typically has a pH of around 2.5.
Vinegar, which means “sour wine” in French, can be made from anything containing sugar, such as fruit. Through a two-part fermentation process, yeast and bacteria are used to turn the sugar into ethanol (ethyl alcohol), which is then processed into acetic acid. It is the acetic acid content in vinegar that makes it acidic.
How to test the acidity of vinegar
Vinegar’s pH can easily be tested by using pH strips. pH strips are inexpensive to use and widely available for purchase. They’re designed to change color in response to a liquid’s pH level and come with a color chart you can use to compare the tested strip against.
Vinegar’s pH can change if additional ingredients are added to it. For example, if you dilute vinegar with water, its acidity lessens, making its pH level rise.
Why does the pH matter for household use?
Distilled white vinegar is an effective and chemical-free household cleaner. The acetic acid in vinegar kills many strains of bacteria on household surfaces and inhibits the growth of new bacteria and mold.
Vinegar is an all-natural cleaner.
Ethanol, which is produced during the fermentation process used to make vinegar, is an ingredient in many chemical-based cleaning products.
Compared to more acidic or basic cleaners, vinegar:
- isn’t dangerous if it gets on your skin
- is safe for use around children and pets
- leaves behind no residue
- leaves no telltale odor behind
The bottom line
Household vinegar is an effective natural cleaner that can be used on many surfaces. If you’re concerned about the pH of the vinegar in your house, use a pH testing kit. This helps prevent damaging surfaces with vinegar that is too acidic.
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