Soda is a common household product that most Americans drink. While it is widely known as a beverage, soda made with baking soda can be effective for unclogging drains. This seems counterintuitive because traditional cleaners are designed to create a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria and fungi in the drain, and soda is acidic.

While this type of noxious solution might seem like an option for quick drainage relief, there are healthier alternatives that will be more effective in the long run. Here are the pros and cons to consider when using Soda vs Baking Soda to unclog your drains:

Discover which methods really work best in this article!

What is Soda?

Soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, which is an alkaline that neutralizes acids. The chemical formula for baking soda is NaHCO3.

Acids are what clog your drains and pipes because they react with minerals in the water such as iron. Acids will dissolve the minerals slowly, allowing sediments to accumulate in the drain or pipe. In order to replace those minerals, people may use drain cleaners with lye or caustic soda at high concentrations that can be harmful to your health if accidentally ingested.

Baking Soda vs Soda

The chemical formula for baking soda is C6H11 NaOH. When combined with water, baking soda is a weak base and a strong acid. Because of these properties, it can be used in recipes that call for two separate ingredients to make a single acidic solution.

However, if you don’t want to use baking soda in your everyday life, you can simply choose to use the alternative option: Soda. Soda is made by combining sodium bicarbonate with an alkali such as sodium hydroxide (lye). The resulting chemical formula is NaHCO3 + NaOH = H2CO3 + NaCl .

How to Use Soda

  1. Using baking soda for your drains requires you to balance the acidity of your drain water by adding a base. For example, if you only have one cup of baking soda and half a cup of tap water, then the pH level will be 7.4 (neutral). In this case, you would create an alkaline solution by adding another two cups of water and one tbsp of vinegar to the previous solution (2:1 ratio) making it 1:1 ratio of acid and alkaline. After waiting 15 minutes, remove all residue buildup with a drain cleaner designed specifically for clogs such as Drano or Magic.
  2. To use Soda with your drains, you need to balance the pH level of the solution. For example, if you only have one cup of soda and half a cup of tap water, then the pH level will be 7.4 (neutral). If you want a more acidic solution with low sodium content without damaging your pipes or drains, then add half a cup of vinegar to the soda in order to create an alkaline solution. After waiting 15 minutes, remove all residue buildup with a drain cleaner designed specifically for clogs such as Drano or Magic.
  3. The key to using soda with your drains is having the correct ratio of acid and alkaline ingredients. So if you want to use either big bowl or small bowl, then wait 15 minutes for the pH level to create a neutral solution. Then use Drano or Magic garbage disposals to remove any residue buildup in the drain and pipes.

How Does Soda Work?

Sodium bicarbonate creates a weak base when combined with water, but this isn’t so useful for unclogging your drains because baking soda is just as acidic as tap water. The question isn’t why it works; now we know that it does work! The only issue is balancing the pH level between acids and bases.

According to the American Chemical Society, sodium bicarbonate is a weak base because it has a pH level of between 8 and 9. It is this pH level that makes baking soda effective as an inexpensive drain cleaner. The easy way to think about this is to think about your blood. If we increase the pH level (more acidic) with acetone, we are able to dissolve red blood cells and create more plasma (blood). But if we do the same thing with baking soda, we will see no change in our blood. Why? Because the acidity of soda isn’t neutralized by water like it should be for human bodies.

Well, I went on quite a rabbit trail in this article, but I hope that I shed some light on why soda makes a good drain cleaner.

When you should avoid using Soda in your drains:

  1. If your home’s water is high in sodium, it would be best to stick with baking soda for the cleaner instead of using soda. Because if you use soda, it may create a layer of mineral deposits on your pipes and drains; but if you use baking soda, it won’t cause any problems with corrosion at all. So stick with baking soda for this reason! If you have high levels of chlorine in your water, then using baking soda should be fine.
  2. Another reason to stick with baking soda is that it doesn’t increase the risk of corrosion in household pipes. If you have galvanized or cast-iron pipes, then dissolving soda can cause corrosion. But if you have copper, plastic, or ceramic pipes, then baking soda will not cause any problems whatsoever!
  3. The final reason to avoid using soda is that it damages certain materials used by plumbers to fix your drains and pipes.

But there are some instances where soda may not be the best idea!