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On the Alchemy of Cleaning Toilets - David Cooke

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November 7th, 2011

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09:28 am - On the Alchemy of Cleaning Toilets
I've a simple approach, I stick to tried and trusted methods. A simple scale of escalation depending on the nature of the problem that broadly goes: bog brush, bleach, limescale remover then bleach, vim and elbow grease, and for really persistent problems vim and silver sand and elbow grease.

My partner, however, believes in all out chemical warfare. She is on a never ending quest for the strongest, most effective cleaning agent, particularly for limescale. This time she may have found it from Odell's in Stoney. This is a very old hardware store that still has lots of drawers behind the counter for the smaller wares. If you've the "fork handles" sketch in your head, you won't be far wrong.

The product in question was "Spirits of Salt" (and this is where those with an interest in the history of Chemistry will probably guess what's coming). The previous concoction if the bowl was flushed away, and good long squirt of this archaically named product applied to the rim and pan. It started to fume. While I'm appreciative of vigorous bubbling from a cleaning product, fuming is right out. Remove cats, open window, leave, closing door behind you.

Spirits of Salt is Hydrochloric Acid. Specifically here in .uk it tends to be around 30%, and needs to be treated with some care. That old saw about always add acid to water kinda assumes it is a large volume of water; a thin film on a toilet bowl doesn't cut it.

So spirits of salt has been determined to be a step too far in toilet bowl cleaning; use for blocked drains only.

The new challenge is how to remove what I can only assume is iron chloride "rust" from the stainless steel cabinet in the same room. I'm going with toothpaste and elbow grease...

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 7th, 2011 10:42 am (UTC)
I use oven cleaner on everything. That works wonders.
[User Picture]
Date:November 7th, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
For rust stains, dilute your 'spirits of salt' by adding a few ounces to the bowl water and brush as usual. Should do the trick nicely, many commercially-sold cleaners here in the States have HCL as their active ingredient.
[User Picture]
Date:November 7th, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Be sure you have some calcium carbonate around to absorb left over acid too, or you'll be eating up your pipes when you flush. And guess what a pipe costs to repair?
[User Picture]
Date:November 7th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
Here in .UK for the last 30 years the waste-pipes are plastic. . .

Must admit, I've used "Brick acid" [the generic construction-supplier term for HCL] on numerous occasions to strip limescale, unblock drains etc and never had any problems, even on the underground pipework of Scrotum Towers which was built in 1866.

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