As a counselor, Tim has taught independent living skills (shopping, cooking, etc.) to his clients and students with disabilities.
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar is an acidic liquid which is primarily used in cooking today. Vinegar is also composed of flavors and water. Through the fermentation of ethanol by acidic bacteria, which includes “the mother of vinegar,” this substance is created. Vinegar has unique properties useful in other areas besides cooking as well. There are different types of vinegar, but they all have similar qualities. One such trait is the tart taste which varies from vinegar to vinegar. Below are some examples of different vinegars with short descriptions:
A Few Types of Vinegars
- Balsamic Vinegar – This vinegar comes from Italy; it has been popular since the colonial period in America. Usually aged for taste, it can be sweet and very expensive.
- Malt Vinegar – Made from barley, this vinegar is strong. This vinegar is great for cutting through fish oils and adding a powerful taste to dishes.
- Rice Vinegar – This vinegar has the lowest acidity of all the vinegars. It is frequently a part of Asian dishes. It comes from Japan.
A Brief History of Vinegar
Vinegar has been with mankind for a long-period of time. Its roots can be traced back to Egypt and Babylon. Evidence of vinegar can be found going back over two millennia in countries like China and Japan. The powerful liquid is mentioned just as much as wine in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Vinegar has been used by royalty and common folk alike throughout time.
The power of vinegar has been put to work during peace and war for mankind. The acidic substance was used to clean machines and armor. In many wars, vinegar helped to clean soldiers’ wounds. Doctors often prescribed vinegar for patients during the European Middle Ages to deal with infections. There are many types of vinegars, but they have the same underlying chemistry. (A picture of one type of vinegar is shown in the photo.) Here are some of the ways you can put the power of this substance to work for you today beyond cooking:
Ways to Unleash the Power of Vinegar
•Cleaning – Distilled white vinegar is a potent cleaning substance. This vinegar can be used to clean kitchen counters, stoves, and other appliances. This is especially helpful if industrial strength cleaners create problems for you.
•Pet Deodorizer – Vinegar will reduce or eliminate the odors of your favorite four-legged friend. Fill up a spray bottle and squirt it on your carpet (if the carpet is not sensitive to acidic liquids.) You may want to use it on furniture as well, if the coloring in the fabric permits it.
•Insect Protection – some insects avoid vinegar with all due haste. Spray some vinegar on your porch or around places in your yard. Vinegar tends to be safer and gentler than most insecticides. However, the protection does not last as long.
•Antiseptic – Vinegar kills some bacteria which are common. If it is safe for you, try vinegar when no other aid is available.
•Digestion Aid –Vinegar helps with indigestion. It helps the body break down food.
•Vinegar is helpful with melting ice during cold months. A mixture of vinegar and water can help clear icy surfaces. Vinegar lowers the freezing point of ice causing it to melt at a lower temperature.
•Condiment – Vinegar is great on cooked greens. Vinegar is used in salad dressings, too. Some people like vinegar on their meats; many barbecue sauces are made from vinegar.
A Plant Thriller and Weed Killer
Vinegar is a potent organic herbicide because of its acidic property, but the substance can also aid plant health and growth. Particularly, rhododendrons, gardenias, and hydrangeas benefit from the acidic quality of vinegar. These drought tolerant plants thrive on acid, and adding a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water will help to keep them vibrant. But depending on the soil composition at the time, vinegar may change the color of hydrangeas’ blooms. Nevertheless, vinegar’s overall impact when applied directly to soil is moderate with PH levels returning to normal in less than a week.
Yet, when combined with a few other ingredients, vinegar can reduce the amount of weeds in your yard without the application of manufactured chemicals. However, vinegar may also destroy microbes which are important to plant growth. For this reason, apply the solution I’ve provided for controlling weeds below carefully unless you wish for nothing to grow in a particular area. Indeed, I’ve used this specific mixture to control Autumn Clematis vines which were running amok in my yard. Here are the steps to bring out the power of vinegar in helping to control weeds:
Steps for Making Organic Herbicide from Vinegar
- First, you will need a half-gallon of white vinegar. Vinegar’s impact will be to increase the acidity of the soil. Most plants cannot grow in acidic soil.
- Next, add a cup of table salt to the vinegar. You will need to add a cup of salt to every half-gallon of vinegar you use. Salt reduces the ability of the plant’s roots to take up water from the soil, inhibiting growth.
- Now, combine with two table spoons of dishwashing detergent. (You may wish to use biodegradable soap.) The effect of the soap is to help the solution cling to the roots of the weeds, further limiting the plant’s ability to obtain water from the soil.
- Finally, stir well in a container. Now, pour the mixture throughout the problem areas of your lawn or garden. You may want to apply this solution as close as you can to the roots of the weeds for the best results, and you can reap the benefit for your yard or garden from the awesome power of vinegar.
All About Vinegars. Retrieved August 6, 2017 from: https://www.thespruce.com/all-about-vinegars-482408
Getting to know: vinegars. Retrieved August 6, 2017 from: https://www.cookscountry.com/how_tos/8320-getting-to-know-vinegars
Types of Vinegar - Types of Vinegar | HowStuffWorks. Retrieved August 6, 2017 from: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/how-vinegar-works1.htm
© 2017 Tim Truzy
Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 05, 2019:
This morning I visited the hydranea and gardenia bush in our yard. I poured a mixture of water and vinegar over them, and maybe we will have their continuing beauty for a bit longer. Thanks for reading.
Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on March 12, 2018:
Another interesting aspect of vinegar pertains to health and cleaning as well. When combined with rubbing alcohol, in about a 50 percent mixture, vinegar is great for helping to dry up ear wax. Also, the solution assists with killing fungus. However, consulting with a doctor is important because such a solution may pose problems.
I've try this mixture on occasion, and it does work well.
Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on September 18, 2017:
Good information to add. I always appreciate helpful tips. Thanks, Sonia. Vinegar does have useful medicinal properties.
Sonia Sylart from UK on September 18, 2017:
Again, thanks for this information about the many uses of vinegar - it prompted me to do a little research and I've found that apparently apple cider vinegar mixed with honey and warm water is excellent for easing joint pain. Well who would've guessed?
Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 22, 2017:
Always, my informative and intelligent friend. Keep writing your articles. I share them. People are really impressed with the ideas you present, especially related to the world of work. Thank you for your kind words.
Sonia Sylart from UK on August 21, 2017:
I knew that apple cider vinegar could be used for certain skin conditions but there are many uses on this page that I wasn't aware of so I thank you for sharing.
Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on August 19, 2017:
Thanks, John. I appreciate the positive feedback.
John Brotherton from United Kingdom on August 19, 2017:
Vinegar is my go to staples, for most of the exact same reasons featured in your article and more. I find that most people are put off from using it around the house due to the smell, but as those that use it know, that smell does not last long and in the end all you are left with is beautifully cleaned surfaces!