Vinegar is a popular condiment for food and a versatile cooking ingredient as well as a great household cleaner. But just how environmentally friendly is vinegar?
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar is a mixture of water and acetic acid in around a 95:5 ratio. The vinegary smell we’re all familiar with is acetic acid.
Acetic acid is produced by fermenting alcohol (ethanol) through the introduction of bacteria. Microorganisms eat this alcohol and produce vinegar. Vinegar can be made from any substance containing alcohol including beer, wine and spirits.
White vinegar is made from a spirit distilled from grain. Sugar is converted into alcohol, water is added and then fermented into vinegar. The carbohydrate used to make white vinegar is usually corn, rice, or sugar.
Malt vinegar is always made from malted barley.
Is Vinegar Biodegradable?
Yes, vinegar is biodegradable. In its pure form, it should contain only water and acetic acid, both of which are natural products.
Any synthetic additions to vinegar could reduce its biodegradable ability so always look for pure natural vinegar.
Is Vinegar Eco Friendly?
100% natural vinegar is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The problem is some cheap vinegars use petrochemical additives which are bad for the environment.
There is an FDA paper that was last updated in 1989 that suggests ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum products can be used to make vinegar. Their reasoning is that pure ethyl alcohol is chemically the same, whether produced naturally or synthetically.
The FDA does not require products to indicate the source of ethyl alcohol used for vinegar production.
Vinegar is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, biodegradable and suitable for human consumption and cleaning around the home. Be sure to only purchase natural vinegar which has a lower carbon footprint than synthetic alternatives.