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Vinegar as a method for water disinfection: report on the effectiveness of vinegar, lemon juice, and mixtures of vinegar, lemon juice & household bleach as a water disinfectant against various pathogens including Salmonella, Polio virus, and Giardia cystts. Included are research citatations and abstract excerpts commenting on the effectiveness of vinegar as a cleaner and a disinfectant.
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Effectiveness of Vinegar as a Water Sterilizer
Experts present ample research evidence that vinegar in some applications is a reliable sterilizer for some but not all pathogens (Olsen 1994). Certainly acids or these food-acids (vinegar, lemon juice) are effective against some common pathogens found on foods: Sengun (2004) found that mixing lemon juice and vinegar was effective at removing Salmonella after a 30 minute soak.
Before we get over-excited about vinegar it's worth noting that research shows that other acids, even lemon juice, may be more effective in disinfecting the same pathogens that vinegar can address and that niether of these approaches addresses all of the common pathogens that may be present in water.
Cyst-like organisms however can be resistant to this disinfectant approach. For example vinegar does not appear in the documents we have reviewed on water purification for Giardia.
Nevertheless a reader (at REFERENCES) has written to InspectApedia that
Escudero (1999) emphasized (as do most experts) that
We have not obtained information about the necessary concentration nor contact time when using vinegar for a vegetable disinfectant wash to handle all of the common pathogens including bacteria and cysts that are found on food and in many unreliable water supplies that may be used to wash food.
Other current disinfectants for drinking water include ozone, chlorine dioxide, iodine, mixed oxidants electrochemically generated from brine, and halogenated resins. Ozone has been successfully used for water purification but with high contact times. - Lazarova (1999) But ozone-water-purifier products used as a vegetable wash were not impressive in their performacne.
The best procedures for washing fruits and vegetables are found at VEGETABLE DISINFECTION along with supporting research.
Reader Comment: effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant for Giardia cysts in drinking water
I am the person who wrote about Dr. Amin not knowing the concentration of peroxide to kill Giardia Cysts.
I do use pure vinegar to sterilze vegetables as it is highly acidic and breaks down the cysts. You cannot add vinegar to water to sterilyze water. The dilution would not be strong enough but the pure vinegar works to soak hard eggies like onions, cucumbers, peppers, etc. I put them in a large bowl with vinegar, cover with a plastic bowl lid that is smaller than the bowl so that I can put some weight on it and weigh it down and I soak the veggies for 25 minutes. Then I remove the veggies and wash off the vinegar with sterile water.
I battle an immune disorder, called "CVID" and this method has worked for me and over the 20 years that I have been doing this, I have never reinfected with Giardia or any other parasite. I keep the vinegar standing in the bowl, covered with the right sized cover when not in use. and I use it a number of times before replenishing it.
I am the same person who had spoken to Dr. Amin about this. You may contact him yourself to verify the information. - G.B. 5/24/2013
Reply: Giardiacidal activity of lemon juice, vinifer & vinegar on viable Giardia intestinalis cysts
We prefer to stick to information and disinfection solutions supported by authoritative, expert, unbiased research from appropriate experts. Consumer experience is important to factor into such information but cannot substitute for it. In this case thanks to G.B. we can cite two articles offering details that may not have been available when Dr. Amin offered the opinion described above:
The effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant has been widely studied.
Watch out: One thing experts cite is the importance of temperature in the disinfection procedure (see my second citataion below).
A second useful citation on the effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant that can treat giardia is:
What does this mean to a normal reader wanting to disinfect drinking water or use vinegar (or vinegar and lemon juice) as a vegetable wash?
Research on the Effectiveness & Safety of Vinegar as a Disinfectant
Continue reading at WATER DISINFECTION LIMITATIONS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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