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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 reader opinions and more solid research citatations and abstract excerpts commenting on the effectiveness of vinegar as a cleaner and a disinfectant. We include specific warnings about claims of the ability of vinegar to kill parasitic cysts found in some drinking water supplies.
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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.
Watch out: 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 Comments: effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant for Giardia cysts in drinking water
Vinegar as a vegetable wash:
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:
Watch out: The effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant has been widely studied. Vinegar treatments cannot be easily relied-upon to adequately disinfect all of the kinds of pathogens that may be in drinking water, particularly parasitic cysts One thing experts cite is the importance of temperature in the disinfection procedure (see my second and third citataions below).
A second useful citation on the effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant that can treat giardia is:
A 2011 reference by Costa AO et als includes additional warnings about using vinegar to treat water infected byu Giardia cysts whose abstract is quoted here:
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?
Vinegar washes can be useful as general cleaners and mild disinfectants but you should rely on vinegar to assure the safety of water or foods that may be infected with parasitic cysts.
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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