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 Post subject: Another vinegar question
PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2003 6:23 pm 
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Location: Coppell, Texas
Will 5% vinegar kill weeds if used with orange oil and soap? Does anyone know where I can find 10% vinegar in the Coppell/Lewisville area?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2003 9:32 pm 
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Location: Garland, Texas
You might try the 5% and see what results you get. Since reading the responses here regarding the use of 10% vinegar as a weed killer, I began experimenting. My results to date have been less than sparkling. Using 20% vinegar in a 32 oz spray bottle with a "touch" of orange oil and a squirt of dish soap, spraying in the morning, I have crispy leaves by mid-afternoon. Diluting the above solution by 1/2 with water, spraying during the same time period, I have the edges of leaves brown at the same period in the afternoon. I had great hopes for the 10% solution as it would be more cost effective and a less caustic solution to handle. To date, I am less than impressed with the effectiveness of the lesser dilution. Your experience might prove more postive, however.

Good luck, and please don't forget to post your findings.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 9:52 am 
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Mr. Clean wrote:
You might try the 5% and see what results you get. Since reading the responses here regarding the use of 10% vinegar as a weed killer, I began experimenting. My results to date have been less than sparkling. Using 20% vinegar in a 32 oz spray bottle with a "touch" of orange oil and a squirt of dish soap, spraying in the morning, I have crispy leaves by mid-afternoon. Diluting the above solution by 1/2 with water, spraying during the same time period, I have the edges of leaves brown at the same period in the afternoon. I had great hopes for the 10% solution as it would be more cost effective and a less caustic solution to handle. To date, I am less than impressed with the effectiveness of the lesser dilution.


I'd be curious to see what resuts you would get from the 10% acetic mixture if you spray it in the full, hot sun, maybe between noon and 2. Maybe by "morning" you meant around 11. If you meant around 8 a.m., I don't believe that would be considered the optimal time to spray the acid.


Last edited by Enzyme11 on Mon Jun 02, 2003 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 10:16 am 
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Location: Garland, Texas
Enzyme11

I had hoped you would chime in on this post. My experiments were all conducted within the window of 9-11 am. The mornings were sunny and warm. When using 20% dilution during the same window, results were rather dramatic in comparison. Oddly enough, I have experienced better results using the 20% dilution on an overcast day, than I did with any of the 10% solutions.

I have thought that perhaps I could dilute the 20% vinegar with apple cider vinegar (5%). If this solution were to work, it would result in at least a minor cost savings.

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 9:28 pm 
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Mr. Clean wrote:
Enzyme11

I had hoped you would chime in on this post. My experiments were all conducted within the window of 9-11 am. The mornings were sunny and warm. When using 20% dilution during the same window, results were rather dramatic in comparison. Oddly enough, I have experienced better results using the 20% dilution on an overcast day, than I did with any of the 10% solutions.

I have thought that perhaps I could dilute the 20% vinegar with apple cider vinegar (5%). If this solution were to work, it would result in at least a minor cost savings.


Most of the vinegar/weed threads are general in nature, so maybe we can get a little more specific here. First, for the chemists on the board, we use the term "acid" loosely, but generally are thinking of Bronsted acids when we use the term. Second, how well/whether vinegar works to kill weeds in a particular situation "probably" depends on what kind of weeds they are and how old they are. In some field tests, straight vinegar (5% acetic acid) has been shown to work at least on young/tender shoots/sprouts. Generally speaking, it probably does not work as well on older plants, which may need a higher concentration of acid, but it seems like that varies some among different species also. (Disregard what I wrote earlier about the non-effeciveness of 5%; I was fixated on mature weeds. It apparently can be somewhat effective, depending on the situation. Adding soap and orange oil "should" make it more effective.)

In one study, I forget the species of weed involved (thistles maybe), a first application of ordinary kitchen vinegar killed the weed crown, but not the roots. It seems to me that, in a robust organic program, even that might be enough to allow competition to overcome the weeds. For the tough ones where root death was needed, I believe they used a 10 or 20% acetice acid. I gather that acetic acid kills the plant by disrupting the cell wall. RE: the comment about the effect on cloudy days makes me wonder if there might have been some entry through the stoma. That in turm makes me want to investigate a bit more about the time of day application aspect. I guess the theory behind applying it in the hot part of the day is to dessicate the ruptured cells and tissue as quickly as possible, but maybe there is more to it than that.

As for diluting 20% acetic acid with kitchen vinegar I would use water instead merely as a cost factor. I had a thought that, if you want to cut the 20% acetic acid with another kitchen-type acid, use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Then, I ran across at least one commercially available product that uses the acetic acid/lemon juice combination with a cactus juice surfactant (I "assume" the cactus juice is ~ the same as the yucca juice that was discussed in the foliar spray surfactant thread). As such, there may be something to adding lemon juice to dilute the 20% acetic acid. The thing is, I don't know how economical that would be. I know that if I had bottled lemon juice that I thought was too old to use for whatever I otherwise would use it for, I'd filter it and use it to clean or spray or use it in the compost pile rather than toss it. There probably is a fair amount to learn once we expand from straight acetic acid to other organic acids or mixtures, and I have a few ideas that I'd like to test.

If you mix acids, be careful. I limit this discussion to acetic acid, so don't go trying to use strong mineral acids in the same way we are discussing acetic acid. Acids are strong oxidants, and mixing strong acids with other acids, bases, solvents, or water can cause a dangerous boiling/explosion, depending on what is mixed. Also, general acid-base chemistry may affect what species can be mixed effectively. It is a good practice to wear eye protection and generally to protect against splashing on clothes or skin. Also, if you mix concentrated acids with water, always add the acid to the water, not the other way around. I would think that, in mixing 30%+ acetic acid with water or lemon juice, one would add the acetic acid to the other. There shouldn't be any problem with mixing lemon juice and 20% acetic. Acetic is not as reactive as the strong acids, but good practice applies regardless of the specie. If anyone reading this sprays the acid through a sprayer with metal parts, rinse/flush it well with water or with a mild baking soda solution right after using it.

I wrote on another forum about the relative unavailability of fruit or grain-sourced strong acetic acid, but I know that 12, 20, and 30% acetic acid derived from apples and/or grain are available. The federal "organic" standards have increased interest in those products, so the availability and cost may be changing. Because this board is or will be read by persons in various parts of the country or internationally, they may have access to products that aren't easily available in the Dirt Doctor's home area (and vice versa). I suppose I should say that, at least until recently, the higher molarity, typically available acetic acids were petro-based. Maybe the increasing interest in organic farming will change the economies of scale and pricing on the plant-based high molarity acetic acids.

There probably is a lot more to say about this topic, and there probably is a lot that I don't know about it. I usually don't worry about weeds very much, but I know some people get pretty excited about them.


Last edited by Enzyme11 on Sun Apr 18, 2004 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 10:27 pm 
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Location: Garland, Texas
Enzyme11

Thanks for your comments. Let me rephrase a question for your consideration and comment. Is there, in your opinion, anything to be gained (framed by the context of weed killing) by diluting by 50% the 20% vinegar with the 5% apple cider vinegar (not just standard white 5% vinegar)?

I don't worry too much about most weeds, but the noxious (IMO) weeds and growths like dallis grass, poison ivy, and Virginia Creeper raise my ire enough to break out the vinegar/orange oil/soap solution and have at 'em. :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2003 6:13 am 
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Mr. Clean wrote:
Enzyme11

Thanks for your comments. Let me rephrase a question for your consideration and comment. Is there, in your opinion, anything to be gained (framed by the context of weed killing) by diluting by 50% the 20% vinegar with the 5% apple cider vinegar (not just standard white 5% vinegar)?

I don't worry too much about most weeds, but the noxious (IMO) weeds and growths like dallis grass, poison ivy, and Virginia Creeper raise my ire enough to break out the vinegar/orange oil/soap solution and have at 'em. :lol:


Other than the fact that the cider vinegar is renewable (although the apples probably are not grown organically for the most part), I can't think of a weed-killing reason to choose it over the petro-white. I'd frame the hypothesis this way: If the final weed spray mix is acetic acid and nothing but acetic acid, it's less important. If the mix is acetic acid and other things like lemon juice, orange oil, and/or soap, then the question is whether the trace minerals in the cider vinegar react any with the other ingredients in the mix. I suppose there's an argument both ways, but I wouldn't expect any interreaction to be significant, if it exists at all.

The other consideration is the aftermath of the weed treatment. You probably will want something to grow where the weeds were, so I'd think that the trace minerals from the cider vinegar that reach the ground (could be very little if you spot spray or more if you drench or use a pump-up or trombone sprayer) would help in that process. I still think that the added cost from the 5% vinegar should go instead to lemon juice, reconsituted or otherwise (or citric acid crystals or maybe even grapefruit juice that's gone off) to add another acid species.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2003 9:39 am 
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Location: Garland, Texas
Enzyme11

As always, thank you for your thoughts and comments. The benefits, if any, provided by the trace elements in the apple cider vinegar when mixed with the stronger vinegar was the exact topic I was seeking to explore.

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