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Vinegar: the game changer in simpler, more natural living!

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Vinegar: the game changer in simpler, more natural living!
Most of us know vinegar for its use in cooking or on potato chips, but historically it has been one of the most versatile products in our homes. For centuries it has been used for everything from salad dressings to hair care and even as a natural cleaning product. Once you understand where it comes from and what it can do, that little bottle of liquid can unleash an entire treasure chest of ways to achieve a simpler, more natural way of living. Vinegar is the star of the show when it comes to natural living tips.

Natural Living Tips Using Vinegar

If you think you are not really a vinegar user you might be surprised when you realise what contains vinegar. Your mayo wouldn't tang without it, your salad dressings wouldn't have that dressing taste, your gerkhins and pickles wouldn't have the kick, your mustards, marinades and even tomato sauces all require vinegar. As a South Africa, it can't go without mention, that vinegar is also one of the main ingredients in our treasured biltong! Outside of the common foods, vinegars can also be used within a plethora of natural recipes around your home.

Natural recipes using vinegar:

  • Deodoriser
  • Fabric softener (Check out our previous post for our Natural Home fabric softener recipe)
  • Stain remover
  • Hair conditioner and detangler
  • Surface cleaner (Check out our previous post for the recipe for this amazing eco-friendly cleaner)
  • Floor cleaner
  • Glass, mirror and screen cleaner
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Shower & Bathroom Cleaner
  • Dishwasher rinse aid
  • Oven cleaner
  • Household disinfectant
  • Wart remover
  • Weed killer
  • Rust removal
  • Limescale removal
  • ....
The list can go on and on! Many of these recipes and applications would have been used by your grandparents and their parents. But not all vinegars are created equal, with over 20 different types of vinegars to choose from. When you are standing in your local grocery store staring at the vinegar aisle, the choice can be quite overwhelming. Different vinegars have different uses, but without doubt, your most common and versatile is white vinegar or white spirit vinegar.

Where does vinegar come from?

All your vinegars are produced through a series of steps to ferment sugars. The sugars can come from various different natural sources, from grapes to apples to rice or sugarcane, and will ultimately determine the type of vinegar you end up with. Different vinegars will differ in their flavour, colour and acidity level. Your most common vinegar is generally white spirit vinegar which is made from sugar cane. In South Africa, our white spirit vinegar is 100% locally produced.

What makes vinegar so amazing?

The acidity in white vinegar together with its clear colour, make it a pretty potent cleaning agent while still mild enough to not pose any significant risk in your home. The specific type of acid in vinegar is particularly good at dissolving mineral and fatty buildups or protein stains, which are generally your hard to treat household residues. It is also especially effective for pet stains on your carpets and furniture or degreasing and deodouriser your laundry or dishes. The acid also kills most of your household and food bacteria like e.coli, salmonella, and others. It is such an effective antibacterial that certain varieties are often used in factory food preparation and are a key ingredient in food preserving and canning.

But what about the smell?

Vinegar evaporates quicker than water, dissolving and taking its pungent fragrance, and any other odour, with it in minutes. If you can't stand to wait that long it is easy to make your own fragranced vinegar by adding in citrus peels, a bag of herbs, or a few drops of essential oils of your choice to your solution. Do not let the very temporary smell deter you - vinegar is natural cleaning magic in a bottle.

How is vinegar made?

Vinegar is a relatively simple product to produce. Your common white spirit vinegar, available in most of your retail stores, is just a solution of 95% water and 5% acetic acid. The acetic acid in your vinegar is produced by first fermenting sugar cane into ethanol (an alcohol), then fermenting the alcohol into acetic acid.

What you need to watch out for when buying vinegar

Each vinegar has different applications. Vinegar is an effective cleaning and antibacterial agent. The stronger the acetic acid inclusion in white vinegar the more effective the vinegar is. Ideally for your home cleaning, a 10% acetic acid vinegar, what we call Extra Strength Vinegar, is ideal. Extra Strength Vinegar works faster in removing stains and build-ups and kills 100% of your common household germs. It is still mild enough to be safe in your home and can be diluted back to 5% acetic acid level for cooking purposes. Because Extra Strength Vinegar is not generally sold in retail markets locally you can only get it in specialised health stores. If you are unable to find Extra Strength Vinegar the regular vinegar will still serve the majority of your needs.

Our personal experience with regular vinegar

I buy regular vinegar in bulk and use it daily for a huge number of different applications. It cleans almost everything in our home. We also use it as a fabric conditioner, stain remover and even as part of our hair care routine. And we don't just use it inside, we use it outside too. It is a constant in our garden: effectively killing weeds without damaging the soil. Vinegar replaces at least 10 commercially produced products we used to buy, is safer than your standard household cleaners and is a lot more environmentally friendly. It is the ultimate simplifying and natural living tool! Watch our blog of upcoming recipes using the magical power of vinegar! When we empower ourselves with knowledge about food there is no end to how much we can transform our life. Also a vinegar lover? Let us know what you favourite vinegar trick or application is in the comments.