While I don’t avoid using chemicals, I will try natural remedies — and if they work, I’ll switch to using the natural alternative. Unfortunately, I mostly learn about the natural options on the Internet, and we all know what that means. Most of my experiments end with me muttering, “Well, that was a waste.”

I can report with confidence that while vinegar will kill weeds between sidewalk squares, it really only kills the top growth. The roots will put up new shoots before long. If you want to really get rid of weeds, then you need to use something that kills systemically. However, both natural cork (wine bottles provide a renewable resource) soaked in isopropyl alcohol and corn chips make great firestarters when you are camping. Remember to bring kindling though because even the best firestarters won’t produce enough heat to get most logs started. Without a little kindling, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

A team at Penn State decided to test natural remedies as a safer option for cleaning milking systems on dairy farms. They looked at replacing alkaline and acid rinses used during the first three stages of the clean-in-place (CIP) process with electrolyzed oxidizing (EO) water.

As noted in a release from Penn State, EO water is the product of electrolyzed tap water combined with table salt, NaCl. In electrolysis, an electrical current passes through the liquid to break the water and salt into smaller components — a hydrogen ion and hydroxide ion for water and a sodium and chlorine ion for salt. Two electrodes placed in the water — one positive and one negative — separate the positively and negatively charged ions in the solution so the acid water is drained separately from the alkaline water. The combination of the chlorine and hydrogen ions produce hypochlorous acid in the acidic water with a pH of approximately 2.7, and the combination of hydroxide and sodium ions produce sodium hydroxide in the alkaline water, with a pH of approximately 11.5. These chemicals in each solution provide the cleaning and sanitizing properties, but the solutions consist mostly of water.

Using EO water was just as effective as the chemicals traditionally used, says Ali Demirci, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State.
The research team mathematically modeled each step in the process to study how much residue was removed during each of three cycles using both CIP methods. The analysis showed that the EO method could be 55 percent shorter than current methods. This results in a lower cost, mostly due to a decrease in the amount of cleaning fluid that would need to be heated thanks to the shorter cleaning process.

The researchers say the EO could be a sanitizing solution for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.