Does vinegar attack gum?
In most of the instructions, vinegar damages gaskets. But does the acid really attack gum or is this a myth?
How vinegar works on rubber
Genuine rubber, made from natural rubber, loses its elasticity over time. A mixture of acetic acid and alcohol regenerates it. Experts use them to make the paper transport rollers in copiers and printers usable again. In the past, many people repaired defective bicycle valves with vinegar essence.
The fact is that 38 percent acetic acid increases the elasticity of the rubber and makes it swell. He loses his strength. In this strength, the acid is used neither in cleaning agents nor during descaling. Pure vinegar essence has a concentration of 20 to 25 percent, household vinegar about three percent and in cleaners it is even lower. No one removes deposits of highly concentrated acetic acid in the household.
The usual descaling mixture consists of one part of vinegar and one part of water, so it only has a thickness of 1.5 percent. Rubber is therefore not in danger.
The acid attacks seals
In most household appliances, seals are not made of natural rubber but of soft plastic or silicone. With these substances the risk is great that vinegar attacks them.
Plastic becomes elastic through chemical additions, the softeners. Which chemicals are exactly that, is different. Some of them are decomposed by vinegar.
For silicone, acetic acid is low in concentration to dissolve it. Presumably, everyone knows the penetranten vinegar smell during the curing of grout. Chemically, the substance splits off acetic acid. If the hardened material is wetted with vinegar, the reaction proceeds at least to a small extent in the opposite direction.
Since the consumer does not know what kind of gaskets are used in coffee machines, it is safer to descale with citric acid. This dissolves lime, but never softeners, silicone or rubber.
Vinegar can be used to descale perlator taps on faucets, but it is better not to place the gaskets in the solution.
Cleaning with acid cleaners of any kind is harmful to the grout and some types of rock, such as marble. In this context, the type of acid does not matter.
Vinegar in the usual household concentration of three percent certainly attacks no gum, the essence is usually too weak. Seals as silicone or soft plastic can be damaged.