White Vinegar is THE Greener Cleaner! NOPE Debate – You Have To Read This

I love a good debate :) When I stumbled upon this article through a friends FB page I instantly thought of CraftGossip and HAD to share this. In a nut shell Louisa- The Eco Mum has written an article in regards to white vinegar in which she claims to not be getting a response ( after 3 separate attempts ) to her questions to major vinegar distilleries in regards to how they process their vinegar. After uncovering a whole lot of half truths about white vinegar and the fact that it is not “Green” or “Safe” for use in the home or consumption, Louisa then goes on to explain that in some instances white vinegar is made in a lab under the known  name of food grade “Acetic Acid”  ……… Now I didn’t major in chemistry so I have no idea what to think about this debate, I did however check the 2 white vinegars I had in my pantry so I am confused as none of them had anything but “brewed from fermented spirit” on the labels. Below is an excerpt from her blog

“Well, my research obsessed Bloodhound’s nose sniffed around a bit on this one. I wanted to know how white vinegar was made so I could stop buying it in plastic containers & make my own. I was trying to do the right thing… honestly… but then…
… I uncovered a whole lot of half truthes about white vinegar and it appears that its FAR from being green. In fact, seems to be the whole process of creation to use is pretty UN-green.

Here’s why:

White vinegar, in some instances (most cheap stuff I’ve seen) is also known as food grade “acetic acid”. 

Full strength acetic acid is actually highly corrosive & the full on rubber gloves need to be worn when handling it in a lab. So its pretty full on stuff to be watering down and eating on our fish. 

White vinegar that is food grade acetic acid is generally made in a lab – as far as I can find out. Its not naturally occurring, doesn’t appear to be made in a distillery or brewery (like white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar unless it says “distilled” on the label). Looks to me like its made in a petrie dish…. … in a science lab. Not all countries in the world approve this – but USA, EU & Australia do. They think its ok for us to EAT synthetically created chemicals, apparently. Personally, I am not down with that – at all.”


Now I am not saying she is right, wrong or an “alarmist” as many others are saying. What I am saying is I found this debate very interesting and even though at times I was a tad confused I had the need to share  it with you all.


What do you think? Click HERE to read the full article and at time of this post being published the 95 comments


  1. says

    Fact 1: acetic acid made by synthesis is identical to acetic acid found naturally in vinegar. It’s the same molecule. There is no way of telling the two apart. There is quite a large number of molecules which are found in nature and can be chemically synthesised. If the molecule is truly nature-identical, I normally have no problems eating it (although not in this case, but that’s because I don’t like vinegar).

    Fact 2: the fact that full-strength acetic acid is corrosive is not relevant. We don’t eat full-strength acetic acid. Full-strength hydrochloric acid is even more corrosive, and yet hydrochloric acid – obviously in a concentration we can tolerate – is found naturally in our stomachs.

    Producing a molecule synthetically may or may not be greener than producing it naturally. It depends very much on the process. Natural production of vinegar generates a lot of carbon dioxide from fermentation, so it is not actually very green. I don’t know whether or not commercial synthesis is any greener; it depends, among other things, on what materials they start from and how much energy has to be used in the process.

    Incidentally, in this country there is a convenient labelling system so you know exactly what you are getting. Only naturally derived vinegar can be called vinegar. The synthetic version has to be described as “non-brewed condiment”. The US might do well to adopt that system.

  2. Michele H says

    Why the heck would you want to make your own vinegar in the first place?????
    Too much time on her hands?

  3. Heather says

    Actually, my husband and I found this out, while researching azidocarbonimide, which is an additive in tons of bread products (yeah, you don’t want to eat THAT stuff, either!) White vinegar can actually be made with petroleum by-products, and often is, as it’s cheaper to produce than the naturally fermented, distilled variety. Same goes for “apple cider vinegar”- read the labels carefully, because most of the mass-produced stuff is actually apple cider *flavored* white acetic acid, toned down to 4% acid strength by volume. This is not our grandma’s pickling vinegar, LOL! If you want the real stuff, look at natural food stores, or at least take a good hard at the labels.

  4. says

    As a chemist that still works in industry and tries to live a green life, including using white vinegar myself in cleaning products at home, I pulled out some research our company had to do to receive Green seal and Bio-preferred logos on our products. Yes it is true that white vinegar is basically a diluted food grade acetic acid. It mostly comes about as yeast to ferment the sugar into an ethanol (grain alcohol) and then the cheapest way to breakdown the ethanol into the acetic acid (vinegar) is by using a Acetobacterium (anaerobic, acetogenic bacterium from the tundra wetland soil of Polar Ural). the bacteria is considered green because it is a naturally occurring product. The yeast and sugar “should” be green as well unless the company is using something tricky. Just because it has scientific names to something does not make it un-safe, or not green. Science started off studying nature. Hope that helps.

  5. Klidell says

    My understanding is that, unless distilled like in winemaking, it is made from petroleum products like gasoline is. That is why it is best to read the lable and only buy distilled.

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