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Dissolving plant matter

  1. Apr 16, 2010 #1


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    Urgent: Need Advice/Suggestions

    Is there is any type of acid, etc. that would be able to completely dissolve a vegetable plant upon contact, or within say a matter of minutes?

    A client of my landscaping company wants to have a large container filled with a substance that she can throw her unwanted vegetable plants into and have them completely dissolve in the shortest amount of time possible, preferably on contact. Any advice, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2010 #2
    Concentrated sulfuric acid would probably work well. A "Piranha solution" composed of hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid is even better and will dissolve almost anything.

    Note: You need to be extremely careful with these types of solutions. Since they can dissolve the organic matter of plants, they can also dissolve your skin. Please take the necessary precautions and research the proper handling of these chemicals before attempting this.
  4. Apr 19, 2010 #3
    OBX, Don't listen!
    Cesium! YOU GOTTA BE JOKING!!!!
    While you were at it, why not chrome/sulphuric or sulphuric acid/permanganate and REALLY make a job of it?

    Nothing of that kind is suitable except for professional chemists or similarly appropriately trained professionals to work with! You want to leave a bucket of the like with folks who probably couldn't even find a suitable container? What about fume control and splashing? The very request is a giveaway; the woman hasn't a clue what she is asking, and would have no idea of the hazards or how to deal with emergencies. (What emergencies, were you going to ask??? If so, your own practical chemical expertise could do with a bit of dusting off.)

    And how the gyp is she to dispose of the residual crud once it stops working? Besides, chemical solution of such material would be really expensive and wasteful. And smelly too.

    The user requirement is characteristically unpractical; she would do far better with sealable plastic garbage bags, possibly sprinkled periodically with some dry lime, powdered clay, or cat litter. Or even consider a dedicated incinerator with an output filter if she insists on instant destruction. Cheaper, safer, cleaner than any reasonable alternative short of a composter or fermenter. :

    For a start, does anyone know why she wants it? Tidiness? Disease control? Aesthetics? Unless we know, we cannot give sound advice.

    Jon :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010
  5. Apr 19, 2010 #4
    Have to deal with heavy metal waste then. Also it's unlikely a nonchemist would have access to these materials.

    Concentrated sulfuric acid (98%) is sold in drain cleaners and is something that the general public does, in fact, deal with. One can carefully neutralize H2SO4 with bicarbonate to give harmless sodium sulfate. I'm not saying I'd do it or that one should do it, but he or she is asking a chemistry forum. Clearly, there's no 100% safe way to dissolve organic matter "upon contact."
  6. Apr 19, 2010 #5
    If the result of the effect of the H2SO4 is not complete oxidation as in a Kjeldahl, the resulting sludge is not likely to be much healthier than a manganese sludge. The Cr might be a bit worse of course.

    Point taken, but not with peroxide right? In my book that would count as a pretty sprightly cocktail.:bugeye:

    Well gee man! You could have mentioned that to the straight man (or woman) instead of idly remarking that it could be bad for the complexion or YMMV...

    So obx, you have been warned: cesium might not do it, I would only do it under exceptional circumstantial duress, and I suspect that in our cooler moments neither of us would enthusiastically recommend it to your friend!
    Particularly without knowing the reasoning behind the request, apart from a taste for pyrotechnics or an alkahest.

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