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Right Practice?

  1. Sep 15, 2004 #1
    [SOLVED] Right Practice?

    Maybe I'm just trying to massage my damaged ego, but here goes.

    I work in a reataurant, at night, cleaning the kitchen. I should tell you that I have already given up on saving the world, so nobody needs send me any diatribes about why fat ugly Americans are the smartest, happiest, best thing going. I heard that already, and I see you in your SUV's and RV's pretty much every day, so don't worry about it. I pity you but that's another question.

    Ok, thing is, I use a lot of powerful chemicals in my work. I try to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as I can, but I am only one little guy and I can't do it all. Still, I'd prefer to think, come the end of you gas guzzling dinosaurs, that I did try to do something.

    See, for you greenie weenies, if I quit my job, some less educated bottom-ender is going to use gallons of the powerful chemical stuff when I, smarty-arty that I am, get by using only cups. And I'll compare my kitchen to anyone! Now be quiet Mr. RV, or go rev your engine in the parking lot, I know you think I'm a loser, but just where do you think you are going to take your vacation if guys like me don't protect you from your ignorence of salmonella? I get my illusion that I'm doing something good for the environment, you get a clean plate, leave me alone.

    So, here it is, I have the choice of lots of different chemicals to get rid of the stinky grease, and believe it or not I even have a degree in Biology, but I still don't know for sure when one chemical is better than another. Just for example, one degreaser has sodium hydroxide, and another has potassium hydroxide, and a third has a bunch of acetyl-benzul-acetic something or other that I don't recognise, so I don't use it.

    Alright, kiss kiss, can anybody tell me please, is the KOH more or less harmful than the NaOH, and can I put them in the septic, or should I send them to the landfill, or should I better just take them out back and dump them in the woods?

    Like I said, for you enviro junkies, I already use as little as possible. For example, I can clean the entire kitchen with one cup of KOH and some Keating Cleanser. I don't know what's in the Keating, but I think it might be diatomaceous earth. Anyway it is a food safe product so I don't worry about it too much. I have seen other people, cooks and dishwashers, use up a gallon of KOH and a 16 oz can of Keating in one bout of cleaning frenzy, and I might be bragging a little but I will defend my assertion that my kitchen is as clean as any, and certainly cleaner than the more-is-better guy.

    OK, I'll sit back and wait for an answer or two, or at least a few opinions, and hope that the American flag guy doesn't feel any need to stick his pole in my business.


  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2004 #2
    I could tell your writing style right from the word go:) It was only confimed as I seen your name at the bottom.

    I can't answer your question.

    Nice to see you still humaneutically(?:) challenging the literary mind :smile:
  4. Sep 16, 2004 #3
    Hi Sol.

    It's been a tough ride lately, hasn't it? I'm still hanging on, reading when I get a chance, but working full time at night keeps my head pretty low. My owner has two new stores and good help is hard to find, so I'm pretty much worked to my limit. I thought I'd try this new track and see if any allies turn up, but the neighborhood bullies seem to be running rampant in the streets these days, showing off their new toys and daring any body to get uppity. Assault rifles! I can't get the idea in my head that anyone is safer with automatic weapons on the streets. One look at the news from places like Palestine and Iraq should settle that notion. If they want assault rifles and plastique and such stuff, why don't they move to places where offensive weapons are freely available, just to see how they like it?

    Well, I'm glad to see you here too. I look for your work and follow your links and wish you well. thanks,

  5. Sep 16, 2004 #4


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    I can't help with the KOH vs. NaOH, but why don't you ask this question on the chemistry or biology forums? There are lots of experts there who can answer. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for your efforts. I just spent two weeks eating in restaurants and fast food joints out west. You have brought home to me how much my health depends on the dedication of people I don't know.
  6. Sep 16, 2004 #5
    Hello, Self. And I thank you for the recognition. I eat in restaurants nearly every day, and not only the ones I clean myself. Generally I feel the risk is pretty minimal, but just this summer we had a venerable restaurant chain in my local metropolis closed due to an outbreak, not of salmonella but of another common and easily hygenically preventable serious disease. I really miss that place, because it was open all night and I need someplace to go on my nights off. Now I'm down to one pancake house and a Holiday gas station.

    Anyway, I put this here because I am more concerned with the effect I have on the environment than I am with the effect of the environment on me. I know some people think I have that backward but consider this: I'll only live for part of a century, but the environment will, hopefully, be around for thousands of years. The effect it has on me is limited by my lifespan, but the effect I have on it can go on for hundreds or thousands of lifespans.

    Anyway, if it appears the environment is trying to kill us, I am not surprised. Did you see the news blip on the surge in cases of antibiotic resistant staph out west? One hospital administrator said he is seeing two new cases every day. The stuff is highly contageous, can eat right through your skin. You can pick it up off a doorknob, or any other contaminated surface. The wound looks like a spider bite but gets worse and worse. Cutting, draining and removing the necrotic tissue is the only treatment. Drugs have no effect. Sweet, huh?

    Thirty years ago my Biology instructor told us about antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, and predicted that they would spread and become a major problem. Where do they come from? We dump antibiotics into the environment. The bacteria live short fast lives and mutate quickly. If antibiotic levels in the water or the soil rise high enough to kill .999999999 of every living bacteria, the ones that survive will be the descendents of those that possess the naturally occurring resistance mutation. Soon the mutants take over for the bacteria that were killed, and we have a problem.

    The solution was to stop using antibiotics in places where they weren't really needed, like in feedlots where the application of antibiotics to cattle causes them to gain weight more quickly. The antibiotics run off the feedlot along with the other wastes, and end up in the water and the soil. Cattle men make a few billions a year for a few decades, then we have a public health problem that may cost billions of trillions to fix, if it can be fixed. Evolution just does what it always does, rather predictably. Capitalism, on the other hand, obeys rules which encourage rampant growth while discouraging reasonable limits. The result is like the growth pattern of a cancer or highly infections disease organism, not like the growth pattern of a healthy organism in a balanced competition. Capitalizm is NOT survival of the fittest. It is overgrowth of the least fit...those who require the service of thousands of workers merely to survive.

    You shouldn't have to be a socialist or an environmentalist or a green to understand this. Unbridled capitalism is clearly harming, maybe even destroying our environment. You might be able to sleep in an RV, but you can't live in one. You have to get out sometime.

    Individuals are dispensible, but there has to be an environment or there will be no new individuals to replace the ones, like me, that have gotten old and mostly useless.

    I'm sorry, SelfAdjoint, for going on a rampage here. The truth is, as Hawking noted, intelligence is not necessarily a survival trait. If we humans are to survive, we might have to do something stupid like putting some limits on the behavior of the wealthy. After all, if we don't do it, nature will, and it may be the cockroaches who inherit the stars after all.

    I will take my question to the "experts". I guess I just needed to vent all this frustration before putting my question to the cold light of reason. Please understand that i am not angry at any person, just at this whole stupid mess we are in. Thanks for being here.

  7. Oct 5, 2004 #6


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    KOH and NaOH are corrosive agents. However, their danger depends on the mixture you're using. For cleaners, I suspect you have a dilute solution, and the KOH/NaOH will disassociate when mixed with water. So, I suspect it's best to send your rinsate down the drain. Check the directions on the container.

    (note: pure stock of NaOH/KOH would be highly corrosive/reactive/dangerous to handle and should not be sent down the drain)

    Unless you're a bear, dumping in the woods is rarely a good idea.
  8. Oct 15, 2004 #7
    Hi Phobos, and thanks for the advice.

    As you may know, cleaning products are not required to list their ingredients by PPM, so I don't know exactly what concentrations I am using. I suppose there must be a physical test I could use, something that I could do with what I have available in the kitchen. Boiling point? Density?

    Ok here's another question: if I keep the boil out solution overnight in a plastic pail with a lid on it, is it still good to use on the floors? What if I keep it in plastic pails for several days? Can I use my 15 gallons of NaOH solution to clean floors all week or what?

    Here is a funny story about labor management relations. When I first began using the boil out to clean the floors, there was a noticable difference in the grout lines. THe ones where the boil out had been were getting clean. "Normally", using the regular floor detergent, the grout lines are black and gunky. The clean areas were turning light brown, the color of the original grout.

    Even with boil out the grout lines are hard to clean, and so I was working on getting one area clean, then expanding the clean area over time, as more boil out solution became available and as I had energy to do it. In a few months, the cookline and the common passage were looking pretty good, and one of the floor supervisors even mentioned how good it looked. A cook said "Wow, I didn't know the grout was the same color as the tiles!" But the bakery area and the dish area were still pretty black. I was making progress, so I thought.

    Then one day my owner's nephew was floor supervisor. "Can you do something for me?" he asked. This is what passes in management school for sensitive employee relations.


    "It's the grout lines. Have you seen how dirty they are getting? Especially back in the bakery and the dish room. They look terrible. I'd appreciate it if you would pay more attention to keeping them clean."

    No one from management had ever mentioned the grout lines to me before. If I hadn't started cleaning them, no one ever would have mentioned it. They have been black and gunky for years, and no one ever mentioned it. THis is why it is a commonly held belief in the work force that you should never do more work than you absolutely have to. "The more you do," one old cleaning woman once said to me, "the more they expect you to do."

    My initiative was rewarded by management taking an opportunity to tell me I wasn't working hard enough!

    Fortunately I am self motivated and this did not deter me. I am still working on pushing back into the dish room but the bakery looks better. Using the NaOH once a week keeps the clean areas from turning black again. It is more work, because I have to scrub at the grout lines more than I used to, but I like the look of a clean kitchen. I could go on to relate how I dealt with my owner's nephew, but that does not have anything to do with environmental chemicals, so I will have to save it for a more appropriate venue.


  9. Oct 15, 2004 #8
    Both are corrosive, but when nature has gotten through entropising any run-off, sodium is more common and therefore less likely to be long-term unbalancing than potassium. As for container and surplus disposal, I'd e-mail the manufacturers - but please let us know what they say - it'd be interesting.

    In Britain at the moment, it's costing millions a year to clean out the mere cooking fat that people bung down drains and into the sewers. It's reassuring to know there are people out there who think about the environment in their daily lives.
  10. Oct 16, 2004 #9
    Hi DarkYoung.

    I think about things a lot, as a night cleaner works mostly alone and has time to think things over. Scrubbing and polishing isn't very demanding on the forebrain.

    I throw out gallons of organic wastes and would rather recycle them. This seems an ideal place, plenty of room outdoors, no neighbors close, water and electricity and gas available, a ready supply of organics. It would make great compost but now it goes in the landfill. For that matter, someone could raise animals on it. Pigs or chickens, or earthworms at least. Why do we have to bury it? I don't get it.

    But there are problems I am not prepared to deal with. Critters is one. We have big time critters in the neighborhood. I am not fond of bears in the yard where I have to work, at night, little flash light and big can of juicy garbage. Yumm and Yikes, and I am not on the yumm end.

    I like bears, but I don't want them to like me too much. There is a guy around here who follows bears around in the woods, sits down and talks to them, shares lunch. Grubs and carrot root. Can this be good? He was a research scientist but they took his funding away. Now he gets by pandering to tourists, a sort of science mummer.
    People send him money. He feeds bears.

    Well that's one problem. You can't build a bear feeding station next to a tourist restaurant. A well-run compost heap wouldn't attract bears, but that's an enterprise in itself. I suppose it could be done at a remote site, but then there is transport.

    And I don't think I can recycle or reuse or reduce oily wastes, except for vegetable frying oil. What do you do with a five gallon pail of bacon grease? Sell it on eBay?

    I don't know about emailing the manufacturers. At best they might send me the materials safety data sheet that comes in the box with the product anyway. But the data there is rarely quantifiable.

    I am glad you feel reassurred, but I must tell you that I am not. The truth is my little efforts mean nothing in the great big scheme, which has us all roasting in an Earth made over to look like Venus. What would that be, Veneformed? Anyway with the accelleration of CO_2 partial pressure in the atmosphere we are in trouble. No, not we will be in trouble. We are in trouble.

    If all the ice melts, we could have sea levels five hundred feet above the current altimetric zero. I don't have to tell you what that does to the coastal plains and the densely populated cities that have overgrown there. Cities? People. We are talking about billions of people, shades of Noah.

    Well I suppose many of them will have time to hike inland. It isn't going to come up all at once in a big wave, is it? I have heard that there is predicted to be a record breaking tsumani when the Ross ice shelf collapses into the ocean, but I wouldn't think it would reach up into the mountains. Not around here, at least. But I live at 1800 feet, and near that many miles from any ocean beaches.

    Oh yes. Britain is rather a lowland country isn't it? DarkYoung, I think you may have been reassured too soon, but thank you anyway for the kind thought.

    What's your candidate for the worst job in the world? I nominate the poor beaver who has to go down in there and clean out the grease traps of the city of London.

  11. Nov 1, 2004 #10


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    Any indication of the % by volume of "active" vs "inactive" ingredients?
  12. Nov 8, 2004 #11
    Hi Phobos, and thanks. I just got your message. I'll check on this tonight and get back to you tomorrow.

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