Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Would rubbing alcohol and vinegar neutralize each other?

  1. Jun 15, 2015 #1
    I was reading a post on Facebook about cleaning and it said to mix rubbing alcohol and vinegar and put it in your windown washer fluid tank. Someone commented that it would corrode or eat away at the tubing. I keep thinking the mixture would be an acid /base mixture and would neutralize. I was trying to tag up on it but the most I found was that it was not a typical acid base solution but another type that transfers protons to one another? Only in Gen Chem 2 so have not come across proton sharing... anyways, now I am thoroughly entrigued by the entire thing and would like to know the outcome of this mixture as a washing fluid for your car and if it is a neutralization reaction or what. Thanks for any assistance on this inconsequential matter.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Welcome to PF;
    Is alcohol a base?

    Supermarket white vinegar is about 8% acetic acid
    Rubbing alchohol is about 70% ethanol

    The reaction produces ethyl acetate.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethyl_acetate

    The mixture is not as effective as commercial cleaners - though it is a lot cheaper and most commercial cleaners are overkill.
     
  4. Jun 15, 2015 #3

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Alcohol is not a base. Or, more precisely - it is a very weak base. Way to weak for a normal neutralization reaction to take place.

    Protons transfer IS an acid/base reaction. I guess you think in terms of the Arrhenius acids and bases, and to classify proton transfer as an acid/base reaction you need to think in terms of Bronsted-Lowry acids and bases. Note that this is the same theory that is required to explain reactions of ammonia, so not something esoteric and rarely used.
     
  5. Jun 15, 2015 #4

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Unless it is an isopropyl alcohol.

    It won't happen just because you mix these two. Esterification requires an additional acid catalyst, preferably a strong, dessicating acid like sulphuric.
     
  6. Jun 15, 2015 #5
    Thank yall so much for replying! But just to clarify, the solution would not corrode or otherwise eat away at the tubing? I wouldn't think that it would, but just wanting to be sure. And the Arrhenius theory sounds familiar, the other not so much. We have not talked about proton sharing, just election sharing. Is that something we will go over in organic?
     
  7. Jun 15, 2015 #6

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Bronsted-Lowry theory is typically taught as a part of the GenChem course. Without it you won't be able to explain why ammonia solutions are basic nor why the Fe3+ solutions are acidic.

    Whether the tubing will corrode - no idea. I doubt, as the typical windshield fluids can be quite aggressive, and the tubing is made to hold in their presence. But that's just a guess, which doesn't have to be correct.
     
  8. Jun 15, 2015 #7
    You know what is hilarious? We will be going over those type of acids and bases Wednesday (decided to go look in my chem book to see if I glossed over it somehow and low and behold! ) (: if this conversation had happened then, I wouldn't feel so out of the loop lol. Thanks for all the help though!
     
  9. Jun 15, 2015 #8

    SteamKing

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    You must get your "rubbing" alcohol from a different store than I do. :wink:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook