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Publication numberUS3697431 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 10, 1972
Filing dateJan 22, 1971
Priority dateJan 22, 1971
Publication numberUS 3697431 A, US 3697431A, US-A-3697431, US3697431 A, US3697431A
InventorsSummerfelt Vernon E
Original AssigneeClorox Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Liquid drain opening composition and method
US 3697431 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 3,697,431 LIQUID DRAIN OPENING COMPOSITION AND METHOD Vernon E. Summerfelt, South San Francisco, Calif., as-

signor to The Clorox Company, Oakland, Calif. N0 Drawing. Filed Jan. 22, 1971, Ser. No. 109,057

Int. Cl. C11d 7/54 U.S. Cl. 252-403 2 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An aqueous solution of between about 1% and 9% by weight sodium or potassium hypochlorite and between about 2% and 9% by weight sodium or potassium hydroxide provides a very effective drain opener which is not as hazardous to use as the conventional highly concentrated caustic drain openers. Between about 1% and 7% by weight sodium or potassium chloride is present in the solution, and the potassium ion concentration in the drain opener solution is in excess of the sodium ion concentration. Sodium or potassium silicate may be included in the drain opener solution to inhibit the corrosive action of the solution upon metal plumbing fixtures, and a small amount of a wetting agent, or in other words surface active agent, increases the rate at which the drain opener solution penetrates fatty material.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Drains for kitchen and bathroom sinks often become clogged by a combination of fatty substances and protein fibers which are usually present in the form of hair or food particles. The combination of fat and protein fiber provides a water insoluble mass which is difficult to dislodge or dissolve. Most liquid drain openers in common use are composed primarily of a concentrated solution of a strong base or acid. In the case of a conventional strong base drain opener, generally a hydroxide concentration of between about 20% and 40% by weight is utilized in order to convert fats in the drain to soap and also to attack the protein fibers. However, if such concentrated drain openers accidentally come in contact with people or clothing, injury to the person or damage to clothing may result unless prompt remedial action is taken. Such concentrated hydroxide solutions are particularly damaging to eyes. Furthermore, concentrated sodium hydroxide drain openers react with fats in drains to form a hard, sodium soap which is almost as difiicult to dislodge as the fatty material which originally clogged the drain.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It has now been found that a combination of hypochlorite and hydroxide provides a drain opener which is more effective and less hazardous than the concentrated hydroxide drain openers now in common use even though the combined amount of hypochlorite and hydroxide is less than the amount of hydroxide required in an effective conventional hydroxide drain opener. In accordance with this invention an excellent drain opener is provided by an aqueous solution of between about 1% and 9% by weight of sodium or potassium hypochlorite, and between about 2% and 9% by weight sodium or potassium hydroxide, in which solution the potassium ion concentration is in excess of the sodium ion concentration. As long as the potassium ion concentration from all compounds in the drain opener solution is in excess of the sodium ion concentration, the soap formed within the drain is soft and dissolves relatively quickly compared to the hard and lumpy soap formed if sodium is the sole or predominant cation.

The drain opener solution contains between about 1% and 7% by weight sodium or potassium chloride which 3,697,431 Patented Oct. 10, 1972 reduces the corrosive effect of the drain opener on the metal plumbing fixtures. Also, up to about 10% of sodium or potassium silicate is advantageously added to the drain opener solution as a corrosion inhibitor. If the silicate is added for this purpose, at least 3% by weight is an effective corrosion inhibitor and provides substantial protection for fittings containing zinc and aluminum against the attack of the caustic.

A Wetting agent, or in other words a surface active agent, may be incorporated in the drain opener solution to increase the rate at which the drain opener penetrates the mass of fat and protein fibers which clog drains. Any wetting agent which is compatible with the hypochlorite and hydroxide in the drain opener may be used. If a wetting agent is employed in the drain opener solution, between 0.25% and 1% by weight is effective.

In use the drain opener solution is generally diluted by water which is present in the drain or sink. However, the drain opener hereof is effective even though it is diluted between one and three or four times by the water which is retained in a stopped drain or sink.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In greater detail the drain opener solution contains between about 1% and 9% by weight of sodium or potassium hypochlorite. If less than about 1% by weight of hypochlorite is utilized, the drain opener loses much of its effectiveness and disintegrates protein fibers very slowly, particularly when the drain opener solution is diluted by water usually present in the drain or sink. If more than 9% by weight hypochlorite is used, the drain opener becomes increasingly and unnecessarily corrosive and hazardous to people and materials. Furthermore, such concentrated hypochlorite solutions are more unstable and tend to deteriorate faster.

Sodium or potassium chloride is a by-product in the manufacture of hypochlorite. As a result the hypochlorite incorporated in the drain opener solution inherently contains between about 1% and 7% by weight sodium or potassium chloride. At low hypochlorite concentrations, additional chloride may be added to the solution because the chloride salt reduces the corrosive effect of the drain opener on fittings containing zinc and aluminum.

The sodium or potassium hydroxide in the drain opener saponifies fats which clog drains and converts the fats to water soluble soap. Between 2% and 9% by weight sodi um hydroxide is used. Lower concentrations are not very effective in dissolving fats when diluted by the water usually present in sinks and drains. If more than 9% by weight hydroxide is used in the drain opener solution, the drain opener presents hazards to the eyes, and it causes excess corrosion of fittings containing aluminum and zinc which are present in plumbing fixtures, as well as in garbage disposal units.

Although the drain opener hereof is not relatively corrosive or hazardous because of the low concentration of hypochlorite and hydroxide utilized, sodium or potassium silicate is advantageously added to even further reduce the hazards and corrosiveness of the solution. The concentration of silicate may vary between zero and 10% by weight, but from between about 3% and 10% by weight of silicate is preferable. 3% of silicate in the drain opener solution is sufficient to provide a significant reduction of the corrosive effect of the drain opener upon metals. If more than 10% silicate is used, little further benefit is obtained.

A wetting agent, or in other words a surface active agent, is preferably, but not necessarily, incorporated in the liquid drain opener. The wetting agent increases the rate at which the drain opener penetrates the fatty substance which clogs drains. About 0.25% by weight wetting agent is effective to provide a significant increase in the rate of penetration of fatty material. Up to 1% by weight of wetting agent may be utilized, but if a greater amount is employed deterioration of the hypochlorite is accelerated. A wetting agent that is compatible with the hypochlorite and hydroxide in the drain opener solution is utilized. For example, the anionic mono phosphate ester of ethoxylated alcohol, sold under the name Gafac CD- 178 by GAF Corporation, may be incorporated in the drain opener. Another example of a suitable wetting agent is the salt of a perfluoro acid sold by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company under the name Fluorad 50-98.

The potassium ion concentration provided by all compounds present in the drain opener solution should exceed the sodium ion concentration. If the potassium ion concentration is in excess of the sodium ion concentration, the soap which is formed by saponification of the fat is soft and porous, rather than hard and lumpy. The soft and porous soap disperses in water much more rapidly than the hard and lumpy soap formed if sodium is the predominant cation.

The remainder of the drain opener solution is made up of water. In other words, water may make up as much as 96% by weight of the drain opener. However, other inert ingredients may also be present.

The drain opener solution is prepared simply by mixing the ingredients, namely the hypochlorite solution, hydroxide solution, and other components until they are completely dissolved to form a drain opener solution having the desired composition. Generally the order of mixing is not critical. However, when an acidic wetting agent is used, it preferably should be added to a neutral solution. In that case the hypochlorite and hydroxide are mixed first, followed by the wetting agent and then the silicate.

In the following examples of the drain opener, solutions were applied to solid mixtures of four grams of vegetable fat and two grams of human hair. One part of water for each one part of drain opener solution was also added so that the drain opener would be diluted and the test conditions would be similar to the conditions often present with stopped drains. The effect of the drain opener upon the solid clogging mixture over a period of time was noted. All percents in the examples are given in terms of percent by weight.

The hair was dissolved in 1 hour, and the fat within 3 hours, thereby indicating that the solution was an effective drain opener.

EXAMPLE 2 Percent Sodium hypochlorite 1.4 Potassium hydroxide 1.0 Sodium chloride 0.9 Water 96.7

The hair was dissolved in 1 hour, but the fat was not dissolved in 8 hours, because the amount of hydroxide was less than specified for the drain opener hereof.

EXAMPLE 3 Percent Sodium hypochlorite 4.6 Potassium hydroxide 4.5 Potassium silicate 6.0 Sodium chloride 3.6 Wetting agent 0.25 Water 81.05

The hair was dissolved in 1 hour, and the fat within 5 hours, thereby indicating the solution was an effective drain opener.

The hair was dissolved in 1 hour, and the fat within 5 hours, thereby indicating the solution was an effective drain opener.

EXAMPLE 5 Percent Sodium hypochlorite 5.0 Sodium hydroxide 4.0 Sodium silicate 8.0 Sodium chloride 3.9 Wetting agent 0.25 Water 78.85

Both the hair and fat were only partially dissolved in 5 hours thereby illustrating the disadvantage of a sodium ion system as compared to the potassium ion system in Example 4.

EXAMPLE 6 Percent Sodium hypochlorite 9.0 Potassium hydroxide 2.0 Potassium silicate 10.0 Sodium chloride 7.05 Wetting agent 0.25 Water 71.70

Hair rapidly dissolved in less than an hour, and the fat was partially dissolved in 3 hours.

What is claimed is:

1. A liquid drain opener solution consisting essentially of an aqueous solution of between about 1% and 9% by weight of an alkali metal hypochlorite selected from the group consisting of sodium hypochlorite and potassium hypochlorite, between about 2% and 9% by weight of an alkali metal hydroxide selected from the group consisting of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, between about 1% and 7% by weight of an alkali metal chloride selected from the group consisting of sodium chloride and potassium chloride, between about 3% and 10% by weight of a water soluble alkali metal silicate selected from the group consisting of water soluble sodium silicate and water soluble potassium silicate, and between about A% and 1% by weight of a wetting agent compatible with said hypochlorite and said hydroxide, the concentration of potassium ion being in excess of the concentration of sodium ion in said solution.

2. The method of openinga drain clogged by fats and protein fibers which comprises pouring into said drain the drain opener solution of claim 1.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 691,671 1/1902 Sjoo 252-103 2,690,383 9/ 1956 Bradshaw 252-103 X 3,503,890 3/1970 Davisson 252-156 X FOREIGN PATENTS 20,820 6/ 1913 Great Britain 252--94 MAYER WEINBLATI, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3833419 *Nov 20, 1972Sep 3, 1974Brechner SSolution means for removing hair from hair brushes
US3965048 *Mar 29, 1974Jun 22, 1976The Drackett CompanyPotassium hydroxide, potassium aminocarboxylate, water
US4020016 *Feb 28, 1975Apr 26, 1977The Drackett CompanyCleaning compositions effective in dissolving soap curd
US4088596 *Jan 13, 1977May 9, 1978Kao Soap Co., Ltd.Inorganic peroxide
US4116849 *Mar 14, 1977Sep 26, 1978The Procter & Gamble CompanyThickened bleach compositions for treating hard-to-remove soils
US4116850 *Apr 21, 1977Sep 26, 1978Theochem Laboratories, Inc.Drain opener
US4196094 *Dec 22, 1978Apr 1, 1980Halliburton CompanyRemoving deposits from surfaces in wood pulp processing apparatus
US4206068 *Apr 14, 1976Jun 3, 1980The Drackett CompanyRed-ox drain cleaning composition
US4388204 *Mar 23, 1982Jun 14, 1983The Drackett CompanyFor unclogging drains
US4395344 *Jul 29, 1976Jul 26, 1983The Clorox CompanyDrain opener composition
US4664836 *Sep 18, 1985May 12, 1987Amway CorporationDrain cleaner
US4828748 *Jul 2, 1987May 9, 1989The Drackett CompanyThickened alkali metal hypochlorite compositions
US5011538 *Sep 6, 1989Apr 30, 1991The Clorox CompanyDrain cleaning
US5055219 *Nov 17, 1987Oct 8, 1991The Clorox CompanyContaining quaternary ammonium compound with organic counterion mixture of sulfonate and carboxylate
US5389157 *Jun 8, 1993Feb 14, 1995The Clorox CompanyRemoval of organic blockages from pipes using aqueous cleaning compound containing viscosity-controlling thickening system
US5833764 *Aug 4, 1995Nov 10, 1998Rader; James E.Method for opening drains using phase stable viscoelastic cleaning compositions
EP0026901A1 *Sep 29, 1980Apr 15, 1981Henkel Kommanditgesellschaft auf AktienDrain cleaner and process for the removal of contaminations in drains
EP0311175A2 *Sep 27, 1988Apr 12, 1989Unilever N.V.Sanitizer
EP0342786A2 *Apr 3, 1989Nov 23, 1989The Clorox CompanyViscoelastic cleaning compositions with long relaxation times
EP0569140A1 *Apr 14, 1993Nov 10, 1993Sybron Chemical Holdings Inc.Drain opener formulation
Classifications
U.S. Classification510/195, 510/370, 252/187.25, 252/187.26, 134/22.19, 134/2, 134/22.16
International ClassificationC11D7/02, C11D3/395, C11D7/06
Cooperative ClassificationC11D7/06, C11D3/3956
European ClassificationC11D7/06, C11D3/395H