First of all, biodegradable anything is usually a good idea, but it is the container in which they are transported that is problematic. Consider this, if you are using a solution of white vinegar and kosher salt, how many gallons would you consume a year? If you are a heavy user, it is potentially 30 gallons. You are now putting THIRTY, one gallon, plastic jugs into the environment. Yes, you are recycling, but remember the first step is reducing (not recycling). With that in mind, if you are using Sparex, you will potentially have that pickle indefinitely. If you treat your pickle properly, you could have it for yearssss. (I have had the same pickle on my work bench for 4 years now, still going strong.) Thus, the environmental impact is far less than using vinegar; no jugs, just one small plastic bag. Additionally, vinegar is an acid, albeit natural, it is still an acid, and thus over enough time the volume of said “natural acid” will exceed that of pickle. (That is IF pickle is used properly.)
Secondly, the argument would be about disposing the acid. Yes, of course you can just put the biodegradable stuff down the drain. But seriously, how hard it is to neutralize Sparex with baking soda and throwing it away? There has to be a little give and take.
Then there is still the consideration of the metal residue and its disposal. Some have contended that this will affect local water sources and harm amphibians or fish. If this is the argument, what are people doing with their metal shavings from sawing? Right, how many of you are actually saving that and turning it in for recycling or to hazardous waste disposal. Because the accumulation from sawing far exceeds residue in pickle.
All of this is said with the assumption and idealism that you are using pickle properly. Defining properly as not disposing pickle but every few years. And even not idealistically, disposing once a year is still less hazardous than the use of vinegar.Myths About Pickle (sodium bisulfate solution)
2. I can use a piece of steel to remove copper oxide from the pickle. Sort of true. The problem is that by putting steel in your pickle you are neutralizing it (for that moment). And though it is may continue to work, you are depositing IRON oxides into your pickle and it will bind to your metal causing a different problem.
3. I have to dispose my pickle immediately if I mistakenly use my fire tweezers instead of my copper tweezers. Uhhmmm, No! You will need to be doing this continuously for some time before you ruin the pickle.
4. You have to use distilled water for your pickle. I have never done this, ever in more than 10 years. AND we live in an area with very hard, high iron water and it has not been a problem to date. But I will update this blog if that ever changes.
5. When pickling brass, it turns to copper because of contamination. This could happen, but typically it is a natural consequence. Brass is a copper alloy, when you heat then pickle it, the copper comes to the surface. Try it with fresh pickle, proof is in the puddin’.
How to prevent contamination
1. Get rid of the steel wool in your studio. Use either a scotch pad or brass wool. This will eliminate the possibility of contamination.
2. If you are using a lot of copper, consider having two pickle pots. One for silver, one for copper. This will reduce contamination.
3. If there is a metal screw holding the knob onto the lid, ensure it is not metal. Over time the pickle will cause it to corrode and the iron oxides will deposit itself into the pickle in the pot. Before this happens, replace it with a nylon screw.
The information I am providing was a NOT gathered from the internet. I took the time to reach out to chemists and talked to manufacturers of pickle.