Cleaning with acid

According to some people (*cough* dorm suite mates), swirling the toilet with a bit of laundry detergent isn’t enough even though that’s what I do at home. I don’t want to buy toilet duck, and I don’t want to get bleach, since what the hell do I do with these besides cleaning up the bathroom?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the times when my dad explained that he used to clean the toilet with concentrated hydrochloric acid as a kid. It was relatively cheap, and it was really effective. The only issue was that the bowl would smoke up with unwanted vapors for a while. And there was the obvious issue that concentrated HCl is corrosive. It’s the same method that I use in the lab to clean test tubes that I can’t clean using acetone and a cleaning brush. (Because of safety reasons, it doesn’t always work because it’s locked up for *safety reasons*.)

Sometimes being (self-diagnosed) ADHD can be really annoying, but at the same time it can help when I think about how to remember organic mechanisms. One time when we were discussing how to form the NO2+ from HNO3 and add nitro groups to compounds, the professor told us to use sulphuric acid because it was so strong that the HSO4 was pretty much “not an acid nor a base.” Instead, we just looked at sulphuric acid as simply an H+ source with some anion to take up space.

The way that he said it made it sound like something to “not a sinner nor a saint.” And then I saw Alcazar’s 2003 Melodifestivalen performance in my head, with the arm spin every time the artists sang “nor a saint.”  Exam day came and the song got stuck in my head as “I am not an acid nor a base…” (with the arm spin, obviously…)

That’s just the anion group. There’s the H+ too, obviously. It has to fall off and be taken by something else in the system, or else the reaction won’t work. And because it “fell”, the first song that came to mind was Erik Rapp’s “Faller.” from JESC 2011. Sure, I found out that the lyrics don’t really work because it’s supposed to be a love song (at least I think? I don’t know enough Swedish to tear the lyrics apart line by line), but at least it’s memorable and I’ll remember to deprotonate when I have to.

And now I’ve got songs that are Ohrwurm-y, remind me of ESC and organic mechanisms at the same time, and they’re easy to remember. But wait…
– I still can’t play them at 6:30 in the morning because my suite mate still needs her extra 3 hours of sleep until 9:30
– I still can’t draw on the mirrors because it’s “rude”? (Dear suite mate, if you’re reading this, dry erase marker is erasable on mirrors)
– I still have to use bleach to clean the bathroom because detergent isn’t good enough.



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