Saturday, May 07, 2011

Accidentally Environmental Experiment: Clean Scrubbies w/o Radiation

Pot filled 1/4 to 1/3 full
 Okay, so I posted the other day about why I miss my microwave: It was very handy for killing bacteria on scrubbies if you throw them in for a minute.  Now we have smelly scrubbies.  Then TheGoodLuckDuck  from The Good Luck Duck blog commented and wondered if you could boil the scrubbies to do the same thing.  So, this morning, I decided to try it.  The first couple of pictures shows one of the Revere copper pots I inherited from my mom - yes, I am using our own cookware for this experiment, just don't tell the Old Man.  C'mon!  It's stainless steel, nothing can destroy these things.

I don't think this photo truly captures the nasty of these
Anyway, so you in the first two pictures you can see parts of my breakfast in the corner (bagel with salmon spread and coffee) and for this experiment I chose two old scrubbies that we actually use for cleaning surfaces because they've gotten so ratty.  I don't think the lighting and the camera flash allows the viewer to truly appreciate the nastiness of these scrubbies, or the nastiness of the water after they were done boiling.

When the pot of water (as you can see in the top picture I filled the pot about a 1/4 to 1/3 with water) got to a roiling boil I put the scrubbies in and let them boil at full-tilt, high heat for 5 minutes.  I chose five minutes for the amount of time to thoroughly sanitize them because that is, I believe, the rule of thumb for sanitizing contaminated water.

Roiling boilin pot of water
After the five minutes were up I turned off the heat and fished out the scrubbies with a fork (okay, give me a break, already!  Again, it's stainless steel and it does clean well with soap and [clean] water), and set them on the counter to cool; this is reminiscent of when I sterilized them in the microwave because they would come out super hot.

The water was super disgusting after it had stopped foaming; again, I don't think the picture I took in the kitchen does justice to just how disgusting this water was.  So, I took the pot out on the back porch to get another picture in natural light without the flash; eh, still pretty disgusting looking but not as obviously gross as IRL.

Five minutes is supposed rule of thumb for sterilization
As I write this the scrubbies have cooled and I did the sniff test after wringing them out under fresh running water for a second.  They still smell a little sharp, so I made the Old Man smell them, as well.  I said, "Smell these," so he dutifully smelled each of them.  Then I asked, "What do you think?" and he replied, "Well, I think they're old and nasty and should be thrown away."  "But," I replied, "I just boiled them!" "Oh," said the Old Man, "Well then, they're fine."  Such a good man.

Lots of soap left in the old scrubbies, huh?
So, I'm sure they're pretty clean - maybe boiling them for 10 minutes may have made more of a difference?  As JerkFace MikeJ who trolled me yesterday from Balloon Juice (and remind me to not post my blog address on BJ in the future during their Reader Blogs feature) observed, microwaves are more efficient because they use less energy and I have to agree (which I do, grudgingly, because of aforementioned jerkishness) but what's a better end for your appliances - having some fellow in a pick-up throw it in the back before trash day to recycle it for its metal, or take to the toxic waste center where its radioactive element will be (ostensibly) disposed of properly?  So these are the choices you make when you are relatively conscious of these things and aren't just looking at the bottom line economically.
Nasty water, Take 1

Result:  I feel a little bit better using these scrubbies for dishes after boiling them, but not as certain of bacterial death as I was with nuking them in the microwave.

Nasty water in natural light still not as nasty IRL
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