Friday, February 15, 2013

Vinegar Friday -- petro-vinegar. Really??


Truth be told, you might not like what I have to say on this particular Vinegar Friday. If you've been taking my advice and cleaning with distilled white vinegar, it's possible you've been choosing a non eco-friendly option. What?? Well, I hate to break this to you, but unless you've been using Heinz® vinegar, you quite likely have been cleaning your home, softening your laundry, etc. with petro. Yes, petro... as in petroleum. Yuck. 

So why are you only telling us this now? I hear you mentally shouting this question to me. And the answer is simple. I just discovered this nasty truth myself.

Now, I'm not saying only Heinz® is making the good stuff. But it's the only one I'm sure of. Some of the generic and store brand vinegars are simply not cutting it. 

Here's what it says on the Heinz® website:

The Only All Natural National Brand Vinegar*

Heinz® Vinegars have no additives or preservatives. Vinegar’s key ingredient is alcohol. Unlike many budget brand vinegars which derive their alcohol from petroleum, Heinz® Vinegars are the only national brand to use only sun ripened corn or crisp, juicy apples and water.

Note the line -- Unlike many budget brand vinegars which derive their alcohol from petroleum -- Scary, huh?
So, why would the budget brands use petro instead of grains? Well, according to Wikipedia (which I know can have misinformation from time to time -- I trust this, though), there is a huge global demand of acetic acid (approximately 6.5 million tons/year). While some of this need is met by recycling, the rest "is manufactured from petrochemical feedstocks or from biological sources."

All distilled white vinegar is made from acetic acid and water. The question is: Where does the acetic acid come from?

It is either made synthetically or by bacterial fermentation. Unfortunately, about 90% of the acetic acid worldwide is synthetic... or, in practical terms, in that generic gallon of vinegar you and I have been using to clean our bathrooms, soften our clothes, add to our dishwashers, splash into our pets' drinking water, etc., etc. Oh dear. Oh dear, indeed.

Of course, even with the natural vinegar, unless it is labeled as organic, there's no guarantee you're not using DWV full of GMOs... but that's another discussion altogether.

So, as I often say, read the labels! Look for vinegar derived from natural ingredients. Unfortunately, the FDA has no requirements as far as letting consumers know whether or not petroleum is used as a starter. Generally speaking, DWV is made from the acetic fermentation of diluted distilled alcohol. The alcohol comes from various sources, including corn grains, sugar cane, molasses, etc.

If the label doesn't provide the info you need, check the manufacturer's website. Still no info? Call them directly and ask. You have a right to know.

Keeping our homes free of chemicals just got a bit more complicated. But, if you choose the correct vinegar, you'll be heading in the right direction. And by the way, Heinz® did not pay me for this blog post and I do not own stock in the company... although maybe I should, being that I'm the "Vinegar Lady" and such...

So... were you surprised by this info?


  1. but Heinz vinegar is made from 100% GMO corn. Surely there is a white distilled vinegar for canning that isn't petro OR gmo??

    1. Yes. Spectrum makes an organic DWV that is free of GMOs.


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