There are many different types of vinegar — each with its own set of benefits and uses.
White distilled vinegar is useful for cleaning and horticultural purposes, while fruit vinegars such as apple cider vinegar has many reported health benefits when taken internally.
The only vinegar that is best avoided altogether is 20% vinegar, which is a petroleum derivative that is dangerous to breathe and can be damaging to your eyes and skin.
A vinegar solution can also be used to remove certain pesticides and bacteria from your fresh produce. Other uses include hair care, and improving the pH of alkaline water, which can benefit plant growth.
White Vinegar—A Great Non-Toxic Cleaner and Herbicide Ingredient
Distilled white vinegar is the type of vinegar you’ll want to use for cleaning and laundry. Vinegar and water makes an excellent window cleaner, and vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide works exceptionally well as both a disinfectant and sanitizer.
Sprinkling white vinegar atop a dusting of baking soda is terrific for cleaning sinks, tubs, tile floors and other surfaces. For cleaning, it can be diluted with water as much as 50-50. For the herbicide, it should be used full strength. In all cases, the products to buy in this category are true vinegars made by distilling grain alcohol. For the purists, there is organic white vinegar made from corn.
Avoid 20% Vinegar
20 percent vinegar, which is made from 99 percent glacial ascetic acid, is far stronger than you’d ever really need, in addition to being overly expensive.
Perhaps more importantly, this type of vinegar is actually a petroleum derivative, which is dangerous to breathe and can be damaging to your eyes and skin.
WARNING: Some of the 10 percent vinegars being sold to naïve organic gardeners are the fake 20 percent product that has been cut with water. Proper vinegars should have on the label that they are made from distilled grain alcohol or other similar language indicating natural products from distilling.
Apple Cider Vinegar—Good for Your Health
The cider vinegars, made from fermenting fruits such as apples, have little value as cleaners or herbicides.
But, these vinegars are associated with a number of different health benefits when taken internally.
• Regular apple cider vinegar
• Organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” included
Instead, you want organic, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar, which is murky and brown.
When you try to look through it, you will notice a cobweb-like substance floating in it. This is known as “mother,” and it indicates your vinegar is of good quality. While it may look suspicious at first, it’s the murky looking stuff that’s good.
Surprisingly enough, while apple cider vinegar has historically been prized for its health benefits, little research has been done to evaluate its therapeutic actions. However, lack of scientific studies is a common problem for many natural and alternative therapies.
Good for DiabetesPerhaps the most researched and the most promising of apple cider vinegar’s benefits are in the area of type 2 diabetes. Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower blood glucose levels.
In 2004, a study cited in the American Diabetes Foundation’s publication Diabetes Care found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals.
The study involved 29 people, divided into three groups:
1. One third had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
2. One third had pre-diabetic signs.
3. One third were healthy.
The results were quite significant:
• All three groups had better blood glucose readings with the vinegar than with the placebo.
• People with pre-diabetic symptoms benefitted the most from the vinegar, cutting their blood glucose concentrations by nearly half.
• People with diabetes improved their blood glucose levels by 25 percent with vinegar.
• People with pre-diabetic symptoms had lower blood glucose than the healthy participants after both drank vinegar.
For Weight LossA follow-up-study geared at testing vinegar’s long-term effects yielded an unexpected but pleasant side effect: “moderate weight loss.”
In 2007, another study cited by WebMD2 involving 11 people with type 2 diabetes found taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4 to 6 percent.
Other Apple Cider Vinegar “Cures”
Although the benefits of using vinegar are quite amazing, it may be far better to use fermented foods to get the same benefits because you will then also help to recolonize your gut with beneficial bacteria. However, vinegar is easier and certainly safe to use.
Apple cider vinegar might cure more ailments than any other folk remedy. Vinegar provides at least some cures for allergies (including pet, food and environmental), sinus infections, acne, high cholesterol, flu, chronic fatigue, Candida, acid reflux, sore throats, contact dermatitis, arthritis, gout and the list goes on…
It also brings a healthy, rosy glow to the complexion and can cure rough scaly skin. Apple cider vinegar is also wonderful for animals, including dogs, cats and horses. It helps with arthritic conditions, controls fleas, repels flies, and gives a beautiful shine to their coats.
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar,
3 tbsp. lemon juice,
2 tbsp. honey, and
16 oz. water
Mix all and warm to sipping temperature and sip gently.
For more power, add juice from chopped ginger.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs
Pet care is another area where vinegar can be a useful, non-toxic, all-natural tool.
Vinegar is a remedy with multiple uses for dogs including alleviating allergies and arthritis, and helping to provide the correct pH balance.
You can give apple cider vinegar to any animal by simply adding it to the water.
If your dog has itchy skin, the beginnings of a hot spot, incessantly washes its feet, has smelly ears, or is picky about his food, an application of apple cider vinegar can help.
- For poor appetite, use it in the food at 1 tablespoon, two times a day for a 50 lb. dog.
- For itchy skin or the beginning hot spots, put apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle, part the hair and spray on. Any skin eruption will dry up in as soon as 24 hours and shaving the dog won’t be necessary. If the skin is already broken, dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water and spray on.
- For a dog that has clear, watery discharge from the eyes, a runny nose, or coughs with a liquid sound, use apple cider vinegar in his or her food. One teaspoon twice a day for a 50 lb. dog will do the job nicely.
After grooming sessions, use a few drops in dogs’ ears after cleaning them to avoid ear infections. Fleas, flies, ticks and bacteria, external parasites, ring worm, fungus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, pneumococcus, mange, etc. are unlikely to inhabit a dog whose system is acidic inside and out.
Should you ever experience any of these with your dog, bathe with a nice gentle herbal shampoo – one that you would use on your own hair – rinse thoroughly with vinegar, and then sponge on apple cider vinegar diluted with equal amounts of warm water. Allow your dog to drip dry. It is not necessary to use harsh chemicals for minor flea infestations. All fleas drown in soapy water and the apple cider vinegar rinse makes the skin too acidic for a re-infestation. If you are worried about picking up fleas when you take your dog away from home, keep some apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle, and spray your dog before you leave home and when you get back. For raw spots caused by excessive licking, use a few drops in water, and sponge the affected areas with apple cider vinegar.
Other Uses for Vinegar
Vinegar can be used to remove certain pesticides and bacteria from your fresh produce. Of course, you don’t need apple cider vinegar for this—any basic white vinegar will do.
A solution of 10 percent vinegar to 90 percent water as a bath to briefly soak produce is recommended.
Just place your vegetables or fruit in the solution, swish it around, and rinse thoroughly. Just don’t use this process on fragile fruits (like berries), since they could be damaged in the process or soak up too much vinegar through their porous skins.
Apple cider vinegar has also long been used as a natural hair care product. Its acidity is close to that of human hair; it’s a good conditioner and cleaning agent, as well as an effective germ killer.
While we need a great deal more research to thoroughly investigate vinegar’s full healing potential, it can certainly be useful in a variety of ways, and for a variety of conditions. It’s definitely a great multi-purpose ingredient to have in your pantry.