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Eco friendly herbicide

Discussion in 'Live Plants' started by The Snark, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Just a little info bit on plant control, especially for those living in the Pacific Northwest. (Land of the Himalayan Blackberry)

    I wanted a chemical that presents no systemic toxins to animals. I also wanted something that if you spilled a few hundred pounds/gallons among your rose bushes it would meekly decompose and at worst, change the pH a little.

    Doing a little research, plagiarizing info from various authorities at arboretums, I came up with a weird little plan.

    Some plants are decidedly acidic. They get alkali into their system they wither and die. Just check the various alkali flats and their abundant lack of vegetation.

    So barring dumping sodium hydroxide all over vast areas the question was how to get alkali into the plants and what alkali.

    Solution was a solution. Simple and elegant. The 'poison' of choice, Na2CO3, washing soda, sodium carbonate. pH of 11.5.

    Next I needed to make a solution of the stuff wet so it really sticks to the plant. The leaves. Which are basically what? Cellulose. What common crud found around the house wets cellulose? Laundry detergent. That is how it works. It's big job.

    The formula I came up with, which can vary, was 1/4 pound Sodium Carbonate + 1 teaspoon generic laundry detergent in one to two gallons of water. The liquid should feel slightly slimy, but only slightly. You're not trying to wash clothes here.

    Next I had to convince the plants to eat the stuff. Simple. Spray it on the leaves, getting them good and wet, preferably late in the afternoon. It sits on the leaves all night then come dawn when plants go through their transition phase, they take their last gulp of dew from the leaves.

    The more sensitive to pH, the more effective the glurp is. Poison Oak and friends, Rhus family, are very susceptible. Likewise, Himalayan blackberry. As an added bonus, if you get the stuff on your favorite pet plants, just give them a thorough rinsing with clear water.

    Effect. Done right in 24 hours the victim plant will look like it just weathered a forest fire and didn't win. Severe die off from lack of photosynthesis occurs. When the plant starts regrowth the young leaves are even more susceptible to pH screwings. The root system eventually gives it up.


    Precautions: Don't eat the stuff. You'll be burping and farting technicolor surround sound sub woofer enhanced thunder for a week. Keep out of eyes. Mild caustic. Will irritate skin. Sensitizer.

    Added precaution. Poison Oak is an environmentally beneficial plant that resists soil erosion. Think twice when trying to eradicate it on slopes that may be susceptible to erosion. Especially soils that contain a significant amount of sand or decomposed granite.
  2. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    This is really cool! My only concern is that the detergent might have a detrimental effect on the immediate area, though I know it's in small quantities.
  3. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    It could. The actual detergent, various surfactants, break down very rapidly in the environment and their presence would have negligible effects. 5 heavy sprayings =<10 parts per billion, calculated, Telonicher Marine labs, extension of HSU, estimates. The concern would be the other crap put in the detergent, perfumes, efficacy enhancing agents made from petro-chemical solvents and so on. But they are present only in trace quantities that aren't measurable or predictable. The Na2CO3 effects can be easily countered with application of a mild acid such as acetic, say a bottle of vinegar.

    But undoubtedly there would be some alteration to the ecosystem with numerous repeated applications. That would fall back on the human element in acting responsibly when doing anything that can alter the environment.

    Oddly, I had consulted Telonicher earlier regarding potential pollution problems from us spilling wet water additives in the fire trucks. They did a few rough calculations and found no cause for concern or alarm taking into account the amount of the spills and the distance to the ocean. That wet water is an exponentially more powerful surfactant than laundry detergent. 1 tablespoon would foam about 500 square feet an inch or two deep and is considered a significant environmental hazard. I forget the Haz Mat rating. Just imagine a laundry detergent that you would have to run the rinse cycle on about 20 times.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Ranitomeya

    Ranitomeya Arachnoknight

    A concern would be the possible effects on pH-sensitive soil organisms such as fungi and bacteria that are either directly associated with plants or perform an important service such as fixing nitrogen. You could find that altering the soil chemistry too much could cause an area to become barren either temporarily or for an extended period of time--think about what happens when you have a pet that urinates and defecates too frequently in a specific area.

    Other organisms such as annelids or amphibians would probably also be negatively affected by either detergent or high pH due to the nature of their sensitive, semi-permeable skin. Even if it were to occur in a low concentration overall, we also can't forget about bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Use in a small area without numerous repeated applications probably wouldn't have a great effect except in the immediate area, but repeated exposure over large areas would be hazardous to local ecology.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    One aspect of this is spraying the substance on the leaves. The worst case scenario is pH that becomes residual, getting transmitted onto other surfaces. And yes, this could be a significant factor. This is, after all is said and done, an herbicide that works by altering the environment. Using carefully and responsibly is a must.
  6. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    I need to add as a PS. When I researched the data in an effort to register my product, the offending ingredient was not the Sodium Carbonate but the additives, not the surfactants but the various additives in the detergent. Some of the crud they shove in common household products sets off Haz Mat alarm bells big time. There are a few dozens clauses, justifications, excuses and mitigating information that keeps the addition of these really noxious chemicals from being posted on MSDS pages.
    Suffice to say, without the loopholes, perfumes, deoderants, bath and hand soap, nearly all household cleaning products, personal hygiene products, pet foods, and so on qualify as hazardous materials.
  7. dirtmonkey

    dirtmonkey Arachnopeon

    Sodium can also accumulate in soils where there isn't a lot of rain to wash it out (not a problem where I live, but many other places).

    Vinegar is very phytotoxic, works quickly, and completely biodegrades.

    Only the newer systemic herbicides will get rid of deep rooted resilient weeds in one application, though, and are kess toxic to non-target organisms. Because of that they will often end up creating less environmental collateral damage than older chemicals like sodium carbonate or acetic acid (or gasoline, or salt...)
  8. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Newer Systemic Herbicides like http://www.herbiguide.com.au/MSDS/MGLY36A_48518-0413.PDF ??
    As opposed to http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927263
    Not sure we are on the same wavelength here. How is a naturally occurring substance that mildly alters the ecosystem unless several tons are deposited in a limited area compare to a toxin known to be deadly to fish if it enters the waterways in even slight amounts? As in use is banned within 50 feet of any lake stream river or other aquatic animal habitat.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  9. dirtmonkey

    dirtmonkey Arachnopeon

    Well, there are a few problems with that. First, the aquatic toxin in the one you picked is primarily the wetting agent. The detergent. Which you are also adding to your mixture, making it also deadly to fish and other aquatic organisms. Nothing should be applied where water can carry it further than intended.
    Sodium carbonate does not occur in nature anywhere that rains much, or as a detergent mixed spray in any environments. Which is why it kills those plants. And also naturalistic fallacy: mercury and arsenic are naturally occurring substances too.
    Vinegar or any other herbicide of any kind also should not be sprayed near water, but it wouldn't be nearly as damaging as a sodium carbonate and detergent mixture, because vinegar both evaporates and degrades harmlessly in a short time.
    Used appropriately away from water and avoiding immediate washing out after spraying (i.e., following directions), less generally toxic and more effective pesticides are preferable. Which is exactly why they have been developed.
  10. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    I'm going to have to categorically disagree with you. First and foremost,
    Glyphosate is the herbicide of choice world wide. You obviously have an agenda here. As for sodium carbonate, how about reading up on it as it is found naturally in a vast range of environments.
    I mean, get with the info. The stuff is even added to fertilizer to de-acidify soil.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  11. dirtmonkey

    dirtmonkey Arachnopeon

    Yes. Of course. The Maserati out front was bought with my Monsanto shill bucks over an herbicide that's been off patent over 15 years *rolleyes.*
    I had thought you were looking for reasonable discourse. Good day.
    • Creative Creative x 1
  12. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    I do not believe I used the trademarked name but the generic one. As for what your agenda is, comparing a known highly environmentally unfriendly poison to a very low environmental impact substance could be anything and your affair.
    My interest is trying to find alternatives to wholesale sprayings of known problem chemicals. I have personally observed helicopters hired by lumber company's, Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific and Pacific Lumber, spray thousands of gallons of glyphosate recklessly over vast swaths of wilderness including small streams and major rivers that are listed as spawning grounds for numerous fish species. Smith, Van Duzen, Mad, Little and both forks of the Eel rivers and numerous feeder streams. If you think less than a ton or maybe two of mild soil acidifier used by homeowners trying to find alterbatives will wreak greater havoc, well..., interesting.