What are we making?

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FatDragon

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The head teacher in the kindergarten where I work is on a green kick and started making a natural dishwashing liquid a few months ago.

One part brown sugar, three parts fruit peels, ten parts water, left to ferment on its own for three months and then strained off of the lees and used to wash dishes. The Chinese name she calls it by (from a how-to online) just translates to 'enzyme'.

To me, it seems that the best case scenario for something like this is fermenting to vinegar, which would kill most bacteria on the dishes and help dissolve some of the gunk you're trying to wash off. In that case, I feel like adding a kombucha SCOBY and shaking regularly would help the process work faster and more effectively. Or does a fermentation process like this actually produce some enzymes that would help clean dishes?

It varies from batch to batch, but I'll leave you with a picture of the pretty pellicle on a two week old batch with apple peels.
 

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day_trippr

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Damn, looks like embryos from "Aliens" :eek:
And you wash dishes with that? :D
 
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FatDragon

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Hey, I think I have that recipe in my cookbook!

1 - Place skin-on chicken breast in a room-temperature cast iron skillet.
2 - Stare at it until one of you - the cook or the chicken breast - gets embarrassed.
3 - Remove from skillet. Allow to rest for up to ten minutes to think about what it did to get into this situation.
4 - Garnish with crushed black pepper and paprika (optional) to taste, then slice and serve with a side of antibiotics.
 
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FatDragon

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Funny replies all around. Now does anyone have any real insight on what we're making, how it would be expected to clean things (I.e. is the name 'enzyme' appropriate or are we just making vinegar?), and whether a kombucha SCOBY would help the process?
 

RPh_Guy

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It's more fun making a joke than telling you this is a horrible idea.

What is in real dish soap?
1. Water
2. Surfactants/detergents. The main ingredient and an absolute necessity.
3. Anti-bacterial agents (optional)
4. Chelation agent (optional)
5. Enzymes (optional)
6. Gelling agent (optional)

What does dish soap NOT have?
Sugar, proteins, oil, bacteria/yeast - these things stick to your dishes and leave residue.

Now look at your brown sugar fermentation with fruit peels....
No detergent. No antibacterials. No chelation. No gelling. No enzyme.
Proteins? Yep. Sugars? Uh huh. Bacteria and yeast? Check. Oil? Maybe a little.


I think it's obvious this is straight up worse than plain old water for washing dishes.

What makes it "green" anyway? Is using brown sugar vs sodium lauryl sulfate to wash dishes significantly reducing your carbon footprint? I don't think so.

Hope this makes sense :)
 
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FatDragon

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So let's say this fermented dry and the alcohol was partially or completely converted to vinegar, so it ended up as brown, fruit-scented vinegar. Let's further assume that the dishes are washed shortly after use so plain water rinses away 90-100% of what is on them. At that point, are we making things any worse by using this stuff on them? Granted, I still use the real dish soap when I was my dishes after meals at school, but when I've tried this stuff once or twice, it didn't leave a residue (though of course it didn't make a difference in the water's ability to wash the gunk off of my dishes either), so it's not as bad as the worst-case scenario.

Doing this provides an object lesson of reusing useful waste instead of throwing it away, and measuring the fruit peels, sugar, and water into the fermenting vessel is meaningful work for the kids to do at school as they learn to use a scale, do some math, and use their fine motor skills for the task. Even if it's stupid and misguided from a 'green living' perspective (this is almost certain), it's still a net positive in our students' education. I'd prefer we just chuck the food waste into a compost heap, but that's not possible in our facilities.

Oh well. Serves me right for trying to ask a bunch of rational thinkers to offer some guidance on a silly, irrational project. I'll chuck a bit of SCOBY in a few of the jars and see if they seem to ferment faster or smell more vinegary, which would indicate success in my mind.
 
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FatDragon

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Seems enzymes would need some time to do their work. I'm not sure the time they sit in a sink of dishwater while being washed is enough.
More than that, is there any reason to believe that this process is producing or activating enzymes that would help wash dishes in the first place? There's no prescription on what kind of fruit waste you use, so that's a strike against any kind of repeatable enzyme production unless it's a product of yeast, bacteria, or the sugar, since you can't count on anything that a specific type of fruit would contribute to the concoction if you switch up the fruit every time you make it.

One of the maddening things about this is the stupid name. Enzyme. There's no good way to search for an actual discussion or explanation of how this is supposed to work when it has a generic name like this. It's even harder when I'm trying to do the research in a language that I don't speak or read natively. Oh well. I've got plenty of SCOBY to go around. Looks like the teacher's gonna be washing her bowl with fruit kombucha in a couple months.
 

RPh_Guy

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At that point, are we making things any worse by using this stuff on them? Granted, I still use the real dish soap when I was my dishes after meals at school, but when I've tried this stuff once or twice, it didn't leave a residue
Maybe its not making the dishes worse, but it's certainly not a good substitute for dish soap.

It's probably on par with:
* Urine (contains ammonium -- it has been used for cleaning; look it up)
* Snot (contains anti-bodies & enzymes)
* Mud (abrasive)

I'll chuck a bit of SCOBY in a few of the jars and see if they seem to ferment faster or smell more vinegary
Just use vinegar "mother" instead. Acetobacter is obviously best suited for acetic acid production.

For educational purposes, perhaps there are other things you could make that aren't so useless and potentially more enjoyable. Vinegar? Soy sauce? I don't know.
In my pharmacy compounding lab we made personal lubricant ;)

but that's not possible in our facilities.
Are the cleaning agents at your educational facilities not government regulated?

is there any reason to believe that this process is producing or activating enzymes that would help wash dishes in the first place?
No.
In a dream world fermenters would clean themselves this way.
 
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FatDragon

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Just use vinegar "mother" instead. Acetobacter is obviously best suited for acetic acid production.

For educational purposes, perhaps there are other things you could make that aren't so useless and potentially more enjoyable. Vinegar? Soy sauce? I don't know.
In my pharmacy compounding lab we made personal lubricant ;)


Are the cleaning agents at your educational facilities not government regulated?


No.
In a dream world fermenters would clean themselves this way.
The place where I bought my SCOBY marketed it as a SCOBY and a vinegar mother. :drunk: Since kombucha is notably acetic and gets more so over time, I'm not sure how big a difference there is between the two. Either way, I already have the SCOBY on hand, while I'd have to order a vinegar mother or some expensive imported unfiltered vinegar to get a proper vinegar mother.

Regulations here are . . . lax. Technically, there is not supposed to be any foreign language, reading, writing, or math education in kindergartens here (as of a few months ago) anymore, which would put me out of a job. They send me out the back door and I read a book in my car whenever inspectors come, which has only happened once in the last year. The kitchen uses proper(ish) cleaning methods and actual dishwashing soap, but the handful of stainless steel bowls and utensils we keep in the classroom for kids who want to do work cutting or juicing fruit (for example) get washed in the classroom - first by students as a type of educational work for them to do, and then by a teacher to actually clean them.
 
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