Posted on September 29, 2021 at 8:19 AM by Alicia Doran
Recently on social media sites we have been seeing a lot of people touting the use of Acetic acid (a.k.a. Horticultural Vinegar) as a substitute for 'traditional' herbicides. Many people are unaware of the truth about Acetic acid and mistakenly think it is the same as the vinegar you put on your salad.
- Horticultural vinegar is a 20-30% solution of Acetic acid (salad vinegar is 5%)
- Acetic acid is highly corrosive and can cause severe and permanent eye injuries including blindness. It also is caustic to skin and can cause long-term respiratory problems.
- There are some Acetic acid products labeled as herbicides. Not all sites may be listed on the label.
- The labels list required personal protective equipment (PPE) including eye protection, N-95 respirators, gloves, long sleeves, long pants, shoes plus socks vs. some traditional herbicides that are less restrictive and may only require long sleeves, long pants, and shoes.
- The products have a 'Danger' label meaning that they pose a health and/or environmental risk vs. many common herbicides that are lower risk and have a 'Warning' or 'Caution' label. (Yes - Including glyphosate which usually has a Caution label).
- Some Acetic acid products prohibit reentry into an area (including non-ag sites) for 48 hours. Most traditional herbicides allow reentry into non-ag sites once the spray has dried.
- Not all acetic acid products are labeled for herbicide use. If they are not labeled for herbicide use on your site, it is illegal to use them.
Activity and Effectiveness
- Acetic acid works best on young, newly emerged annual or biennial plants on warm and sunny days.
- Acetic acid will kill young foliage but DOES NOT move within the plant. It is not effective for controlling deep-rooted perennial plants like Canada thistle or Dalmatian toadflax. While it may damage the leaves, it will not kill the roots and the plants will survive and regrow.
University of Maryland