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Parrot Vinegar Scare on Facebook is False Information!

For the last few days there is a story about vinegar being toxic to parrots when heated being passed around on facebook. This information is wrong.
The writer cites “facts” supposedly from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for vingear. However checking such data sheets these “facts” simply do not exist. Thus the whole write up is a lie meant to scare concerned parrot owners.

So where does all this come from? Let me try to explain:


A woman supposedly ran her dishwasher with vinegar added and her parrots died


Vinegar contains approximately 5% Acetic Acid (C2H4O2) the active ingredient) and water.
parrot health | vinegar

1. Decomposition

At dishwasher temperatures acetic acid does not decompose. The decomposition temperature is way above the operating temperature of a dishwasher. If only vinegar was used in the dishwasher it would need to decompose in order to be able to form new compounds.

2. Chemical Reaction

It is possible that a chemical reaction between the detergent (base) and the vinegar (acid) occurred. But without knowing what exactly was in the detergent, no one can say what chemical compound might have been created or if it even was this and not something else that killed the birds.

However, this is not relevant when talking about using vinegar for coffee machine descaling. Just don’t mix it with bases.

3. Evaporation

As the boiling point of acetic acid lies above that of water (the main ingredient in vinegar) you also do not have the problem of acetic acid evaporating before the water and forming a highly concentrated acetic acid cloud which would be corrosive to the respiratory system.


Vinegar when heated is no more dangerous than when used cold. However, vinegar is an irritant to the respiratory system, thus should be used away from birds and in well ventilated areas.

Apart from that: Citric acid works way better for decalcifying coffee machines than vinegar. Make sure you calculate the correct concentration for your coffeemaker based on the manufacturer recommendations.

Here is a MSDS for White Vinegar from Flexo for those of you who would like to dig a little deeper.

As to my qualifications? I am a Chemical Engineer. And I am very cautious with the lives of my parrots. 😉 But this is just a non-sensical pointless scare.