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Question from P. N.

Thanks for all the great data! Do you know about a powder cleaner named Bar Keepers Friend? It’s like Bon Ami but works much better and I don’t get any toxic reaction from it like Ajax, etc. Do you know if it’s non-toxic? Thanks!!

Debra’s Answer

I looked up the MSDS sheet for Bar Keepers Friend and under “Hazardous Ingredients” is listed oxalic acid.

Oxolic acid is one of the strongest organic acids. Though it is abundantly present in many plants, most (notably lamb’s quarters, rhubarb and sorrel), it can irritate the lining of the intesines when consumed, and can be fatal in large doses. Still, we all eat some oxalic acid in common foods every day with no ill effects, including black pepper, parsley, spinach, chard, beets, chocolate, most nuts, most berries, and beans

Though the Bar Keeper’s Friend MSDS warns only of irritation. Here is the safety data from the oxalic acid MSDS:

Oxalic acid is a powder, so there are no chemical gasses to be concerned about, but if you are shaking the powder in the air, small amounts could get in your nose or eyes and cause irritation. And, since you are not ingesting it, there is no danger of poisoning (but keep it away from children and pets).

Personally, I would stick with Bon Ami or just use baking soda. There’s no need to use a product with more toxic ingredients when safer products are available.

Yet, if you find this product to work better, it probably contains so little oxalic acid that it wouldn’t cause any effect greater than irriation, as stated in the MSDS sheet.

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