Poured a few too may HydroBeadz down you drain? Don't worry, in most cases all it takes is some household items and a little time to clear the blockage.
The three household items we have the option of using are salt, vinegar or baking soda.
Unblock Your HydroBeadz Clogged Drain Using Salt
This is probably the easiest method of clearing a HydroBeadz (water beads) blockage.
If the blockage is immediately below your sink or bath, then pouring salt directly onto the HydroBeadz will shrink them considerably.
If the blockage is further along then it won’t be possible to pour salt directly onto the HydroBeadz. Instead, you could try a high salt solution. Mix 3 parts hot water with one part salt and pour the resulting mixture down your drain.
This won’t be quite as efficient at shrinking the HydroBeadz as pure salt, but it will allow you to shrink blockages that are past the water traps in your drainage system.
How Does This Work?
HydroBeadz are made from sodium polyacrylate, a superabsorbent polymer that absorbs water by osmosis.
It is a cross-linked (network) polymer that contains sodium atoms. It absorbs water by a process called osmosis. When the (sodium-containing) polymer is placed in contact with water, there is a tendency for the sodium to distribute equally between the network and the water. That means, some of the sodium atoms want to leave the network and move to the water. When these sodium atoms leave, they are replaced with water molecules. Water swells the polymer network to try to keep the sodium concentration balanced between the polymer and the water. The cross-links that connect the chains together prevent them from dissolving/breaking apart in the water. - https://www.cmu.edu/gelfand/lgc-educational-media/polymers/polymer-and-absorption/super-absorb-powder.html
When salt is added to enlarged HydroBeadz it reverses the swelling process – water is diffused out of the HydroBeadz as it is no longer needed inside the polymer to balance the salt concentration.
Once the HydroBeadz have had time to shrink (allow 4 hours for the salt to have its full effect) you can flush the now shrunken HydroBeadz through your system using a salt solution. Try a 10 parts hot water to 1 part salt solution for this stage of the process.
If you believe it safe, you could also just use tap water at this stage. The tap water will slightly re-enlarge any HydroBeadz remaining in your system, but hopefully the tap water will clear them into the larger sewer network before they have time to grow in size. Once in the sewer network there should be almost no chance of a blockage unless you have put many thousands down your drain at once.
Unblock Your Orbeez Clogged Drain Using Vinegar
Vinegar is another simple DIY method of shrinking HydroBeadz. You can pour Vinegar directly over the HydroBeadz to shrink them. You can also use a vinegar and water solution if you don’t have enough vinegar on hand. However, be aware that this will not be as effective as pure vinegar.
This method works due to the acidity of vinegar – it reduces the osmotic effect and also lowers the ionic character of the polymer that the HydroBeadz are made from.
Unblock Your Orbeez Clogged Drain Using Baking Soda
As with salt, you can try pouring baking soda directly over the Orbeez (water beads). The water molecules in the Orbeez will rather bond with the baking soda, and this will cause the beads to dehydrate.
We haven’t tested using a baking soda water solution as a means of getting past drain water trap, so salt may be a better option for blockages further along your system.
Unblock Your Drain by Dismantling the Pipework
As your blockage is most likely going to be in the trap immediately under your sink or bathtub this method may work so long as you have access to the water trap.
Your pipework here needs to use push fittings, and they need to be push fittings that are easily taken apart. Some push fittings require special tools, or simply can’t be taken apart. If you’re pipework is glued together it won’t be possible to use this method either.
Place a bowl under the water trap and dismantle the pipework. You will now be able to manually remove any HydroBeadz.
Call the Professionals to Clear the Orbeez Blockage
If none of the above methods have worked to clear your HydroBeadz blockage then it must be serious and a plumber will be required.
They’ll send a long camera down the drain (called a borescope) to inspect the blockage. They may need to remove parts of your plumbing to get to the problem, or they may try blasting the blockage with jets of water to clear it.