People concerned about the effects of chemical herbicides could opt for an organic alternative. One simple organic weed-killing agent is household vinegar. Vinegar is a simple solution containing 5 percent acetic acid. Canning vinegar is also available with an acetic acid concentration of 7 percent and could be used for harder-to-kill weeds.

There are a number of reasons why vinegar is a safe alternative to chemical herbicides. It is an organic product resulting from fermentation of fruit or plant matter. It presents no danger to animal wildlife or pets and often used as a food preservative. Acetic acid dissipates quickly in the air and leaves no dangerous residue.

Vinegar is a random plant killer. This simply means that it cannot selectively kill weeds and leave more desired plants untouched. It kills any plant with which it comes into contact. The acetic acid absorbs moisture from the leaves causing the leaves to die quickly. Young plants are generally dead within two days. It is a perfect organic solution for weeds and grass that often grow in small cracks of a sidewalk or driveway.

Mature plants and those with an extensive root system, such as dandelions, are more difficult to treat. In some instances the plant above the ground appears to die but is re-born weeks later. Three or more treatments may be necessary for these more difficult plants. Another option is to use a more concentrated form of vinegar such as canning vinegar with 7 percent acetic acid content.

The recipe for vinegar weed killer is simple. It is made with 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid added to 1 gallon of vinegar. The soap helps dissolve a waxy protective layer on the outer surface of leaves and allows the vinegar to work. Generally the vinegar weed killer is applied thoroughly to the entire plant. Results may be visible as early as two hours as the leaves begin to turn brown.

It is important for any individual choosing to use weed killer to remember it is a random killing agent. It is as likely to kill prize roses as the dandelions growing close by. One should be cautious when spraying vinegar on weeds not to accidentally spray any of the desirable plants. It should also not be used just before a rain or watering since acetic acid is highly soluble in water. Vinegar weed killer makes an effective and safe weed-killing agent.