Chlorine Used to Wash Dishes

Chlorine Used to Wash Dishes
Lome, Togo West Africa
Monday, August 6, 2007

I went to the Hand of God Cafeteria here in Lome, and found I was given a new lesson in how to choose a Restaurant. I have went around and around in my head, trying to choose a Restaurant, and in the end, I am happy I do not enter the kitchens.

I have found a very good place to two egg sandwiches in the morning. I order a two egg omelet, which technically by definition is a couple of eggs mixed up then fried to completely cooked. Extra ingredients are more or less a luxury, I get mine with Peppers inside.

I have always like to watch my food being cooked, it makes me feel safer to see the cook.

My new lesson was, watch the people who clean the dishes. I am not going to try to inspect where they clean the dishes first, then once I see how they clean the dishes, I then will choose the person to be my cook, and watch the cook. I would almost say in West Africa, the men are pigs, need to find a female cook.

This is Rochele the cook, if she does not cook, I do not eat.

The menu, although I think more for looks, what you can eat and what is on the menu are always different.

Soap Suds, with some Javel added to the water, a chlorine product and used to purify water.

I was recently in Atakpame, the man at the cafeteria dumped the water from a can of peas into the dish soap as I was watching. I lost my appetite. I then proceeded to watch them do this water wash down of the pans with no soap.

People are delusional that they do not drink the water, I have never seen dishes cleaned in purified water. A great restaurant in the world has hot water to clean. I dream of hot water being used in Kitchens, and think all the talk about purified water is childish rubbish, and lacks any critical reasoning. Everyone drinks the water, it is not possible to avoid it when traveling.

My new lesson in Restaurants, I need to first inspect the dish washer or dish washing, then watch the cook. It is possible to avoid a bad dish washer, but not possible to avoid drinking the water.

Chlorine Used to Wash Dishes


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Information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website concerning water disinfection and chemical treatment with chlorine. Mostly info is for emergency treatment but I think in principle, still somewhat applies if your in an environment that warrants concern about water quality.

"For chemical disinfection to be effective, the water must be filtered and settled first. Chlorine and iodine are the two chemicals commonly used to treat water. They are somewhat effective in protecting against exposure to Giardia, but may not be effective in controlling more resistant organisms like Cryptosporidium. Chlorine is generally more effective than iodine in controlling Giardia, and both disinfectants work much better in warm water."

"You can use a non-scented, household chlorine bleach that contains a chlorine compound to disinfect water. Do not use non-chlorine bleach to disinfect water. Typically, household chlorine bleaches will be 5.25% available chlorine. Follow the procedure written on the label. When the necessary procedure is not given, find the percentage of available chlorine on the label and use the information in the following table as a guide."

Table excerpt;
1% chlorine use 10 drops per liter of water.
4-6% chlorine use 2 drops per liter of water.
7-10% chlorine use 1 drop per liter of water.

"Mix the treated water thoroughly and allow it to stand, preferably covered, for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, allow the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or pour it from one clean container to another several times."

I'm not an expert to be sure, but one concern of mine would be that where hot water is not available for cleaning, and chlorine is used, it may be over emphasized as a cleaning agent. Thus possibly resulting in cleaning equipment, dishes, utensils etc. having excessive chlorine residue.

According to Wikipedia; "it reacts with organic material to form trihalomethanes like chloroform, which is a well known carcinogen. Chlorine is a respiratory irritant. It also attacks mucous membranes and burns the skin. As little as 3.5 ppm can be detected as an odor, and 1000 ppm is likely to be fatal after a few deep breaths. Exposure to chlorine should not exceed 0.5 ppm."

Sure, chlorine kills micro organisms and is commonly used, and certainly better than ingesting gray water. But I have to wonder how much chlorine is in that Javel, and how much is Rochele pouring in that bucket?

I completely agree that we should observe the cleaners and cookers if at all possible.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
- Friedrich Nietzsche"

Thanks for the menu photo with prices. Even if it's not available on a daily basis, it gives one a good idea about food costs.


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