The vast majority of liquid and some powdered drain openers are highly concentrated caustics products like lye; some are concentrated acids like sulfuric acid. These chemical drain openers can potentially be hazardous to your health, your kids, pets, and some time to your plumbing system when you’re trying to open a slow drain. Injuries to eyes, lungs, and skin as well as damage to clothing and plumbing pipes and trim can be serious and expensive.
Past reports from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) report that the body areas most involved in chemical drain cleaner injuries were the head (16% of the time), Trunk (28%), arms (28%), legs (28%) and shockingly eyes (64%). While the risk of a chemical drain cleaner injury is low, the CPSC said the consequences of serious and sometimes permanent bodily damage are significant in any event that does occur.
In addition, mixing different drain cleaning products in the same slow drain can generate toxic and sometimes fatal fumes in the vicinity of the drain. (Years ago toxic fumes at Paul Revere Intermediate School in Blue Island (Chicago area) sent 32 students and teachers to the ER after drain cleaners were mixed with bleach to “clear” a clogged gurgling drain at the school)
Bottom line, avoid using chemical-based drain openers if at all possible. The best way to do that is to keep drain lines clean on a regular basis; a product like Drain Maintenance Treatment (DMT) is a powdered product that is safe for people and pets, plumbing and septic system; it’s full of enzymes and microbes that safely eat anything organic…hair, toilet paper, grease, food particles, etc. (Check it out here DMT)
NOTE: DMT will not open a clogged drain (Actually it would, but it would take weeks for the enzymes and microbes to eat their way through the clog, while they do eat a lot, they are microscopic in size). If you do use a chemical drain opener to remove the clog, be sure to wear safety glasses, do not mix products together and always, and I mean ALWAYS tell the Plumbing Professors technician that you used a chemical product in your drain. Once he knows that, he will take precautions to protect himself from some potentially serious bodily injuries when he takes apart your plumbing.