Kitchen Drain - Slow and Pipes (including trap) have stuff on outside

Hi,
My kitchen has a double sink and the dishwasher drain pipe goes into the drain pipe of the sink closest to it. The kitchen sink is draining very slowly. When I use the dishwasher water backs up into both sinks and water remains in the dishwasher after the dishwasher finishes. Also, if the water is on a while in one sink it starts going up the drain into the other. I think the drain must have a build-up of soap scum and maybe mineral deposits since I haven't used it for a long time to put greasy stuff down it. Also, some of the pipes have what looks like whitish/greenish stuff on the outside which I think forms around a hole as a similar thing happened on the faucet and when I cleaned it up there was a hole until more of the stuff appeared to close the hole.
Questions:
1. What is the safest non-toxic way to unclog the sink so it is no longer slow?
2. Can a plunger be used on the sink since the dishwasher drain is connected to the sink drain?
3. What is the stuff on the outside of the pipes?
Thanks in advance for all your help.
Debbie ____ Deborah Oney Blood Recall / Withdrawal - Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) http://members.aol.com/debbieoney/blood.htm CJD Watch - The International CJD Tracker http://www.fortunecity.com/healthclub/cpr/349/part1cjd.htm
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The safest way to unclog the sink is to remove the trap and wash it out.
A plunger is not going to work well in any case since it is a double sink. Even if the dishwasher were not attached, the two sinks communicate above the trap.
The gunk on the trap is probably copper carbonate from corroded copper in the trap lines.
If in fact there is a hole in the trap, what you have to do is replace at least the trap section. If this is all that is bad, this is an easy job. If you have to replace the sections which come down from the sink drain, or the section which goes into the wall, it gets messier since often it is just about impossible to get the nut on the sink drain loose and it has to be cut or broken away; similarly for the nut where the drain piping joins the larger sewer line at the wall or floor.
The problem may not be in the trap at all, but rather in the sink sewer line (the part from the wall to the basement or however it may go in your particular case. The only times I ever had trouble with a slow sink drain, the problem was in the sewer line, not in the trap.
You can start by removing the trap itself and see if the trap and nearby lines are clean. If not, clean them out (use a coathanger or whatever) and if they are clean, you need to go to plan B.

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Hi Donald,
Thanks for your informative post.
Debbie ____ Deborah Oney Blood Recall / Withdrawal - Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) http://members.aol.com/debbieoney/blood.htm CJD Watch - The International CJD Tracker http://www.fortunecity.com/healthclub/cpr/349/part1cjd.htm
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<%-name%>
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