10 Amazing Properties of Hydrogen Peroxide That Make it a Must-Have!Faizan Khan
We all had our share of cuts and bruises as curious kids. You may remember after every scrape or cut. A liquid was applied to the wound, which made funny bubbles.
Here is a little fact you may not know: the brown bottle present in the first aid kits at our homes has more uses than one can possibly fathom.
Hydrogen peroxide has a myriad of uses in homes and industries apart from its usual bactericidal use. The basis of the functionality of hydrogen peroxide is its loosely bonded oxygen. This oxygen makes it an excellent tool for oxidizing, killing pathogens, and cleaning.
So let’s explore the few exceptional properties of hydrogen peroxide and how you can apply it for your use!
1. Removes Organic Impurities During WasteWater Treatment
The world would be in a severe water crisis right now if we kept using new water without recycling the old one. Consider this: A person uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water daily on average. And there are about 7.8 billion people in the world right now!
Therefore, hydrogen peroxide acts as our savior by being the foremost tool used in recycling wastewater. What makes hydrogen peroxide superior to other cleaning and disinfecting agents is its ability to dissociate into harmless byproducts along with excellent disinfecting properties.
Moreover, hydrogen peroxide is a potent oxidizing agent. It can oxidize all the harmful minerals and organic material commonly present in the water, e.g., zinc, molybdenum, sulfides, and ammonia.
In comparison, outdated agents like chlorine and bleach give off harmful, even fatal byproducts which can make you very sick. It is a common problem faced in third-world countries where the vast applications of hydrogen peroxide are not known.
2. Excellent Bleaching Agent
Hydrogen peroxide is a famous bleaching agent, and it’s used in places you would have never known!
From whitening your teeth to bleaching your hair, hydrogen peroxide does it all. The reactive oxygen liberated makes hydrogen peroxide a potent bleacher that can be used in many procedures.
Hydrogen peroxide is the secret ingredient of many parlors and spas. It is only because of its excellent whitening properties. As a result, people get gorgeous nails and goldilocks!
Moreover, the vast applications of hydrogen peroxide’s bleaching properties are not just limited to households and spas. It is widely used in industries in making a ton of standard products. For example, hydrogen peroxide is used to whiten the sugar you use at home, the white cotton clothes we wear, and even the paper we write on!
The raw material for these products are colored and have to be bleached for further processing. It is only by the hydrogen peroxide and its unique bleaching properties industries can produce paper and sugar.
3. Supreme Oxidizing Agent
Another thing hydrogen peroxide is famous for is its remarkable oxidizing properties. If you look at hydrogen peroxide’s chemical structure, it is a lot like water but with extra oxygen. This oxygen is loosely bound and becomes a potent oxidizer in an array of applications.
One intriguing application of hydrogen peroxide in this regard is eliminating the foul odor. The pungent smells our nose buds feel are because of irritating chemicals like aldehydes and sulfides. Hydrogen peroxide can react and oxidize these chemicals into odorless (and even sweet-smelling) chemicals that are pleasant to your nose. Thus, in the events like skunk attacks or rotten food, hydrogen peroxide is beneficial.
Industrial applications of oxidizing properties of hydrogen peroxide are also far-reaching. For example, it is used in manufacturing and oxidizing many necessary chemicals like nitric acid and sulphuric acid through the Ostwald and contact process, respectively. Both of these processes require the oxidation of raw materials, which hydrogen peroxide provides.
Hydrogen peroxide is also particularly useful in extracting minerals in the mining industry. Essential minerals like copper, gold, and uranium are found in the form of impure ores from Earth. The oxygen from hydrogen peroxide reacts with these impurities, easily separated to give a high yield of valuable products!
4. Effective Disinfectant
The oxidizing properties of hydrogen peroxide can also manifest in the form of an effective disinfectant. When hydrogen peroxide is exposed to a pathogen, the reactive oxygen quickly reacts with its cell wall. By altering its structure, hydrogen peroxide can eliminate the agent.
The action of hydrogen peroxide can be divided into the type of organism it attacks:
The antibacterial properties of hydrogen peroxide are well-known. It is present in almost all first-aid kits as the signature brown bottle. However, whenever you apply hydrogen peroxide over your skin, bubbling starts. This bubbling is due to the free oxygen from hydrogen peroxide, which reacts with bacterial cell walls and thus eliminates them. This bubbling action has become a rather satisfying symbol of sterilization for many.
In addition to the skin, hydrogen peroxide can disinfect many household places like countertops and washrooms. The hydrogen peroxide action is universal and harmless, so you do not have to worry about accidents.
Hydrogen peroxide’s advantage over antibiotics is that it is generalized in its bactericidal properties and bacteria get used to antibiotics with their use. Hydrogen peroxide can kill almost all bacteria without losing its efficiency.
One field where a lot of disinfectants fail is dealing with fungus. Fungi are a nasty class of bacteria-like organisms attacking your food and skin.
Hydrogen peroxide can provide you with a viable and efficient method of killing fungi. As it relies on the oxidation properties of its reactive oxygen, hydrogen peroxide can neutralize even the toughest of fungi by altering their cell wall. The fungi cell wall is made from a compound named chitin which is a class of carbohydrates. The oxygen from hydrogen peroxide reacts with this compound and makes them insoluble carbon compounds, killing all the fungi in the process.
Some of the common diseases fungi cause are ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and yeast infections. They cover your feet and skin with unsightly red, itchy patches.
Just like with fungi, hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill viruses effectively too!
The viruses are borderline non-living and much more dangerous than bacteria. It is made from an outer protein coat. A lot of disinfectants miss them, and they are ingested by people causing harmful diseases.
Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the protein coat rendering the virus useless. Moreover, recent studies have shown hydrogen peroxide as adjuvant therapy for the novel COVID-19 virus.
5. Liberates Oxygen Quickly
The oxidation and disinfecting properties of hydrogen peroxide depending on the release of its oxygen. What makes hydrogen peroxide a potent disinfectant and oxidizing agent is that its oxygen is unstable and releases after a few seconds of coming into contact with the atmosphere and light. Therefore, it is kept inside a brown bottle, which protects it from the outside sunlight.
One of the most common household applications of quick oxidizing properties of hydrogen is removing stubborn stains. The stains like red wine on carpet or coffee on clothes are tough to remove and require a lot of chemicals in addition to the physical labor of removing them manually. Hydrogen peroxide can save you a lot of money, time, and energy by doing that task for you!
6. Works Well With Detergents
The great thing about hydrogen peroxide is it does not alter the integrity of the surface where it reacts. So as hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen when it reacts, it can be used with detergents too!
Detergents are special chemicals designed to remove tough stains. They are designed to work well with water and oxygen. And thus, when hydrogen peroxide is added to them, it enhances their function instead of hindering it.
People utilize this ability of hydrogen peroxide in whitening their white clothes and increasing the functionality of their detergents. However, you should know hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent too. Therefore, it is not compatible with all color types. Make sure to test a drop of hydrogen peroxide on the cloth before washing it entirely with hydrogen peroxide.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide Also Has Reducing Properties!
When hydrogen peroxide is reacted with oxygen, it gets oxidized and therefore acts as a reducing agent. This mainly happens when hydrogen peroxide is placed inside an alkaline solution. After getting oxidized, hydrogen peroxide gives off hydrogen gas.
This property of hydrogen peroxide is widely used in industries where hydrogen peroxide is used to manufacture hydrogen gas, as in metal industries.
Hydrogen peroxide is a far better oxidizing agent than a reducing one, but both of its properties have their own applications!
8. Moisturizing Properties
Believe it or not, hydrogen is also used in the skin-care and beauty industry along with its other medicinal and industrial uses!
It is essential to know that the direct application of hydrogen peroxide on your skin can be harmful. Therefore, hydrogen peroxide is mixed with other products to lower its side effects while retaining its properties.
Hydrogen peroxide is widely used in the saloon and parlors because of its bleaching properties. Hydrogen peroxide can give you a natural blonde look without much effort. Moreover, it is a crucial tool in manicure and pedicure. The disinfecting and cleansing action of hydrogen peroxide can be a great tool in cleaning the nails or your hands and feet!
Many skin-whitening creams use hydrogen peroxide to some extent. Moreover, hydrogen peroxide is an excellent hydrating agent as it yields water and oxygen as its byproducts. This hydrating property of hydrogen peroxide is utilized in moisturizing creams and ointments.
9. Environment-Friendly – No Toxic By-Products!
As we have mentioned a couple of times above, hydrogen peroxide is great because it is harmless in its way of action. When hydrogen peroxide disassociates, it releases water and oxygen. Not only are they harmless to us, but they can be further utilized in other products. This is what makes hydrogen peroxide superior to its counterparts!
The non-toxicity of hydrogen peroxide makes it possible for us to use it over our skin for regulated periods, clean our wounds, bleach our hairs, clean our fruits, and even wash our aquariums.
Industries like to use hydrogen peroxide due to the same reason. It gives high-yield products without toxic and biohazardous waste, which is harmful to the environment.
10. Makes a Good Solvent
Most of the compounds in our daily life are polar and soluble in water. Hydrogen peroxide has similar dissolving properties to water, making it a suitable solvent for various compounds. Because as you might guess- hydrogen peroxide gives off the water when it breaks down.
It is only because hydrogen peroxide is a suitable solvent that can be used as a bleaching agent and a disinfectant agent. It can be used with detergents to whiten your clothes.
Also, hydrogen peroxide is extensively used as a solvent in industries because it can dissolve various organic and inorganic solutes.
Various concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can be prepared in water as it is a good solvent. The one we commonly use in our homes is the 3% hydrogen peroxide. Industries, on the other hand, use 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide. The highest hydrogen peroxide concentration used in the industry is 90% hydrogen peroxide which can even be used as rocket fuel!
Hydrogen peroxide has only three basic properties: oxidation, disinfection, and bleaching. All of these properties are because of its loosely bound oxygen atom. And these three properties are so paramount that they can be used in a plethora of things!
Moreover, the great advantage of using hydrogen peroxide over other mainstream oxidizing agents, disinfecting, and bleaching agents is its quick action and nontoxic byproducts.
Hydrogen peroxide is so commonly available, easy to use, and cheap that it is utilized in hundreds of homes and industries. Whereas on the contrary, similar agents require a lot of time or are not easy to use. Even if they check both of these points, it is implausible that they’ll be available at as cheap rates as hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is unrivaled in its versatility and use.
So, grab your set of hydrogen peroxide bottles today!