Can Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Weeds?Faizan Khan
The first response of anyone after watching small hideous outgrowth surrounding their beloved plant is how to get rid of them. Unfortunately, such outgrowths are one of the most common nuisances in horticulture and agriculture and are known as weeds.
So, the real question is, how do you kill weeds? Is there another way to remove them instead of manually plucking out all of the plants from the soil? And what about herbicides and their action?
In this article, we will be providing you with solutions much better than toxic herbicides and manual scraping. So without further ado, let us introduce you to hydrogen peroxide!
Weeds: What Are They?
Before we can truly understand whether hydrogen peroxide is able to kill off weeds (spoiler alert, it does!), first, we have to know what weeds actually are and what they comprise.
The term “weed”, refers to any plant which is unwanted in that particular area, e.g., grows alongside other cultivable species of plants. It can be due to either weed being poisonous or unappealing to the site.
Ever since man began agricultural activities, he has to watch out for any unwanted growth. Because weed-like plants steal the essential soil nutrients that could have been used by the desired plant to grow. Moreover, many species of weed are highly invasive and grow at a tremendous rate.
However, the term weed in agriculture and pop culture are two entirely different things. You cannot pluck out a handful of unwanted plants and roll them to get ecstatic, unlike what some people might think!
Weeds vs Bacteria
Another common misconception that we want to address is that weeds are not equivalent to microscopic plant pathogens such as bacteria. The two parties are of entirely different domains.
Hearing the word weed may rouse a misplaced imagination of a group of organisms that attack and eat off the host plant. In reality, weeds are plants themselves, only misplaced. Weed of one area may be desired at another land where you can utilize it properly.
On the other hand, bacteria are a group of pathogens that are almost always undesirable. They cannot be seen with naked eyes and cause deadly plant illnesses. They can be related to the “germs” people usually refer to. However, plant-bacteria are quite different from human ones.
Globally, bacteria eat off of plants while weeds eat whatever the desired plant is eating, leading to starvation of the latter.
Hydrogen Peroxide – It’s Great!
Now that we have familiarized ourselves with basic pointers about weed and what are some of the common misconceptions regarding it, we can start to discuss how to eliminate them.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the oldest and arguably one of the most well-known disinfecting agents available in the market. Its cleaning and disinfecting properties are second to none. Moreover, the thing which gives hydrogen peroxide the edge over its counterparts is its ability to clean consistently.
The disinfecting properties of hydrogen peroxide have been documented throughout the research. Not only is it a potent bacteria killer, but it also has excellent cleansing effects over viruses and stubborn fungi.
So this makes one wonder, how is this chemical able to accomplish so much with yet only so little? Well, the answer to that question lies in its structure.
Reactive Oxidation Species (ROS)
The word ROS may send shivers down the spine for anyone from a medicine background reading it. However, with the unwanted weeds and germs, it is all you will ever need!
Coming back to the structure of hydrogen peroxide, it is a covalent bond between oxygen and two hydrogens, however with an additional coordinated bone formed between parent oxygen and foreign oxygen from surroundings.
Anyone with basic knowledge about chemistry will instantly tell you that this structure is identical to the structure of water. And definitely, hydrogen peroxide shares a lot of its characteristics, with water, physical appearance being one of them.
However, the additional oxygen which binds to the parent oxygen is the real game. Because of this loosely bound structure, hydrogen peroxide is able to perform so many tasks.
As this oxygen is loosely bound, it can be released easily into the environment under slightly tough conditions.
This makes hydrogen peroxide a great oxidizing (oxygen delivering) agent. Moreover, the oxygen that is dissociated from hydrogen peroxide is hungry and in need of another molecule to bind with. This property makes it reactive and therefore known as Reactive Oxygen Species.
ROS has many adverse effects if produced inside living cells. They can induce specific proteins, which lead to cell injury or even cell death. Of course, this is highly undesirable in humans, but already undesired weeds, they are another story.
Killing Weeds Using Hydrogen Peroxide
So far, we have gone over what exactly weeds are and the theory behind how hydrogen peroxide can be effective against this nuisance. Now, it is time we can begin discussing what you have been waiting for, the real procedure!
The great thing about hydrogen peroxide (among many others) is how it is able to perform tasks efficiently all by itself. For procedures involving hydrogen peroxide, all you have to do is introduce hydrogen peroxide into the media properly, and you are good to go.
What You Need
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Spraying bottle
- Warm water
- Equip yourself with safety gear such as a protective mask and gloves
- Take out the brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and pour almost a cup directly into the spraying bottle
- Next, take some water (preferably warm, as it increases the hydrogen peroxide activity) and pour the same quantity as much as hydrogen peroxide into the bottle
- Give this bottle a good mix
- Now, identify weed growth in your backyard localize the area for spraying
- While keeping a safe distance between you and the hydrogen peroxide bottle, directly spray the mixture over the weed
- Keep spraying until you are assured that all of the areas are thoroughly covered
- Let the hydrogen peroxide mixture sit over the weed for about 15 minutes (in the meantime, you may hear sizzling or bubbling sounds from the plant, that is just hydrogen peroxide doing its magic)
- After 15 minutes, rinse off the surrounding plants with water
- Repeat the procedure 2-3 times
- Finally, take a handful of table salt and sprinkle it around the weed outgrowth (this will ensure that the weed remains at bay and does not invade the surrounding plants)
And voila! Only with a few simple steps and the equipment you have commonly available at home, you can treat nuisances such as weed so effectively.
Hydrogen Peroxide vs Other Agents
Now, you may ask, “Hydrogen peroxide is good and all, I get it. But my neighbor faced the same problem, and he used herbicides which showed amazing results. So why should I spend so much time with hydrogen peroxide?”
Well, this is a valid question indeed. Though full of negligence and lack of knowledge. In this section of the article, we will compare hydrogen peroxide with other agents you can use to clear off weeds from your backyard.
And see how hydrogen peroxide is the best pick amongst all.
Herbicides vs Hydrogen Peroxide
Before we can get into the obvious detrimental effects of herbicides on human beings, we first have to acknowledge how effective herbicides really are in cleaning weeds.
Herbicides are practically a group of chemicals that are toxic to plants and kill them off easily. They can be either selective or non-selective, and we don’t have to get into so much detail.
All you need to know is that herbicides provide the consumers with ease of application (it is pre-made, and you just have to sprinkle it over weeds) as well as results (as it is composed of chemicals that may even kill giants).
When it comes to the side effects of herbicides, they are a ton. Moreover, many weed species are resistant to herbicides, making their use all the more toxic.
Some of the common side-effects of long term use of herbicides over crops (and in turn, consuming them) is:
- Stinging eyes
- Liver and Kidney damage
- Reproductive and developmental issues
- Congenital disabilities risk for pregnant women
However, it is true that the side effects of herbicides depend on the type you are using. However, all in all, they are an inorganic class of cleaner that can be switched with much safer and more convenient hydrogen peroxide.
Bleach vs Hydrogen Peroxide
Though rare, we have seen people pouring out-of-bottle bleach directly over their plants to get rid of stubborn weeds. And needless to say, this has severe consequences without much benefit.
Firstly, bleach is one of the most toxic household chemicals you can come across. The use of bleach is highly mediated even in controlled hospital settings. It contains chlorine and its conjugates which are highly toxic to not only plants but also every other living animal.
Secondly, pouring bleach directly into your weed growth will lead to their death, of course. However, the surrounding plants, even the soil underneath, will face toxicity.
Therefore people, avoid the use of bleach on your plants, please.
Mulching vs Hydrogen Peroxide
Now comes the final, and yet another popular way people recommend to get rid of your weed outgrowth. And that is to grab a shovel and directly start plucking out all of the weed growth from your soil.
Well, don’t get us wrong here! It is an effective way to get rid of your weeds for sure. However, not an efficient one. For once, you should value your time and refrain from spending so much on a task that can easily be done using hydrogen peroxide.
Secondly, standing in the sun in the season of summer or late spring, the time at which weed generally grows the most will prove harsh to your mind and health.
So stop wasting your time and sweat and switch it up with much more convenient and efficient hydrogen peroxide.
Safety Precaution You Should Follow!
The final segment of our article revolves around how you can use hydrogen peroxide to remove weeds and avoid getting unwanted results (much like weeds).
The best advice we give to our consumers regarding the safety of procedures involving hydrogen peroxide is to check for the concentration of the chemical you are using.
Hydrogen peroxide is generally safe and can be used without much precaution when it comes to lesser concentrations. However, at higher ones, like the ones people use to get rid of their weed plants, safety precautions should be considered.
Use protective gear while handling hydrogen peroxide. Moreover, limit the exposure of this chemical to be less than 15-20 minutes. Because, at longer durations, hydrogen peroxide starts seeping into the upper dead skin layer of your skin and may start to irritate the free nerve ending present underneath. All in all, it leads to an undesirable situation.
It goes without saying! Avoid contacting hydrogen peroxide directly with your eyes, nose, and mouth. Even a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide can irritate the eyes and mouth easily, leading to red eyes and mucosal itching.
Secondly, make sure to wash your plants thoroughly after the procedure. Hydrogen peroxide is not toxic to plants. However, leaving it on the surface may cause someone to contact the plant with skin, leading to itching subconsciously.
Washing plants should be followed even more so if you have fruiting plants and regularly use the produce from your backyard.
Weeds are one of the biggest nuisances agricultural people have been facing since the advent of time. Anyone with a knack for horticulture knows how hard it is to manage such outgrowths, let alone prevent them effectively.
However, hydrogen peroxide provides its user with an easy and effective solution. Not only is it effective in treating weeds, but it is easily available in your homes, making its use convenient even more so.
So, if you are someone who’s facing weed problems or generally cares about the health of your plants, order your set of hydrogen peroxide bottles today!