Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Rubber?

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Rubber?

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Rubber?

Rubber is a tough elastic polymeric substance used in thousands of everyday items. It is can be derived from the latex of certain tropical plants, which is natural rubber. Another synthetic method of producing rubber is deriving it from petroleum and natural gas.

In 2021, the global synthetic rubber market was estimated to be over USD 19 billion, forecast to grow further. It is highly valued for its strength and heat resistance, making it a staple in the automobile industry.

Depending on the intended use, rubber types vary and range from natural to synthetic. In any case, they need a good ol’ cleaning whenever necessary. It is quite a waste not to reuse old tires in today’s economy.

Using hydrogen peroxide to dissolve rubber tires and mold them into newer ones by playing with the rubber’s polymer chemistry. Hydrogen peroxide also benefits your everyday household items, such as disinfecting your rubber gloves to de-staining your rubber shoes.

In this article, you can check out more on effectively using hydrogen peroxide with your rubber accessories!

Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubber — What You Need to Know

Hydrogen peroxide and rubber have been renowned for having a long bittersweet history. Hydrogen peroxide can toughen rubber products by crosslinking different polymer chains. This curing process is called vulcanization.

Hydrogen peroxide can rapidly degrade rubber if high oxygen access is given. The concentration and ratio of the organic chemical make a difference in how it affects rubber.

Rubber

Rubber’s key features include high tear and tensile strength and high resilience. It is also very resistant to friction, abrasion, water swell, and extreme temperatures. It is greatly impermeable to both air and water. Even though it is a bad conductor of heat, it can hold liquid and gas in containers made of rubber.

Physical and Chemical Nature

The physical properties of rubber include excellent tensile, low-temperature flexibility, elongation, resilience, as well as abrasion and tear resistance. It does not have great resistance to solvents and petroleum products.

Before adding special fillers and processors, it has a poor resistance to oxygen, sunlight, ozone, and heat. The latex fluid seeping from rubber trees comprises numerous isoprene molecules.

Chemically, rubber is a polymer. The molecule is a long chain consisting of repeating subunits.  It is made of thousands and thousands of basic isoprene monomer units. These are loosely joined together to make long, tangled chains.

Types

Today there are about 40 various types of rubber, in both natural and synthetic forms. The more common ones are used to engineer a wide variety of different items. Natural rubber, made of isoprene, is obtained from the latex sap.  The cost-effective Styrene-butadiene rubber offers outstanding impact strength.

Butyl rubber is excellent for shock absorption, making it an ideal choice for vacuum seals. The Nitrile rubber is resistant to extreme temperatures. Another popular rubber used in the sealing industry is Neoprene. Silicone is also a versatile rubber compatible for use with steam, water, or petroleum fluids.

Viton is a durable synthetic rubber with exceptional temperature stability. An all-around tough rubber is Polyurethane. Hydrogenated Nitrile is a rubber type that can exhibit good oil and chemical resistance.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This organic chemical is a fantastic antimicrobial, antiseptic disinfectant solution. The oxidizing characteristics of hydrogen peroxide contribute greatly to its amazing bleaching properties.

Depending on the intended use, this colorless liquid is available on the market in various strengths. Anything over 10% is corrosive and should be used with the utmost caution. When exposed to heat or sunlight, hydrogen peroxide can readily decompose into non-toxic elements such as oxygen and water.

Physical and Chemical Nature

A colorless liquid at room temperature, trace amounts of gaseous hydrogen peroxide can be found in the air. It is non-flammable directly, but it is a powerful oxidizing agent. This means it can spontaneously combust when exposed to selected organic matter.

The chemical properties of hydrogen peroxide show that it is unstable. It is formed when two molecules, each of oxygen and hydrogen, react together.

The presence of the extra oxygen atom makes it highly reactive and exothermic. This explains the massive amounts of energy released in a concentrated solution. It is a weak acid, just about more viscous than water.

Uses

Hydrogen peroxide is a versatile solution with miscellaneous uses. You can use it to disinfect your tools or clean surfaces, as it is a brilliant antimicrobial agent. It is a staple ingredient in many cosmetic products thanks to its bleaching properties.

Many hair dyes, lotions, and creams contain hydrogen peroxide. In the dental world, it is also a part of toothpaste and mouthwash. Studies show that it can improve oral health by removing bacteria that cause tooth decay and whitening teeth.

Hydrogen peroxide is also a gardener’s best friend. It can disinfect and clean gardening equipment, kill bacteria on plants, and even improve plant health thanks to its oxidizing properties.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Rubber?

With so many rubber types and numerous concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, you may wonder which combinations are compatible and which are not.

Hydrogen peroxide compatibility with any given material greatly depends on the decomposition whenever it comes into contact. The natural rubber has good chemistry with 10% hydrogen peroxide, which decreases with higher strengths. Silicone, Kalrez, Flurosilicone, Butyl, EPDM, Neoprene, and Viton are all excellent to use with hydrogen peroxide.

Nitrile is a very poor rubber type that is severely affected when it comes into contact with hydrogen peroxide. Another rubber type that you should absolutely keep away from hydrogen peroxide is Polyacrylate. SBR and Hypalon are not perfect but fairly compatible with organic chemicals.

Amongst the excellent compatible types, some kinds of rubber are more prone to decomposition when exposed to 90% hydrogen peroxide. These types include EPDM, Neoprene, SBR, and Polyacrylate.

Viton and Kalrez are two of the few which have shown immense holding power when exposed to even the strongest of hydrogen peroxide solutions.

In the rubber types not compatible with hydrogen peroxide, the mechanism of action is when oxygen in the chemical gives way to the rapid degradation of rubber.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide on Rubber

In earlier times, people noticed that the rubber quality changed when put in or with hydrogen peroxide. After extensive experiments, scientists concluded the phenomenon to be a union of oxygen with rubber molecules.

Today, hydrogen peroxide is used for numerous actions, such as dissolving rubber, cleaning stained rubber, and disinfecting rubber.

#1 Using Concentrated Hydrogen Peroxide to Dissolve Rubber

A study published in January 2021 experimented with the effects of hydrogen peroxide on rubber. Polymerization significantly modified the structure when rubber tires were treated with hydrogen peroxide.

You can use any ketone to dissolve rubber or even gasoline and ammonia. Rubber tires usually contain an n-heptane solvent which evaporates off during the process. Hydrogen peroxide in its concentrated form does a quick, neat work of dissolving tires at a super economical price.

What You Need

How to Use

Take the 30% hydrogen peroxide solution and put it in a chemical safe container. The level of the liquid must be enough to completely submerge the piece of rubber you want to dissolve. Next, while wearing golves, put the piece of rubber in the solution.

Technically, you cannot simply use hydrogen peroxide to melt down the rubber and reuse it as other polymers. This is because, during the manufacturing process, rubber is vulcanized. This means it is cross-linked with sulfur.

This type of rubber will not dissolve easily in room temperature organic solvents.

You can soak rubber items in a concentrated hydrogen peroxide solution. If the type is such that it is not compatible with the chemical, it will rapidly degrade in the solution.

Precautions to Consider

A few safety measures you should be wary of while handling concentrated hydrogen peroxide include safety as a top priority. Ensure to wear masks, gloves, and safety goggles. You should immediately wash it off if it gets on your skin, as it may result in local tissue damage.

Inhaling it may cause respiratory irritation. Check for the kind of rubber you are handling for a smoother process, as hydrogen peroxide does not work on all rubber types equally.

When storing concentrated hydrogen peroxide, keep it in an airtight dark, plastic container away from heat or sunlight and out of reach from children and pets.

#2 Using Dilute Hydrogen Peroxide to Clean Stains on Rubber

Hydrogen peroxide is renowned for being a highly effective stain remover for almost any plant and protein-based stains. It is why hydrogen peroxide is a staple ingredient in laundry detergents.

It is an effective cleaner that will make your stained rubber shoes as good as new. You can also use it for your rubber cookware which may have yellowed over time.

What You Need

How to Use

Start off by mixing equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water. Depending on what you are using the solution for, you can apply the solution in two ways.

You can fill up a spray bottle with the diluted hydrogen peroxide solution. Let us say you are using it for your rubber shoes, for example. You can spray it generously from about 4 inches away. Leave it on for approximately 10 minutes before wiping it away.

If you use it to clean other things like cookware or bathroom equipment, fill up a tub with the diluted hydrogen peroxide solution. Soak the stained item for about 10-15 minutes and watch the chemical degrade the stains.

For particularly stubborn stains, you can use the help of a brush or mop to scrub them. Afterward, just clean with clean water to remove any chemical residues.

Precautions to Consider

There are a few precautions to consider when using hydrogen peroxide to clean stains off the rubber. Do not use metal or any ammonia-based product during this process. This is because hydrogen peroxide can readily react with the salt to form other compounds.

Avoid inhaling in the product fumes. Open up the windows and doors. This will circulate fresh air and not capture the fumes in the air in the room.

Avoid touching the hydrogen peroxide solution with your bare hands, as it can irritate your skin. It is recommended that you ensure to use your protective gloves, especially if you are using them for an extended period of time.

#3 Using Dilute Hydrogen Peroxide to Disinfect Rubber

Hydrogen peroxide is widely celebrated for its antiseptic and disinfectant properties. It is highly effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, as well as fungi, yeasts, viruses, and spores.

Moreover, the versatile solution is very budget-friendly, as you do not need a multi-step routine to disinfect your rubber products. You can use this solution to disinfect your rubber gloves, shoes, bathroom equipment, kitchen accessories, and lots more.

What You Need

How to Use

Start off by cleaning any visible dirt or grime from the surface you are tackling. Then mix equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide. You can put this solution in a tub or spray bottle depending on the intended use.

Spray your surfaces generously and let the solution sit for about 5-10 minutes. If the item is related to food, such as kitchen cookware, you should rinse it thoroughly. Otherwise, you can simply let it air dry.

You can even place the item directly in the tub of hydrogen peroxide solution. Let it soak for a few minutes.

Precautions to Consider

You may need to check for the type of rubber and its quality before treating it with hydrogen peroxide. As hydrogen peroxide is not compatible with all types, it may cause unwanted damage to your stuff by degrading the rubber on the surface.

Hydrogen peroxide is safe to use but slightly stronger than other chemicals as it is organic, so always be sure to handle it carefully. When using it as a disinfectant, keep it away from surfaces that will be accessible by children and pets.

Unlike other cleaners, you also need to store it safely away from areas of heat, moisture, ignition, metals, and organic material.

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Damage Rubber Gaskets?

It highly depends on the type of rubber used in the gasket seals. Hydrogen peroxide may damage if it is not compatible. If you are unsure, you can always do a small patch test with a low-strength hydrogen peroxide solution.

If it affects your gasket negatively, it will damage the seal and negatively impact the stainless steel surfaces in your machinery.

When using store-bought cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide, ensure to check for the ingredient called mercaptobenzimidazole. It will rapidly degrade and damage rubber products when given a favorable oxygen-abundant environment.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Corrosive?

Depending on the strength of the hydrogen peroxide solution, it can be corrosive even to the most corrosion-resistant materials. The point of damage occurs primarily at the site of contact.

If you are using a low concentration household hydrogen peroxide such as 1%, 3%, or 6%, it is not generally dangerous, even though you should still exercise caution.

However, anything over 10% hydrogen peroxide, particularly if it is concentrated, will be likely to be corrosive. It can burn skin, eyes, and mucus membranes.

Some types of rubber, such as Viton and Kalrez, are super resistant to even 90% hydrogen peroxide. Polyacrylate, however, is incompatible with hydrogen peroxide, and even the lowest strength will damage it.

Why do Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubber Have a Bittersweet Relation?

Hydrogen peroxide has both good and bad effects on rubber. A concentrated high strength can cause severe damage, while a diluted solution can clean it well.

The colorless liquid is usually unstable and can readily decompose into oxygen and water upon even the slightest exposure to heat or sunlight. With the help of sulfur compounds, it can break down rubber in a controlled fashion to create products such as normal plasticized rubber to a viscous liquid.

A study investigated rubber gloves worn by hairdressers. The beauty industry makes many products with hydrogen peroxide as a common ingredient. It includes hair dyes and other temporary hair colors.

It is recommended that hairdressers always wear safety gloves to protect their skin while working with such products. However, some rubber gloves may permeate and react with hydrogen peroxide or even the individual’s skin, triggering allergies.

The recommended solution is to use plastic gloves for all such activities.

Can You Store Hydrogen Peroxide in a Rubber Bottle?

Ideally, hydrogen peroxide is supposed to be stored in a dark, airtight container away from sunlight. When visible light can creep in, it will decompose the hydrogen peroxide and deem it useless. The chemical should not be placed in any container which it can react with, such as metals or glass.

Rubber bottles for hydrogen peroxide storage are controversial as some types may safely hold the solution. The other types may react with the solution. Moreover, concentration also is a massive dependent factor.

To be on the safe side, you should always store your hydrogen peroxide in an airtight, opaque, or dark-colored plastic container.

The Takeaway

Rubber and hydrogen peroxide do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. You need to always evaluate your rubber item before treating it with hydrogen peroxide.

Nevertheless, hydrogen peroxide is an excellent agent when you need to dissolve rubber, disinfect it, or remove stains from your rubber items. For optimal results, always ensure that you are using the correct concentration and dose.

Hydrogen peroxide is a great anti-microbial that will disinfect and clean your rubber surface in its diluted form. It will dissolve rubber products when using a concentrated form.

So, order your set today!

 

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