Generally found in bathroom cabinets to kitchen cabinets, hydrogen peroxide is among the most common household products today. The uses of hydrogen peroxide are a plenty, but it must be used with caution. That’s because it can be harmful for your health. Due to hydrogen peroxide’s ubiquity, we are going to look at the important facts surrounding it, so you know when to use the compound and when you should put it away for good.
What Is H2O2?
Hydrogen peroxide is classed as a compound by chemists, meaning it has 2 atomic elements. When you store it at normal temperature, it becomes a clear liquid and has a blue tinge. The chemical formula it has is H2O2, meaning it is closely related to water. The air surrounding you also contain traces of hydrogen peroxide in gaseous form.
The extra oxygen atom in hydrogen peroxide means that it has very diverse properties than water and is environmentally friendly as a chemical as well. It acts like an oxidant, meaning it can change the properties of a substance on a molecular level. It does this by taking out electrons from atoms of other compounds when it interacts with them.
Why is it used as a disinfectant?
Hydrogen peroxide’s ability to cause oxidation gives it the disinfectant quality. When it oxidizes, it kills harmful bacteria through damaging the cell walls of the organism. A lot of people use hydrogen peroxide like an antiseptic, because it is effective in treating surface wounds. However, you shouldn’t apply it repeatedly on the wound because it may reduce the speed of the process of healing.
The best time to apply hydrogen peroxide on a wound is when it’s fresh. You shouldn’t apply it when the wound has been cleaned and bandaged. Food grade hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be used for treating burns or animal bites. If you have suffered from those injuries you should acquire medical assistance right away.
The Other Types of H2O2
Yes, there are different types of hydrogen peroxide, and each of them have their own specific uses. A lot of people recognize and use the 3% hydrogen peroxide solution packed in brown bottles at pharmacies and grocery stores. This is the common household disinfectant as the solution is weak. Hydrogen peroxide is also used in hair dyes with concentrations going from 6% to 10%.
Apart from that, ‘food-grade’ hydrogen peroxide has a 35% concentration, which isn’t fit for human consumption. To get an idea of its danger, do note that industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide used in manufacturing electronics has a 90% concentration.
Is it dangerous?
Hydrogen peroxide has got advantages and drawbacks, and most health experts state that it shouldn’t be used for wounds. If used this way, it can kill healthy bacteria on the skin.
When taken in small amounts, the compound doesn’t pose any threat. However, using large amounts can cause tissue damage and stomach irritation. Poison control centers in the U.S. get reports of children that have accidentally drunk hydrogen peroxide in their homes. If you have stored hydrogen peroxide in your home, make sure that you keep it locked in a cabinet away from your children or on a high shelf.