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 effectiveness as a disinfectant lies in its powerful oxidizing properties. It readily releases oxygen when it encounters organic or inorganic substances, which disrupts the cell structures of microorganisms and pathogens, ultimately rendering them inactive. This oxidative action makes hydrogen peroxide a versatile disinfectant suitable for various surfaces and environments where the goal is to neutralize and eliminate harmful agents without relying on chemical residues or harsh byproducts.
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 cosmetic products 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 eliminate healthy bacteria on the skin.
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.