Hydrogen peroxide: Most Common Uses and Applications

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with the chemical formula (H2O2). It is a more viscous liquid than water with pale blue color. It is the simplest peroxide and reactive oxygen species with O-O single bond. When exposes to light, hydrogen peroxide decomposes very slowly. However, in the presence of the reactive compound, it decomposes very fast.

This is a reason, hydrogen peroxide is stored with a stabilizer in a weakly acidic medium in bottles that do not allow it to enter the sunlight. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is safe to use hydrogen peroxide at low doses. On the other hand, using it on the skin causes irritation, burning, etc. Intake of hydrogen peroxide at a higher concentration can damage the alimentary tract and respiratory system. Symptoms include tightness of the chest, breath shortness, inflammation, and vomiting.

Common uses of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)

These are the common uses of hydrogen peroxide:

  1. Bleaching
  2. Synthesis of organic compound
  3. Sewage treatment
  4. Disinfectant
  5. Propellent in rocketry
  6. Glow sticks
  7. Horticulture
  8. Fishkeeping
  9. Plastic yellowing remover
  10. Acne treatment
  11. Hair bleaching
  12. Cleaning agent
  13. Removing bacteria from hard surfaces
  14. To keep vegetables fresh
  15. Spraying on garbage
  16. Toilet cleaner
  17. Removing strains
  18. Protect swimming pool from algae
  19. Plants infection
  20. Antiseptic agent
  21. Sanitizer
  22. Sterilize cosmetic products
  23. Teeth whitening agent

Bleaching

Hydrogen peroxide is used for pulp and paper bleaching. For this purpose, about 60 percent of the world’s production of hydrogen peroxide is consumed. It is also used to produce sodium percarbonate and sodium perborate at a large scale, which is used as a mild bleaching agent. Sodium percarbonate is formed by the reaction of sodium carbonate with hydrogen peroxide which acts as an active ingredient in OxiClean and Tide laundry detergent.

Hydrogen peroxide is safe for the environment as compared to chlorine-based bleaches because it degrades to form oxygen and water. Secondly, it is recognized as safe as an antimicrobial agent by U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Synthesis of organic compound

It is used to produce organic compounds like organic peroxides. It is also employed in the synthesis of peroxy acids, such as peracetic acid and meta-chloroperoxybenzoic acid. Organic peroxide-based explosives are produced by using hydrogen peroxide. For example, acetone peroxide. Polymerization is also accomplished by using hydrogen peroxide as an initiator to start the chemical reaction.

Sewage treatment

Hydrogen peroxide is used to remove organic impurities from waste water. In advanced oxidation reactions, the Fenton reaction is used to obtain hydroxyl radical which degrades organic compounds. For example, aromatic or halogenated compounds are degraded by using hydrogen peroxide. It is also used to oxidize sulfur-based compounds in the waste material which in turn reduces their odor.

Disinfectant

It is used for sterilization purposes of various surfaces, such as surgical tools and room sterilization. Hydrogen peroxide can be used against viruses, bacteria, yeasts, etc. For example, it is used as a disinfectant with great efficiency against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. A low-level concentration of hydrogen peroxide is used to kill bacterial spores while a high concentration is used to improve sporicidal activity and kill bacteria very fast.

Propellant in rocketry

Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a monopropellant. Secondly, it is used as an oxidizer component in the bipropellant rocket. When used as a monopropellant, 70-98 percent of hydrogen peroxide decomposes into steam and oxygen. Usually, the propellant is pushed to the reaction chamber where silver or platinum is used as a catalyst to decompose the hydrogen peroxide. This results in the production of steam at 600 oC, which is expelled through a nozzle and generates a thrust.

Using hydrogen peroxide as a monopropellant produces a specific impulse of 161s. In rocket application, peroxide was the first monopropellant. The second chemical compound which can be used as a monopropellant is hydrazine.

In bipropellants, hydrogen peroxide is decomposed which in turn burns the fuel as an oxidizer. The maximum specific impulse of 350s can be obtained by using hydrogen peroxide depending on the type of fuel.

Glow sticks

Chemiluminescence can be produced by the reaction of hydrogen peroxide with phenyl oxalate ester. This process is used in glow sticks.

Horticulture

Hydrogen peroxide is also used in the field of horticulture. It is decompose to give oxygen which is necessary for plant growth. It enhances the roots of plants and is also used to treat root disease. For example, root rot is a disease in which roots become dead due to a lack of oxygen.

Fishkeeping

Hydrogen peroxide is used to protect aquaculture from microbes. For example, it is used to control the growth of Saprolegniasis (winter fungus) and columnar diseases in all cold water and warm water finfish. Similarly, it is used to control Gyrodactylus spp in freshwater salmonids.

Household hydrogen peroxide can be used to provide oxygen to small fish in aquariums.

Plastic yellowing remover

It is used with ultraviolet light to remove yellowing from the surface of white or light grey acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics. This restores the plastic to its original color.

Hair bleaching

A mixture of aqueous ammonia and diluted hydrogen peroxide can be used as bleaching of human hair called peroxide blonde. Nowadays, people make their hair bleaching at home by using hydrogen peroxide.

Acne treatment

Hydrogen peroxide is used to treat acne. For example, benzoyl peroxide is used for this purpose.

Cleaning agent

Hydrogen peroxide is used as a cleaning agent for household items. For example, to eliminate the fungus from the dishwasher, pleats of rubber seals, traps, and crevices of the utensil basket. According to a study, 83 percent of the dishwashers have fungi and 47 percent of dishwater contains black yeast E.dermatitidis. These organisms are very dangerous to human health.

Hydrogen peroxide is also used to clean the kitchen sink. To do this, first, scrub the sink with a baking soda then add 3 percent of hydrogen peroxide to the surface of the sink.

Removing bacteria from hard surfaces

The surfaces of counters are full of bacteria like E. Coli bacteria and Salmonella bacteria. To kill these types of bacteria, hydrogen peroxide is used. Once the hydrogen peroxide is used, leave it for 10 minutes minimum.

To keep vegetables fresh

Hydrogen peroxide is used to keep green vegetables fresh. To wash vegetables with hydrogen peroxide, it is necessary to add 3 percent of hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water, then use this water to wash vegetables. Vegetables that have tough skin like potatoes, carrots, etc can be soaked for 30 to 40 minutes in a solution of hydrogen peroxide. It also protects to enter bacteria in vegetables.

Spraying on garbage

Household garbage has various type of bacteria which decomposes the garbage. This results in the smell and production of further germs. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove bacteria and smell from the garbage. For this, spray a solution of hydrogen peroxide on the garbage and leave it for 1 hour to dry.

Toilet cleaner

According to the CDC, microorganisms on the toilet seats can be removed by using hydrogen peroxide. These microorganisms are bacteria, fungi, yeast, viruses, etc. it is a very convenient way to clean toilets.

Removing stains

According to environmental studies, hydrogen peroxide is used to remove stains, such as grass stains, blood stains, and other stains.

Protect swimming pool from algae

Sometimes, algae are produced on the surface of the water in a swimming pool. It leads to further diseases in the human body. This can be removed by using hydrogen peroxide.

Plants infections

Plants become infected when powdery mold and fungi are attached to them. To get rid of these fungal infections, it is best practice to spray hydrogen peroxide solutions on plants every month.

Antiseptic agent

Hydrogen peroxide is the best antiseptic agent to kill microorganisms. Due to this ability of hydrogen peroxide is used on a larger scale as an antiseptic agent to prevent diseases.

Sanitizer

Due to the property of killing bacteria and viruses. It can be used in the solution of sanitizer. Hydrogen peroxide is also used in the sanitizer which is prepared for killing the coronavirus.

Sterilize cosmetic products

Household makeup is brushed and items can be sterilized by using hydrogen peroxide. Sometimes, these items have the growth of microorganisms which has a bad effect on our skin. The solution used for this purpose has a very low concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

Tooth whitening agent

Hydrogen peroxide is used to clean teeth and whiten them. Some products which are used for this purpose contain 10 percent of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has a positive effect on teeth’s lightness and chroma shade. It oxidizes the colored pigment on the outer covering of teeth called enamel. This results in whitening the teeth. Homemade toothpaste can be made by using hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and salt.

Concepts Berg

Can I use hydrogen peroxide on my skin?

Yes, we can use it on our skin for whitening purposes but it is used in very small concentrations. However, a larger concentration leads to skin irritation.

Does hydrogen peroxide clear dark spots?

Yes, a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove dark spots.

What does soaking your feet in hydrogen peroxide do?

It removes the fungal infections from the surface of feet and the gap between the fingers of the foot.

Is hydrogen peroxide good for hair?

It is not good to bleach hair with hydrogen peroxide because it weakens the hair follicles and stops the growth of hairs.

Does peroxide whiten skin?

Yes, using 3% of hydrogen peroxide can whiten skin.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to lighten my armpits?

We can use hydrogen peroxide under armpits to remove a dark portion of the skin.

Does peroxide help toenail fungus?

Yes, it helps to remove and kill toenail fungus.

Can I mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide?

The mixing of vinegar with hydrogen peroxide results in the production of peracetic acid which is a toxic chemical and can cause irritation to the skin and eyes.

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