What is Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has a chemical formula H2O2(H2 is symbol of Hydrogen & O2 is known as oxygen) and has one more atom than water, which is H2O. The compound was discovered in the year 1818 by a French chemist.

This compound is also called oxygen water. We will be amazed to know that it is found everywhere, from fresh hot water springs, to rain, mother’s first milk, in our body, in plants and animals. In simple terms, hydrogen peroxide is required by our bodies to control the growth of micro organisms.

It is a colorless, odorless liquid, and is thicker than water. Due to the oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is a commonly used bleaching agent. Due to its bleaching properties, it can be used to whiten teeth, but only after diluting. It is a strong cleaning agent and can kill bacteria, viruses from surfaces. For this reason, hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant and an antiseptic. It can also be used to purify water and sometimes, swimming pools and spas use it instead of water purifiers or chlorine based agents.  

The compound is available from 3% to almost 100% concentration, it finds different used based on its grade and concentration. Though it is a stable compound at lower concentrations but unstable at higher concentrations where it can react with other compounds and can be unsafe. Thus, at higher concentrations, hydrogen peroxide should be carefully used.

In cosmetic industry too, hydrogen peroxide finds many uses. Before a manicure or a pedicure, it can be used for soaking nails. Hydrogen peroxide is also used in bleaching products and those used for facial.

Hydrogen peroxide is formed when water which is H2O passes through Ozone (O3) layer in atmosphere, hence accepting an additional oxygen molecule and converting to H2O2. When it rains, there is bit of hydrogen peroxide in it and it is found to be good for health of plants. Adding hydrogen peroxide to tap water can be beneficial for plants. 

It is eco- friendly and extremely non toxic, since it breaks down to form hydrogen and oxygen and can be used as a substitute for all chlorine based bleaching and cleaning products.  

The food grade hydrogen peroxide is used extensively in food and packaging industry. It can kill microbes, bacteria at 35% strength, thus allowing its use in food preparation and packaging. While industrial and pharmaceutical grade hydrogen peroxide contains stabilizers which can be toxic, food grade hydrogen peroxide is extremely non toxic and safe.

It has industrial use as well and is used in treating contaminated water. Higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide is powerful, unstable and volatile, which makes it an exceptional propellant fuel, used for launching space shuttles.

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