Hydrogen peroxide (oxydol or dihydrogen dioxide) belongs to a class of inorganic compounds known as homogenous non-metal compounds. It is a colourless liquid at room temperature and has a bitter taste. The chemical formula for the compound is H2O2. It is usually produced in aqueous solutions of various strengths. The chemical has a slightly pungent, irritating odour. It is also highly soluble in water.
Some of the grades of hydrogen peroxide include the pharmaceutical grade (usually 3%), the beautician grade (3-12%), the reagent grade (usually 30%), electronic grade (usually 30-35%), technical grade (usually 35%), food-grade (usually 35%), and 90% hydrogen peroxide. The pharmaceutical grade is normally used for cleaning wounds and as a general household disinfectant. The beautician grade is used as hair bleach as it contains stabilizers. The reagent grade is used in scientific experiments and it also contains stabilizers. The electronic grade is used in cleaning electronic equipment and it also contains stabilizers. The technical grade contains a small amount of phosphorous that is used to neutralize any chlorine in the water that it is combined with. The food-grade is used in food preparation as a bleaching agent or aseptic packaging just to mention a few. 90% hydrogen peroxide has military applications as a source of oxygen in rocket fuel.
Food grade hydrogen peroxide is often sold as 35% concentration. It may also be found at 12%, although this is quite uncommon. Even at these concentration levels, food-grade hydrogen peroxide is still not safe for consumption. The technical grade of hydrogen peroxide is also often found as a 50% concentration.
Some of the applications of hydrogen peroxide include:
- It is used in wastewater treatment for the removal of organic compounds.
- It is used as a bleaching or deodorizing agent in textiles, foods, and personal care items.
- A form of it, normally at 90%, is used in rocket propulsion.
- It is used in making wine as a neutralizing agent during wine distillation.
- It is used as a seed disinfectant.
- It is used to control fungi and bacteria after harvesting some indoor and outdoor crops.
- It is used in the manufacture of acetone, antiseptics, disinfectants, antichlor and pharmaceuticals just to mention a few.
- It is used as an oxygen source in respiratory protective equipment.
- It is used in the refining and cleaning of metals.
- It is used in the manufacture of glycerol.
- It is applied in underground mining as an in-situ leach.
- It is used in the detoxification of effluents containing formaldehyde, cyanide, or phenols.
- It is used as a plating agent.
- It is used as a cleaning agent in the semi-conductor industry.
- It is used as a preservative during food packaging.
- It is used for water sanitation in swimming pools and hot tubs.