What is Bleach?
Bleach can have multiple definitions whether you are referring to is as a process or a disinfectant.
Dictionary.com defines bleach as:
“verb used with object:
to make whiter or lighter in colour, as by exposure to sunlight or a chemical agent; remove the colour from.”
Bleach is also defined by Wikipedia as:
“the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove colour from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute solution of sodium hypochlorite, also called “liquid bleach”.”
In this article we will be comparing the chemical product, liquid bleach which is based on chlorine chemistry with hydrogen peroxide.
What is Chlorine Bleach?
Chlorine bleach is a chemical product with the active ingredient sodium hypochlorite (NaOCI). Chlorine bleach is a common disinfectant product as it is able to effectively kill germs like viruses, bacteria and fungi through an oxidisation process.
The oxidisation process also removes the chemical compounds, called chromophores, that cause the appearance of colours. Chromophores reflect a section of the visible light spectrum and chlorine bleach oxidisation breaks the chemical bonds of choromophores leaving no reflected colour or one outside of the visible spectrum.
Disadvantages of Bleach
Bleach products have mild to strong irritant properties. Even at low concentrations an unpleasant chlorine smell is detectable that can irritate the throat and lungs. It can dry and irritate skin and the eyes even in low dose rates as found in swimming pools or treated water.
If chlorine bleach comes into contact with ammonia or products that contain acid (common ingredients of other disinfection or cleaning products) chlorine gas can be formed and released.
Chlorine gas can be highly toxic and presents many risks to humans and animals. Low levels of chlorine gas exposure can result in eye, nose and throat irritation whereas a high level of chlorine gas can cause the following:
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Chest pain
- Pneumonia or fluid on the lungs
- In the worst situation, death
What is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical product made up of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O2). Hydrogen peroxide is also an oxidising disinfectant that is capable of killing bacteria, viruses, mould, fungi and more.
Although not commonly referred to as “bleach” hydrogen peroxide is one of the most common bleaching agents. Unlike liquid bleach based on chlorine chemistry, hydrogen peroxide is a more selective bleaching agent which causes less textile fibre damage, making it ideal for applications such as pulp bleaching in the paper industry.
Hydrogen peroxide bleaches in the same way as chlorine, it oxidises chromophones, essentially taking the electrons that hold atoms together causing molecules that cause staining to fall apart.
Unlike liquid chlorine based bleach products however, hydrogen peroxide forms no harmful by-products of disinfection. Hydrogen peroxide simply degrades into water and oxygen making it one of the most eco-compatible and biodegradable disinfectants available.
Disadvantages of Hydrogen Peroxide?
The oxidization process of hydrogen peroxide is highly reactive making the solution unstable and unable to maintain effectiveness for long periods of time. Hydrogen peroxide will react with all organic materials it comes into contact with which can also reduce effectiveness depending on the application.
Stabilised hydrogen peroxide however is formulated to sustain the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide providing a more powerful disinfection solution than regular hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen Peroxide vs Bleach – Which is better?
To summarise it is clear that both hydrogen peroxide and chlorine-based bleach are both oxidisers that are capable of being effective bleaching agents. Chlorine-based bleach is an all-round disinfectant that carries the risk of forming toxic or hazardous by-products and has unfortunate irritant properties to the nose and throat.
Hydrogen peroxide on the other hand carries none of the toxicity concerns that chlorine bleach does but suffers from short lasting oxidization power.
The true winner of the contest is stabilised hydrogen peroxide. Stabilised hydrogen peroxide has all the benefits of non-stabilised hydrogen peroxide coupled with a far more stable and longer lasting effect.
EndoSan is the market leading stabilised hydrogen peroxide product and is highly effective across a broad spectrum. Please contact the team via email or our online contact page if you wish to receive further information on the use of stabilised hydrogen peroxide and its oxidising power.