Peroxide? An extra oxygen atom makes a big difference.
Although its preparation was not as simple as you may think, Louis Jacques Thénard could not have imagined that his hard work in the early 19th century would result in one of the most useful liquids in the world of science.
Hydrogen peroxide, also known as hydrogen peroxide or water oxide, was described in 1818 by the French scientist. The German chemist Richard Woffesnstein obtained it in a pure form almost 80 years later when the chemist produced it by vacuum distillation.
Its molecular formula H2O2 was demonstrated in 1892 and then reconfirmed in 1934 after discarding numerous hypotheses.
Hydrogen peroxide has many uses, ranging from industrial to medical use. The base of most of its functions comes from the tremendous oxidizing capacity it has, which peroxide manifests when it comes into contact with both metals and organic matter.
We will now comment on some of its applications and advantages.
Therapeutic and aesthetic uses of Hydrogen Peroxide
The medical world uses hydrogen peroxide. It has antiseptic, disinfectant, oxidant, and antimicrobial functions, which gives it a wide range of possible health tasks.
The high oxidizing power of hydrogen peroxide at low concentrations (between 6% and 9%) generates a large number of free radicals when they come into contact with the organic tissue of the wounds.
These free radicals break down the cell membrane of the bacteria, causing them to fill with fluid and burst or to dehydrate until they collapse. The effect will depend on the environment in which we find them.
On the other hand, the degradation of hydrogen peroxide by the action of certain enzymes produces oxygen, which is lethal to anaerobic germs. It seems ironic since oxygen is vital for human beings.
Still, a significant number of bacteria function in environments without oxygen, and the way to eliminate them is by increasing the presence of this element around them.
Another frequent use of hydrogen peroxide in health is as an anti-hemorrhagic. Its reaction to contact with blood is immediate and not only cleans the blood present in any wound, whether accidental or surgical but also causes a pro-coagulant response that actively stops or decreases the bleeding.
Although it may be controversial, the use of hydrogen peroxide to lighten teeth is prevalent. Tooth enamel becomes stained over time due to certain foods, beverages, or vices such as smoking.
These stains can be removed by the action of hydrogen peroxide due to its oxidizing effect, leaving the teeth free of this dark layer.
However, the corrosion can be more profound and not only remove the stains but also deteriorate the enamel. Many users of hydrogen peroxide report that it does indeed lighten teeth, but at the same time, it causes tooth sensitivity to temperature and pain.
Besides, the harmful effects are not limited to the teeth; the rest of the structures in the mouth can be affected.
Mouthwash and gums
A common practice is rinsing and gargle with hydrogen peroxide because they are practical and economical.
We can prepare it by mixing hydrogen peroxide with pure water until concentrations below 50%, and we should not ingest it because it irritates the gastrointestinal mucosa.
We have to be careful when aphthae or lesions of the oral mucosa are present. Although hydrogen peroxide helps to disinfect them, when we don’t dilute the product sufficiently, the abrasive effect can be counterproductive.
If burns occur on pre-existing lesions, these can be perpetuated over time and become more serious.
Eliminate foot fungus
Some of the most widespread anaerobic germs are dermatophytes. These fungi are responsible for most human foot infections, which can be very annoying and embarrassing.
Unfortunately, getting rid of these fungi is very difficult and almost always requires lengthy and expensive treatments to achieve it.
Soaking your feet in a hydrogen peroxide solution may be the answer.
The oxygen released after contact between the hydrogen peroxide and the affected skin area causes the fungus to devitalize and the infection to decrease.
Before doing this procedure, we recommended you to visit a doctor to determine if further treatment is not necessary.
The armpits may darken due to the use of deodorant or as a result of continuous waxing. That is not pleasant for the eyes, and the affected person may feel depressed or stop dressing as they would like so as not to be ashamed.
But there is an economical and practical alternative that we can try.
As with teeth, hydrogen peroxide can help remove stains from the armpits thanks to its oxidizing and abrasive effect. After two weeks of use, the results are positive in most cases.
Also, there is an extra benefit: the hydrogen peroxide kills the bacteria that cause the bad smell in the armpits, thus achieving a deodorant result.
For more than 60 years, doctors use peroxide for evacuation enemas. That is thanks to its ability to form gases after metabolization. Peroxide also stimulates intestinal transit to evacuate this gas.
The enema is prepared by diluting 3% hydrogen peroxide in one liter of warm water and is applied slowly through the rectum.
There are reports of chemical colitis due to the caustic effect of hydrogen peroxide.
It is characterized by bloody stools, diffuse abdominal pain, and meteorism, or abundant gas. That seems to be because people sometimes use the product in very high concentrations.
Dyeing the hair
Some hair dyes have hydrogen peroxide in their formula to complement their functions, although we can also use it alone to achieve some highlights or hair color.
It is prepared by mixing 3% hydrogen peroxide with water in equal proportions and applying it using a spray or shampoo bottle.
The amounts to be used are small, and the results will be seen little by little, but they will be there.
If we apply it massively on dry hair, the effects may be unpleasant, so care should be taken with the application.
Because of its chemical nature and low cost, as well as its multiple effects, hydrogen peroxide is beneficial for home care. Some of the most common domestic uses include:
One of the places where most dirt accumulates in the house is the bathroom. Hundreds of bacteria and fungi swarm there thanks to the humidity and the presence of pipes and drainage systems that provide a warm home for germs.
If we want to prevent microbial growth, we have to clean the bathroom thoroughly and regularly.
We can use many cleaning products in the bathroom, including hydrogen peroxide, which is economical and practical.
That is due to its antiseptic and oxidizing power. If we mix it with warm water in high concentrations, it can eliminate bacteria and fungi that reproduce in the shower, shower curtain, taps, toilet, and tiles.
The smell may not be delightful, but it is undoubtedly useful.
Hydrogen peroxide mixed with vinegar removes virtually all bacteria that may be present on dishes, cutlery sets, and chopping boards. We explained above the antimicrobial action of hydrogen peroxide, and it is because of this that it is incredibly useful as a cleaning product.
Another alternative is to mix your traditional dishwashing product with some hydrogen peroxide. That increases its effectiveness as a cleaner and also hides the acidic smell that hydrogen peroxide usually leaves behind when we use it and which can make its use a little unpleasant.
H2O2 + H2O = glass cleaner. It’s as simple as that. Many products are in the market, some very expensive, that promise to make your windows and mirrors look like new.
Still, you could achieve this with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water in equal parts, without spending much money.
This combination is applied with a cotton cloth and removed with a glass cleaner after a few minutes, which will leave your windows shiny. That also works with glasses or goggles, although in this case we only need the cotton cloth.
The oxygenated water helps to eliminate fungus from the plants, not from our feet but in the garden. The presence of these fungi in our body and the backyard is due to the same reason: humidity.
Humid environments are ideal for the development of germs that can cause disease, both in humans and in the vegetation of the home.
A preparation for gardens can be applied on the leaves, for an immediate result, and on the roots, for a prolonged effect in time.
Best of all, there is no problem with continuing to use other garden care products, as their combination is not harmful and can even be symbiotic.
Hydrogen peroxide works to eliminate those little arachnids responsible for many of our allergies: mites. These microscopic insects accumulate on our furniture or clothes, and their waste is exceptionally allergenic.
They are responsible for most atopic processes in children.
Spraying oxygenated water on these clothes scares off or eliminates the mites, dramatically reducing the occurrence of allergies associated with them.
Also, the result can improve the quality of life of the person in a sustained way, remembering that all diseases of immunological origin tend to be chronic, and their treatments are long and annoying.
The disinfectant role of hydrogen peroxide also helps to eliminate bad odors and not only hiding them but getting rid of the cause. Let us remember that bad smells come, for the most part, from organic decomposition mediated by bacteria.
If you get rid of the bacteria, you get rid of the bad odor. The same works in the armpits, as explained above.
Hydrogen peroxide is also useful on a large scale; several industries use hydrogen peroxide in the generation of mass use products, bins, and services.
It’s not very helpful to know, but the food industry regularly uses hydrogen peroxide to bleach many foods such as cheeses and beef or poultry.
It is also used in the production of vegetable oils, facilitating the extraction of oleic from corn, soybeans, canola, and olives.
Hydrogen peroxide is a recognized pharmaceutical product, but it also helps in the manufacture of other drugs, either as a reagent or as an agent to prevent contamination of preparations.
We have already read that hydrogen peroxide acts as an almost universal bleach. It is therefore used in the paper industry to bleach pulp or in the cotton industry for the same purpose.
For industrial cleaning, it also works, although it does not help to remove grease if it is a disinfectant. It is considered a good substitute for chlorine when necessary.
Although this use is little known, hydrogen peroxide is used as a fuel in single-propelled space engines and as an oxygen supplier in other multi-propelled engines that do not use traditional fossil fuels or nuclear energy.
In restoration work on works of art, they use hydrogen peroxide, as it helps to recover the white colors that originate from the action of the lead carbonate in many paintings.
In short, oxygenated water is beneficial in our daily lives, and we even benefit from its use even if we do not realize it.
However, its use is not without risk, so we must always be careful and follow the instructions to the letter.
When in doubt, asking an expert for help should be the norm. For more articles like this one visit our health section.