What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide which is known scientifically as H2O2 is a common household item that is available in a various different forms. It also has a variety of different uses from its many health benefits to household cleaning and hair dyeing. How it is used depends very much on the concentration.
Hydrogen peroxide is basically made up of just two ingredients – water and and oxygen. To be more specific, your hydrogen peroxide comprises two oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. This arrangement of atoms makes the liquid highly reactive. Because it is so reactive, it can function like a type of oxidizing treatment and has a variety of different uses.
Why is it Effective as a Remedy?
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most diverse of home remedies but its use remains controversial. Being made up of just tow elements, it is generally considered to be a safe remedy. It works in a similar way to ozone by treating illness and foreign microbes through oxidation.
Hydrogen peroxide reacts with the organic material it comes into contact with. The reaction causes the liquid to break down into a simple elemental form with water separated from oxygen. The boost of oxygen provided by hydrogen peroxide helps to create an environment where foreign microbes die and can not thrive.
Hydrogen Peroxide : The Different Types
Hydrogen peroxide is available in several different types. In low concentrations of 3 to 5% is used for various purposes from wound cleansing to tooth whitening and household cleaning. Not all types of hydrogen peroxide are suitable for the same purpose. The different grades and concentrations lend themselves to a range of different uses.
3% Hydrogen Peroxide
The common form of hydrogen peroxide that you often see stored on a brown bottle is a very dilute 3% concentration. Put simply just 3% is hydrogen peroxide while the remaining 97% is made up of water. This type of weak hydrogen peroxide does not need to be diluted further and is considered safe for many household uses.
Bear in mind that despite being weak, it is still strong enough bleach your clothing and other materials that it contacts. This type of hydrogen peroxide is commonly used for wounds but should never be used internally.
Food Grade – 35% Hydrogen Peroxide
This is a higher grade and far less dilute form of hydrogen peroxide. It is far more powerful than the 3% concentration. It can be used internally as we will see later in the article. You are far less likely to see this type of hydrogen peroxide at your local grocer’s store.
It must be handled with great care and you should never use it without diluting it properly. You must be careful that it does not make direct contact with your skin and spillage can prove dangerous.
Industrial Hydrogen Peroxide
There are other strengths and grades of hydrogen peroxide but they are not available for most people to buy. High concentrations are used in industry for purposes ranging from bleaching to rocket fuel.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide
This article will mostly focus on the uses of the common 3% hydrogen peroxide. This type of hydrogen peroxide has a range of uses from health to the household and include the following :
1) For Ear Infections
3% hydrogen peroxide is commonly used as an effective remedy for ear infections. An ear infection often develops as a result of mucus building up in the ear’s canal creating a great place for bacteria to thrive.
A few drops of dilute hydrogen peroxide can help clear away the mucus and kill the infection fast. You must not use a concentration higher than 3% and should consider diluting it even further with water.
Put your hydrogen peroxide in a dropper and add 3 or 4 drops to the infected ear by tilting your head to the side. Try to rest your head with your ear facing upwards for at least 5 minutes then turn your head the opposite way and let the liquid drain out. Repeat twice a day until your ear infection has healed.
2) For Cuts and Scrapes
Hydrogen peroxide in a 3% concentration is often used as an antiseptic to clean wounds. Its use for wound cleaning remains controversial but both in-vitro and clinical research suggests that it has certain antibacterial properties. Despite its common use however, there have been relatively few studies into its safety and efficacy for treating wounds.
A few studies have been conducted however and one done back in 1985 showed there were no negative effects of treating wounds with hyfrogen peroxide. However, the same experiment found that the solution only had minimal bactericidal effects. (1)
Another study evaluated the use of hydrogen peroxide to reduce the risk of infection following appendix surgery. They found no ill effects but did not find no evidence that it was an effective treatment. (2)
Despite the evidence that it may not be effective, hydrogen peroxide is still used to cleanse cuts, scrapes and wounds. There are still concerns that hydrogen peroxide can damage healthy tissue and many experts recommend using something softer like soap and water instead. If you are going to use hydrogen peroxide, make sure that it is a 3% concentration.
Wash out the wound under a tap and stem the flow of blood. Remove any debris with a tweezers and apply the hydrogen peroxide then cover the wound with a sterile dressing and bandage.
3) For Oral Health
A little hydrogen peroxide can be used as an ingredient in a germ-killing mouthwash to help improve your oral hygiene routine. You should choose a food grade hydrogen peroxide of 3% because it is sufficiently dilute and the grade is higher. It is important to use food grade because the mouth is very porous and prone to absorbing some of the hydrogen peroxide you use.
4) To Whiten your Teeth
Because hydrogen peroxide has bleaching actions, the mouth wash mentioned above can also help brighten your teeth. Another option is to make up a paste with a little hydrogen peroxide mixed with some activated charcoal. This can be used as a type of polish to clean your teeth.
5) For Acne
There are no studies that prove it is effective but many people recommend using hydrogen peroxide on the skin to help treat acne.
You can do this by dipping a cotton ball in some 3% hydrogen peroxide then gently washing it over your affected skin. If you add a few drops of skin friendly essential oils like frankincense, helichrysum or geranium it will be even more effective.
6) For Foot Fungus
The antimicrobial nature of hydrogen peroxide may help treat fungus on the toes and feet. Combine your hydrogen peroxide with water in a spray bottle in a 50/50 ratio. Spray the solution onto your feet and toes each night before bed.
7) To Bleach the Hair
If you are looking to lighten your locks, you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide to help achieve your goals.
First off, you should dilute your hydrogen peroxide even further. Mix it in a spray bottle with water in a 50:50 ratio. Spray the mixture onto your hair when it is still wet after you have showered. Comb your hair thoroughly to make sure it is evenly distributed through your hair. Depending on your real hair color, it should result in some natural looking highlights rather than a drastic bleached blonde appearance.
8) Household Cleaning
Hydrogen peroxide is a great solution to use at home to clean your dirty kitchen surfaces and the difficult to get to grime. It can help kill common germs and also keep your home smelling fresh.
Either use a 3% solution direct from a spray bottle or dilute it further with water before use.
Apart from kitchen worktops, you can use it for a variety of other household purposes. Spray it inside your refrigerator, use it to clean the bathroom or clean your mirrors and glass.