Monday, June 15, 2009

Hydrogen Peroxide and the Turnip Truck

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is one of the few inexpensive miracle substances still available to the public. The good news is that hydrogen peroxide is non-patentable (it’s in the public domain), so those great pharmaceutical houses with strings to Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney can’t make a dime off of it.

What does happen is that some manufacturers add just a tad of some minor (cheap and perhaps ineffective) ingredient to it, name it the “best” green product to clean and disinfect, and sell it to us in a fancy spray bottle at a high price… when in reality it is nothing more than ordinary 3% hydrogen peroxide you can buy in any drug store for under a dollar.

Those companies are pretty sure we just fell off the turnip truck, so let’s debunk that myth!

H2O2 is a weak acid with strong oxidizing properties, and is a powerful bleaching agent. It is used as a disinfectant, antiseptic and oxidizer. The hydrogen peroxide available at drug stores is usually 3% solution but Pharmaceutical/Food grades are available in solutions up to 35%.

About 50% of the world's production of hydrogen peroxide in 1994 was used for pulp and paper bleaching in the manufacturing process. Other bleaching applications are becoming more important as hydrogen peroxide is seen as an environmentally benign alternative to chlorine-based bleaches.

From here on out, when I say H2O2, hydrogen peroxide or peroxide, I’m referring to the standard 3% drug store solution that comes in brown (opaque) bottles. Hydrogen peroxide decomposes rapidly when exposed to light, hence the opaque bottles.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer. Clean your kitchen counters and bathroom surfaces with hydrogen peroxide to kill germs. Simply put some on a cloth, or spray it directly on the counters. (Remember, it is a bleaching solution so be careful where you spray it.) After cleaning your cutting board, pour peroxide on it to kill bacteria.

Add a cup of H2O2 instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. H2O2 is effective at treating fresh (red) blood-stains in clothing and other items. It must be applied to clothing before blood stains can be accidentally "set" with heated water. After peroxide dilutes the blood stain, cold water and soap can be used to remove the peroxide treated blood.

Hydrogen peroxide is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as an antimicrobial agent by the FDA. Try it as a hand-sanitizer! Carry a bottle of it and some paper towels in the car’s glove box, especially during flu season.

H2O2 is used medically for cleaning wounds. Didn’t your Mama always pour peroxide on a cut before putting a bandaid on it? It causes mild damage to tissue in open wounds, but it also is effective at rapidly stopping capillary bleeding (slow blood oozing from small vessels in scrapes and abrasions).

There are numerous sites (and controversy) about using Food Grade (35%) H2O2 both intravenously and internally
as treatment/cures for a number of diseases including cancer. That's not a discussion I want to get in to on this blog. There are also references to using H2O2 in the water for farm animals (like beef cattle, hogs turkeys and chickens) to prevent disease and increase market weight.

Some horticulturalists and hydroponic growers advocate a weak hydrogen peroxide solution in watering. Its spontaneous decomposition releases oxygen that enhances a plant's root development, and helps treat root rot. I have saved many an over-watered plant by adding peroxide mixed with water to the already soggy, droopy plant. Trust me, it works!

For germinating seeds, mix 1 oz. H2O2 with 1 pint (16 fl. oz.) water; soak seed 8 hrs. Peroxide can also be an excellent, safe insecticide. Simply spray your plants with 4-8 ounces of peroxide mixed with 8 ounces of white sugar and one gallon of water.

You probably knew all or most of these uses (and probably more!) already, but if you are like me, you get distracted by fancy commercials and forget. So let’s get back to using an excellent product that’s good for us, good for our pocketbooks and good for the environment. We already have a miracle product that’s multifunctional, cheap and GREEN… we didn’t just fall off that turnip truck!

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