Food grade H2O2

Food grade hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a clear, odorless liquid form of peroxide that does not contain stabilizers or any form of additives. It is regarded as safe for human use including high contact surface areas.

Since stabilizers can be toxic to humans, food grade hydrogen peroxide is the preferred choice in applications where humans may be exposed. Food grade peroxide is used in commercial food processing, sterilization of food packages, processing of bakery products such as flour and sugar, and bleaching of food products such as cheese. Additionally, it is seen in oral care products such as mouthwash that is not ingested, however, trace amounts will be swallowed therefore it is imperative that the hydrogen peroxide used is food grade.

Why does Hydrogen Peroxide need stabilizers?

Due to the unstable nature of peroxide, it decomposes into oxygen and water at room temperature, and the rate at which it decomposes increases with a rise in temperature. For peroxide to remain shelf-stable for prolonged periods of time, manufacturers add stabilizers to make it safer and more convenient to store without breaking down the product or causing loss of potency once it is open and exposed to air. In addition to stabilizers, the type of container that peroxide is stored in contributes to the decrease in decomposition such as dark plastic brown bottles. If peroxide is subjected to high temperatures, the amount of oxygen released during breakdown can cause the container to explode.

There are various types of stabilizers that are constantly changing based on the manufacturer; however, some common stabilizers include colloidal stannate, sodium pyrophosphate, organophosphates, nitrate, phosphoric acid, colloidal silicate, and sodium citrate.

Other grades of H2O2

There are various grades and strengths of hydrogen peroxide offered for a number of different applications.

Reagent grade or lab grade consists of 30% stabilized peroxide and is used in scientific experiments or other lab uses. Pharmaceutical grade is usually around 3% that can be found in local drugstores and is used for cleaning skin wounds or serve as a surface disinfectant. This will typically contain stabilizers and therefore not suitable for ingestion. The beautician grade contains 3-12% stabilized peroxide and is used as hair bleach. Technical grade peroxide contains around 35% and has a small amount of neutralizing agent to neutralize chlorine commonly found in water. This is used in science experiments in demonstrations of luminol in chemiluminescence. Food grade has around 35% peroxide and does not have stabilizers added to prolong shelf life and stability. Lastly, high concentrations of peroxide around 90% or higher is utilized by the military and aerospace industry as a source of oxygen for rocket fuel. Peroxide is combined with silver, which acts as a catalyst to free the extra oxygen, producing water and generating large amounts of heat that is then turned into steam to propel the rocket at high speeds.

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