Hydrogen Peroxide

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Created by: Team Chemistry - Examples.com, Last Updated: April 27, 2024

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide, a fascinating molecular compound in the world of chemistry, stands out for its simple, yet powerful formula: H₂O₂. Imagine water (H₂O), but with an extra oxygen atom, giving it incredible properties. This clear, liquid substance is more than just a chemical; it’s a versatile player in both science labs and everyday life. Known for its bleaching power and as a disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide is a staple in many experiments and household cleaning routines. Its unique structure and reactivity make it a topic of interest in chemistry classes, sparking curiosity among students eager to explore the molecular compounds that shape our world.

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide, often found in a liquid form, is a compound with the formula H₂O₂. This means it has two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms joined together. It’s like water (H₂O) but with an extra oxygen. This extra oxygen makes hydrogen peroxide a powerful substance that can clean and disinfect. It’s used in many household cleaners, as a bleaching agent for hair and textiles, and even in some toothpaste for its ability to kill germs. Despite its powerful properties, hydrogen peroxide is usually safe to use at low concentrations. It’s a handy and versatile compound that helps keep things clean and germ-free.

Chemical Names and Formulas

NameHydrogen Peroxide
Alternate NamesAlbone, Hydrogen Dioxide, Hydroperoxide

Structure Of Hydrogen Peroxide


Imagine two friends holding hands with their other hand each holding a balloon; this is a bit like the structure of hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂). In this molecule, the two “friends” are hydrogen atoms, and the “balloons” are oxygen atoms. They are connected in a way that forms a sort of V shape or a boomerang. The oxygen atoms are in the middle, closely bonded together, and each oxygen is also attached to a hydrogen atom. This unique arrangement makes hydrogen peroxide different from water (H₂O), where the hydrogens are both directly attached to the same oxygen. The structure of hydrogen peroxide gives it special properties, such as its ability to act as a powerful cleaning and bleaching agent. It’s this special shape that helps it break down into water and oxygen, making it useful for so many things around the house and in science.

Preparation Of Hydrogen Peroxide

Creating hydrogen peroxide in a lab involves a cool chemical reaction where you start with something called barium peroxide (BaO₂) and react it with sulfuric acid (H₂SO₄). Imagine mixing these two ingredients like combining baking soda and vinegar, but instead of a fizzy explosion, we get hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) and a by-product called barium sulfate (BaSO₄), which is a harmless, white powder that settles at the bottom. The chemical equation for this reaction looks like this:

BaO₂ + H₂SO₄ → H₂O₂ + BaSO₄

In simpler terms, when barium peroxide meets sulfuric acid, they swap parts to form hydrogen peroxide and barium sulfate. The cool part is, the hydrogen peroxide can be collected and used for all its amazing properties, like cleaning wounds or bleaching hair, while the barium sulfate, being insoluble, is easily separated. This process shows the clever ways chemists play with different substances to create something useful and safe for everyday tasks.

Physical Properties of Hydrogen Peroxide

AppearanceIt looks like water, being a clear, colorless liquid.
OdorHydrogen peroxide has a slightly sharp smell, similar to that of bleach.
TasteIt has a bitter taste, but it’s not safe to taste it!
Boiling PointIt boils at about 150.2°C (302.36°F), which is higher than water.
Freezing PointIt freezes into a pale blue solid at around -0.43°C (31.23°F), just below the freezing point of water.
SolubilityIt dissolves well in water, making it easy to mix and use in various solutions.
StabilityIt breaks down slowly into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2), especially when exposed to light, which is why it’s stored in dark bottles.

Chemical Properties of Hydrogen Peroxide


  • Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen when exposed to light, heat, or certain substances. This reaction is useful for disinfection and in various chemical processes.
  • Equation: 2H₂O₂ → 2H₂O + O₂​

Bleaching Agent

  • It acts as a bleacher by decomposing to release oxygen, which reacts with and breaks down stains or pigments. * Equation: H₂O₂ → H₂O + [O]

Antiseptic Properties

As a mild antiseptic, it cleans wounds by releasing oxygen, which foams out dead cells and bacteria.

Oxidizing Agent

  • Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent, donating oxygen in reactions, useful in rocketry and as a cleaner. Equation: 2O₂ + 2H⁺ + 2e⁻ → 2H₂O

Reactivity with Metals

  • It reacts vigorously with certain metals, producing heat and oxygen gas, showcasing its oxidizing capabilities. * Equation: 2K + 2H₂O₂ → 2KOH + O₂ + Heat

Hydrogen Peroxide (H₂O₂) Chemical Compound Information

Chemical Identifiers

CAS registry number7722-84-1
Beilstein number3587191
PubChem compound ID784
SMILES identifierOO
InChI identifierInChI=1/H2O2/c1-2/h1-2H
RTECS numberMX0899500
MDL numberMFCD00011333

NFPA Label

NFPA health rating3
NFPA fire rating0
NFPA reactivity rating1
NFPA hazardsOxidizing agent

Uses Of Hydrogen Peroxide


Disinfecting Wounds

Hydrogen peroxide is used to clean cuts and scrapes. When applied, it foams up, helping to remove dirt and dead cells, and kills bacteria to prevent infection.

Teeth Whitening

Many teeth whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide. It helps remove stains from the surface of your teeth, making them appear brighter and whiter.

Hair Bleaching

A popular use of hydrogen peroxide is in hair bleaching products. It lightens the color of hair by breaking down the natural pigments, leading to a lighter appearance.

Household Cleaning

Thanks to its disinfecting properties, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning surfaces in your home. It’s especially useful in kitchens and bathrooms, where germs tend to gather.

Laundry Stain Remover

Hydrogen peroxide can help remove tough stains on clothes. Applying it directly to stains like wine, blood, or sweat before washing can lead to cleaner laundry.

Plant Care

A diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide can help plants grow by adding extra oxygen to the soil, combating root rot, and acting as a natural pesticide.

Water Purification

In some cases, hydrogen peroxide is used to help purify water. It kills pathogens and breaks down harmful chemicals, making water safer to drink.

Side Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Irritation to Skin and Eyes: Direct contact with hydrogen peroxide can cause skin redness, irritation, or even burns. It can also irritate the eyes, leading to redness and discomfort.
  • Respiratory Issues: Inhaling hydrogen peroxide vapors, especially in high concentrations, can irritate the respiratory system, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing.
  • Digestive Upset: Swallowing hydrogen peroxide, especially at high concentrations, can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. It can also lead to more serious issues like ulcers or perforations in the stomach lining.
  • Bleaching Effect: While useful for hair and teeth whitening, accidental application on clothing or furniture can bleach or discolor them.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to hydrogen peroxide, resulting in rashes or swelling.


Why You Should Not Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can cause skin irritation, disrupt wound healing, and bleach fabrics. Use cautiously and follow guidelines.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Just Bleach?

No, hydrogen peroxide and bleach are different. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic and bleach is a stronger, chlorine-based cleaner.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe on Skin?

In low concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is safe for skin but can cause irritation or damage if used improperly.

Is It OK to Put Hydrogen Peroxide on a Pimple?

Using hydrogen peroxide on pimples can dry out skin and slow healing. Gentle acne treatments are recommended instead.

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