Hydrogen peroxide

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A colorless, unstable liquid commonly used as an oxidizing bleach. Hydrogen peroxide is usually sold as a 3% aqueous solution, but is also available in 27.5%, 35%, 50%, and 70% strengths. An aqueous solution of hydrogen peroxide in a sealed container decomposes at the rate of 0.5% per year into oxygen and water. Without a stabilizer, it decomposes rapidly in an open container. Sodium silicate is generally used to stabilize hydrogen peroxide bleaching solutions. Hydrogen peroxide is used for bleaching, sterilizing, and deodorizing textiles, wood pulp, sturgeon glue, hair, and fur. It is used as a hyposulfite eliminator in the processing of black and white photographs. Hydrogen peroxide has also been used to oxidize black lead sulfide back to white lead sulfate and to kill lichen and algae on stone.

Synonyms and Related Terms

hydrogen dioxide; hydroperoxide; Albone; Hioxyl; Lensan A; Mirasept; Oxysept; Pegasyl; Durox; Hybrite; Oxypure; hyposulfite eliminator

Chemical structure

Hydrogen peroxide.jpg

Other Properties

Soluble in water, ethanol and ether.

Composition H2O2
CAS 7722-84-1
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 34.0

Hazards and Safety

Dangerous fire and explosion risk. Strong oxidizing agent.

Should NOT be used near heavy metals or their salts (even trace amounts).

Ingestion of concentrated solution is toxic. Contact causes irritation and blisters.

International Chemical Safety Card

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
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  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry #4839
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Rosalie Rosso King, Textile Identification, Conservation, and Preservation, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, 1985
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981
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  • George Savage, Art and Antique Restorer's Handbook, Rockliff Publishing Corp, London, 1954
  • G.Caneva, M.P.Nugari, O.Salvadori, Biology in the Conservation of Works of Art, ICCROM, Rome, 1991
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989