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. Hydrogen peroxide can evolve from any coatings form by oxidative polymerization, including oil or alkyd paints (Tétreault 2017).

Synonyms and Related Terms

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

Personal Risks

  • Dangerous fire and explosion risk.
  • Ingestion of concentrated solution is toxic.
  • Contact causes irritation and blisters.
  • Compass Remediation Chemicals: SDS

Collection Risks

  • Strong oxidizing agent.
  • Should NOT be used near heavy metals or their salts (even trace amounts).
  • Darkens silver particles in black and white photographs
  • Weakens cellulose fibers in paper and cotton.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in water, ethanol and ether.

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

Resources and Citations

  • Jean Tétreault, 'Products used in Preventive Conservation' Technical Bulletin #2, CCI, 2017. Link
  • 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
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • 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
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • 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