|Table of contents|
2 Organic chemistry
3 Inorganic chemistry
4 See also
5 External links
In common usage, peroxide is an aqueous solution of hydrogen peroxide (HOOH or H2O2) sold for use as a disinfectant or mild bleach. The usual peroxide of commerce is a dilute solution containing traces of stabilisers, and is sold in either brown glass or opaque polyethylene bottles to minimise the rate of decomposition. The concentrations sold are generally either 3% w/v or 6% w/v; these are sometimes described as "10 volume" and "20 volume", respectively. This refers to the relative volume of oxygen gas produced, at STP, from the complete decomposition of the peroxide. 20 volume peroxide is strong enough to bleach skin it touches, causing unnaturally white blotches.
Due to the presence of catalase in blood, peroxide is only marginally effective in disinfecting open wounds, but excellent for bleaching blood stains. It is also often used as a disinfectant in the dairy industry because after application it leaves absolutely no harmful residues.
However, the same property also means that organic peroxides can accidentally initiate explosive polymerisation in materials with unsaturated chemical bonds. Since peroxides can form spontaneously in some materials, great care must be taken with such "peroxide forming materials". In addition, liquid ether in the presence of air slowly (over a period of more than a year) forms solid "ether peroxide" crystals which are extremely unstable. Consequently it is recommended that containers of ether opened more than a year previously, or exhibiting signs of crystal growth, should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
In inorganic chemistry, peroxide is the anion O22-, usually formed by burning alkali metals or alkaline earth metals in air or oxygen. It is a powerful oxidiser, and usually fairly unstable. The oxides, peroxides and superoxides are closely related, forming a chain of oxygen ions of progressively higher oxidation number.
Barium peroxide is used in pyrotechnics and tracer ammunition, and was once used in the manufacture of hydrogen peroxide. Sodium peroxide is used as a carbon dioxide absorber and oxygen regenerator (e.g. in some submarines), through the reaction:
- 2Na2O2 + 2CO2 → 2Na2CO3 + O2