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Hypochlorous acid is a free chlorine molecule with the chemical structure HOCl. It is the dominate free chlorine species in chlorine solutions that have a slightly acidic to neutral pH. HOCl is a much more powerful oxidant than sodium hypochlorite (or chlorine bleach).
Hypochlorous acid is produced naturally by the white blood cells of all mammals. It is used by white blood cells to kill invading microbial pathogens.
Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is a neutrally charged molecule. Bacteria have negatively charged cell walls. Just like magnets, molecules with the same charge will repel each other. For example, the negatively charged molecule of bleach (OCl-) is repelled by bacterial cell walls. This is not the case with HOCl which is neutrally charged. HOCl easily penetrates bacterial cell walls. HOCl either oxidizes the cell walls killing the bacteria or enters through the cell walls and destroys the vital components inside the bacteria.
The shelf-life can be 3-6 months if stored in a closed container protected from the oxygen in the air. Containers that block out UV light may have a small effect on extending shelf-life.
Chlorine is an extremely effective disinfectant for inactivating bacteria. A study conducted during the 1940s investigated the inactivation levels as a function of time for E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhi, and Shigella dysenteriae (Butterfield et al., 1943). Study results indicated that HOCl is more effective than OCl- (aka. chlorine bleach) for inactivation of these bacteria. These results have been confirmed by several researchers that concluded that HOCl is 70 to 80 times more effective than OCl- for inactivating bacteria (Culp/Wesner/Culp, 1986). Since 1986, there have been hundreds of publications confirming the superiority of HOCl over OCl. HOCl may be more effective than OCl- for two reasons, this first is because it holds a neutral charge and therefore can easily penetrate the negatively charged cell walls of bacteria. The second reason is because HOCl has a much higher oxidation potential than OCl-.
Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) has been researched and proven to be effective against many viruses.
Yes, probably the most research on hypochlorous acid has been done on the microbial pathogens Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli.
Hypochlorous acid is highly effective against MRSA. Since Clostridium specias are difficult to culture in the lab, Bacillus species, which are also spore forming bacteria and more difficult to kill, are used instead.
Yes, there are two published studies on Norovirus.
Hypochlorous acid is non-toxic and non-hazardous. Unlike most chemical sanitizers, hypochlorous acid is non-irritant to eyes, skin, and the respiratory tract. Even if it were ingested by accident, it causes no harm.
Yes, hypochlorous acid is 100% safe and non-irritant. It is safe enough to be used on personal items such as toothbrushes, baby pacifiers, and toys for pets.
Hypochlorite ion carries a negative electrical charge, while hypochlorous acid carries no electrical charge. The hypochlorous acid moves quickly, able to oxidize the bacteria in a matter of seconds, while the hypochlorite ion might take up to a half hour to do the same. Germ surfaces carry a negative electrical charge which results in a repulsion of the negatively charged hypochlorite ion to the area of the germ surfaces, making hypochlorite ion less effective at killing germs. The ratio of the two compounds is determined by the relative acidity (pH) of the water. Water treatment specialists can adjust the pH level to make hypochlorous acid more dominate, as it is more efficient at killing bacteria. The hypochlorous acid's lack of electrical charge allows it to more efficiently penetrate the protective barriers surrounding germs. Hypochlorous is a powerful oxidant and is 100 times more efficient at killing microbial pathogens than sodium hypochlorite (aka. chlorine bleach).