Hydrogen peroxide is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Its chemical description is H2O2. In high concentrations, it can be unstable and even poisonous. In lower concentrations, such as the types found in many homes, it works well as a disinfectant and antiseptic.
In homes, clinics and schools, it has frequently used to cleanse cuts, abrasions and other minor injuries. Formulas for these purposes generally only contain about 5% hydrogen peroxide or less. For minor injuries, the affected area may be dabbed with cotton dipped in the solution, or the solution can be poured directly over the injury. The solution will "boil" or bubble for a few seconds, and this process should continue until bubbling stops naturally, indicating that the area is clean.
There is some research to suggest that using hydrogen peroxide on wounds is not a good idea, as it can damage live skin. In many cases, soap and water may be as effective at cleaning a cut or abrasion. There are also many over-the-counter anti-bacterial sprays and gels available.
Hydrogen peroxide has many other uses as well. When diluted, it can be used to clean and whiten teeth, and it can be used as a gargle or mouthwash to kill germs in the mouth. It should never be swallowed. The residue from it should be rinsed from the mouth after use.
A different use for hydrogen peroxide is in the creation of beauty products. Some of these include hair dyes and bleaching treatments, and it may also be added to antibacterial creams and lotions, anti-aging treatments and other facial products. It also makes a good soak for nails before a manicure or pedicure, and it works well for disinfecting manicure and pedicure tools.
Another use for hydrogen peroxide is to purify water. It is highly soluble in water, and adding it to water can increase oxygen and help eliminate dangerous contaminants. It is also used in some swimming pools in place of other water purifiers.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used for certain industrial or environmental purposes as well, because it can provide the effects of bleaching without the potential damage of chlorine-based agents. Because this substance can be unstable in high concentrations, it must be used with care. In higher concentrations, it can create strong chemical reactions when it interacts with other agents, and it can damage the skin or eyes of persons working with it.