It is common to find a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in a cabinet at home.
It can act as a mild antiseptic or a disinfectant.
However, it should never be inhaled or ingested. It is classified as a toxic material and can cause severe damage in high concentrations.
If you have some lying about and don’t know what to do with it, here is a guide to disposing of hydrogen peroxide.
How to Dispose of Food-Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Food grade hydrogen peroxide is 35% concentrated. Some sellers can even sell it at lower concentrations (as low as 10%).
At 35% though, it’s very caustic and hazardous. You can’t get rid of it by throwing it down the drain. You need to dilute it with water first.
You can even use sodium sulfite to nullify its effects somewhat.
However, this is a risky method of disposing of it. If you’re not educated in the exact method of dilution, you can’t ballpark it.
It’s not just adding water; it’s also adding the right concentration of countering chemicals. This is why going to professionals for proper disposal is probably the best way to proceed.
If you have extra hydrogen peroxide that you need to get rid of you can always donate to a local lab or a school. You can also go to a chemical retailer and ask them if they can take it off your hands.
How to Dispose of Expired Hydrogen Peroxide
The expiration of hydrogen peroxide occurs usually after six months of opening the seal. This is because hydrogen peroxide is a volatile liquid and vaporizes upon exposure to air.
It’s also a flammable, reactive chemical that is depleted upon reacting with most acidic and alkaline materials.
Closed bottles of hydrogen peroxide have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years. However, if you have one that has visibly gathered dust and is not effective anymore, you should get rid of it.
To test if it has lost its effectiveness, you can pour a little into the sink or a plastic container. If no bubbles form, then the solution has lost its concentration.
To dispose of it, you can either contact your local environmental regulatory body or a laboratory. You can even dilute the chemical further and pour it down the drain.
Just make sure it wasn’t food-grade hydrogen peroxide, or else it might be a risky move.
Can You Pour Hydrogen Peroxide Down the Drain?
Hydrogen Peroxide is a hazardous chemical; hence it shouldn’t be poured down the drain.
However, in the circumstance that the H2O2 is just 3% concentrated, you can pour it down the drain. Just make sure that you dilute it further just for the sake of the environment.
Follow these steps and you should be good:
- Turn on the cold water tap in your sink
- Pour the hydrogen peroxide down the drain slowly
- Allow the tap water to run for at least three minutes before you turn it off
You can also nullify the solution with baking soda. A good rule of thumb to remember is that it takes about 2.5 tbsp per liter to nullify hydrogen peroxide solution.
Whenever you’re handling hydrogen peroxide, of any concentration, you should be wearing the following gear:
- Wear goggles so that your eyes are protected. Exposure may cause perforation or irritation even in the mildest cases.
- Wear gloves so that any exposure to the skin is minimized or avoided. Hydrogen peroxide can bleach skin and hair and can even cause corrosion in the case of the highest concentrated solutions.
- You should also wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose. This can be a surgical mask or just a cloth that you’ve wrapped over your face. This will prevent inhalation and accidental ingestion. These can cause mild irritation, vomiting, and even internal irritation at low concentrations.
At higher concentrations, the ingestion of the chemical may prove fatal. If you have inhaled hydrogen peroxide, you need to go out into the fresh air immediately. Administer oxygen if the victim has trouble breathing even in the fresh air outside. Seek medical attention immediately.
In case of ingestion, you shouldn’t try to induce vomiting. Loosen all tight clothing and seek medical attention immediately. Don’t give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation since you can get the aftershock from the hydrogen peroxide.
- Wear an apron as well so that you can protect your clothes and your entire torso from the chemical.
- Wear boots or thick shoes to protect your feet from any accidental spills. You should wear rubber boots to be extra secure.
- If you’re pouring the mixture on to a surface then do it slowly and gradually. You don’t want any of the mixture splashing on to your skin or your clothes.
- If you’re pouring the chemical down the drain or into a beaker, then you should use a funnel. Make sure that the area of contact is minimized under all circumstances.
- If your skin is exposed to hydrogen peroxide then you should run the exposed part under cool, running water. Following that you should apply an emollient. You can also use antibacterial soap to cleanse yourself. An anti-bacterial cream is also a great option for an emollient.
- Also, make sure in case of exposure to the eye you should wash with water and contact a doctor immediately. Remove any lenses if present and wash your eyes for 15 minutes at the very least.
- Make sure that you keep away from flammable objects and heat. Hydrogen peroxide is a volatile liquid that can vaporize when it comes in to contact with the atmosphere. The chemical can ignite flammable objects and can combust if it comes in to contact with too much heat.
- You should store hydrogen peroxide away from organic materials, acids, alkalis, and oxidizing agents.
- Keep hydrogen peroxide out of sunlight.
- You should also get in touch with your state, federal, and local environmental regulatory bodies. They can help you with the best precautions regarding the storage of hydrogen peroxide.
Negative Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide has a lot of negative effects if exposed to the environment. It is used as a disinfectant, first and foremost, but it’s not meant to come in contact with you. It’s also not meant to be in contact with plants or animals in most cases.
It can irritate the body if it’s inhaled or comes in contact with the eyes. If it’s ingested it may cause serious health problems. It can be toxic in large amounts as well. Pulmonary irritation can result after the inhalation of 10% hydrogen peroxide.
If dilute hydrogen peroxide (3%) is ingested, then it can cause vomiting or mild gastrointestinal irritation or erosions.
It may even cause embolism which is the blockage of blood vessels due to air bubbles. High concentrations may cause tissues to be burned and rapid loss of consciousness.
Respiratory paralysis may also result if very concentrated (food-grade) hydrogen peroxide is ingested.
Other exposure effects can include ulceration, perforation of the cornea, the bleaching of skin or hair, etc.
Using these tips you can dispose of hydrogen peroxide pretty easily.
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