If I am blogging about it, it has worked consistently for me. My experiments are based in science fact, intuition, and a little bit of college knowledge. But it really has more to do with watching and listening to other explorers like me who have serendipitous “aha” moments. I take their thoughts, experiences, and ideas and think about them. I look for threads and “nuggets” of information that I can incorporate into my own experiences.
Experiment and experience derive from the Latin verb "experior, experiri"--to try, to put to the test, to experience. You don't have to be a white lab-coat scientist to experiment; you just have to be curious! There are some scientists and “experts” who are ignorant and don't know “jack.” There are some street people who can do Euclidean geometry and probably intelligently discuss the theory of relativity with Einstein if he were alive. I don't have high regard for ivory tower academics, scientists, and economists.
Hydrogen peroxide in solution is a clear, slightly sharp-smelling and tasting liquid. I am only going to discuss store-bought 3% H2O2. Why? Because it is arguably the most useful and safe liquid anyone can ever use. Jim, I've heard that 3% H2O2 has harmful chemicals in it used to stabilize it. I say BALDERDASH! Those chemicals are in minute amounts and are harmless. The brands I buy state that in the inactive ingredients list there is only purified water. They WILL NOT harm your plants -or you- when the hydrogen peroxide is used in a manner that would be considered normal and typical. That means “topical, external, diluted, etc.” In other words, don't INGEST or DRINK the stuff!
Let's get back to what hydrogen peroxide is and then we can find out how useful it is. In a previous blog I spoke about getting oxygen to your plant's roots via “air roots.” In another blog I discussed pH and it's effect on nutrient and water intake. Hydrogen peroxide can have a very positive effect in both those areas. Everything you will do in hydroponics is interconnected. Symbiosis rules hydroculture.
Hydrogen peroxide, or H2O2, consists of two atoms of hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen, whereas water, or H2O, consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. The extra oxygen atom in hydrogen peroxide is linked to the other oxygen atom by a single bond. Water is a good solvent due to it's electrochemical makeup and virtually all the substances involved in plant growth, such as salts, acids, and alkalis are hydrophilic -water-loving- in common situations and will readily dissolve in water. The ability of pure water to oxidize is low, but when combined with solutes, it becomes higher. The ability for hydrogen peroxide to oxidize is much higher.
Hydrogen peroxide has a good guy / bad guy persona. It is basically water with an extra oxygen atom attached to it. That extra atom, however, makes a huge difference in how H2O2 reacts with other substances. In solution with water, as a 3% solution, makes it only mildly acidic, with an average pH of 6.1, quite within the range of most plants. But that extra atom of oxygen is easy to “break off” and to “hook up” to other chemicals and substances. That property is what makes H2O2 so useful and bad and good at the same time!
Yes, even 3% solution can do some biological damage but it would have to be seriously abused to make what you did with it a horrible act. I swish my mouth and brush my teeth with it at least twice a day before I use mouthwash and toothpaste! In that amount and concentration it debrides my dead epithelial skin cells from my mouth and loosens the bacterial film known as “plaque” from my teeth. Most dentists recommend a more dilute mixture of H2O2 and H2O but I have been doing this for over four decades. In a nutshell, I've used hydrogen peroxide to remove dead, useless skin cells, whiten my teeth (bleaching via oxidation), and destroy unhealthy oral bacteria. I will concede that it can also kill the good bacteria in my mouth.
I'll give another example of how hydrogen peroxide is used and then I will attempt to apply my dental explorations to plant growing: Many European countries, some Canadian provinces, and even some US cities are now using, or have explored the use of, hydrogen peroxide as a replacement for chlorine in water purification systems. Why? Cost. Safety. Environment. Corrosion reduction. H2O2 is significantly less expensive. It's rate of persistence (how long it stays in the environment) is almost nil, unlike chlorine. It does not create dangerous, cancer-inducing halides and other metal by-products. It is just as biologically effective as chlorine. It is significantly less corrosive to pipes and plumbing and doesn't react like chlorine does with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe.
There are thousands of uses for hydrogen peroxide of which some seem to be dubious and possibly dangerous, but those center around human injections of solutions and oral ingestions of what sound like toxic cocktails to me. Absolutely nothing to do with hydroponics, but do some research on it; the information is fascinating!
The USDA currently approves the use of hydrogen peroxide (in a much higher concentration) for cleaning hydroponic reservoirs, feedstock tanks, food preparation areas, and other objects in COMMERCIAL operations. The USDA has not yet approved the use of hydrogen peroxide directly in the acts of mammal or vegetative farming or growing in commercial operations. It is permissible to use H2O2 as an insect abatement in lieu of some pesticides when growing “organically,” however.
You and I are growing food for ourselves and our family, and maybe an occasional farmer's market. We operate on a shoestring budget without “subsidies.” We understand hygiene and proper sterilization. We have to contend with algae, fungi, and bacteria taking over our reservoirs. We are always striving to find ways to disinfect our hydroponic gear without resorting to extreme and unhealthy chemicals. I will go on record at this point to say that I do use household bleach (8% sodium hypochlorite) sparingly and respectfully of the environment. I will discuss how I use chlorine bleach in part two of this blog on hydrogen peroxide.
Now that I've hooked you on learning more about hydrogen peroxide, you'll have to read part two of this blog! You can also watch my videos at my You Tube channel, Plain 2 Grow Jim . I'll try to connect my dental habits and the use of hydrogen peroxide in hydroculture in part two!