It’s a question many people have asked in the past – whether there are benefits to putting a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in a humidifier and if it’s even safe in the first place. Indeed, a number of people already put hydrogen peroxide in their humidifiers for different reasons. Should you jump on the bandwagon?
We’re not going to say yes or no. Instead, below we attempt to answer the two key questions relating to the benefits and safety concerns of hydrogen peroxide use in humidifiers – to help you determine what’s best for your needs.
But just to give you a summary – Yes, you can add hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to your humidifier. The compound is good for your health and helps with a range of respiratory issues, including bronchitis, pneumonia, and emphysema. However, keep in mind too that inhaling or coming in contact with high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can have a few bad side effects. So, if you decide to add some to your humidifier, make sure to dilute it as recommended.
To understand why some people would even consider hydrogen peroxide in humidification, you need to know how it works in the human body.
Hydrogen peroxide, like water, is a molecule formed by water and hydrogen atoms. The only difference is that whereas water (H2O) comprises two hydrogen atoms and a single oxygen atom, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is composed of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. In fact, some scientists argue that it should be called hydrogen dioxide.
Without digressing, you may also want to note that the ozone layer (O3) comprises three oxygen atoms. The ozone is formed when UV light from the sun splits oxygen (O2) molecules into two single, unstable oxygen atoms. These single oxygen atoms then combine with other unstable oxygen atoms to form the ozone layer.
The ozone layer, however, is very unstable. It will give up the extra oxygen molecule at the earliest ask. This tends to happen a lot during rainfall. The ozone will give up the extra oxygen atom to rainwater, forming H2O2 molecules, i.e., hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide, too, isn’t a very stable compound. The extra oxygen is readily released to when H2O2 comes into contact with other compounds, leaving some water (H2O) and a single free oxygen atom. This single oxygen atom is known referred to as a free radicle. It’s very reactive.
The Health Benefits
Over the years, researchers have been able to prove that free radicals are responsible for many types of ailments and even premature aging. But, the question then becomes – why do our bodies produce free radiations?
The answer is simple – free radicals help our bodies fight harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Indeed, the cells responsible for fighting these harmful organisms (the white blood cells) regularly produce hydrogen peroxide to oxidize harmful microorganisms.
Newer research indicates that hydrogen peroxide is also useful in a multitude of other processes going on inside your body, including;
- Hydrogen peroxide in vitamin C: It’s now public knowledge that vitamin C helps fight bacteria by generating hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide, in turn, triggers the mass production of prostaglandins to fight bacteria.
- Hydrogen peroxide in the colon and vagina: The lactobacillus found in the colon and vagina also occasionally produce hydrogen peroxide to destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. The process is critical in preventing colon disease, bladder infections, and vaginitis.
Aside from the above applications, hydrogen peroxide is also used to disinfect small cuts and treat acne. Here too, the antimicrobial properties come in handy. The bubbles you see when the product is applied to a wound result from oxygen being released and bacteria being destroyed. Some people also use the compound to whiten nails, treat ear infections, kill skin mites, and restore sore throat.
Medical Application as Treatment for Respiratory Issues
However, since we’re speaking about humidifiers, it’s important to also mention how inhaling hydrogen peroxide benefits your respiratory system. Scientific research shows that it has a huge impact, especially in the lungs.
One such area where hydrogen peroxide has proven extremely valuable in the treatment of emphysema. Emphysema is a medical condition that involves destroying the alveoli (the small air sacs found in the lings). It’s primarily caused by smoking, though it may also result from chemical fumes and other irritants. As the condition progresses, patients find it more and more difficult to breathe. Conventional medicine offers little to slow down the disease. There is no cure.
Hydrogen peroxide offers a potential solution. Recent studies indicate that using one ounce of 35% (food-grade) hydrogen peroxide per gallon of non-chlorinated water in a vaporizer significantly improves nighttime breathing in patients with emphysema. The compound has been shown to cleanse the lungs’ inner lining, thus restoring the ability to breathe.
Besides emphysema, hydrogen peroxide therapy is also used to treat arrhythmia influenza, certain bronchitis types, and asthma insect bites.
Now that we’ve seen why and how hydrogen peroxide can be beneficial to humans, the next question is whether it’s appropriate to use it in a humidifier. Is it allowed? What are the safety considerations? What do you need to know?
Yes, you can use it in a humidifier.
If you’re looking for proof, this article from the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) website shows that organizational also uses hydrogen peroxide in their vaporizers to prevent the spread of drug-resistant bacteria.
How to use it
Hydrogen peroxide humidification is recommended for people with the above mentioned respiratory issues (emphysema, bronchitis, etc.) or pneumonia, COPD, and other lung disorders. You’re advised to use a cool-mist vaporizer (not a warm-mist model). The reason is that heating causes the hydrogen peroxide to lose the extra oxygen (free radicle) too fast, which isn’t great.
You’ll be using 3% hydrogen peroxide, which you can easily buy from the drug or grocery store. It typically comes in a brown bottle and costs less than a dollar. Alternatively, you can buy 35% (food-grade) hydrogen peroxide and dilute it to create a 3% H2O2 solution. To do this, add 1 ½ cups of food-grade hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water.
To make the solution for use in the humidifier, add 1 ½ cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water. Or, if you decide to use food-grade H2O2, add ¼ cup of the 35% solution to a gallon of water.
There are a few safety concerns when using hydrogen peroxide solution for humidification. For one, pure (food-grade) H2O2 is can burn your skin on contact. It can also cause skin redness, whiteness, and pain. So, be very careful.
Secondly, hydrogen peroxide is even more dangerous inside the body if not used accordingly. Inhaling concentrate H2O2 can cause sore throat, cough, nausea, dizziness, headache, and shortness of breath.