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Hydrogen Peroxide

Like many people, you might have hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet. Hydrogen peroxide typically comes in a dark brown plastic bottle as a 3% solution. You can use this antiseptic to treat scrapes and scratches on the skin.

Beware, though, of “food grade hydrogen peroxide.” The name is deceiving—it’s not safe to consume. IPC advises you not to purchase this product, which contains a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide. It is hazardous if consumed and can also burn your eyes and skin.

Several household products contain hydrogen peroxide in low concentrations, such as:

  • Hair products
  • Laundry stain removers
  • Toothpaste and teeth whiteners

With a 3% solution, hydrogen peroxide has historically been used for cleaning minor cuts, scrapes and burns. Recent literature suggests that hydrogen peroxide delays wound healing and should no longer be used. Some people use it as a mouth rinse, but it is not safe to swallow.

Food grade hydrogen peroxide, on the other hand, has a much higher concentration of 12%, 17% or 35% solution. It is commercially available for use in agriculture or manufacturing. But don’t let the name fool you! If consumed in even small quantities, it can cause symptoms from nausea to vomiting to stroke-like symptoms —or even death.

We advise you to not buy or use food grade hydrogen peroxide in your home. In the past, the FDA has warned against the purchase and ingestion of high strength hydrogen peroxide products due to risk of harm or death. Call IPC immediately at 1-800-222-1222 if you or someone you know swallows food grade hydrogen peroxide.

Potential Hazards

  • Food grade hydrogen peroxide at high concentrations can cause severe burns and tissue destruction to anything it touches, such as the eyes, skin and mouth.
  • Just one swallow of food grade hydrogen peroxide may cause serious injury to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, bloody vomiting, and stomach ulcerations and perforations.
  • Ingestions or intravenous injection of food grade hydrogen peroxide can cause life-threatening complications. You could experience seizures, stroke-like symptoms, irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest and low blood pressure.

Medical Remedy Claims

IPC is concerned that many blogs and articles call food grade hydrogen peroxide a “medical remedy” for ailments like arthritis, HIV and cancer. Websites promoting food grade hydrogen peroxide typically use the term “oxygen therapy” to describe the benefits.

IPC advises you to consult with your physician doctor before trying any new medical remedy.

If you have food grade hydrogen peroxide in your home, IPC recommends disposing of it safely. Check your town or state’s waste disposal website for guidance. IPC is here to help. If you have any questions about hydrogen peroxide products, contact us at 1-800-222-1222. 

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