Hypochlorous Acid, its promise, and its limitations

Posted by Sam Petegorsky on

While the benefits of Hypochlorous Acid have been known in the scientific community and food service industries, it has recently been gaining more attention as people seek a safe and effective weapon against Covid-19.

Unlike most chlorine based disinfectants, Hypochlorous Acid at effective concentrations, can be non corrosive, and is safe for human contact. In fact, it is naturally produced in the human body. Not only is it safe, but it is highly effective in combating a wide range of viruses and bacteria. Hypochlorous Acid has been shown to be effective at a concentration of 200 PPM with as little as one minute contact time, a significant improvement over other disinfectants that may require as much as 10 minutes of contact time.

Not only that, but Hypochlorus Acid is environmentally safe, as the byproduct of it is water and salt.

Considering the above, it would be reasonable to wonder why Hypochlorous Acid is not the sole disinfectant being used everywhere? The reason is because it has a couple of drawbacks. The primary issue, is that Hypochlorous Acid historically has had a very limited shelf life.

While you can purchase Quats, or Hypochlorite solutions, and leave them on the shelf for years without them losing their efficacy, Hypochlorous Acid can begin to degrade within hours of it being produced. Recent Technology has expanded the shelf life of Hypochlorous Acid, additionally some manufacturers may produce a solution in higher concentrations, that way even if there is degradation, the solution can still remain potent for a longer period of time.

The other issue which effects its marketability, is the fact that diluting Hypochlorous Acid is typically not recommended. This can make the purchase and shipping of the product quite expensive.

If one only needs to disinfect small areas, Hypoclorous Acid generators can be purchased for a relatively low price, that have output of 1 liter of solution every 16  minutes. However, for larger or commercial areas, this is not a viable option (our Liberty Backpack Fogger has a reservoir of 2.5 gallons/10 liters).

Commercial HOCl generators are available, however they are extremely costly, and hopefully, the threat of the virus will pass, before the investment has paid off.

NIH article on Hypochlorous Acid

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