What is hypochlorous acid?

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is a weak acid that is naturally produced by the white blood cells of all mammals. It plays an important role in the immune system, killing pathogens through oxidation and chlorination.  It is an extremely effective disinfectant and sanitizer.  Because it is naturally produced in our bodies, it is not toxic or hazardous.   

Is HOCl safe for skin contact?

Hypochlorous acid does not cause irritation to eyes and skin. Even if it were to be ingested it would cause no harm.

Hypochlorous acid is the ideal sanitizer for direct food sanitation and food contact surfaces because it is completely safe for human and animal contact.

HOCl is also ideal in healthcare where it is used for wound cleansing, eye drops, and patient room disinfection, replacing toxic chemicals such as bleach and quaternary ammonium (quats).

Is HOCl a hazardous material?

Hypochlorous acid is made from items found on your dinner table - just salt, vinegar, water and electricity. No personal protective gear is required!

How does HOCl kill pathogens?

The HOCl molecule is unique because it is neutrally charged, unlike hypochlorite (OCl-), which is negatively charged. Why does this matter? 

Disinfectants and microbial pathogens interact with each other similar to magnets. If you bring together two negatively charged magnets, they will repel each other. 

Bacteria and hypochlorite (OCl- aka. bleach) are both negatively charged and behave like two negatively charged magnets repelling each other. Hypochlorous acid is neutrally charged and is not repelled by bacteria.

This means HOCl can easily penetrate the cell walls of the bacteria and destroy them with its strong oxidation potential. 

Partial list of pathogens controlled: Influenza, Norovirus, COVID-19, Bacillus, Campylobacter, Enterococcus E. coli, Listeria, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Vibrio, Hepatitis, Fungi, Legionella.

What are the cost savings of hypochlorous? 

Our studies in four African countries show that the minimum average savings would be $100 per month, up to several thousand dollars per month.  Savings, of course, depend on spending, which will vary with each institution.  When using the Hypo Source Hypo 7.5, the average cost of making 200ppm hypochlorous acid is about US $0.04/liter.

What are the environmental concerns, if any? 

In concentrations of 200 and 500 ppm, there are no environmental concerns. Continued use of highly concentrated HOCl may eventually result in corrosion of some materials, but this can be easily avoided by rinsing down the impacted area every few days. Hypochlorous acid is naturally produced in our bodies, so it is the safest form of chlorine we know. It is safe for all animals except for marine/aquatic species, due to their inability to consume chlorine.

Are there any relevant regulations? 

Hypochlorous is simply another form of chlorine, and as such should comply easily with most government standards. The machines are simple electrolysis cells and are not regulated.  The substance produced – hypochlorous acid – is generally only regulated if it is bottled and offered for sale.  More information can be found here.

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