Disinfecting Products 3/19/20

Science by Richard Bleil

Many years ago, my all-time favorite ex-sister-in-law (not meant to be snarky; I kind of had a crush on her in fact) spent a ton of money on “chemical free colloidal silver disinfecting clothes”. Okay, let’s pass on the “chemical free” claim for the time being; the only thing that’s truly chemical free is a perfect vacuum, and those suck.

Bah dahmp tsss.

The claim was that, unlike bleach, this was completely safe. The problem is that silver is actually a heavy metal poison. Now, don’t worry; you needn’t get rid of your jewelry. The reality is that as you contact sterling silver you do, in fact, absorb some of the silver, but the amount that is actually absorbed is so small that a lifetime of exposure would still be well below the concentration where it would cause any problem at all. But, if you turn it into colloidal silver, as these products claim to have done, then it’s more readily absorbed into your system, and more readily causes health problems.

The problem with disinfecting products is that they all are based on one simple fact; we heal and bacteria do not. Bleach, for example, is a strong oxidizing agent. It will kill germs, and it will kill our skin cells, but the bacteria do not regenerate. Our skin cells, on the other hand, will naturally “sluff off” and regrow. Colloidal silver (in fact, most metals) will do the same, but the difference is, once bleach reacts with our outermost skin cells, it turns into harmless dilute salt water (very dilute), and can no longer cause any harm. Colloidal silver, on the other hand, gets absorbed into our body, and our bodies cannot get rid of it.

Ever.

That means that this silver will continue to cause long term harm long after the outermost skin cells die. For example, one side effect is called “argyria”, a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin. This is because of accumulation of silver in the skin, and it is usually permanent. That silver never goes away. Call me crazy, but I’d rather work with bleach than a heavy metal.

The health hazards of colloidal silver is coming into sharp relief thanks to a case in New York City against a well-known televangelist that has been selling colloidal silver in liquid form as a cure for the Coronavirus. In fact, they are making further claims that it will cure other diseases as well. The city of New York sent a “Cease and Desist” letter to the televangelist, pointing out that there is no proof that it is effective at treating any diseases, has not been demonstrated to be safe for human use, and that his claims can mislead people into avoiding legitimate medical treatment. As of the writing of this post, this televangelist has not replied.

There is a lot of danger in the claims of products such as this. My friend sent me an article today about a new one that’s on the horizon, wherein they are selling packets of salt and vinegar. When added to water and treated with electricity in their machine, they claim, the salt is “transformed”, they claim, into sodium hydroxide and hypochlorous acid. And the vinegar is just there to lower the pH of the water to make it more effective at cleaning.

Let’s look at this claim one step at a time. First of all, I doubt that the claim about “transforming” the salt is true at all. But I have to admit, I’ve not done the actual field testing, so this is just a hunch. I don’t know the voltage they use, so maybe. Unfortunately, the best that the users can hope for is that the claims are, indeed, false.

First of all, sodium hydroxide is very corrosive. Historically it has been used to strip the flesh off of the bones of skeletons, like yours. So if, indeed, their claims are true, then they are creating a very corrosive chemical. But I wouldn’t worry about this.

See, acids react with bases to form salts and water. So, if sodium hydroxide is being formed it will react with the acids in the solution to form a salt. But with which acid would it react, acetic acid (the active ingredient in vinegar) or the hypochlorous acid, the other product they claim to be creating? The answer is that it will react with the stronger of the two, namely, the hypochlorous acid.

When sodium hydroxide reacts with hypochlorous acid, it will form sodium hypochlorite, which just happens to be the active ingredient in bleach. Yup, if this product is indeed doing what they claim, it is a very round-about way of creating bleach. Worse than that, it creates bleach at an unknown and inconsistent concentration, and bleach that is far more expensive than if you just bought it at a store and diluted it down yourself (just a capful in a gallon of water is usually all you need).

But it gets even worse than this.

See, it is VERY dangerous to mix bleach with vinegar. NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH VINEGAR. If they are forming bleach, it will react with the vinegar that is in the solution that you add. See, acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, is an organic acid, and bleach is a strong oxidizing agent. That means it chews up organic chemicals like acetic acid and converting them into carbon dioxide (so there is no reason to use vinegar anyway since the bleach just destroys it), and the sodium hypochlorite releases chlorine gas which is very (VERY) toxic.

If this company’s claims are false and, as I suspect, the electrical “treatment” really has no effect, it’s the best you can hope for, because if they are right, the effectiveness of the vinegar for cleaning is reduced since its concentration will be lowered and a toxic gas will be released. So what are the choices? This new product that is either ineffective or toxic, the colloidal silver that is a heavy metal poison, or bleach that will kill a few layers of skin cells that will be replaced? Personally, just give me bleach. An alternative might be hydrogen peroxide, but it’s more or less just as corrosive as bleach, but far more expensive. But, if you really want to avoid bleach, bleach is an equally corrosive but far more expensive alternative.

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