Difference Between Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide

Peroxide vs Hydrogen Peroxide

Peroxides are a special category of oxygen compounds with unique properties. Hydrogen peroxide was discovered by the French scientist Thenard in 1818.


Peroxide is oxygen containing anion with the molecular formula of O22-. Two oxygen atoms are bonded by a covalent bond, and each oxygen atom has the oxidation number of -1. Peroxide anion can usually join with other cations like H+, other group 1 or group 2 cations or transition metals to form peroxide compounds. Further, they can be a part of the organic compounds. The oxygen-oxygen single bond in the peroxide is not that stable. Therefore, it can easily undergo hemolytic cleavage producing two radicals. Hence, peroxides are very reactive, and do not occur much in the nature. Peroxide is a strong nucleophile, and oxidizing agent. Since, they are easily subjected to chemical reactions when they expose to light or heat, they are stored in cool, dark containers. Peroxides react with skin, cotton, and many other materials easily, so have to handle with care. Peroxides are used for bleaching. So, peroxides are widely used for hair or skin bleaching in salons, or to clean bathrooms, or to remove stains from clothes. Peroxides have a strong odor and most of them are hazardous.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest form of peroxide, which is denoted as H2O2. It is a clear liquid with a boiling point of 150 oC. It is completely miscible with the water, however, can be completely separated by distillation because its boiling point is higher than that of water. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing and reducing agent. Hydrogen peroxide is a non linear, non planar molecule. It has an open book structure.

Peroxides are produced as a by-product of various chemical reactions, or as an intermediate. This type of reactions happens inside our bodies too. Peroxide has toxic effects inside our cells. Therefore, they have to be neutralized as soon as they are produced. Our cells have a special mechanism for that. There is an organelle called peroxisomes in our cells, which contain the catalase enzyme. This enzyme catalyses the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, thus do a detoxification function. Hydrogen peroxide has hazardous properties, like decomposition to oxygen and water with evolution of heat, or decomposes due to contamination or contact with active surfaces, due to the formation of oxygen pressure increases inside the containers and it also can form explosive mixtures. Bleaching action of hydrogen peroxide is due to oxidation and release of oxygen. This oxygen will react with coloring matter to make it colorless.

H2O2 H2O + O

O + coloring matter   colorless matter

Other than for bleaching, H2O2 is used as an oxidant for rocket fuel, for production of epoxides, pharmaceuticals and food products, as an antiseptic, etc. Hydrogen peroxide is stored in paraffin wax coated glass, plastic or Teflon bottles.

Difference Between Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide

- Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest compound of peroxide anion.

- Hydrogen peroxide is much more stable than peroxide anion.

- Hydrogen peroxide has an acidic character, but peroxides are not.