Physico-chemical Properties

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a colorless water-soluble liquid. The molecule of hydrogen peroxide is asymmetrical and strongly polarized. A high tendency to form hydrogen-bond networks causes higher viscosity than water. Because of free electron pairs on both oxygen atoms, the H2O2-molecule tends to form donor-acceptor compounds. Pure hydrogen peroxide is primarily of scientific interest only. Its aqueous solutions, however, are widely used in many industrial branches for various applications. Important physical properties of hydrogen peroxide and its aqueous solutions as summarized in the table below.

The molecular structure as well as oxygen's oxidation state define the chemical properties of hydrogen peroxide. The oxygen atom, being in the oxidation state I, allows hydrogen peroxide to participate in both oxidation as well as reduction reactions. Although hydrogen peroxide is well known as a strong oxidizing agent, its reduction properties play an important role in some applications. Typical chemical reactions, in which hydrogen peroxide is involved, are oxidation and reduction reactions, formations of other peroxygen or adduct compounds. In contrast to many other redox agents, hydrogen peroxide introduces no additional substances other than water into the reaction system and an excess can be easily decomposed into water and oxygen, not interfering thereby with subsequent reaction steps. Hydrogen peroxide is often regarded as a true "green chemical".

Despite its high reactivity, pure hydrogen peroxide is a stable substance and, if kept under optimal conditions, can be stored for years. The most important factors increasing the rate of decomposition are high pH value, high temperatures, UV-irradiation, presence of transition metal salts and all kinds of impurities.

The decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water is a quite complex process, which involves formation of various free radicals. In some applications (soil remediation) the induced instability is intentionally caused and used.

Important physico-chemical properties of aqueous solutions of hydrogen peroxide

H2O2 concentration*
%(wt.)
0
30
35
50
60
70
100
g(H2O2)/kg
300
350
500
600
700
g(H2O2)/l
332
395
596
742
899
mol/l 
9,8
11,6
17,5
21,8
26,4
mol% 
18,5
22,2
34,6
44,3
55,3
Active oxygen content 
%(wt.) 
0
14,1
16,5
23,5
28,2
32,9
47,1
Molecular weight
g/mol 
18,015
34,015
Density at 20 °C 
g/ml 
0,998
1,111
1,131
1,195
1,241
1,289
1,450
Freezing point 
°C
0
-26
-33
-52
-56
-40
-0,4

Boiling point at
1013 mbar

°C 
100
106
108
114
119
125
150

Boiling point at
2026 mbar

°C 
132
135
145
152
158

Boiling point at
3039 mbar

°C 
147
150
161
168
176

Total vapor pressure
(30 °C)

mbar
42
33
32
14
19
15
8
mm. Hg.
31,6
25
24
18
14
11
6
H₂O₂ partial vapor 
mbar
0,3
0,4
0,8
1,2
1,7

Pressure at 30 °C

mm. Hg. 
0,25
0,3
0,6
0,9
1,3
Specific heat at 25°C 
J*g/K 
4,2
3,6
3,5
3,3
3,2
3,1
2,6
Refractive index,
n25D at 25°C
1,3325
1,3519
1,3554
1,3661
1,3734
1,3814
1,4067
Viscosity at 20°C 
mPa*s 
1,00
1,11
1,12
1,18
1,21
1,23
1,25
Surface tension at 20°C 
mN/m 
72,8
74,2
74,5
75,7
76,4
77,3
80,4

The tabulated values, which are given above, describe physico-chemical properties of salt free pure aqueous solutions of hydrogen peroxide in water.

*Hydrogen peroxide concentration can be expressed in weight percent, gram of 100%-age hydrogen peroxide in 1 kg solution, gram of 100%-age hydrogen peroxide in 1L solution and as molar concentration or molar fraction of hydrogen peroxide in solution. The tabulated values for g(H2O2)/l and mol/l are given for the temperature of 25 °C.