Under normal conditions, Hydrogen Peroxide is extremely stable with demonstrated losses of less than 1% per year under ambient conditions. Heat and oxygen are generated during peroxide decomposition and even abnormal decomposition is easily handled by properly designed storage and handling systems. However, if severe contamination occurs or the solution is heated to extremely high temperatures, relieving devices may not be able to dissipate the volume of gas generated and the system may be overpressured.
Hydrogen Peroxide is not considered explosive, but explosive vapors can be formed when peroxide is mixed with certain organic materials. In addition, Hydrogen Peroxide is not flammable, but does generate large amounts of oxygen during decomposition that supports combustion.
The property of hydrogen peroxide to decompose exothermally in the presence of certain catalytically acting impurities, with the formation of oxygen gas and water is very important for handling during storage as well as during chemical reaction. Decomposition is indicated by the development of gas and - with only slight removal of heat - by rise in temperature.
The stability of hydrogen peroxide solutions is influenced primarily by the temperature, the pH value, and above all by the presence of impurities with a decomposing effect.
An increase in the temperature promotes the decomposition as well as a higher pH value. For optimum stability, the pH range of pure hydrogen peroxide is below 4.5. Above pH 5, the decomposition increases sharply. Therefore, commercial solutions are generally adjusted to a pH value below 5.
The shelf life of hydrogen peroxide is negatively affected by impurities of every type even when some of these impurities are present in very low concentrations (ppm quantities). The decomposition can be induced homogeneously by dissolved ions with a catalytic effect. Heavy metals like iron, copper, manganese, nickel, and chromium are especially effective here. Hydrogen peroxide is also decomposed through the effect of UV-light as well as by certain enzymes (catalase).
As a result of the stabilizers, which are usually added to our commercial grades in ppm amounts, our hydrogen peroxide is protected against unavoidable impact during handling and has an excellent shelf life. With normal handling and cool storage, and when the necessary precautionary measures are observed, the losses of hydrogen peroxide are very slight even during extended periods (years) of storage.