You may, or may not, have heard about a process called electrolysis. But if you are like most business owners, who must now implement enhanced healthcare protocols within your organization, then it might help to learn more about electrolysis. That’s because one of the world’s most powerful disinfectants, hypochlorous acid sanitizer, or HOCL, is a product of that process. And although the word might be new to some of us, it has a long and illustrious history, which makes it especially more relevant today.
Electrolysis: A Brief History
Before we talk about electrolysis, lets first understand a little more about the history of its by-product – HOCL. How old is HOCL? As old as mankind itself! You see, our white blood cells have evolved to produce HOCL, and that’s what aids us – in part – to develop immunity and fight infections. However, humankind’s understanding of electrolysis, just over a 150 years ago, helped us harness the power of HOCL-based water cleaners.
So, how did electrolyzed water cleaner come about? The answer is, that it’s been around since the 1870s, when Michael Faraday established the basic principles of electrolysis. By the 1970s, Faraday’s laws had been further developed, and it became feasible to produce a highly effective sanitizer, hypochlorous acid (HOCL), on a more commercial basis. Early adoption of HOCl, through the electro-chemical activation (ECA) of salt water, used specially developed membranes that took saltwater, and produced into two solutions in two streams – hypochlorous acid sanitizer (or HOCl) and Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), an inorganic compound commonly known as caustic soda or lye.
More Recent Evolution
While two-stream technology – HOCL+HaOH – worked well, it wasn’t until the 1980s that engineers and researchers brought about a revolutionary single-stream version of that technology. How are these more recent evolutions different than their predecessors? Well, using these newer techniques allows manufacturers to produce highly effective electrolyzed water cleaner as a single solution, without supplementary byproducts.
More recent technological evolutions have built upon the 1980s breakthroughs, and taken HOCL production further. Today’s single stream HOCL making machines not only enable the cleaner to last longer, but they also produce solutions that are more stable than that produced by 1980s technologies. And it’s that, more recent, technology that makes HOCL a better pathogen killer.
One might be tempted to ask, what makes hypochlorous acid sanitizer a more effective than traditional sanitizers, such as Sodium Hypochlorite (Chlorine Bleach)? Without getting too technical, a head-to-head comparison might help explain why HOCL is more effective as a pathogen killer.
Hypochlorite ion carries a negative electrical charge, while HOCL carries no electrical charge. Like the negatively-charged Sodium Hypochlorite ions, germ surfaces too have a negative charge. This causes a repellant effect, like two negatively-charged magnets near each other, which results in up to half-hour of delay in bleach’s ability to start working against them (germs). HOCL’s lack of electrical charge, on the other hand, enables the solution to move quickly to oxidize the bacteria in a matter of seconds after each application.