Yes, knowing how bleach works isn’t all that exciting, but since bleach is what you usually use in your daily life, why not understand how and why it works? Wonder how the colour of the liquid is a yellowish colour, but the clothes come out as pure white? Or maybe why your parents always tell you not to touch bleach because it harms your skin? Since we’re still young, why not understand it earlier?
Bleach has two forms: chlorine bleach and non-chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleaches work faster and more effectively than non-chlorine bleaches, which is why it became so popular. So when people say bleach, they usually mean chlorine bleaches. Now bleach - in scientific terms - is a kind of catalyst. A catalyst is a chemical that increases the reaction rate of a chemical reaction (catalyse), and the chemical reaction involves enzymes. So to understand how bleach works, we first understand how enzymes work.
Enzymes are the most important thing in our lives, it makes the world go ‘round! Enzymes are proteins that acts as catalysts and help combine or break down hydrogen peroxide. Imagine a pen with ink inside it, when you write, ink comes out, right? You can draw, you can write, then when you finish and get your pen off of the paper, the ink stops coming out. Enzymes are like that, they grab on to one or two pieces, do something to them, and then release them, but instead the pen holds the ink in.
Catalase and Catalyst
Catalyst is a chemical, which can break down hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. Catalase is a common enzyme that is found in almost all living organisms exposed to oxygen.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Sodium Hypochlorite
Hydrogen peroxide is in bleaches too, but only the mild ones, which is the non-chlorine bleaches. Since only hydrogen peroxide isn’t very strong, other products usually use other chemicals to make the reaction and results more effective, for example; sodium