Why does hydrogen peroxide fizz?

+32 votes
asked Mar 23, 2015 in Science by Felicia (1,100 points)
Whenever hydrogen peroxide is poured on a wound, it fizzes. Why does this happen?

2 Answers

+11 votes
answered Mar 27, 2015 by Elvia (710 points)

Hydrogen peroxide (H202) foams because the human blood and every cell contain the enzyme catalase. Since every cut or injury contains damaged cells and blood, a large number of catalase are floating around the open wounds. When hydrogen peroxide is applied to the injury, the catalase converts the (H202) into (H2O) water and releases (O2) oxygen gas.

The enzyme catalase performs this task very flawlessly – there are more than 200, 000 of such enzyme-driven reactions occurring every second. The white bubbles that appear on the site of the wound are pure bubbles of oxygen produced by the enzyme, catalase. A drop of hydrogen peroxide on a sliced potato produces the same results, and the reason is not different from that which is responsible for the observation during the reaction with blood.

Hydrogen peroxide will not foam on your body without an open wound or in the container. Catalase must be present for the reaction to take place. At room temperature, hydrogen peroxide remains stable.

Reference:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/medicalhealth/f/Why-Does-Hydrogen-Peroxide-Bubble-On-A-Wound.htm

0 votes
answered Mar 28, 2015 by Kenny (520 points)
Why does hydrogen peroxide fizz? I'll explain it from the structure of hydrogen peroxide. One molecule of hydrogen peroxide (H202), consists of 2 atoms of hydrogen (H2) and two atoms of O2. Whenever peroxide fizzes, the enzyme catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into oxygen atoms and water molecules.

The living cells are the driving force and not the chemicals. Blood in injuries and most other cells convert hydrogen peroxide into water with the release of oxygen gas, which accounts for the bubbles and fizzes. However, cells are responsible for producing the catalyst that drive this reaction forward. Some cells are capable of producing this catalyst while some are not.

This explains why hydrogen peroxide cannot fizz on your skin when you don't have any open cut or wound.
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