What is HOCL?
- HOCL is the scientific formula for hypochlorous acid, a weak acid similar to that of a mild citrus juice.
How is HOCL made?
- Michael Faraday founded the laws of electrolysis and it became commercially available in the 1870s.
Why is HOCL more efficient at killing pathogens?
Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL) vs. Sodium Hypochlorite (Chlorine Bleach)
Hypochlorite ion carries a negative electrical charge, while hypochlorous acid carries no electrical charge. The hypochlorous acid moves quickly, able to oxidize the bacteria in a matter of seconds, while the hypochlorite ion might take up to a half hour to do the same. Germ surfaces carry a negative electrical charge which results in a repulsion of the negatively charged hypochlorite ion to the area of the germ surfaces, making hypochlorite ion less effective at killing germs. The ratio of the two compounds is determined by the relative acidity (pH) of the water. Water treatment specialists can adjust the pH level to make hypochlorous acid more dominate, as it is more efficient at killing bacteria. The hypochlorous acid's lack of electrical charge allows it to more efficiently penetrate the protective barriers surrounding germs.
Commercial use of HOCL
Membrane Cell Electrolysis
The technology behind generating hypochlorous acid has evolved tremendously over the past 20 years. The market used to be dominated by membrane cell electrolysis that used high pressures to force saltwater into two separate streams, an acidic stream and an alkaline stream. The acidic stream would contain hypochlorous acid (HOCL), the anolyte or oxidizing agent, and the alkaline stream would contain sodium hydorixde (NaOH), the catholyte or reducing agent. The benefit of these systems were that two useful solutions were generated, a sanitizer and a degreaser. The downside of these systems were that they were expensive, required high maintenance, and would generate unstable solutions that lost their oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) within a short period of time.
Single Cell Electrolysis
With the development of single cell electrolysis, many of these obstacles were overcome. Single cell electrolysis does not use high pressures across a membrane therefore little to no maintenance is required. And because single cell electrolysis does not force the saltwater into two streams of opposite oxidation-reduction potential and opposite pH, a more stable solution is generated, a solution that is not seeking to regain an equilibrium. Single cell systems generate only one solution, an anolyte in the pH range of 5 to 7. This pH range is optimal for hypochlorous acid in regards to stability and effectiveness as a sanitizer.