How long is pool bleach stable when diluted with water in a Chlorox bottle anyway?

Q: Does dilution of bleach actually affect it's stability over time?
My wife buys these Chlorox variations, so I decided to ask Chlorox (800-292-2200 & 800-227-1860) what the percentage of sodium hypochlorite was in their two products pictured below:

The answer came back as follows: a. 10% NaClO (pool bleach) b. 2.4% NaClO (Chlorox Ultimate Care Bleach, UPC 44600-01692) c. 2.4% NaClO (Chlorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach, UPC 44600-00938)
When I mentioned my goal of using pool bleach, diluted to those concentrations with tap water, they forewarned that diluting bleach lowers its stability and effectiveness. Huh?
Specifically, they said that if I diluted 10% pool bleach, the resulting solution would only be effective as a disinfectant for 24 hours.
Q: Is that true?
Reading the labels, they list "inert ingredients", but I have to assume that the "inert ingredient" is plain water. Isn't it?
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That is news to me. The main component of any of the bleach products is water. So, I would not expect that adding pure water to it but otherwise keeping it stored the same way would do anything to suddenly change it. It's possible however that mineral components of typical tap water could react with it to lower the effectivenss. The 24 hours part is obviously total BS, because bleach is used in pools at greatly reduced concentrations compared to what you're doing and it's still effective as a disinfectant. In pools, the main breakdown that renders it useless is caused by sunlight. That's why stabilizer is added.
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On 2/5/2013 2:00 PM, Danny D. wrote:

Weaker solutions are more stable but there are other factors:
http://www.forceflow.com/hypochlorite/PioneerHypo.pdf
Tap water contains things like iron that catalyze decomposition. You would want to use distilled or demineralized water for best stability.
Also note effect of pH. My tap water for example has pH of 6.5.
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On Tue, 05 Feb 2013 16:05:56 -0500, Frank wrote:

Wow. A gold mine in a single page PDF!
1. The more dilute, the more stable it is! 2. The colder the solution, the more stable it is. 3. The higher the pH (within reason), the more stable it is. 4. The less copper & iron, the more stable the solution. 5. The darker it's kept, the more stable it will be.
Thanks Frank!
That first conclusion is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the Chlorox people told me!
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On 02/05/2013 11:00 AM, Danny D. wrote:

They aren't going to give you a straight answer because it will give away their trade "secret". I had a similar response from the Scotts company in regards to their Weed-B-Gone chemical.
In response to my query about the dilution rate of the chemical in the hose-end sprayer, they absolutely *REFUSED* to give me any useable information. Instead, in their responses, they did nothing but me that it was a violation of Federal law to reuse the contents in any manner other than that which it was intended.
I kept asking them for a clarification, but they refused each time, finally just ignoring my request for information.
In the end, I did my own research and solved the problem (I had to spray from the container into a bucket to measure the dilution rate), but I will never forget the absolutely TERRIBLE customer service I received from Scotts company.
If anyone is interested, here is one of the email responses I got:
Jon, Weed B Gon MAX Ready Spray does not have a dilution rate. This product is ready-to-spray, and does not require mixing or measuring. Simply attach it to your hose and spray. It's automatically mixed with water from your garden hose at the correct dilution rate. You cannot add product to the sprayer and apply, since this container is not designed to be used in this manner.
As a general rule, the label is the law. According to the EPA, applying a product in a manner not specified by the product label is against the law. For that reason, we cannot recommend a dilution rate for you.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us and for your interest in Scotts. Please feel free to contact our company anytime we may be of assistance.
Kathleen Shreve Consumer Response Representative The Scotts Company and Subsidiaries 14111 Scottslawn Road Marysville, OH 43041 800-225-2883
Jon
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If you google the phrase " bleach sodium hypochlorite " you will find numerous links to learned sources discussing how it works, how it is made, how to dilute it, etc.....
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On Tue, 05 Feb 2013 14:29:36 -0800, Robert wrote:

Think of sodium hypochlorite as table salt (NaCl) with an added oxygen (NaClO). It is easy to see that the oxygen is easily lost, leaving salt water. That lost oxygen is what disinfects. At any concentration.
Sodium hypochlorite slowly reacts with water to produce chlorine gas, oxygen gas, and sodium hydroxide solution.
To stabilize sodium hypochlorite solutions, it helps to think of how it was once manufactured. Salt water is electrolyzed to create chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide solution. Those two products react together to produce sodium hypochlorite.
So the stabilizing agent is sodium hydroxide. Any chlorine produced by the dilution with water reacts with the lye to form more sodium hypochlorite, and the equilibrium is moved far to the sodium hypochlorite side of the reaction.
Dilute it with water, and add lye to raise the pH back up to 11.
Or, if the wife is using it in the toilet or otherwise diluting it just before use, just use the straight pool chlorine, but cut the amount to a quarter of what she normally uses (if you are starting with a 10% solution).
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DannyD:
You should be aware that whenever you call any company's 1-800 customer service phone number, you're talking to someone that was hired off the street and given a 2 day training seminar that covered the proper use of all of the company's products. That is, these people only know what they managed to remember from that seminar, and seldom know more about the product than you do. If you have a question on any product, it's better to contact that company's sales representative in your area, and don't even bother phoning their 1-800 customer service line unless it's a technical support line manned by people knowledgeable about that product. Most times those 1-800 customer service people know precious little more about the product than anyone else.
If you want a stronger bleach, buy pool chlorination CRYSTALS and dissolve them in water when you need them. Pool chlorination crystals are potassium hypochlorite, KOCl, and are fairly stable as long as they're not dissolved in water. By ADDING chlorination crystals to water until they don't dissolve any more, you can make a much STRONGER oxidizing bleach. Wood workers will often use this trick if they want to remove the colour of the wood stain from stained wood. You could do much the same thing by pouring some ordinary bleach into some plates and saucers and waiting for the water to evaporate from the bleach. You will see clear/whitish crystals form as the water evaporates. These crystals will be NaOCl salts. Dissolve that NaOCl in ordinary bleach until it stops dissolving to make for a stronger NaOCl bleach.
Sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl, is called an "oxidizing bleach" along with ozone (OOO) and Hydrogen Peroxide (HOOH). All of these oxidizing bleaches are inherently chemically unstable and gradually break down to form more stable compounds. And, as they break down, they produce lone oxygen atoms.
For example, NaOCl disassociates in water to form sodium ions (Na+) and hypochlorite ions (OCl-). Those hypochlorite ions subsequently break down to form a chlorine ion and a lone oxygen atom. So, Chlorox bleach gradually turns into Chlorox salt water and a whole mess of lone oxygen atom given sufficient time. If there's no unstable molecules for those oxygen atoms to react with, they're react with themselves to form oxygen gas (O2). Exactly the same thing happens with pool chlorination crystals, except that the KOCl crystals dissassociate in water to form K+ ions and hypochlorite ions (OCl-) and those hypochlorite ions subsequently break down to form chlorine ions and oxygen atoms.
Now, how to say this politely? Lone oxygen atoms are the horney drunken sailors of the chemical world. They'll react with anything that's unstable enough to react with them, and that generally means stuff that would break down chemically on it's own given time, and that generally means large organic molecules.
The way oxygen atoms work to remove the smell from the air (as in the case of ozone), remove the colour from your hair (as in the case of hydrogen peroxide) and remove the colour from a dyed fabric is by chemically reacting at various sites on large organic molecules and thereby breaking those large molecules into pieces. Since those pieces no longer affect our sense of smell or taste the way the original molecule did, bleach causes the smell or taste to disappear. Actually, all the stuff that made that smell is still wafting around in the air, but it's now in pieces of molecules instead of whole molecules.
Same thing happens when you pour some bleach on a dyed fabric. As the OCl- ions in the bleach break down to form chlorine ions and oxygen atoms, those oxygen atoms react at various sites on the dye molecules that colour the fabric, and break those dye molecules apart. So, after bleaching a coloured t-shirt, there will still be lots of dye molecules on the shirt, but they'll be in pieces and won't absorb the same wavelenghts of light that the original dye molecule did, thereby causing the colour on the shirt to disappear.
There's a common misconception that the sterilization/disinfecting effect of bleach (or the sterilizing effect of chlorination") comes from the chlorine ions, and that's just not true. If it were, then the salt water (that's full of chlorine ions) in every ocean in the world would have the same sterilizing/disinfecting effect as bleach, and everyone's swimsuits would be bleached white after their first swim in the ocean. It's actually the lone oxygen atoms that get spit out when hypochlorite ions break down that do the sterilizing and disinfecting (and removing odors, removing the colour of dyes and breaking down large unstable organic molecules in general). NOTHING, not even germs and viruses, can survive having the molecules they're made of being broken into pieces.
Since all oxidizing bleaches rely on the active ingredient spontaneously breaking down to form a more stable molecule (and spitting out an oxygen atom in the process), you can keep bleach and hydrogen peroxide fresher longer by keeping them in your fridge. Low temperatures reduce the rate of all chemical processes, including those where unstable molecules spontaneously break down to form more stable compounds.
So, the monkey that told you that once you dilute pool bleach with water, it would only remain effective for 24 hours was talking off the top of their head. You were asking them a question, so they figured they'd think up an answer for you, (as a service) to save you the bother of having to think up one yourself.
It IS true that bleach gradually breaks down to form salt water, and that as it does so it becomes progressively less and less effective as bleach, but I use one and two year old bleach all the time and I've never noticed any significant difference in the effectiveness of the bleach I'm using cuz of it's age. (I probably just use a bit MORE old bleach.)
I would interpret "inert ingredients" as everything else they might add to bleach that doesn't play a role in the production of those lone oxygen atoms in an oxidizing bleach. I expect they add some surfactants (soaps) to bleach so that the bleach wets the surface of the fabric better (and so that it's better absorbed into some fabrics). I also expect they might add some defoamers so that the jug of bleach won't foam if you shake it cuz of the soap in it. If the pool sterilizing bleach includes water as an "inert ingredient", I expect that the percentage inert ingredients would be close to 90% in a 10 percent bleach solution. If it's much lower than that, I'd presume they mean soaps, defoamers, and maybe some antifreeze to prevent the bleach from freezing if left outdoors over the winter.
There, now you know more about bleach than the person you were talking to on the phone.
PS: The different kinds of "oxidizing bleaches" have different effectiveness as bleaches only because NaOCl, HOOH and OOO are of different chemical stability, and so they each break down to form more stable compounds at different rates. Ozone is the most aggressive bleach because ozone molecules only last for a few hours in the air before they break down to form oxygen molecules and oxygen atoms. Sodium hypochlorite takes months to break down, and hydrogen peroxide takes years. This is why carpet cleaning contractors will use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from carpets and draperies, but not bleach, even though the two chemicals remove stains in exactly the same way. Hydrogen peroxide just breaks down much slower, and that means it works more slowly, and that gives it a better chance of breaking apart the large organic molecules causing the stain (which would be the most unstable) before it starts breaking down the large organic dye molecules which give the carpet or drapery fabric it's colour.
--
nestork


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On Wed, 06 Feb 2013 06:12:51 +0000, nestork wrote:

Wow. Excellent information!
I especially enjoyed the explanation of why bleach bleaches the clothes, without actually removing the molecules!
Thanks!
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On Wed, 6 Feb 2013 08:41:30 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."
Chloroxbottle anyway?:

Indeed. Thank you.
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On Tue, 05 Feb 2013 11:13:05 -0800, SMS wrote:

Actually, because of YOU, I do too!
What I do is buy the HASA chlorine, in those yellow crates of four, using the web coupons you turned me onto, at that little Saratoga store.
I take one gallon of that HASA stuff (in the white opaque bottles) and pour it into that clear Home Depot bottle you saw in the pictures, to use inside the house. The rest goes into the pool.
So, I use 12% also (although I base my dilution math on 10% for easier numbers) - thanks, personally, to you!
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