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
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
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.