With the global pandemic taking over throughout 2020 and 2021 you would be hard-pressed to think that hypochlorous acid (HOCl) was used as anything other than a disinfectant and sanitiser. However, the reality is that way before Coronaviruses became the hot topic, this wonder-biocide was actually being used in a vast number of industries and for a wide array of applications and uses.
Hypochlorous acid – a multitude of uses
Hypochlorous acid uses – disinfecting and sanitising of more than just surfaces
Despite all the effort that has been put into controlling healthcare acquired infections, traditional disinfectant products can still require up to ten minutes to be fully effective. Hypochlorous acid is undoubtedly an incredible disinfectant within a healthcare and dental setting, getting to work in seconds and therefore much more practical for busy and demanding environments. It is widely used in hospitals in the USA and Japan, with trials currently being undertaken in the UK within the NHS to use it as a replacement to HPV (view our NHS hypochlorous acid fogging trial report here). With the added ability to be used within fogging/misting machines without concerns about hazards, it can reach and disinfect the most hard to reach places.
And now, with heightened awareness of infection control and disinfection procedures, workplaces, education facilities, retail, leisure and hospitality premises must ensure stringent processes to avoid cross contamination and infection spread. The disinfecting of all public places and spaces is certainly here to stay and a gentle biocide that is free from bleach and alcohol and has no negative impact on the environment or the user’s health, is surely the best answer.
However, it isn’t just surfaces. Our hypochlorous has been used in food production for years, disinfecting drinks bottles, vegetables, fruit, salad and herbs as well as the processing and packing equipment. With a low contact time and without generating the harmful disinfection by-products other chemicals do, HOCl can be used extremely efficiently in all food processing to kill microbial pathogens before packing. Our Agripure product has been, and continues to be, used by leading UK retailers including M&S and Waitrose. Our solutions are tailored to the application so even the most fragile of soft fruits can be disinfected without any detrimental effect on the quality of the produce.
Hypochlorous acid uses – Agriculture and horticulture
For food producers it’s not just about microbial pathogen kill. Our on-site, on-demand HOCl solutions, because they do not generate harmful disinfection by-products, facilitate the ability to recycle the wash water, enabling a reduction in water usage of up to 80% and also significantly reduces electricity usage, creating significant cost and labour savings, as well as an improved environmental impact. This recycling system effectively turns produce decontamination from a batch process into a continuous flow process, so productivity is much improved. This use of HOCl and our work with growers and processors in the UK, Europe, USA and Africa has made significant environmental improvements and financial impacts.
HOCl is also widely used in crop production, spearheading a revolution in the use of safe and effective biocides, to manage infections and increase yield. In both vertical farming and hydroponics it is suitable for all types of applications, is 99.9999% effective against all stages of bacterial colonisation on roots, equipment and biofilm and is a versatile and fast acting root steriliser, proven to work on the widest spectrum of pathogens, including Pythium.
Hypochlorous is also revolutionising the cut flower industry and we are working with some of the leading cut flower suppliers in the UK and beyond with significant improvements in product shelf life, post-harvest hydration, display solutions and consumer vase treatments.
Read more here about why M&S choose our hypochlorous acid for food safety.
Hypochlorous acid uses – Animal care
HOCl has an enormous and valuable part to play in animal welfare and biosecurity as both bottled products and on-site production. Aqualution has vast experience of developing products for animal care brands, for veterinary use and on-farm solutions.
Dairy farming – HOCl can be used on dairy farms for a wide range of applications and can be used to promote herd health, hygiene and welfare, permitting the cow to perform to her true potential and reducing calf mortality. It can be dosed into animal drinking water to control bacteria and bio-film providing the potential to move to ground source water, for parlour and equipment hygiene killing 99.9999% of pathogens in seconds and whilst animals are in situ, for the gentle disinfecting of teats pre and post milking, as both prevention and cure for digital dermatitis and for treating clusters with no impact on rubber life.
Game and poultry – HOCl can be used for the effective treatment and care of birds from racing pigeons to game and poultry reducing the need to use any toxic chemicals and improving mortality rates and yield. It kills 99.9999% of pathogens including Rotovirus, Mycoplasma and ORT and can be used in drinking water, shed sanitation as well as for wound and eye care.
Veterinary use – for both large and small animals, vets have been using HOCl for wound treatment, as a sterile eye irrigant for the disinfection, cleaning and flushing of eyes, for skin disinfection prior to surgery or treatment and hoof care for infection prevention and the treating of digital dermatitis.
Hypochlorous acid uses – Skin care
HOCl is also an effective hand sanitiser and skin disinfectant, killing all types of germs on contact, but as it is part of the human body it is completely benign to human skin and tissue. It is bactericidal, viricidal, fungicidal and sporicidal and contains no harmful chemicals, alcohol, preservatives or essential oils.
This open ups opportunities for hand sanitiser and first aid brands but also those wishing to use HOCl in skincare and beauty products. Hypochlorous acid’s antimicrobial superpowers are being harnessed by dermatologists in the US for fighting acne and skin infections. From anecdotal feedback it could also be used to soothe and repair skin damaged by chronic skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Being such a super gentle antimicrobial, HOCl has gained popularity during the coronavirus pandemic for helping to reduce skin conditions that are exacerbated by wearing masks and is being marketed as a mask sanitising and decontamination spray.
Hypochlorous acid uses – Medical devices
The opportunity for medical devices that harness HOCl is huge. In the USA the FDA has approved its use in wound healing, wound care and eye care products and back here in the UK we are the first company to produce a CE marked hypochlorous acid product, and we are currently running trials on using HOCl for wound treatment within the NHS.
The above just touches on what HOCl can do and its multitude of uses. The possibilities of HOCl are remarkable and the surface hasn’t yet been scratched.