Making high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide at home

Hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff you can pick up from a drug store or beauty supply store – is one of those very interesting chemicals that belongs on every maker’s cabinet. At concentrations of about 30%, it’s perfect for etching PCB boards, and at even higher concentrations – about 70% – it can be used as rocket fuel. Unfortunately for the home hacker, it’s very difficult and expensive to obtain peroxide in concentrations above 3% or so. That’s alright with [Charlie], though, because he’s come up with a way to concentrate peroxide and measure the concentration once he’s done.

There are a few YouTube videos of kitchen chemists concentrating peroxide by heating it on a stove to just under 100°C. Because hydrogen peroxide boils at 150°C, they’re simply boiling off the water and increasing the concentration of peroxide. This is a qualitative method, and you’ll never know what concentration you’re getting. [Charlie] rigged up a small-scale with a pipette to measure the weight of his concentrated peroxide per unit of volume, giving him the density of his concoction and thus the concentration.

We have to note that concentrated peroxide is dangerous stuff, but the results of [Charlie]’s lab work aren’t much more dangerous than what hair stylists work with every day. If you’re going for high-test peroxide, good job, that’s awesome, but do be aware of the risks.

48 thoughts on “Making high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide at home

  1. In the UK trying this sort of thing may get the attention of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, given the recent past history of terrorists trying to use peroxide derived explosives. Just something to be aware of.

        1. It could also be smoke. When I was a smoker I had to literally wash every damn white plastic surface with strong kitchen soap twice a year because they became yellowish over time. Switched to normal cleaning when I quit smoking.

          1. @qwerty

            Surface is not the only thing that gets affected by smoke. I once buyed a CPU from eBay. They claimed it to be barely used. When took it out I noticed the dust on the heatsink and then that smell – it smelled like an ashtray.

  2. As a user of Retr0bright, I recently needed to find higher than average concentrations of hydrogen peroxide as well. What I discovered was 5 gallon drums of 30% for sale from a local industrial cleaning supply place. It’s sold under the brand “Max lift” and, according to the MSDS sheet, is nothing more than hydrogen peroxide and water. I think they expect dry cleaners to buy it.

    IIRC it was about $100 for a bucket of the stuff. That may sound like a lot, but it’s much cheaper than buying 50 gallons of 3% and distilling it to get the same 5 gallons of 30%

    Hopefully this’ll prove beneficial to someone.

  3. Huh, this must be about the first time I’ve seen that somebody in the US says it’s hard to get a chemical, while here in NZ our domestic ebay type site has several sellers of 35% h202 in 1, 2 and 5L quantities. A Litre of 35% would cost me about $20 US equivalent, including shipping.

    Just looked on and quite interesting, 35% listings in the UK, but none in the US, looks like you guys don’t sell over about 17%. Is there some law preventing the sale of higher concentrations, or is there maybe just no market for it.

    1. We have an abundance of people in the US that are just too stupid for their own good. For example mixing bleach, drano, and water creates a visible gas that almost instantly gives you an intense headache, stay exposed long enough and the headache goes away while euphoria sets in, even longer and your either in a coma or dead. The average reaction to this is not to vent the area, it’s to sit in the gas filled home while complaining about how much it makes their nose sting.

      It seems like common sense, if it makes your nose sting, you should not be breathing it, but never underestimate stupidity.

    2. One of the reasons is that 30%+ H2O2 mixed with acetone gives you triacetonetriperoxide and/or a big explosion. It is this reaction that caused the banning of liquids on carry on luggage in planes.

      1. You don’t need 30% peroxide to make an explosive, 3% is more than enough.
        But seriously anybody making such a dangerous mixture should be considered insane. There are stronger explosives that are just a bit more complicated to make and have the advantage of not exploding by its own weight, exploding due to crystallization (which can increase inner strain) or explode due to light (!) pressure changes static electricity or the color of ones clothes. Ok, I made the last thing up on the spot but wouldn’t be surprised if TATP reacted with some coloring agents.
        BTW here I can order 55% H2O2 without any problem or buy 20% locally.

        1. Worst part about TATP is that it sublimates – leave some in a jar and it will sublimate and recrystalize in the threads. Say goodbye to your hands when you want to open it. But I agree, making nicer explosives is very easy, RDX is just hexamine (fuel tablets) with nitric acid – all you need then are some plasticizers and you have C4 or Semtex.

  4. Be careful with peroxide, I work regularly with high concentration HP from 35 to 75%, and it can be dangerous. Keep away from organic materials if you don’t want to burn your house down !

  5. This statement is incorrect “Because hydrogen peroxide boils at 150°C, they’re simply boiling off the water and increasing the concentration of peroxide”

    H2O2 does decomposes into water and oxygen slowly a room temperature if you try to distill it, by boiling it you increase the rate of decomposition. This is why you can never
    get rocket fuel from low volume H2O2. There is a much better method of peroxide
    determination by iodometric titration, here’s a good reference its method 2

    1. How the hell is a terrorist going to successfully make a sufficient amount of nitrogen-tri-iodide in-situ (moving it is pretty much impossible) to do any real damage? WTH?

  6. you know you can place the stuff in the freezer and separate the water from it

    applejack used to be made that way they would would leave the raw liquor mash in the cold and skim off the ice/slush

    i think you can do the same thing with soda leave a bottle of soda in the freezer too long and you get ice and slush and remove the ice slush and you should be left with the soda syrup.

  7. In The Netherlands it’s very easy to buy 30% H2O2 (euro 8,32/l); most on-line pharmacies have it in stock. The same goes for 30% HCl (euro 8,8/l), sulphur (euro 5,51/800g) and many other fun chemicals.

      1. (a) hydrogen peroxide (CAS RN 7722-84-1) in concentrations higher than the limit value set out in Annex I, but no higher than 35 % w/w;
        (b) nitromethane (CAS RN 75-52-5) in concentrations higher than the limit value set out in Annex I, but no higher than 40 % w/w;
        (c) nitric acid (CAS RN 7697-37-2) in concentrations higher than the limit value set out in Annex I, but no higher than 10 % w/w.
        (This is from the document you posted).
        That nitric acid concentration would be terrible, luckily one can purify by use of distillation, fractional would be ideal.

  8. How about using a closed system and a simple vaccum pump and then make the destillation at room temperature? If the vaccum pump does not get damaged by the rather agressive hydrogen peroxide it should work.

        1. At 1 psi, pure water will boil at near room temperature. The idea here is to boil it with vacuum pressure then use a desiccant stored in the same system to remove the water vapor from the container. Could work readily to produce the small amounts of high conc hper that are kind of safe to work with.

  9. i had to do this a few weeks ago for ap chem. we had to find the concentration of sugar in 7up assuming it was just a solution of sugar water. we had to do something like find the difference in the density of water and sugar and then do some other calculations to get the right answer by comparing the masses and densities. the special part we did with the difference in density gave us accurate results, while everyone was off by a good 6%

  10. too dangerous, don’t keep it at your home
    that’s what sank the Kursk submarine, it’s a highly unstable stuff and will burn your house down or just explode in your face
    in a word: don’t

    1. It is used above 70% up to high 90% in the torpedoes. It is passed through a mesh of platinum which acts as a catalyst, changing the hydrogen peroxide back to water in the form of steam at over 600 degrees Celsius which propels it.

  11. Folks one point seems to be missing from the H2O2 discussions. That is if you buy Clear developer at Beauty supply store it is fairly cheap and no records are kept of the sales or other headaches. However it is sold as 20 volume strength, 30 Volume strength and other concentrations up to about 40 or 45 volume strength, VOLUME STRENGTH IS NOT SAME AS PERCENT CONCENTRATION ! IE 20 Volume strength is NOT 20% H2O2 !! it is much less than that. I don’t recall the exact percentages to volume strength conversions however even 20 Vol. St. will turn your fingers white and cause mild chemical burns (not real problem, mostly pulls oils and water from a few layers of skin, hand lotion and moisturizer and a bit of time cures these ‘wounds’, gloves is smarter choice!). Rocket fuel strengths of H2O2 that can power a jet belt (old jet pack by BELL seen in James Bond movie uses 80% H2O2 and higher as its fuel which is pushed by N2 gas into a reaction chamber filled with activated silver or Nickel gauze which decomposes it violently into very high pressure live steam, which is what is responsible for its thrust!) 80% is very different from any available H202 with out special purchase and handling requirements from very few supply houses.

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