History of chlorine dioxide

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Chlorine dioxide is something that seems rather strange at first. This is simply because the chemical name seems very technical from the first reading to the collection of information. As chemistry is one of the oldest natural sciences, it sometimes has clunky terms for things that have positive effects. It is similar with chlorine dioxide. For decades, the compound has been attributed a disinfecting effect that is easy to understand because of its simple composition.

In this blog, we explain why you can use chlorine dioxide for your own benefit, since when it has been used by people as an aid and how the view of the chemical has changed over time.

The early days of chlorine dioxide:

Although the compound of chlorine dioxide has been around since the dawn of civilisation, we only celebrated its discovery about 200 years ago. It was discovered by Humpry Davy (presumably even as an accident during an experiment). This was done by splitting the particles that make up chlorine dioxide. As can easily be deduced from the name, the mixture consists of parts of chlorine and parts of oxygen, but often only unfolds its effect as part of a chemical reaction, which we will look at later. Tests besides the purification of drinking water have also qualified chlorine dioxide in higher concentrations as a bleaching agent. You will find out in a moment why you can still treat your water with it without worrying.

What you should take away is that chlorine dioxide has a long history of research. Because of this, the effect on you and your body is clear and analysed. What began with Humphry Davy in the early 19th century continues today in industrial bleaching and in its use for drinking water disinfection in camping, on hiking tours, for long-term hitchhikers, holidays or for crisis prevention.

How do I use it for water treatment?

Is chlorine dioxide approved for use in drinking water?

The use of chlorine dioxide is regulated by law and therefore beyond doubt, among other things in the Drinking Water Ordinance. For you as a private person, it is therefore absolutely safe to use chlorine dioxide to disinfect your water!

Concrete areas of application for drinking water disinfection for you:

Even though Germany has one of the highest purity standards when it comes to drinking water, there are strong regional variations and differences in water quality. In many other European countries, the water is not even drinkable directly from the tap. So it cannot be said across the board that drinking water is safe from an international perspective. This is neither the fault of the respective legislator nor of the waterworks as such. But for many substances within tap water, there are no uniform regulations at all. Apart from that, guidelines, statutes and purity regulations have been repeatedly adapted, corrected and shifted in a more tolerant direction over the years.

In addition, it is also a question of how far the water pipes have to transport the water from the factory to your tap and how good or bad your pipes are in shape. It goes without saying that pipes with a long transport route contaminate the water more than pipes that, to put it bluntly, only have to travel a few metres from the factory to your house. It also goes without saying that some pipes are older than others. Due to the complicated process of laying the pipes (roads have to be torn up, pipes sealed, re-laid and then covered with new road surface) and the permanent use, substances sometimes dissolve and are transported along with the water flow.

In plain language, this means that some guidelines cannot always be adhered to and micro substances find their way into the drinking water. Here, chlorine dioxide or a high-quality drinking water filter can help to effectively eliminate residues and literally play it safe. After all, not every household is equally well protected against germs, and a 100% guaranteed purity of the water is hardly possible anyway.

However, chlorine dioxide can also be of great use to you on long hikes, during a hot summer holiday or when touring in a camper:

By adding a small amount of chlorine dioxide to your water (please be sure to follow the necessary dosage instructions), you release the oxidative effect of chlorine dioxide. This means that the substance mixture reacts with oxygen and, to put it simply, kills the pollutants. The oxidation itself works as follows: Small particles within the molecules, in this case water and oxygen, are differently charged and comprehensibly differently composed. The distribution of electrons, the lightest elementary particles within a molecule, is particularly important for oxidation. An oxidation, i.e. a reaction with oxygen, takes place on the level of electrons. In the process, the original distribution of the particles "shifts". One molecule, the donor, gives up electrons to the acceptor. The chemical reaction thus consists of the exchange of electrical charges at the smallest level, thus changing the original state of the molecules. Chlorine dioxide acts as an oxidising agent. The mixture of substances therefore takes up electrons. The electrons that are taken up by chlorine dioxide come from the pollutant cells that we want to render harmless within the drinking water. Because the pollutant cells change their original charge, they become unstable and "break apart" on the particle level. Thus, chlorine dioxide in dissolved form has a disinfecting effect because the pollutants act as donors. Because of this, it is important that you leave the water container with chlorine dioxide closed for at least fifteen minutes up to two hours so that the effect can unfold freely.

In short: You go to a spring, an old water pipe etc. and fill your water there. Then you add chlorine dioxide according to the dosage instructions and close the water container for at least a quarter of an hour. Then you are ready to go for adventures, new prepper simulations, week-long hiking trips or family holidays in foreign countries with less strict drinking water regulations!

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