What is Hypochlorous Acid?

EPA Est. 96527-CA-1

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl), sometimes called Electrolyzed Water (EOW), is an all-natural, no-rinse, non-toxic, non-irritating, and environment-safe antimicrobial solution, produced through an electrochemical reaction of water, salt, and electricity. It serves as a particularly potent antimicrobial agent, since it is approximately 100 times as effective as chlorine bleach.

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is generated by the electrolysis of a dilute NaCl (table salt) solution interacting with an electrolytic cell. This process creates an anolyte solution predominantly of hypochlorous acid (HOCl). This solution is highly biocidal and can kill common foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter in less than 30 seconds on contact. It has been proven to be effective against bacterial spores and viruses that are highly resistant to other disinfectants. HOCl is also capable of dislodging and removing biofilm, which can be a major contributor to contamination in pipes and clean-in-place (CIP) systems, i.e. in the systems behind beverage and dairy manufacturing.

Unlike other oxidants, such as ozone (O₃) and chlorine dioxide (ClO₂), which are gases and rapidly leave the solution in seconds to minutes, HOCl is a liquid that is stable in solution, and it maintains biocidal concentrations for up to several months. This stability in solution allows for HOCl to be used in many applications in the food industry, from the farmer to the table—not only for direct food contact but also for the disinfection of food contact surfaces. When stored in ideal conditions in closed containers protected from oxygen and light, HOCl has been proven to be stable in solution for several months. Even if it is stored in buckets or other open containers, it will still remain stable for several hours.

When HOCl is applied on food or contact surfaces, it behaves as an oxidizing agent. When reduced by organic matter, it leaves no harmful residues and therefore no potable water post-rinse is required. The aforementioned features make hypochlorous acid (electrolyzed water) a superior operational solution for any food service provider, saving time and resources and enabling frequent, real-time application.

There are a broad range of applications for the use of this technology in industries such as agriculture, food and beverage, hospitality, healthcare, and water treatment. HOCl can be safely and efficiently utilized through a variety of methods such as direct application, pressure spraying, dosing, and fogging.