Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is a powerful disinfectant. Because it does not interact with any of the cell’s protoplasm, it is impossible to create resistant strains of bacteria against it. HOCl forms when chlorine dissolves in water. HOCl is most concentrated at a pH of 5. It is the effective ‘germ killing agent’ in bleach, without the negative ‘bleaching’ effects and ‘fumes’ associated with concentrated sodium hypochlorite.
HYPOCHLOROUS ACID VS. PATHOGENS
The cell walls and membranes of microorganisms are comprised primarily of proteins and lipids. Hypochlorous is highly reactive with proteins, therefore when a microbe is exposed to hypochlorous acid the cell wall is broken down in much the same way that a knife would pierce the skin. In much the same way that we cannot build up immunity to knife wounds, the microbe cannot develop a resistance to hypochlorous acid.
HYPOCHLOROUS ACID IN MAMMALIAN BLOOD CELLS
Our bodies also produce hypochlorous acid. Certain white blood cells have the responsibility to help us resist infection. The white blood cells that help us fight bacteria are called neutrophils and in response to the presence of pathogens, invoke a process known as phagocytosis. This process causes the blood cell to envelop the pathogen and chemically create hypochlorous acid which kills the invading cell instantly. If you go to bed feeling like a cold is about to blossom, and you awaken feeling like you fought it off, you have your corps of neutrophils to thank.