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Peroxide vs. Hydrogen Peroxide: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 18, 2024
Peroxide is a compound with an oxygen-oxygen single bond; hydrogen peroxide is a specific peroxide with a chemical formula H₂O₂.

Key Differences

Peroxide refers to any chemical compound containing an oxygen-oxygen single bond, while hydrogen peroxide specifically contains two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms (H₂O₂). Peroxides can be organic or inorganic, whereas hydrogen peroxide is a well-known inorganic compound used in various applications.
The general term peroxide encompasses a wide range of compounds, some of which can be highly reactive or unstable. Hydrogen peroxide, in contrast, is a common and widely used peroxide, known for its oxidizing properties and as an antiseptic.
Peroxides serve as a class of compounds in chemistry with various properties and uses, depending on their specific structures. Hydrogen peroxide, being a simple peroxide, is often used in bleaching, disinfecting, and as a mild antiseptic in low concentrations.
Peroxide compounds can vary greatly in their chemical behavior and reactivity. Hydrogen peroxide is relatively more stable and safe at low concentrations but can be a powerful oxidizer at higher concentrations.
Peroxide is a broad term for compounds with an O-O bond, while hydrogen peroxide is a specific, well-known compound within this category, noted for its usefulness in everyday life and industry.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Structure

O-O bond in various compounds
H-O-O-H structure


Organic and inorganic varieties
A specific inorganic peroxide

Common Uses

Varied, depending on the compound
Disinfectant, bleach, antiseptic


Varies widely
Stable at low concentrations

Chemical Reactivity

Diverse, based on the compound
Known for its oxidizing properties

Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide Definitions


Peroxide can refer to organic compounds with an O-O group.
Benzoyl peroxide is effective in treating acne.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide serves as a bleaching agent in many industries.
Paper manufacturers use hydrogen peroxide to bleach paper.


Peroxide is used as a catalyst in chemical reactions.
Certain peroxides initiate polymerization in plastic manufacturing.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic used in low concentrations.
A diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide can be used as a mouthwash.


Peroxide acts as a bleaching agent in various applications.
Hair dyes often contain peroxide to lighten the hair color.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide decomposes to water and oxygen.
When hydrogen peroxide bubbles on a cut, it's releasing oxygen.


Peroxide is a chemical compound with an oxygen-oxygen bond.
Sodium peroxide is used in some laundry detergents.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a pale blue liquid with strong oxidizing properties.
Hydrogen peroxide is used to disinfect wounds.


Peroxide is a term for compounds that release oxygen easily.
Peroxide compounds are used in rocket fuels for their oxygen release.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is used in environmental applications for pollution control.
Hydrogen peroxide treats wastewater by breaking down organic pollutants.


The divalent O2 group, or a compound containing this group, such as sodium peroxide, Na2O2, used as an oxidizing agent or bleach.


Hydrogen peroxide.


To treat with peroxide.


To bleach (hair) with hydrogen peroxide.


(inorganic chemistry) A divalent radical or anion containing two oxygen atoms linked by a covalent bond; any substance containing this group which yields hydrogen peroxide when treated with an acid.


Hydrogen peroxide, especially when in an aqueous solution used as a bleach.


(organic chemistry) Any compound containing the functional group R-O-O-R'.


(transitive) To treat (something) with hydrogen peroxide, especially hair in order to bleach it.


An oxide containing more oxygen than some other oxide of the same element. Formerly peroxides were regarded as the highest oxides. Cf. Per-, 2.


A viscous liquid with strong oxidizing properties; a powerful bleaching agent; also used as a disinfectant and (in strong concentrations) as an oxidant in rocket fuels


An inorganic compound containing the divalent ion -O-O-


Bleach with peroxide;
She must peroxide her hair-it looks unnaturally blond


What is hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with the formula H₂O₂.

What is peroxide?

Peroxide is any compound with an oxygen-oxygen bond.

Can hydrogen peroxide be ingested?

No, hydrogen peroxide should not be ingested.

Is hydrogen peroxide environmentally friendly?

Hydrogen peroxide decomposes into water and oxygen, making it environmentally benign.

Do peroxides always bleach materials?

Many peroxides, including hydrogen peroxide, have bleaching properties.

Can hydrogen peroxide treat acne?

No, hydrogen peroxide is not typically used for acne; other peroxides like benzoyl peroxide are used.

Are all peroxides the same as hydrogen peroxide?

No, hydrogen peroxide is just one type of peroxide.

Can peroxide be used as a disinfectant?

Some peroxides, like hydrogen peroxide, are used as disinfectants.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for wound cleaning?

Yes, in low concentrations, it's safe for cleaning minor wounds.

Are there organic peroxides?

Yes, there are organic peroxides with carbon-containing structures.

How are peroxides used in industry?

They're used in manufacturing, from bleaching textiles to polymerization.

Is hydrogen peroxide effective against bacteria?

Yes, it's an effective antibacterial agent.

Are peroxides found in nature?

Yes, some peroxides are naturally occurring.

Can peroxides damage hair?

Overuse of peroxide-based products can damage hair.

Are peroxides safe for pets?

Caution is advised; consult a veterinarian for specific uses.

Can peroxides be explosive?

Some peroxides can be highly reactive and explosive.

Is hydrogen peroxide used in dentistry?

Yes, it's used for teeth whitening and as an oral antiseptic.

How should hydrogen peroxide be stored?

In a cool, dark place in a stable container.

Can peroxides be used in homemade cleaning products?

Yes, particularly hydrogen peroxide, due to its disinfectant properties.

Does hydrogen peroxide have a shelf life?

Yes, it degrades over time, especially when exposed to light.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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