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 Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: krawfish3x (---.benslm01.pa.comcast.net)
Date:   2003-04-28 18:33

my friend just recently told me about this and i was wondering if it works. She said that if you soak your reeds in hydrogen peroxide it will replenish them and will play better. does anyone know how long to do this and the procedure to do it? does it work?

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: sfalexi (130.156.3.---)
Date:   2003-04-28 18:39

A lot of people use this method. It kills bacteria, which I assume would kill the bacteria/moss/mold that would want to form on the reed after you play. I wouldn't submerge it too long as it would start to break down the wood.

I don't use it, I just make sure (now) that my reeds are rotated, and I dry them between my thumb and forefinger as much as I can after playing in order to "squeeze" out as much moisture as I can. There are other products as well such as REEDLIFE™ that do the same thing (disinfect the reed).

Alexi

Clarinetist with the 282nd Army Band - Fort Jackson's Own

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Don Poulsen (---.client.insightBB.com)
Date:   2003-04-28 18:40

I don't know about replenishing them, but it kills much of what is growing on the reed and helps get any gunk off of it. I usually stick the reeds in a small cup containing the peroxide and let them soak for a while, until the fizzing has pretty much stopped.

And rinse the reeds in water afterward. Although a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide is commonly prescribed as a gargle/mouthwash for cold sores and other things, ingesting it could be harmful. (I doubt that the small amount remaining in/on the reed would do too much harm, but rinse them nonetheless.)

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Ken Shaw (63.94.240.---)
Date:   2003-04-28 18:57

Hydrogen perioxide is water with oxygen dissolved in it. When it's exposed to air, it turns into water an oxygen. A strong peroxide solution will burn skin, but you use only a very mild solution for reeds, and, anyway, once it's stopped fizzing, it's just water.

I've found that when a reed gets dirty and greasy, and the performance starts to deteriorate, peroxide will revive it for a short time -- maybe an hour or so of playing.

The action of the peroxide lifts up the grain of the cane on the bottom, so you'll need to flatten the bottom to re-create an airtight seal.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Ed (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date:   2003-04-28 19:08

I have tried this method over the years and have never found it to work for me. It is possible that I just push my reeds to the limit, but for me generally, once they are dead they are dead.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Shorthand (---.public.utexas.edu)
Date:   2003-04-28 21:02

Basically, it will kill mold, bacteria, or virii. Its a good way to keep on using a favorite "old" reed safely after you've been sick or if its gotten moldy. However, it won't restore a reed, it will instead break it down even more.

If your reeds are getting moldy, you have a bigger issue that you need to solve more fundamentally, though. Peroxide won't revive a reed that has died of natural causes (use, saliva-based breakdown), though.

Peroxide is a bleaching agent, and the burns will look like patches of bleached skin, and will itch.

In the concentrations you buy at the drug store (Medical is 1.5-3%, Hair is 6%), the danger is minimal. Just rinse any off of your skin immediately. You never need anything stronger than 3% for this, 1.5% will do the job fine. ReedLife is based on peroxide and has some additives that do the other work.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: EEBaum (---.mminternet.com)
Date:   2003-04-29 04:29

You might also try soaking them in Efferdent (denture cleanser). A tablet dissolved in water, that is.

-Alex
www.mostlydifferent.com

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Clarence (---.cox-internet.com)
Date:   2003-04-29 04:51

A quick dip in rubbing acohol should kill the beasties.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: BobD (---.tnt20.chi15.da.uu.net)
Date:   2003-04-29 13:48

It appears that some interpret the h202 treatment just for killing germs. I doubt that is the sole purpose. Although it is a mild disinfectant it also has general cleaning properties i.e. removing saliva deposits. I'm not sure that the simple "oxygen dissolved in water" description is accurate; try bubbling o2 in water and see if you get peroxide.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Ken Shaw (63.94.240.---)
Date:   2003-04-29 14:20

BobD -

Water is hydrogen dioxide. "Per" is a prefix meaning "more." Thus, hydrogen peroxide is water with more oxygen. I'm really sure about this. It's made by bubbling or otherwise getting oxygen with water under pressure, and perhaps heat. Once the oxygen dissolves in the water, it's reasonably stable when kept sealed, cool and dark, but the oxygen gasses out fairly quickly once it's out of the bottle, and very quickly

Perhaps the Doctor or some of the other chemists can say more.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: BobD (---.tnt20.chi15.da.uu.net)
Date:   2003-04-29 14:28

Thanks for the help Ken. Although I've had grad level chemistry courses I've never actually made h202. Still, to say that the extra oxygen atom is merely dissolved in "water" seems an oversimplification to me since there is a chemical bond involved. But, hey, I was wrong once before and could be again. Best wishes,Bob

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Henry (---.dialsprint.net)
Date:   2003-04-29 17:28

BobD, you're right. H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) is more than just dissolving oxygen in water. You can bubble O2 into water until doomsday and you won't get any H2O2. It is a totally different chemical compound. All water has dissolved oxygen; that doesn't turn it into hydrogen peroxide and doesn't bleach and disinfect as H2O2 does.
Henry

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: L. Omar Henderson (158.111.4.---)
Date:   2003-04-29 17:41

Hydrogen dioxide or peroxide is an ustable molecule with two oxygen molecules in coordination with only a single colvalent bond holding the two oxygen molecules together. When the oxygen is liberated it forms the peroxide ion (oxygen with two negative superscripts) which is more reactive as an oxidizing agent than molecular oxygen. Many circumstances will cause the hydrogen dioxide to free one peroxide oxygen atom yielding oxygen and H2O (water) when the peroxide atom reacts - if you look at the periodic table of elements it is a medium level oxidizing agent below chlorine and flourine in strength.

Hydrogen peroxide is commercially made by passing steam through a solution containing ammonium persulfate.

Drug store grade hydrogen peroxide is three percent hydrogen peroxide which will kill bacteria, most mold and fungi, and virus with prolonged contact. The release of the molecular oxygen (the bubbles) also has a sanitizing mechanical effect by causing movement and release of materials that react with the peroxide atom which are carried away with the oxygen bubbles.

The drug store hydrogen peroxide is germacidal and fungicidal with contact times of about 5-15 minutes. This solution will remove organic (bugs, and food particles) materials which may cause the reed to deteriorate in playing ability but the straight hydrogen peroxide will also attack the reed structure. Addition of other agents such as humectants and stabilizers for the cellulose in reeds will diminish the affect that peroxide has on the reed structure. One product that I know of - ReedLife - has this combination of additatives in a peroxide base (disclaimer - I sell ReedLife).
The Doctor

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: BobD (---.tnt36.chi15.temp.da.uu.net)
Date:   2003-04-29 18:13

Thanks Doc. As usual you clear the air superbly.....and sell an excellent product to boot.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Don Berger (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date:   2003-04-29 18:33

TKS, Doc, for putting-to-rest the misinformation re: the elementary chemistry of oxygen/hydrogen. I've been biting my tongue to NOT disagree with friends. We used to refer to that extra atom of oxygen in H2O2 [it could be called DIhydrogen dioxide, but hy-per is very common] as "nascent" to distinguish its atomic, not molecular character {K S} , which is the reason for its greater reactivity. Doc, being on this subject, is the "humectant" in Reedlife just glycerine? I use it, and at times "spike" it with a 5%H2O2, so as enjoy the bubbling! Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: JMcAulay (---.dial.qnet.com)
Date:   2003-04-29 19:34

Chemistry 201:
"Di" is a prefix meaning "two." Thus water, H2O, can be called dihydrogen oxide, as it has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. "Per" is a prefix meaning "for (each)." Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is a compound which has one hydrogen atom for each oxygen atom. Every H2O2 molecule is inherently unstable because it consists of two ions with the same electrical charge (negatively charged HO- hydroxide ions). The H2O2 molecule easily separates into those two hydroxide ions. A hydroxide ion will randomly dissociate, separating into one hydrogen ion (H+) and one oxygen ion (O--). The free hydrogen ion will then combine rapidly with a hydroxide ion to form an electrically neutral, hence more stable water molecule. The O-- ion is electrically repelled by and thus does not attach to any other free O-- ion to form an oxygen molecule, so it leaves the liquid solution as gaseous nascent oxygen. Because of this constant degradation of the H2O2, a water solution with a certain percentage of H2O2 will become weaker as time passes.

The O-- ions are very effective bleaching agents, as they combine with almost anything to oxidize it. For this same reason, O-- is toxic to almost any living thing. While this toxicity readily kills bacteria and other small organisms, it will only destroy nearby cells in a larger creature. Thus, dilute solutions can be used without extreme risk. But do be careful with it.

Regards,
John



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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Don Berger (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date:   2003-04-29 21:05

Wow- J McA, a fine description, at last, of what takes place, chemically/electrically. I still like ionic/valence description, so I prefer to view water as H-O-H and peroxide as H-O-O-H , OK? TKS, Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Henry (---.dialsprint.net)
Date:   2003-04-29 21:34

Yes, but JMcA's treatise contains some rather confusing statements which may be the responsibility not of JMcA but of the author of the quoted text.

1. "Every H2O2 molecule is inherently unstable because it consists of two ions with the same electrical charge (negatively charged HO- hydroxide ions)."
If this were true, H2O2 would have a double negative charge, whereas in reality it is a neutral molecule. I would say that you could think of H2O2 as consisting of two neutral HO "radicals", indicated by HO*. The first step would then be a disintegration of the molecule into two neutral HO* free radicals. (Free radicals are electrically neutral groups with an "unpaired" electron, indicated by a dot. Free radicals are extremely reactive and have been implicated in carcinogenesis.)
2. "The O-- ion is electrically repelled by and thus does not
attach to any other free O-- ion to form an oxygen molecule, so it leaves the liquid solution as gaseous nascent oxygen."
How can the doubly negatively charged O-- escape as neutral, molecular O2, if there are no other redox reactions going on? I have not looked in detail into all the reaction mechanisms involved but what I read here is obviously too simple.

Henry



Post Edited (2003-04-30 02:45)

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: L. Omar Henderson (---.atl.client2.attbi.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 00:11

One would have to draw the electronic structure of hydrogen peroxide and then it would be more clear - look at any inorganic college text and it will be there. It is often a favorite question on exams!

To answer Don's question - I do not make ReedLife but my friend, another scientist at the CDC, does and I help him out sometimes with production lots. The humectants are several in addition to glycerine (plant derived and Kosher) and there are other additatives that are proprietary which do not alter the oxidizing, sanitizing, and antimicrobial-fungal properties but which protect the reed structure for the oxidizing effects of the peroxide. Like any other product it should be tested by the user and it's utility and usefullness determined. I like it even though I get it for free. (Disclaimer) - I have recently contracted with ReedLife and will sometime soon be the "Answer Man" once they get their web site revamped.
The Doctor

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Don Berger (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 01:49

TKS, Omar, I had looked up Carvo's patent, US 5,379,673 [1995] earlier out of curiousity, but couldn't recall the glycerol [and other humectants?] concentration [of 7-8%]. A well-written pat, IMHO, good product, even tho there is always the question of "improvement" in reed life. You are one of our BB's "compositional" "Answer Persons", and I congratulate you on becomming [to me] a consultant for them, and hope I'll see your name on "improvement" [additives,etc] patents, and other compositions-of-matter in the near future. Re: the H2O2 reduction/oxidation chemistry, that seems unimportant to me , I just like to think of Shakespeare, Much Ado About "not very much", AND, Alls Well Which Ends Well .. Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: JMcAulay (---.dial.qnet.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 03:50

Henry: You are correct, it is indeed simple. And when things are oversimplified, they tend to become less than perfectly accurate. Of course, complexity multiplies as greater detail is examined. For example, it's easy to say that fermentation of glucose yields ethanol and carbon dioxide, but it's even easier to overlook the more than a dozen intermediate compounds produced, some of which will remain in trace quantities.

For the responsible party, here I am. That was written by me and me alone. Had I quoted someone else, I would have cited the source.

Even water, H2O, that stable, electrically neutral molecule, frequenntly separates into constituent ions and then recombines. The H2O2 molecule will do the same, except its recombination often fails.

Henry is correct that the H2O2 molecule is in itself neutral. But as a practical matter, the "soup" in which it resides contains plenty of H2O, HO-, H+, and e- particles. What takes place immediately after any separation of the H2O2 molecule occurs (and it will) involves charged particles from other sources, and recombinination may be prevented due to the negative ionization of two HO components into HO- particles. Separation of one of these HO- particles into H+ and O-- could then result, with the H+ ion combining with some other HO- ion to form a water molecule, leaving the O-- particle alone. And that is only one possible outcome at this level, as other reactions also may be proceeding. The probability of specific reactions occurring makes a difference, even within a system as simple as this.

Such a reaction is driven by ionization energies and related characteristics of the consitutents (energy needed to remove an electron from an atom, corollary to the strength with which a nuclide hangs on to an electron). For example, oxygen's ionization energy is greater than that of hydrogen. This is why, in the absence of external force, water molecules that separate will form HO- and H+ ions rather than non-ionized atoms.

Any free oxygen atoms which lack electrical charge (non-ionized) will rapidly combine with one another. They can share electrons easily. Hence, the O2 molecule is quite stable. However, oxygen atoms which have acquired an extra electron will not combine as readily, and two O-- ions will hardly combine at all (I'd like to say "they won't," but y'never know....). So while some oxygen will no doubt leave the "soup" as O2, some takes off as O-, and likely a larger amount than that goes away as O--. The more ionized nascent oxygen is far more active. If you want to see instant rust, put a drop of H2O2 on a piece of warm iron.

It's been almost three years since I taught Chemistry, so my brain is likely fogged. In any event, nothing that I write is cast in concrete. I am always pleased to amend any position or statement based on more accurate information. Anyway, I forgot -- what does this have to do with Clarinets?

Regards,
John



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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Matt Locker (---.bluebird.ibm.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 11:52

So how about using OxyClean on your reeds? Any thoughts on this?

Matt

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: L. Omar Henderson (158.111.4.---)
Date:   2003-04-30 12:33

There was a recent discussion on using OxyClean on mouthpieces - search. IMHO OxyClean should not be used on reeds or mouthpieces. OxyClean is a sodium percarbonate compound which generates a milder form of oxygen bleaching than hydrogen peroxide but must be in an alkaline environment to work and it makes the reeds taste awful (I've tried it). The branded name of OxyClean contains fillers which are no doubt responsible for this bad taste. It does not have the same bactercidal or fungicidal capabilities of peroxide and causes greater structural damage to the reeds than hydrogen peroxide (3 %).
The Doctor

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Ken Shaw (63.94.240.---)
Date:   2003-04-30 14:12

So, to get back to the original question, when you dip an old reed into drugstore strength hydrogen peroxide, and the fizzing stops, what's left? Is it basically water (with some of the fizzed-off stuff dissolved in it), or something different, which you must wash off or it'll harm you?

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: clarinetmama (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 14:58

As kids we used to use hydrogen peroxide to clean the holes in our recently pierced ears. And I never had a problem with infections unlike some of my unluckier friends.
Jean

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Matt Locker (---.bluebird.ibm.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 15:18

Omar:

I did not remember seeing a discussion. My first search did not show it up because I only searched the subjects. A search on the threads as well found it. My apologies.

I suspected that it would not be appropriate to use this on reeds & my suspicions have been affirmed.

Thanks,
Matt

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: BobD (---.tnt20.chi15.da.uu.net)
Date:   2003-04-30 15:21

It's always a delight to learn here on the BB, whether it's about clarinets or chemistry or almost anything else. We(I) sometimes forget that clarinet players are experts in other areas. My personal feeling and experience is that after you treat your reeds in h202 you just rinse lightly in plain water, dry them off and play with no ill effects. Of course I use Reedlife myself most of the time. Also, I agree with the contributor who felt that at some point every cane reed is dead as far as playability is concerned. Perhaps someday we will have a remedy for that.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Don Berger (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date:   2003-04-30 17:01

Ken, I should think that when the "Tiny Bubbles" [I like champagne better!] cease, either the peroxide in the water has been exhausted by oxidizing "stuff", or that there is no more "stuff" to be oxidized/removed. Doc, what happens to the Humectant. Finally found it in my largest dict. , "a substance which promotes moisture retention". Stay with the reed? Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: L. Omar Henderson (158.111.4.---)
Date:   2003-04-30 17:32

Dear Don,
As you indicate - when the bubbles cease the stuff that is oxidizable is oxidized. I have never found a condition where there was so much stuff that the peroxide was exhausted although a thick green coating of mold might require a second treatment.

Many users of ReedLife tell me that the humectants left in the reed help a dry reed rehydrate more quickly and loose moisture less quickly than an untreated reed. For some that double - e.g. Bb and A - they indicate that it helps to have a reed that has some moisture to switch back and forth without the potential of the "squeaking dry reed syndrome". A good cap with a moisture reservoir might work just as well!
The Doctor

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Iceland clarinet (---.dsl.dynamic.simnet.is - ISP in Kópavogur, 10 Iceland)
Date:   2009-12-04 00:29

I was thinking of using this but I have two questions:

1.Do you use it dry or thinned in 1,2 or 3 parts of water ?

2.How long should you soak the reed in it?

Thanks.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: L. Omar Henderson (---.hsd1.ga.comcast.net - ISP in Lilburn, GA United States)
Date:   2009-12-04 01:33

(Disclaimer - I sell and distribute ReedLife)
ReedLife comes as a premixed liquid in 240 mL bottles with a little vial to soak your reeds. The recommended soaking time is 15 minutes and then a rinse off with tap water and drying on a flat surface. I usually force the drying by putting the reeds between layers of paper toweling to suck out most of the water and then they dry quickly.
L. Omar Henderson
www.doctorsprod.com

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: bmcgar (---.hsd1.va.comcast.net - ISP in Blacksburg, VA United States)
Date:   2009-12-04 02:12


All the earlier posts not withstanding, anyone here ever get sick from playing their own reeds?

I sure doubt it, given what I know of human microbiology.

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 Re: Hydrogen peroxide and reeds
Author: Arnoldstang (---.dsl.bell.ca - ISP in Hamilton, ON Canada)
Date:   2009-12-04 02:48

Some oboists might try soaking their best reed ever in peroxide to extend its life. With the oboe cleaning of the inside of the reed is much more difficult than clarinet. Some would use a plaque to clean it or a pipe cleaner but it is awkward so peroxide is a method. I haven't experienced great result with peroxide on oboe reeds and with clarinet reeds I think just cleaning the surface with anything slightly abrasive is fine.

Freelance woodwind performer

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