Difference Between Hydrogen Peroxide & Benzoyl Peroxide

••• Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Chemicals can have similar formulas and names but different properties and uses. Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and methyl cyanide (MeCN) are similar in formula and name, but behave differently. Inhalation of hydrogen cyanide kills, but methyl cyanide is a solvent, and poisoning by it is rare. Likewise, hydrogen peroxide and benzoyl peroxide have similar names and formulas, but find different applications.

Chemical Formulas

The chemical formula of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is very similar to water (H2O). Benzoyl peroxide contains a phenyl group, which can be symbolized Ph-. We can write benzoyl peroxide as (Ph-CO)2O2.

Hydrogen Peroxide Reaction

Hydrogen peroxide splits and loses oxygen to form water:

2 H2O2 --> 2 H2O + O2.

Hydrogen peroxide is used for minor medical cosmetic purposes, and in industrial bleaching applications.

Corresponding Benzoyl Peroxide Reaction

Benzoyl peroxide has the formula (Ph-CO)2O2. Benzoyl peroxide can lose oxygen in the presence of water to form benzoic acid:

2 (PhCO)2O2 + 2 H2O --> 4 PhCOOH + 3 O2.

Unlike hydrogen peroxide, benzoyl peroxide is not water-soluble and forms a film.

Additional Benzoyl Peroxide Reaction

There is an additional reaction making benzoyl peroxide useful for other purposes. Apart from moisture, in the presence of heat, benzoyl peroxide can split to form two free radicals:

(PhCO)2O2 + heat --> 2 PhCOO?

This heat-driven reaction makes benzoyl peroxide useful to the chemical industry.

Specific Applications

Hydrogen peroxide is useful where film-formation is not an important characteristic, such as bleaching hair and disinfecting small wounds. It is an important bleaching agent in paper manufacture.

Benzoyl peroxide forms a film, making it useful in whitening teeth and treating acne. It is useful as a free-radical initiator in polymer manufacture and other organic chemical processes.

Related Articles

How to Use Sodium Perborate
Reduction of Camphor to Isoborneol
Is Methanol & Isopropyl Alcohol the Same Thing?
What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
Sodium Carbonate Vs. Sodium Bicarbonate
What is Ethanolic Potassium Hydroxide?
What Is the Chemical Formula of Bleach?
How to Convert an Alkane to an Alkene
Difference Between Sodium Chlorite & Sodium Chloride
Alternative Solvents to Benzene
Cetylpyridinium Chloride Side Effects
Uses of Polyvinyl Acetate
Examples of Alkynes
How to Make Fenton's Reagent
How to Dissolve Polyethylene
How To Prepare Potassium Chloride
Industrial Uses of Pepsin
Differences Between Glycolic Acid & Glycerin

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!