Electrolyzed Water - Miracle Liquid?

Water You Can Use as a Cleaner and Safe Disinfectant

Electrolyzed water is a non-toxic cleaner and disinfectant.
Electrolyzed water is a non-toxic cleaner and disinfectant. Stanislaw Pytel / Getty Images

Water is already pretty great stuff. You can't live without it and you use it throughout the day. What if you could use water plus a little salt to kill germs and clean, without added chemicals? It turns out you can. All you need to do is electrolyze the water. The Los Angeles Times has a feature on the increasing popularity of electrolyzed water for cleaning laundry without detergent, disinfecting medical instruments and wounds, sanitizing food, washing dishes — you name it.

Why Electrolyzed Water Isn't Common

So if electrolyzed salt water is non-toxic and highly effective, you may be wondering why don't you see it everywhere. There are a few reasons. First, the equipment used to electrolyze water isn't cheap. Home units are presently running around $3000, though when you consider the annual cost of all the cleaners you use and how nice it would be to replace the toxic chemicals you have with green, non-toxic water, the pricetag is a lot more palatable. Second, electrolyzed water has a relatively brief shelf life. It is something you can make and use, but not the sort of product you'll find on grocery store shelves. Finally, a lot of people think a cleaner isn't working unless it produces suds and smells "clean." Electrolyzed water doesn't produce mounds of bubbles or smell like flowers. If you live in Japan or Russia, you probably are familiar with electrolyzed water. In the United States, it is probably news to you.

How Electrolyzed Water Works

Here's how it works. Electrolyzed water is produced by applying a low-voltage electrical charge to saltwater. Sodium ions form sodium hydroxide (NaOH), a strong base that cleans much like a detergent. Chloride ions form hypochlorous acid (HClO), which is a powerful disinfectant. The potent compounds are rendered harmless either by doing their job cleaning and disinfecting or they are simply rendered inactive over time.