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Mixing household bleach with urine

by jmnew51
Tags: bleach, household, mixing, urine
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#19
Dec8-07, 08:09 AM
P: 1,521
Quote Quote by ShawnD View Post
http://chemistry.about.com/od/howthi...boraxworks.htm
Borax has many chemical properties that contribute to its cleaning power. Borax and other borates clean and bleach by converting some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). This reaction is more favorable in hotter water. The pH of borax is about 9.5, so it produces a basic solution in water, thereby increasing the effectiveness of bleach and other cleaners. In other chemical reactions, borax acts as a buffer, maintaining a stable pH needed to maintain cleansing chemical reactions. The boron, salt, and/or oxygen of boron inhibit the metabolic processes of many organisms. This characteristic allows borax to disinfect and kill unwanted pests. Borates bonds with other particles to keep ingredients dispersed evenly in a mixture, which maximizes the surface area of active particles to enhance cleaning power.
So basically it's like Oxyclean.
I don't think it's correct; I think the author intended "perborate" not borax: borax is higly inert.
lightarrow
#20
Dec8-07, 08:24 AM
P: 1,521
Quote Quote by jmnew51 View Post
Hello everyone,

Not that I looking to experiment or anything, but anyway...correct me if I'm wrong anywhere here...please.

An associate of mine was wondering how to get rid of cat urine smell. Having exhausted all attempts to cover it up or use that enzyme stuff, I told him I usually treat the offending area(because I have 3 cats, I know)with a solution of household bleach. The ensuing reaction liberates alot of chlorine gas and that he should leave the area for a short time as chlorine gas is very irritating. (I do this all the time, and my kitties love me)
A friend strongly advised him not to mix bleach with urine because urine has ammonia in it. And the gas is toxic and will kill you.

Well first off I don't think urine has ammonia in it because urine is acidic. (Uric acid). The ammonia you smell from a cat's litter box is from the decomposition of the nitrogen rich by-products of metabolism. Correct so far?
Urine can contain ammonia, just for the reason you say, especially if you have some bacterial sepsi; the more urine is kept in vesica, the more ammonia forms. However urine contains urea, more than ammonia, and urea gives with bleach a similar reaction (of bleach/ammonia) so it generates chloramines and chlorine.
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#21
Dec8-07, 08:34 AM
P: 1,521
Quote Quote by jmnew51 View Post
Secondly the gas is chlorine because sodium hypochlorite is an oxidizer and it gives up it's oxygen in the process and liberates chlorine as a by-product.
Either liberates oxygen (becoming NaCl) or it liberates chlorine (becoming, in water, NaOH); it can't do both.
Third the reaction is also somewhat of a typical acid-base reaction because bleach has a high ph and urine has a low ph.
Normal urine it's quite similar to water, from this point of view, so that kind of reaction doesn't happen in normal conditions (anyway I don't know the exact composition of cat urine).
Also just out of curiosity, what would be the final products of a reaction with an oxidizer like sodium hypochlorite and uric acid and urea?
Carbon dioxide, water, sodium chloride. hmmmmm...where does all that nitrogen go??
Into...nitrogen!
txlabrat13
#22
Dec26-07, 06:56 AM
P: 2
I have had recent experience thus (in fact, the answer to this question has led me to this particular forum):

When cleaning out the clinical laboratory I work in I noticed a spill of human urine less than 4 days old in a plastic basin. Most standard operating procedures I have read call for a mixture of 10%household bleach (roughly 6% Sodium hypochlorite) and 90% tap water to clean up spills. I had no such solution handy and poured bleach into the basin. Upon mixture the two substances proceeded to react with the liberation of a gas. Upon allowing the basin to air dry I noticed some kind of residue stuck to the bottom of the basin. The residue appears crystaline and white and may in fact be sodium chloride. I have yet to verify this with any degree of research, though I am about to scrape this residue into a plastic test tube for further analysis.

To answer the human urine related questions in my experience human urine can be of any pH (this is part of the standard testing for urinalysis) and usually tests between 5 and 9. I notice that I get a pH of 5 or 6 most often, incredibly well hydrated patients (the ones with clear or light straw-colored urine, usually) present a pH of 7 most times. According to the Sixth Edition of Clinical Laboratory Medicine: clinical application of laboratory data (ISBN: 978-0-8151-7148-5, by Richard Ravel, copyright 1995, Mosby Inc.) normal pH of urine is 5-6 but can be between 4.5 and 8 (pg 147).

Because I didn't die or become seriously injured in my chemical idiocy, I hypothesize that the gases liberated were nitrogen or oxygen. That would make, according to the above poster, the residue sodium chloride.
DennisJ
#23
Jan30-08, 03:14 PM
P: 1
I just stumbled upon this thread by realizing what I had just done.

I've not been to scared of bleach since I was little.

Let me do some explaining.

I have a horribly furry tongue which causes me to have very bad breath and it is very hard to get rid of.

So one day (after seeing how well bleach removes all kinds of dirt, colors, and bad odors) I decided to use some on my tongue. Do not get me wrong, I would not swallow any of it, or at least I tried my best not to. And it seemed to have worked. My tongue went from it's white color to a clean pink (tongue) color. So now I did this whenever I was about to go on a date. However, whenever I did this I would feel dizzy for several hours afterwards.

What lowered any level of fear I would have of bleach was that a friend at work told me that one of her friends was about to be screened for drugs and so she drank a whole bunch of bleach to "clean out" her system, she then threw up and passed the drug test. My friend told me that she would not have done that and would have rather be accused of taking drugs than drink bleach. I have never done any drugs nor drunk alcohol or smoked, but I agreed with her.

So the other day, I was watching the Military Channel. And they explained how mustard gas worked. And that it would cause severe rashes in soldiers. It can break actual bonds in one's DNA and cause cancer.

Then another day I was watching King of the Hill. And the episode was on where Peggy Hill had written an article on cleaning advice to mix ammonia with bleach to which Hank replied with fear that she had told people how to create mustard gas.

Fast forward to today.

We were out of soap and I was taking a bath. There was the bleach bottle next to the tub and I poured some into the hot water. The bleach felt slimy against my skin. And I remembered that someone had said that there is ammonia in urine.

Remembering that I got scared and read the label on the bottle and it said: Danger Corrosive.

This must have been the third time I did this. And to be honest I cleaned my private area as well, which may or may not contain small amounts of urine.

It's very strange that I only realized this now and how dangerous it is. It took 2 TV shows to make me realize this.

My body felt itchy all over untill a few minutes ago. But I think I feel OK now. Wikipedia says signs might not show for 24 hours.

I ask you, should I be concerned?

One thing I know for sure is that I'll never bathe in bleach or use it to scrub my tongue again.
chemisttree
#24
Jan30-08, 04:14 PM
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Quote Quote by DennisJ View Post
My body felt itchy all over untill a few minutes ago. But I think I feel OK now. Wikipedia says signs might not show for 24 hours.
I too get itchy all over when my life flashes before my eyes! I assume that you were taking a bath with a significant amount of water in it? And that you didn't put much bleach into the tub? (maybe a cup?) Chances are that you didn't do any permanent damage but I wouldn't make a habit of it.
Remember that your skin is composed almost entirely of protein in the form of dead skin cells. Lots of amines there that can react with bleach of course. You were probably only exposed to a high concentration of bleach during the short time just after you added it.

Was the bleach strong enough to bleach your body hair? Were your eyes burning and the fumes choking in the bathroom? No? Then just relax!

The bleach probably reacted with the stuff dissolved in the water pretty quickly and decomposed rapidly leaving behind only NaCl and NaOH (resulting in the slimy feeling). Your skin was probably more damaged by the NaOH in the bleach than the chlorine. Overexposure to chloramines or chlorine would result in some profound acute (acute = I gotta get outta here quick!) symptoms. You will probably only give yourself dry skin doing what (I hope) you have done. That feels itchy too...

Good idea to keep an extra bar of soap somewhere (like in your sock drawer) to keep you from doing this again. Of course you could have just used some shampoo and imagined you were using an exotic 'body wash' product.
chem geek
#25
Feb6-08, 03:13 PM
P: 8
Mixing diluted ammonia or urea with diluted chlorine is not dangerous and in fact is what goes on in swimming pools and spas. The reactions are as follows:

2NH3 + 3HOCl --> N2(g) + 3H+ + 3Cl- + 3H2O
Ammonia + Hypochlorous Acid --> Nitrogen Gas + Hydrogen Ion + Chloride Ion + Water

(NH2)2CO + 2HOCl + [tex]\frac{1}{2}[/tex]O2 --> N2(g) + CO2(g) + 2H+ + 2Cl- + 2H2O
Urea + Hypochlorous Acid + Dissolved Oxygen --> Nitrogen Gas + Carbon Dioxide Gas + Hydrogen Ion + Chloride Ion + Water

If you were to use concentrated solutions, especially of chlorine, then you can form higher order chloramines including nitrogen trichloride which smells really bad and is irritating and in sufficient concentrations dangerous.

As for producing chlorine gas, I think you are thinking of adding a concentrated acid to chlorine bleach or chlorinating liquid which does indeed liberate chlorine gas as follows:

HOCl + H+ + Cl- --> Cl2(g) + H2O
Hypochlorous Acid + Hydrogen Ion + Chloride Ion --> Chlorine Gas + Water

Bleach and chlorinating liquid and other hypochlorite sources of chlorine (such as lithium hypochlorite and even Cal-Hypo) contain hypochlorite ion, OCl- as well as chloride ion, Cl- so one should NEVER add acid to these compounds in concentrated form.

So adding a dilute solution of bleach to a litter box to remove ammonia/urea, which was the original question, is perfectly reasonable, but it should be a diluted solution since not that much chlorine is required.

As for exposing oneself to concentrated solutions of bleach or chlorinating liquid, this is definitely bad. The chlorine in water is a strong oxidizer so it will start oxidizing your skin, tongue, etc. though in saliva it will mostly oxidize the organics found there. In concentrated form, when chlorine combines with organics it can form compounds that are possible-to-likely carcinogens including chloroform (from chlorine+organics) and nitrogen trichloride (from chlorine+ammonia/urea). Obviously, concentration is everything -- swimming in lower concentrations found in pools, especially when Cyanuric Acid (CYA) is present and significantly reduces the disinfecting chlorine (hypochlorous acid) concentration to an equivalent 0.1 ppm Free Chlorine (FC) if no CYA were used, is quite safe. Drinking water used to be chlorinated up to around 1 ppm FC though now monochloramine is typically used. More technical details on pool/spa water chemistry may be found in this thread.

As for your bleach added to a bath, you probably didn't add enough to cause serious harm beyond skin irritation -- but obviously don't do this again. By the way, it feels slimy mostly due to it's high pH and if the water in your tub was relatively unbuffered and you added a large enough amount of bleach, then the pH may have been high enough to make the water feel slimy on your skin (similar to how a solution of sodium hydroxide, lye, feels).

Richard
Greenport
#26
Mar31-08, 04:28 AM
P: 2
First off, urine does indeed contain notable amounts of ammonia (along with uric acid and some other contaminants).

The mixing of urine and bleach therefore would certainly release chlorine gas from the bleach.

This would help to neutralize odors from cat pee and such, but would release at that area poisonous Chlorine gas, so it is only to be done OUTDOORS and the area should be vented out thoroughly (metal box-fans do a wonderful job of this).

Also, to reduce the uric acid to a salt one can pour baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) onto the cat piss to react with the uric acid producing a salt (which can be swept away, and will have little to no smell.)

One note about urine and bleach: If one is using bleach to clean a toilet, make sure ALL the bleach is out of the bowl before using or allowing anyone else to use again. I was almost killed because of this as a kid - some janitor was cleaning them improperly and I almost lost consciousness. So ya, be careful or you may die a very bad death...
chem geek
#27
Mar31-08, 11:41 AM
P: 8
I'm sorry about the incident with the toilet. The key is concentration. I said to use diluted bleach, not straight bleach. The composition of urine and sweat (for humans; cats are not much different in this regard) is shown in Table 4.1 in this document. Urine is 68% urea, 18% ammonia, 5% amino acids, 1% creatinine, and 8% other compounds. I never said urine didn't contain ammonia and in fact in my post I show the reaction of ammonia with bleach which does not produce chlorine gas but rather nitrogen gas (initially it produces monochloramine which smells).

I absolutely agree with you that adding baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will neutralize any acid in the box and this also helps reduce smell so is an excellent suggestion before adding any diluted bleach. If chlorine gas is going to be produced, it will be from bleach reacting with acid, not with urea and ammonia, so neutralizing any acid as you suggest is wise. By the way, even without chlorine gas being produced, concentrated bleach still emits hypochlorous acid (Henry's Law constant 660 M/atm) which has a strong "bleach" odor which is why using diluted bleach is safer.

Chlorine gas is produced by acid + hypochlorite ion in the presence of chloride ion (which there is in bleach):

OCl- + H+ + Cl- --> Cl2(g)
Irish
#28
Apr3-08, 08:53 PM
P: 1
Just my two cents here:

1. Remove as much of the urine as possible by blotting the stain with a dry towel, re-wetting it with warm water, and repeating. A shampooer, wetvac, or steamer can make this step much easier.
2. Once you’ve removed as much urine as you are willing (or able) to, re-saturate the area with a 50/50 water/white vinegar solution and allow it to air dry (use a fan if you’re in a rush).
3. Completely cover the area with baking soda – use lots!
4. Fill a container with enough water to saturate the stained area and add a drop of regular dish detergent. Pour the solution on top of the baking soda.
5. Using either your hands, towels, or a scub brush, work the baking soda, water and detergent paste into the carpet - work it in good and deep, then allow it to air dry.
6. Once the area has dried completely and the baking soda has returned to powder form, vacuum it up. If the vacuum isn’t cutting it, it can be blotted up using water and towels.
7. Repeat steps 3-6 as needed to remove any remaining odor.
filmaker666
#29
May16-09, 03:15 AM
P: 1
Ok i stumbled on this thread and thought i would share. Ammonia is most defiantly in urine. If you let it evaporate for a few days most of the water will go away leaving the ammonia (and im sure people will point out all the other stuff left behind too) You can use this stuff to clean clothing, I think they tested this on myth busters with positive results making whiter whites than tide. but kinda smelly. LOL

I forgot this rule.

I live in a house with 3 dogs, my own 2 Chinese crested hairless (about 10 pounds each) and my roommates monster German Shepard (over sized and probably weighs more than me at 240) as you can imagine we have the occasional "accident", this one happened on the basement concrete floor one morning when i was late for work. "Don't worry, Ill get to it later" LOL and with that thought i was doomed......

Remember Dallas is huge, about a quart if not a half gallon of pee puddle, but its the dirty basement floor so no big deal......

Two days later upon walking past the same spot i notice a small puddle (Did i mention that i suffer from ADHD?)..........which must be from one of my Crested's ? "Zera, Dante, bad dogs" they cower... i grab a nearby bottle of bleach and splash it directly on the "small" puddle (no big deal with fresh pee) and poof!...... a ton of chlorine gas starts filling the air at an unstoppable rate, I'm not exaggerating here, I couldn't see it, but it was almost like i could feel it filling up the room with a thick poison sludge, the air got heavy and i coughed, The bleach and "evaporated" dog pee bubbled up to at least 4 inches off the ground.

I ran to open the first window i could find (across the basement, farther away from the outside door in the opposite direction) and got it ......maby...... two inches open before giving in to rust "CRAP" ran back past the puddle to the door, thinking wisely to grab a box fan along the way (its defiantly hard to breath now) Yank the door open...... and then warm air rushed in.... I could almost guess what was about to happen when i herd a familiar click.... followed by kind of a springy sound........then silence.........."OH GOD NO"..........The air conditioner kicked on and the fan sucked all that gas right up into the main house where my wife and roommate were sleeping (its 4am) EVERYBODY UP!!!! coughing, barking, doors and windows opening, fans turned on, and i'm in BIG trouble.

I have to admit, that is the cleanest spot in the basement now, you could eat off that spot, nice and white compared to the brownish grey around it. and all my dog cleaning supply's are now bleach free.

Be careful out there!
ethereal315
#30
Jul4-09, 08:48 PM
P: 1
One note on this I can add through personal experience in cleaning up cat urine with bleach, which I found interesting...there is an immediate chemical reaction both in foaming and in production of heat, as witnessed by pouring bleach on a puddle of cat urine. Also there is gas production, obviously, I noted that, but in a well-ventilated area it was not overpowering. However, I found the production of heat to be the interesting part of it. In looking up info on this, I found the reference to Hydrazine intriguing...could a weaker version of this be what is being liberated.

Chemistry was never my strong point, as I'm sure is obvious, but I am interested by the chemical processes.
lightarrow
#31
Jul5-09, 01:23 PM
P: 1,521
Quote Quote by ethereal315 View Post
One note on this I can add through personal experience in cleaning up cat urine with bleach, which I found interesting...there is an immediate chemical reaction both in foaming and in production of heat, as witnessed by pouring bleach on a puddle of cat urine. Also there is gas production, obviously, I noted that, but in a well-ventilated area it was not overpowering. However, I found the production of heat to be the interesting part of it. In looking up info on this, I found the reference to Hydrazine intriguing...could a weaker version of this be what is being liberated.

Chemistry was never my strong point, as I'm sure is obvious, but I am interested by the chemical processes.
Releasing of heat is a very common effect in chemical reactions because what usually drives them is just the decreasing of enthalpy. I don't think hydrazine was generated.
mudtoe
#32
Dec2-09, 07:42 PM
P: 2
This is a very interesting thread.

My cat has a bad habit of peeing on the floor next to the litter box instead of in it, about every other time. She has done this since she was a kitten and no amount of switching types of litter or types of litter boxes has ever helped. As such, her litter box is in the basement in an area under the stairs where it's just bare concrete under the box instead of upstairs where her messes would be a problem. I've been regularly pouring full strength bleach on the concrete floor where she has peed in order to get rid of the smell for the past couple of years. I figured that it worked so well because the bleach was reacting with the ammonia and chemically neutralizing it (I do this only once a day, so the urine has had ample time to degrade into ammonia). As another poster mentioned, the area fizzes and heat is released in addition to what smells like chlorine gas. I have to leave the area for a little while if a large quantity of urine was deposited on the floor due to the chlorine gas, but after an hour or two it dissipates (I'm assuming that the CL gas is quickly reacting with the surrounding air and being converted into something less reactive, which is why the smell only lasts an hour or two, even in a closed house). The cat is smart enough not to step in the area on the floor that's been treated, and apparently after it dries nothing harmful is left, as she has walked on dried areas without apparent effect. Also, as someone else noted it looks like some white crystalline precipitate is left after the reaction is finished and the water evaporates. Every couple of months I completely clean out the area with some other cleaner that doesn't contain ammonia in order to remove the precipitate.

I'm curious as to what the gas is if it's not chlorine (someone in this thread thought that the gas was something else), and I'm wondering what the precipitate is (could it be salt?). If someone here works in a university and has access to a lab I'd be happy to send them a sample of the precipitate for analysis. That might help answer the question about whether anything dangerous is being left behind after the reaction is complete.

mudtoe
chem geek
#33
Dec2-09, 10:58 PM
P: 8
I had mentioned that the smell could be nitrogen trichloride which is very volatile and very smelly and irritating. It is produced when chlorine (hypochlorous acid) and ammonia mix (see Jafvert & Valentine 1992). It is pungent. Chlorine gas (and hypochlorous acid which can also be gaseous) smells more like bleach which is a "cleaner" smell though if strong enough in strength can also be irritating, but given the high pH of bleach (sodium hypochlorite), I doubt that chlorine gas was the main product.

There are also other chloramines, including monochloramine and dichloramine, that are produced as well. When I run a simulation at the high pH of bleach, the predominant product is monochloramine, so perhaps that is what you smell though dichloramine is also produced in significant quantities and it is more volatile than monochloramine. I was probably wrong about the nitrogen trichloride since at high pH not much of it is produced.

Richard
mudtoe
#34
Dec3-09, 01:00 AM
P: 2
Hmmm... very interesting. The smell is actually just like bleach, as people who come in the house in the hour or so after I've done it ask if I've been using bleach. However, I don't see any green gas, and I remember from my mad scientist youth days one time pouring bleach, ammonia, and hot water down the sewer drain in the basement, and a green gas actually came out! (needless to say I made a hasty exit from the basement and fortunately nobody else was home at the time)

mudtoe
Borek
#35
Dec3-09, 02:35 AM
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You need realtively high concentration of chlorine to be able to see its color. If you smell the bleach, there is chlorine in teh air. But as highly reactive it won't last long - it will react with vitrtually everything in the house (say - it slowly decolorizes carpeting, or your favorite coat).

--
mudder
#36
May18-10, 09:44 PM
P: 2
Quote Quote by jmnew51 View Post
Hello everyone,

Not that I looking to experiment or anything, but anyway...correct me if I'm wrong anywhere here...please.

An associate of mine was wondering how to get rid of cat urine smell. Having exhausted all attempts to cover it up or use that enzyme stuff, I told him I usually treat the offending area(because I have 3 cats, I know)with a solution of household bleach. The ensuing reaction liberates alot of chlorine gas and that he should leave the area for a short time as chlorine gas is very irritating. (I do this all the time, and my kitties love me)
A friend strongly advised him not to mix bleach with urine because urine has ammonia in it. And the gas is toxic and will kill you.

Well first off I don't think urine has ammonia in it because urine is acidic. (Uric acid). The ammonia you smell from a cat's litter box is from the decomposition of the nitrogen rich by-products of metabolism. Correct so far?

Secondly the gas is chlorine because sodium hypochlorite is an oxidizer and it gives up it's oxygen in the process and liberates chlorine as a by-product.

Third the reaction is also somewhat of a typical acid-base reaction because bleach has a high ph and urine has a low ph.

I don't think I'm too far off base with the description of the reaction, or the origin of that ammonia smell, am I??
Please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Also just out of curiosity, what would be the final products of a reaction with an oxidizer like sodium hypochlorite and uric acid and urea?
Carbon dioxide, water, sodium chloride. hmmmmm...where does all that nitrogen go??

Also what would the result of mixing ammonia and bleach? Hmmmm...?
I know it doesn't smell good, but do they even react?

Thanx for looking

Jim
The acid in the urine is what makes the bleach/ammonia mixture more volatile. mixing ammonia with bleach is not a good idea, unless in a controlled situation. When you add acid from urine is when chlorine gas begins to form more rapidly. When done in a well vented area, no harm done. When done within closed doors, it creates possibility for permanent injury or death. Most people would leave the area from sheer irritation before this would happen, but people have died in this manner.


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