What is the Difference Between Sodium Hypochlorite and Benzalkonium Chloride

The key difference between sodium hypochlorite and benzalkonium chloride is that sodium hypochlorite is bleach, whereas benzalkonium chloride is a non-bleach cleaning product.

Sodium hypochlorite and benzalkonium chloride are important substances that are used as ingredients of cleaning agents and are very important in cleaning and disinfection purposes.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Sodium Hypochlorite
3. What is Benzalkonium Chloride
4. Sodium Hypochlorite vs Benzalkonium Chloride in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Sodium Hypochlorite vs Benzalkonium Chloride

What is Sodium Hypochlorite?

Sodium hypochlorite is an inorganic ionic compound consisting of sodium and hypochlorite ions. It has the chemical formula NaOCl. This compound is the sodium salt of hypochlorous acid. Typically, sodium hypochlorite is unstable and may tend to even decompose explosively. However, its pentahydrate form is stable. Furthermore, its hydrated form has a pale greenish-yellow colour and occurs as a solid. Although this hydrated form is more stable than the anhydrous form, we have to refrigerate it to keep its stability. Moreover, this compound has a sweet, chlorine-like odour, and its molar mass is 74.44 g/mol.

There are few methods of preparation for this compound; we can easily prepare sodium hypochlorite via the reaction between salt (NaCl) and ozone. It is a simple method but is suitable for research purposes. For industrial needs, this compound is produced via the Hooker process. In this process, chlorine gas is passed through a dilute sodium hydroxide solution, which gives sodium hypochlorite and sodium chloride.

What is Benzalkonium Chloride?

Benzalkonium chloride is a type of cationic surfactant. It is an organic salt that comes under the quaternary ammonium compounds group. It has three major categories that are known as a biocide, a cationic surfactant, and a phase transfer agent, depending on the applications of benzalkonium chloride.

The appearance of benzalkonium chloride ranges from colorless to pale yellow color, depending on the impurities in the substance. This compound readily dissolves in ethanol and acetone. But the solubility in water is comparatively slow. Moreover, the aqueous solutions of the benzalkonium chlorides are neutral to slightly alkaline. When we shake these solutions, they appear to form foam. Furthermore, the concentrated solutions of benzalkonium chloride solutions have a bitter taste and a faint almond-like odor.

More importantly, benzalkonium chloride solutions have surfactant properties which allow the dissolution of the lipid phase of a teat film and increase the drug penetration. This also makes it useful as an excipient. However, it may have an increased risk of damage to the surface of the eye.

What is the Difference Between Sodium Hypochlorite and Benzalkonium Chloride?

Sodium hypochlorite and benzalkonium chloride are important substances that are used as ingredients of cleaning agents and are very important in cleaning and disinfection purposes. The key difference between sodium hypochlorite and benzalkonium chloride is that sodium hypochlorite is bleach, whereas benzalkonium chloride is a non-bleach cleaning product. That is; sodium hypochlorite is used as bleaching agents, disinfectants, as ingredients in commercial bleaches, cleaning solutions, for wastewater purification systems and swimming pools, etc., while benzalkonium chloride is used as components in cosmetics, wet wipes, hand and surface sanitizers, etc.

The below infographic presents the differences between sodium hypochlorite and benzalkonium chloride in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Sodium Hypochlorite vs Benzalkonium Chloride

Sodium hypochlorite can be defined as an inorganic ionic compound consisting of sodium and hypochlorite ions. Benzalkonium chloride can be defined as a type of cationic surfactant. The key difference between sodium hypochlorite and benzalkonium chloride is that sodium hypochlorite is bleach, whereas benzalkonium chloride is a non-bleach cleaning product.