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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I stumbled across something, and I'm not quite sure what it is.

Let me start at the beginning.

After long use, my micron filters were permanently and heavily stained. Chlorine bleach no longer removed the stains. Flow rate was also reduced, and they were useful for only half the time as a new filter before they clogged too much.

If you're me, that means it's time to experiment. :hihi:

And I found a solution. Bleach as usual to remove the bulk of the gunk. Rinse, dechlor, and remove as usual. Then spray the filter with vinegar. Spray again with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Within 15 seconds, the stains start to rapidly lighten. Within a minute, the filter is almost as white as new. Rinse. Install. The filter now performs as new, too.

Neither vinegar nor H2O2 has any effect on its own. It's only when they're combined that this happens.

Unfortunately, you have to repeat this at least every other time you clean the filter. Otherwise, the stains reappear and flow rate reduces.

But it's just a quick spritz from two spray bottles, so I've been doing this for almost a year now; and have been happy with the results.

A few days ago, we did a rescape. My girlfriend was unhappy with the darkening of the manzanita with time. Since we wanted it back in the aquarium quickly, chlorine bleach was out of the question. So I decided to give vinegar and H2O2 a try. In under a minute, the wood had lightened significantly.

So at this point I'm really curious if anyone can explain this.

There are three possible explanations I've come up with on my own:

1) H2O2 destroys organic material. It's possible that there's inorganic buildup that's protecting organic stains from H2O2 exposure, and adding acid breaks down that inorganic material so the H2O2 can reach it. But vinegar is such a weak acid, I doubt it would have such a dramatic and rapid effect.

2) H2O2 is more potent in an acidic environment. Per Wikipedia, "In acidic solutions, H2O2 is one of the most powerful oxidizers known—stronger than chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and potassium permanganate." However, I've tried skipping the chlorine bleach step on a filter, and instead soaked it in a 1:1 solution of pure vinegar and H2O2; and it didn't remove the majority of the gunk nearly as well as chlorine bleach.

3) Acetic acid and H2O2 combine to form peracetic acid, a very strong oxidizer. However, Wikipedia seems to indicate this reaction does not occur without a catalyst, or occurs too slowly to explain my results: "Peracetic acid is produced by continuously feeding acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide into an aqueous reaction medium containing a sulfuric acid catalyst. The reaction is allowed to continue for up to ten days in order to achieve high yields of product...".

So. Anyone have any ideas?

It would be particularly interesting if it was #2. You could use less H2O2 for spot treatments, instead potentiating it with a bit of acid. And as both the acid and H2O2 dissipate, the action of the mix would drop off faster than an equivalent amount of H2O2 alone, having less effect on the rest of the tank. The chemical equivalent of a sniper rifle. :)
 

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i find the same thing when i clean inline diffusers , glass drop checkers and when i refurbish matrix bio
the bleach by itself is ok. the peroxide by itself ok ,but when i soak in bleach then peroxide all stains crud ect are gone
i figure there are different things involve in the staining
and each solution fixes some aspect of the problem but not all
in other words the bleach removes somethings that the peroxide wont and vs versa
 

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I think a little of #1 going on

In our RO water treatment plant, when we clean our membranes we use a schedule of a caustic (high pH) and acidic cleaning phases. The caustic phase is meant to clean off biological fouling (maybe similar to your bleach / H2O2 soak). The acidic cleaning phase is for cleaning up mineral deposits. This combination allows a much better cleanup than each phase alone.
You may be experiencing something similar to this, just in one step.
 
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