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Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide, A Closer Look

A Frontier Pharmaceutical Inc. White Paper

By Howard Alliger
Frontier Pharmaceutical, Inc.

There is widespread confusion over the meaning of stabilized chlorine dioxide. The discussion here describes how stabilized chlorine dioxide differs from active chlorine dioxide. In particular, stabilized chlorine dioxide will be shown less effective than active chlorine dioxide as an ingredient in oral health products. Comments are welcome on this critique.

We learn in philosophy that it is difficult to prove a negative. The words, advertising, marketing and strategy of the purveyors of stabilized chlorine dioxide are underhanded and misleading, or outright false. How does one easily untangle this knot of sophistry? I challenge anyone to follow the published papers, titles and references of the literature given by these manufacturers.

One has no problem with the salt, sodium chlorite. The difficulty starts with how the term is described and used in scientific journals and advertising. If someone says they can cure cancer with sodium chlorite, the fault is not with the sodium chlorite.

What is Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide?

Stabilized chlorine dioxide is actually a solution of sodium chlorite, a primary ingredient in several mouthwashes and toothpastes. At least three mouthwashes contain stabilized chlorine dioxide: TheraBreath, Oxyfresh, CloSYS II. These three products often use or refer to the stabilized phrase as the same or synonymous with chlorine dioxide.

Chlorine dioxide is a highly reactive molecule. It is a free radical and cannot be stabilized as a gas or in solution or gel. The compound called "stabilized chlorine dioxide" by some manufacturers, is in fact, sodium chlorite, although the phrase is too often used as synonymous with chlorine dioxide. The "stabilized" term attempts to describe a formulation which has the same or similar chemical properties to the now familiar disinfectant, chlorine dioxide, and its many applications. Chemically this disguise would be similar to calling sodium chloride table salt, "stabilized chlorine."

Oxidation Potential of Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide

Stabilized chlorine dioxide is prepared by buffering sodium chlorite with carbonate or phosphate, and hydrogen peroxide. This approach, in reality, stabilizes the chlorite not the chlorine dioxide, and the stabilized compound is not the same as chlorine dioxide, nor has the same oxidizing properties. The oxidation potential of sodium chlorite is much lower than chlorine dioxide, and the chemical is far less useful as a product in general. The efficacy of chlorine dioxide for oral applications is now well known.[1] Chlorine dioxide is a gas, is non ionic and quite penetrating; and the molecule is unique in that it is soluble in water, oil, and organic solvents. On the other hand, sodium chlorite is a salt, soluble in water only, and unlike chlorine dioxide, will dissociate into its component ions in solution, while chlorine dioxide remains as an intact molecule.

In order for stabilized chlorine dioxide salt to release chlorine dioxide by chemical reaction, the compound is usually mixed with a relatively strong acid to overcome the heavy buffering involved in its formulation. In fact, according to a published spectrophotometer study, the activator acid must produce a solution below pH 3.[2] The resulting acidity is too severe for many topical applications.

Obfuscation in Advertising

One stabilized chlorine dioxide website claims that acidity in a person's mouth will cause a release of chlorine dioxide.[3] But the rate of such release, if any occurs, is below significance, and no confirming test is provided. The acidity of the mouth is not high enough to cause such a reaction in real time. Nor, would it seem that the mouth should be required for activation, since the same website oddly states, "no mixing is required to activate our product."

One of the stabilized chlorine dioxide patents entitled, "Treating abnormal conditions of the epithelium of body orifices,"[4] adds even more phosphate for "stabilization." The reason or purpose for this is not clear and no references are given. There is no indication as to how all the phosphates mentioned could stabilize either the pH or the chlorine dioxide at a pH below 7. The included phosphates range in pH from 4.4 to 12, and all of them, moreover, are used not only for activation, but also for stabilization. This dual opposite action on the face of it sounds incredible. Some of these phosphates are suitable for topical application, but one, particularly preferred, is highly irritating and toxic according to the general literature.[5] In any case, the high pH phosphates stated, would certainly prevent chlorine dioxide activation in the first place, or at least prevent any slight release for many hours, by adding to the original buffering. Misuse of language, intentional or otherwise, leads the inventor of this patent, and in another patent,[6] to indicate in the Abstract and Claims that release of chlorine dioxide will be retarded from the chlorine dioxide.[7] The first-named chlorine dioxide we are meant to understand is different from the second.

Antiseptic Properties of Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide

Although one stabilized chlorine dioxide advertisement refers to its product as, "The ultimate Germ Killer,"[8]Stabilized chlorine dioxide itself, is a poor antiseptic, not much different in disinfection ability than common salt water. Sodium chlorite has a long history but is never used in commerce and industry as a disinfectant.[9] No testing presented by the manufacturers of stabilized chlorine dioxide, or the original inventors, has proven any different. The test results presented have little substance, and the references stated are usually unobtainable. Despite heavy advertising and literature to the contrary, no topical efficacy has been shown on any body part other than for odor removal by oxidizing sulfur compounds. This is of interest because the first stabilized chlorine dioxide products (Purogene, Oxine, Anthium Dioxcide) were marketed over 35 years ago.

Use of the Term Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide

For many years, the manufacturers of stabilized chlorine dioxide appropriated the term "stabilized" to capitalize on the beneficial properties of chlorine dioxide, but further, the misuse of the term leads researchers or doctors, not realizing the difference, to then describe a concentration of sodium chlorite in their own lectures or papers as, "chlorine dioxide."[10] For example, "2% chlorine dioxide" (instead of sodium chlorite) would appear in a new published paper or patent, which if true (20,000 ppm), would actually be dangerous. (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, imposes a workplace 8-hour exposure maximum of 0.1ppm in the air.)[11] However, such a high concentration of chlorine dioxide in solution or air could probably not be attainable in the first place.


  1. Abdel R. Mohammad; Peter J. Giannini; Phillip M. Preshaw; Howard Alliger (2004). "Clinical and microbiological efficacy of chlorine dioxide in the management of chronic atrophic candidiasis: an open study". International Dental Journal 54.
  2. Multicomponent Spectroscopic Investigations of Salivary Antioxidant Consumption by an Oral Rinse Preparation Containing the Stable Free Radical Species Chlorine Dioxide, Edward Lynch, et al Free Rad. Res., March 1997, Vol 26, page 214.
  3. Closys 2 website literature under, "Research."
  4. Patent 5,489,435.
  5. Richard J. Lewis, Sr.. Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Twelfth Edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. p. 1057.
  6. Patent 5,834,003.
  7. Patent 5,834,003.
  8. Closys homepage
  9. W.J. Masschelein. Rip G. Rice. ed. Chlorine Dioxide Chemistry and Environmental Impact of Oxychlorine Compounds. Ann Arbor Science Publishers Inc. pp. 157-158.
  10. Comparison of Organic Tissue Dissolution Capacities of Sodium Hypochlorite and Chlorine Dioxide, Funda Cobankara, et al, JOE , Vol 36, Num 2, Feb 2010. "Chlorine dioxide"- rather than sodium chlorite - is stated as 13.8% (138,000 ppm).
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