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I put my electric flattop oven on self cleaning. This heated up the top of the oven. I then bleached the flattop. The bleach steamed up and made it nearly impossible to breath. The entire room is now unenterable due to the fumes. It is not merely a typical bleach smell. I can't breath when I am inside and my eyes are on fire.

Is there something about heating up bleach that is particularly dangerous?

  • Did you use bleach right out of the bottle or did you dilute first? – Kareen Aug 3 '15 at 19:53
  • @Kareen it came in a spray bottle. I used it straight. – Evorlor Aug 3 '15 at 20:02
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    For what it's worth, when using bleach as a kitchen sanitizer, the FDA recommends 1 tsp per US quart. What you bought was definitely diluted, but there's a good chance it was a lot less diluted than that. (For example Clorox says to use 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water as a sanitizer, which is 6 times as concentrated as the FDA's recommendation, presumably in order to sell more.) – Cascabel Aug 3 '15 at 20:10
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    Incidentally this method also isn't very effective at cleaning. Self-cleaning cycles need to be dry. So to avoid smoke as well as fumes you should do your wet (bleach-based if you like) cleaning, then rinse, then run the self-heat. I'm assuming here that the self-cleaning is for the top -- it would have to be a very badly insulated oven for its self-cleaning cycling to heat the top this much. – Chris H Aug 4 '15 at 8:12
  • @Conor - note that the Clorox website recommends leaving the bleach solution on the surface for 5 minutes, while the FDA recommends 10 minutes, so that may account for some of the difference in concentration (though I doubt that many consumers leave it on the surface for even 5 minutes) – Johnny Aug 5 '15 at 1:02
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Probably generated some chloramines by reaction between the hot bleach and proteins on the stove surfaces. There's no telling exactly which chloramines you created, as we have no idea what amines were on your stove top. However, these things can be quite nasty. Open windows if possible, and leave home for several hours. Your eyes and lungs are giving you important warnings. Heed them.

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    Why do you assume chloramines rather than just plain chlorine? – David Richerby Aug 3 '15 at 20:19
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    Bleach, 6% sodium hypochlorite, has a pH of around 12.6. To get chlorine gas emission you need to take pH down to around 4. Doing that involves a fair amount of acid. OTOH, volatile chloramines will form at a high pH, such as on a non-vinegared stovetop. Protein or ammonia and bleach are the only required components of the reaction mix. Besides which chlorine gas smells like HCl, because that's what it turns into when it hits the water in your nasal mucosa. I know what HCl smells like, and the smell you most commonly get off of bleach reacting badly with something is different, chloramines. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 3 '15 at 20:54
  • Is that the stuff that makes swimming pools irritating to the senses? – Jesvin Jose Aug 4 '15 at 10:00
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    @aitchnyu Yes it is. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 4 '15 at 13:00
  • +1 "Your eyes and lungs are giving you important warnings. Heed them." – Luke Shaheen Aug 6 '15 at 12:57
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Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite. The fumes being released are almost certainly chlorine, which as you have observed, is quite hazardous. Bleach usually contains strong warnings not to mix with any other cleaning chemical, as some of them will tend to rapidly decompose its active ingredient and release a lot of gaseous chlorine. I expect applying heat has a similar effect.

You are unlikely to have done yourself any serious harm as you're sitting there typing about it, but breathing any more of it is definitely to be avoided.

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    also keep in mind chlorine is heavy, so pets and kids get larger dose from the lower air, ventilate well and get out of there, first symptoms of poisoning are nausea and face whiteness – Eugene Petrov Aug 3 '15 at 20:08
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    @Wayfaring Stranger's answer looks a lot more correct than mine, and makes sense to me. The warning about not mixing it with anything is valid though. – Tom W Aug 4 '15 at 15:11
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Bleach fumes are already unpleasant, and heating will inevitable:

  • cause any volatile compounds dissolved in a liquid to be more volatile - what's in it will be cooked out rapidly;

    and

  • most any chemical reaction (including bleach degrading into gas, or reactions with contaminants) to proceed much faster (chemists describe the general relationship in the arrhenius equation, which is not linear, though not downright exponential) - whatever the bleach turns into, it turns into at a much faster rate.

The same applies to the aggressiveness of a liquid chemical upon contact - most corrosive substances will be much more than doubly corrosive at 60°C vs 30°C.

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