What is Sodium Percarbonate?
Sodium percarbonate is a chemical, a mixture of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. Its chemical formula is 2Na2CO3 • 3H2O2. Sodium percarbonate is organic oxidizer. It is manufactured in powder form. Sodium percarbonate is mixed with water to form a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. It eventually decomposes to water and oxygen. When this solution comes in contact with any organic material it releases the oxygen to oxidize the organic material.
What is Sodium Percarbonate Used For?
Sodium percarbonate is typically used as a cleaning agent. It is considered “oxygen” bleach and it is used as a whitening agent in the cleaning products.
The History of Sodium Percarbonate in Septic Systems
As stated earlier, sodium percarbonate is another form of hydrogen peroxide. The first use of hydrogen peroxide dates back to the early 1970’s. The University of Wisconsin developed a process called “Porox” to rejuvenate failed absorption components (a.k.a. drainfields, drywells, sand filters). The process was awarded a US patent in 1977. After years of testing the process was abandoned. The issue with the process was that the reaction of the hydrogen peroxide and organic material was so violent within the soil it had the potential to create long term problems. The foaming and frothing within the soil would suspend the fine soil particles in the foam. At the end of the reaction when the foaming subsides the fine soil would settle in a layer. Because the voids between the particles were minimal the hydraulic capacity of the original soil was minimized and the system may not function as designed.
Should Sodium Percarbonate be used in a Septic System?
The use of sodium percarbonate in a septic system will have only temporary positive effects. The bio-mat will be minimized, however, after the reaction is complete, the bio-mat will continue to grow. Some web sites claim that adding sodium percarbonate with a septic system aerator improves the results. This may be true if an inferior septic system aerator is used. The sodium percarbonate will make it appear that the septic system aerator is effective. In reality, the sodium percarbonate is oxidizing the organic material that the inferior septic system aerator is sending into the drain field. The recommendation to use sodium percarbonate with a septic system aerator is at best reckless. At worst it is a deceptive strategy to mask process flaws.
Sodium percarbonate should only be applied to a septic system in certain circumstances. There are many variables to be considered which include but no limited to: soil type, system type, system age, failure type, etc.
In our 13 years of restoring septic systems by utilizing controlled septic aeration we have recommended limited use of sodium percarbonate. Before considering the application of sodium percarbonate into your septic system call us for a free consultation.