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Lye, Lies and New Ultra Clorox

Dateline: 09/11/00

By David Emery

Even though The Clorox Company's new, reformulated household bleach product, Ultra Clorox, is not on the shelves yet in most parts of the U.S., an email rumor is already circulating to the effect that it's a major health threat to children and pets.

Not so.  According to the company, Ultra Clorox is simply a more concentrated version of regular Clorox and may be used, properly diluted, for all the same applications without posing any new or special dangers to humans or animals. It contains no new ingredients.

As you will see, the text of the rumor not only has the facts wrong but does its level best to scare consumers away from the product – par for the course in Internet scarelore....

~~~~CLOROX WARNING~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please note the following when cleaning your pets cage next............

Have you noticed that Clorox has changed? It's now Ultra Clorox and should be avoided at all costs.

It took me weeks to get Clorox to respond to my query and then I found this:

Clorox Bleach, long a favorite with pet owners/animal workers-businesses for its simple chlorite (5.25% sodium hypochlorite with "inert ingredients" -water) changed its formulation.

New CLOROX ULTRA is sodium hypochlorite & sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide is LYE. Lye was added to make bleach work faster. While lye is used in making basic soaps, it is also very difficult to rinse off surfaces.

DO NOT USE ULTRA CLOROX around pets (or children)! Do not use Ultra Clorox to disinfect floors, kennel runs, carriers/crates, litter boxes or feeding/water dishes! Because felines groom their paws, it is dangerous to cats.

This is a warning to ALWAYS check labels on any "new & improved" product labels. (Safeway brand Ultra Bleach DOES NOT contain any lye & is simply a stronger version of sodium hypochloride (simple bleach), with additional chemicals.

The Obligatory Debunking...

Q: Does Ultra Clorox contain lye?
A: Yes. But so does regular Clorox. So does Safeway's household bleach. Lye (sodium hydroxide) has always been an ingredient of these products and typically accounts for less than 1% of the volume. Ultra Clorox contains the same amount of lye as regular Clorox, says the manufacturer.

Q: Is lye added to make bleach "work faster?"
A: No. Its function is to stabilize and bind the other ingredients.

Q: Is Ultra Clorox especially dangerous to children or pets?
A: Not when used as directed. Properly diluted, it's virtually identical to regular Clorox and poses no unique health threats.

Q: How concerned should I be about the amount of lye in Ultra Clorox?
A: Not nearly as concerned as you should be about the amount of lies in Internet rumors. Forward that to everyone you know!

Further information:

Frequently Asked Questions about Ultra Clorox
From the Clorox.com Website

What Is Bleach?
From Clorox.com

Chlorine Bleach Can Be Friend or Foe
Hints for the safe use of household bleach from The Kansan

Internet Health Rumors
More bad advice via email

Current Netlore
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