Preparation

This is prepared officinally by passing chlorine gas through water; the gas being obtained from the reaction between black oxide of manganese and muriatic acid gently heated with water.

Properties

Chlorine water has a pale yellowish-green colour, the peculiar odour of chlorine, and an acrid, somewhat astringent taste. it quickly bleaches vegetable colours, destroys the fetor of putrefaction, and dissolves gold leaf. it undergoes chemical change by time, and especially on exposure to light; the chlorine uniting with the hydrogen of the water to form muriatic acid, and oxygen escaping. it should not, therefore, be kept long. Prepared according to the U. S. formula, it should be nearly or quite saturated, and contain about double its bulk of the gas.

Effects on the System

When of the full officinal strength, chlorine water is powerfully irritant, producing inflammation of the skin, and acting as a corrosive poison when swallowed. Sufficiently diluted, it may be used locally, or taken internally, without inconvenience. Upon the stomach it acts as a tonic, and, on the system at large, is supposed to have an alterative effect, obviating the tendencies to depravation of the blood, and extending a peculiar influence to the liver. it has all the disinfectant properties of the chlorine, and is thought to be antiseptic; that is, not only to correct fetor in gangrenous parts, but also to have some positive power of checking the progress of mortification. its continued internal use is said to have caused salivation.

Medical Uses

Chlorine water has been used internally in febrile diseases of a malignant character, or disposed to that condition, as typhus, small-pox, scarlatina, and erysipelas, in their lowest forms; also as an alterative in chronic hepatic and syphilitic affections. The dose is from half a fluidrachm to two fluidrachms, according to the strength, in three or four fluidounces of water. if the preparation be saturated, more than thirty minims, according to Orfila, may cause irritation of the stomach, with nausea and vomiting.

It has been used for the inhalation of chlorine; from ten to thirty drops being added to six or eight fluidounces of water in the inhaler.

But its topical uses are most important. it is asserted to have been employed, with great success, as a local application to the bites of mad dogs, with the view of preventing hydrophobia. Several writers have recorded their favourable experience on this point; and Semmola states that he has successfully treated nineteen cases of individuals bitten by mad dogs, by washing the wounds with a dilute solution of chlorine, dressing them twice a day with compresses saturated with the same liquid, and administering, for forty or fifty days, three times daily, from two drachms to an ounce of the solution, sufficiently diluted with sweetened water. M. Coster tried the remedy on dogs. Two of them were inoculated with the saliva of a mad dog, and, besides, were bitten by the rabid animal. The wounds of one were washed sedulously with a solution of chloride of soda in half its volume of water, which was also injected into the wounds; the other animal was treated similarly with pure water; the former was not attacked by the disease; the latter died of hydrophobia, thirty-seven days after the infliction of the wounds. (Trousseau et Pidoux, Traite, etc., 4e ed., i. 343.) Nevertheless, this measure should never be relied on, to the exclusion of the knife. Under circumstances which may be considered as forbidding the use of the knife, as where parts are wounded which cannot be removed without involving a removal of the limb, it may be proper to have recourse to it, though certainly an apocryphal measure.

Diluted chlorine water has also been used as a wash in scabies and porrigo, as an antiseptic and stimulant application to cancerous and sloughing ulcers, as a gargle in malignant sore-throat whether an original affection, or attendant on scarlet fever, and as a rubefacient in chronic diseases of the liver.