The History of the HOCl Trust
The HOCl Trust was founded in 2016 by Charles Cocking, who might be considered the ‘father of HOCl’. At the very least he uncovered many of its remarkable properties. Charles died in 2022 and the Trust stands as a testimony to his remarkable vision and legacy.
Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is a mildly acidic naturally-occurring aqueous chlorine solution which has a pH between 5 and 7. Every creature which uses blood as its life support system carries HOCl within their white blood cells. It forms a major part of the immune system and is formed when the body is attacked by infection. HOCl eradicates in seconds all bacteria (even the tough Clostridium difficile) mycobacteria, fungi, and viruses. The only organism it is known struggle with is Crypto sporidium, which takes an hour to neutralise.
The first peer review paper concerning HOCl’s biological properties was published in the British Medical Journal in 1915 by a J.Lorraine-Smith. However since then HOCl has never been properly exploited for two reasons: it has a limited shelf life and, as it occurs in nature, it cannot be patented. Mainstream chemical and pharmaceutical companies are therefore not interested in developing HOCl-based products.
The HOCl Story
The discovery of HOCl’s action as a non-toxic sanitizer
In 1993/4 Charles Cocking and three others decided to commercialise a Russian technology (STEL)., which had been developed by Moscow University as part of the MIR Space Programme for space-based water treatment . It was called in those days as 'super-oxidised water'. STEL was a system for electrolysing a simple solution of common salt (NaCl). The fluid produced by this process was purported to be a decontaminant of such startling power with apparently zero human or animal toxicity.
Through a colleague of his late father at the Wellcome Institute, Charles was introduced to Dr. Joseph Selkon at Oxford University. He, like everyone else, was highly sceptical but after some simple tests but after 3 days his response was “Mr Cocking, what is this stuff you’ve given me? It’s killing bugs faster than we can count!” This remarkable activity was subsequently validated by UCLH, Churchill Hospital Oxford and Hospital Infection Research Laboratory, Birmingham. Together Charles and Dr. Selkon developed a portfolio of undeniable proof of every microbiology claim that the Russians had made.
The first commercialisation of HOCl
Charles and his team formed a company involving the Russians and within 3 weeks had raised more than £2.3 million. The product was “Sterilox” and it became the gold standard by which endoscopes were reprocessed within the NHS and private hospitals. Sterilox replaced a highly toxic chemical Gluteraldehyde, which only disinfected whereas Sterilox could sterilise and was non-toxic.
But there was a downside. The electrolytic fluid was unstable - it had a half-life of 48 hours. This meant that it couldn’t be bottled and stored, so small production units were installed in hospitals to make Sterilox at the time and point of use. These machines were complex and cost about £100,000 each but the advantages were that there was no cross infection between patients via the endoscopes and nurses no longer had skin or respiratory problems from handling poisonous hazardous chemicals.
Sterilox went public on the London Stock Exchange in June/July 2006 under the name Puricore plc. It made inroads into food treatment in the USA. By this time the company had a large venture capital debt. The company never made a profit and Charles retired in 2007 for health reasons.
HOCl as a water decontaminant
In 1999 Charles sought to prove some of the Russian claims that HOCL could decontaminate unsafe drinking water. He travelled to Peru at the request of Dr. Carlton Evans of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines who was affiliated at that time to a research programme at the University Hospital in Lima in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. Accepting HOCL’s lack of toxicity, the team wanted to evaluate the effect of Sterilox on decontaminating shanty town drinking water that, in a high percentage of cases, was heavily polluted with human pathogens.
Together it was proved that the addition of just 2% Sterilox (or superoxidised water as it was generically known by then) completely eradicated human pathogens such as Typhus, Cholera, Salmonella, Polio virus and Norovirus at a level of 100,000,000 colony forming units (CFU) per millilitre. When the team realised the full implications of their results (vis. helping in disaster areas or areas with contaminated water supplies) their aspirations were thwarted by the lack of an effective way that the Russian process could cope with the enormous volumes of water requiring treatment. The small electrolytic cells could only produce 22 litres per hour and each one consumed 10 amps of DC power.
In 2008 Charles, whilst recovering from therapies, turned his attention to the main problem with electrolytically-produced HOCl i.e. the 48 hour shelf life. Working with Dr Abi-Aoun, by using more sophisticated base chemicals that were probably unavailable in 1915, they found a way to make a version of HOCl chemically which appeared to have the same efficacy and qualities as the electrochemical product of a similar concentration and it seemed to be rather more stable. Its efficacy was confirmed by University College London Hospital and the Hospital Infection Research Laboratory, Birmingham. They also confirmed efficacy at 3 and 6 months.
With this proof a highly commercial product was beckoning. The chemicals required were readily available and inexpensive giving an end cost of about £9/1000 litres. However, more venture capital was required to fully exploit the new product, which would also require testing to EU standards. The product is now evaluated against the complete range of relevant EN codes and has exceeded the required performance in all cases.
The product created great interest and some major bulk user clients now market the product under their own brand names within their own fields, such as human wound treatment, animal infections and health, water treatment, clean room technology, food decontamination etc.
HOCl - a drop of hope?
The means of making HOCl chemically are readily available on the internet in such places as Wikipedia, however, they are technical and one needs to be a chemist to make real sense of them. Moreover, there are many companies throughout the world marketing their versions of HOCl in several guises, 99% of them make it by the process of electrolysis but making it in large volumes, stable and reasonably priced has been a challenge.
Nevertheless, HOCl can be made cheaply and readily using simple equipment. A simple recipe for making HOCl for your own household use resides on the Trust’s website. To the layman HOCl might seem too good to be true…as it did to Charles nearly 20 years ago but the world at large needs to know about HOCl’s simple solution to many of the world’s problems. For Charles time has now run out but by establishing the HOCl Trust he has given people across the world the means to access to the sound information that is needed to make this remarkable life giving material.