INTRODUCTION: Many clinicians use household bleach to irrigate root canals. Sodium hypochlorite solutions are also available from dental suppliers. We compared physicochemical features of these products and investigated their impact on pulp tissue dissolution. METHODS: Six different brands of household bleach were bought from drugstores. These were compared with Chlor-XTRA and technical NaOCl solutions of controlled concentration and alkalinity regarding their chlorine content (wt% NaOCl), pH, alkaline capacity, osmolarity, surface tension (Wilhelmy plate method), and price. Bovine pulp tissue (n = 10 specimens per group) dissolution at 37°C by test and control solutions adjusted to 1.0% NaOCl was assessed. Reduction in tissue weight was compared between groups by one-way analysis of variance, followed by Bonferroni correction (P < .05). RESULTS: The pH of undiluted solutions ranged between 11.1 and 12.7. Batches of the same product differed in NaOCl content. No product contained more than an equivalent of 0.1 mol/L NaOH. One household bleach brand (Safeway Bleach Summit Fresh) was slightly alkalized; the other solutions under investigation were not. Osmolarity was similar between products. The surface tension of Chlor-XTRA and Safeway Bleach Summit Fresh was about half that of the other solutions. Tissue dissolution was statistically similar (P > .05) among all solutions. Price was about 100-fold higher per liter of Chlor-XTRA compared with household bleach. CONCLUSIONS: Other than its price, the Chlor-XTRA solution had no unique features. In contrast to an earlier report, reduced surface tension did not result in greater soft tissue dissolution by NaOCl.