Chemical Properties and Common Uses of Sodium Hydroxide

Common Industrial Uses and Products that Include Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium Hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, is a highly versatile chemical used in a wide range of industrial applications. It is used in the manufacturing of various products such as paper, textiles, detergents, and soaps. Sodium Hydroxide is also used in the production of aluminum, petrochemicals, and other chemicals. It is also used in the food industry to process cocoa and chocolate products.

How Sodium Hydroxide is Produced

Sodium Hydroxide is produced through the electrolysis of salt water, a process called the chlor-alkali process. This process involves passing an electric current through a solution of salt water, which separates the sodium and chlorine ions. The sodium ions combine with hydroxide ions to form Sodium Hydroxide, while the chlorine gas is collected as a byproduct.

When Sodium Hydroxide Was First Discovered and Made Commercially Available

Sodium Hydroxide was first discovered in the early 19th century by French chemist Nicolas Leblanc. However, it was not until the late 19th century that it became commercially available through the chlor-alkali process. The process was first developed by British chemist Charles Watt and improved upon by American chemist Hamilton Castner, who developed a more efficient method of producing Sodium Hydroxide.


Sodium Hydroxide is an important chemical used in various industries for its versatile properties. It is used in the production of a wide range of products, including paper, textiles, detergents, and soaps. The chlor-alkali process is the primary method used to produce Sodium Hydroxide today, and it was first developed in the late 19th century. Sodium Hydroxide continues to be an essential chemical in modern industry.


Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye or caustic soda, is a highly caustic compound that has a wide range of applications in various industries. It is an inorganic compound that is commonly used in the manufacturing of soaps, detergents, and other cleaning agents. Sodium hydroxide is also used in the production of paper, textiles, and various types of chemicals. It is a white, odorless solid that is highly soluble in water and has a slippery feel when touched.

Technical Properties

Sodium hydroxide is a strong base that is highly reactive with various types of materials, including metals, acids, and organic compounds. It has a pH of around 14 and can cause severe burns and damage to the skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide is also highly exothermic, meaning that it releases heat when it reacts with water or other substances. This property makes it useful in various industrial processes that require heat generation.

Chemical Formula

The chemical formula for sodium hydroxide is NaOH. It is composed of one sodium ion (Na+) and one hydroxide ion (OH-). This compound is formed by the reaction of sodium metal with water, which produces sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. The chemical equation for this reaction is:

2Na + 2H2O → 2NaOH + H2

Key Properties

  • Sodium hydroxide has a boiling point of 1,388°C (2,530°F) and a melting point of 318°C (604°F).
  • It has a density of 2.13 g/cm³ and a molar mass of 40.00 g/mol.
  • Sodium hydroxide is highly soluble in water, with a solubility of 111 g/100 mL at room temperature.
  • It is a strong electrolyte, meaning that it dissociates completely in water to form sodium and hydroxide ions.


Sodium hydroxide is a highly versatile compound with a wide range of applications in various industries. Its strong base properties make it useful in the manufacturing of various types of