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Hydroxide lewis structure.pngHydroxide 3d model.png

Systematic name Hydroxide
Other names Hydroxyl
Molecular formula OH−
Molar mass Molar mass::17.01 g/mol
Appearance Solid[1]
CAS number CAS number::14280-30-9
Acidity (pKa) 15.7[2]
Basicity (pKb) -1.8[3]
Chiral rotation [α]D 90°


Hydroxide is a polyatomic ion made up of a hydrogen and oxygen atom bonded together in a covalent bond. The negative charge makes the compound highly reactive with many substances, especially cations. Hydroxide can be found dissolved in water in nature. The compound on its own does not have many uses but other compounds containing hydroxide are essential. Called hydroxides, these compounds are used to manufacture an abundance of everyday items such as soap, pare, dye, and fabric.


Sodium hydroxide is often sold under the common name lye.
Potassium hydroxide, sold commonly as caustic potash, comes in white flakes.


Hydroxide is a diatomic molecule consisting of one oxygen atom covalently bonded with one hydrogen atom. It is a base, nucleophile, and catalyst in many chemical reactions. Because of its negative charge, it is classified as a polyatomic ion. Its negative charge causes it to be extremely active when it contacts any cations, especially alkali metals and alkali earth metals, forming a variety of salts. Hydroxide, when exposed to air, reacts with carbon dioxide to form bicarbonate. Solutions containing the compound can react with the silicon in glass and break it down.[4]


Hydroxide is found dissolved in water. Though it is a small part of the dissolved substances in water, it is vital. Other compounds containing hydroxide are very common in nature. [5]


Hydroxide on its own is not particularly useful. However, once bonded with other atoms, its compounds have many uses. One of the most common compounds of hydroxide is sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide, although extremely corrosive, is used often in manufacturing soaps, rayon, paper, explosives, dye, petroleum products, cotton fabric, laundering and bleaching, metal cleaning and processing, oxide coating, electroplating, and electrolytic extracting. Sodium hydroxide is even sold commercially in drain and oven cleaners.[6]

Another well known compound is potassium hydroxide. It is highly corrosive like sodium hydroxide. Potassium hydroxide is used in chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, and cleaning compounds. Because it is a strong base, it is sold commercially in different forms such as pellets, flakes and powders. For food use, it is generally recognized as safe and used as a pH control agent, stabilizer and thickener. [7]


  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Hydroxide PubChem. Accessed 28 November 2017.
  2. Unknown Author. Hydroxide HMDB. Accessed 28 November 2017.
  3. Unknown Author. Hydroxide HMDB. Accessed 28 November 2017.
  4. Unknown Author. Hydroxide Wikipedia. Accessed 28 November 2017.
  5. Unknown Author. Hydroxide Wikipedia. Accessed 28 November 2017.
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Sodium Hydroxide PubChem. Accessed 27 November 2017.
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Potassium Hydroxide PubChem. Accessed 27 November 2017.