2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Chemical compounds

IUPAC name hydroxide
Systematic name hydroxide
CAS number [14280-30-9]
InChI 1/H2O/h1H2/
Molecular formula OH
Molar mass 17.00274 (7) g/mol
Acidity (pKa) ~22
Basicity (pKb) -1.74
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox disclaimer and references

In chemistry, hydroxide is the most common name for the diatomic anion OH, consisting of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, usually derived from the dissociation of a base. It is one of the simplest diatomic ions known.

Inorganic compounds that contain the hydroxyl group are referred to as hydroxides. Common hydroxides include:

  • Sodium hydroxide">Sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
  • Potassium hydroxide (KOH)
  • Calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2)
  • Ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH)

Hydroxide as a base

Most compounds containing hydroxide are bases.

An Arrhenius base is a substance that produces hydroxide ions when dissolved in aqueous solution. One example would be ammonia, NH3:

NH3(g) + H2O(l) NH4+(aq) + OH(aq)

Thus, hydroxide ions are heavily involved in acid-base reactions as well as the special double displacement reaction called neutralization.

Salts containing hydroxide are called base salts. Base salts will dissociate into a cation and one or more hydroxide ions in water, making the solution basic. Base salts will undergo neutralisation reactions with acids. In general acid-alkali reactions can be simplified to

OH (aq) + H+(aq) → H2O (l)

by omitting spectator ions.


Most inorganic hydroxide salts are insoluble in water, except for those with cations from Group I, NH4+, Ba2+, Sr2+, Ca2+ (little) or Tl+.


Hydroxides and hydroxide ions are relatively common. Many useful chemicals and chemical processes involve hydroxides or hydroxide ions. Sodium hydroxide (lye) is used in industry as a strong base, potassium hydroxide is used in agriculture, and iron hydroxide minerals such as goethite and limonite have been used as low grade brown iron ore. The aluminium ore bauxite is composed largely of aluminium hydroxides.


Hydroxide ion is a kind of ligand. It donates lone pair of electrons, behaving as a Lewis base. Examples of complexes containing such a ligand include the aluminate ion [Al(OH)4] and aurate ion [Au(OH)4].

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