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sodium hydroxide

sodium hydroxide, chemical compound, NaOH, a white crystalline substance that readily absorbs carbon dioxide and moisture from the air. It is very soluble in water, alcohol, and glycerin. It is a caustic and a strong base (see acids and bases). Commonly known as caustic soda, lye, or sodium hydrate, it is available commercially in various solid forms, e.g., pellets, sticks, or chips, and in water solutions of various concentrations; both solid and liquid forms vary in purity. The major use of sodium hydroxide is as a chemical and in the manufacture of other chemicals; because it is inexpensive, it is widely used wherever a strong base is needed. It is also used in producing rayon and other textiles, in making paper, in etching aluminum, in making soaps and detergents, and in a wide variety of other uses. The principal method for its manufacture is electrolytic dissociation of sodium chloride; chlorine gas is a coproduct. Small amounts of sodium hydroxide are produced by the soda-lime process in which a concentrated solution of sodium carbonate (soda) is reacted with calcium hydroxide (slaked lime); calcium carbonate precipitates, leaving a sodium hydroxide solution.

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sodium hydroxide

sodium hydroxide (NaOH) Strong alkali prepared industrially by the electrolysis of salt (sodium chloride, NaCl). It is a white solid that burns the skin, with a slippery feel because it absorbs moisture from the air. It also absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, so forming a crust of sodium carbonate. Caustic soda is used in many industries on a large scale, such as in soap-making to saponify fats (turn them into soap by alkali treatments) and in bauxite-processing to manufacture aluminium.

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sodium hydroxide

so·di·um hy·drox·ide • n. a strongly alkaline white deliquescent compound, NaOH, used in many industrial processes, e.g., the manufacture of soap and paper.

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