Alkali hydroxide

The alkali hydroxides are a class of chemical compounds which are composed of an alkali metal cation and the hydroxide anion (HO-). The alkali hydroxides are:

"A strong base completely ionizes in aqueous solution to give HO- and a cation. Sodium hydroxide is an example of a strong base. The principal strong bases are the hydroxides of Group IA elements and group IIA elements."[1]

The most common alkali hydroxide is sodium hydroxide, which is readily available in most hardware stores in products such as a drain cleaner. Another common alkali hydroxide is potassium hydroxide. This is available as a solution used for cleaning terraces and other areas made out of wood.

All alkali hydroxides are very corrosive, being strongly alkaline.

A typical school demonstration demonstrates what happens when a piece of an alkali metal is introduced to a bowl of water. A vigorous reaction occurs, producing hydrogen gas and the specific alkali hydroxide. For example, if sodium is the alkali metal:

Sodium + water → sodium hydroxide + hydrogen gas
2 Na + 2 H2O → 2 NaOH + H2


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