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Hypochlorous acid

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Hypochlorous acid

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Hypochlorous acid
Hypochlorous acid
Systematic name hypochlorous acid
Molecular formula HClO
Molar mass 52.46 g/mol
Appearance colorless aqueous solns
CAS number [7790-92-3]
Solubility in water soluble
Other solvents Et2O, CH2Cl2
Acidity (pKa) 7.53
MSDS External MSDS
Main hazards oxidizer
Related compounds
Other anions NaOCl
Other cations HOBr, HOF
Related compounds Cl2
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 C, 100 kPa)

Hypochlorous acid is a weak acid with the chemical formula HOCl. It forms when chlorine dissolves in water. It cannot be isolated in pure form due to rapid equilibration with its precursor (see below). HOCl is used as a bleach, an oxidizer, a deodorant, and a disinfectant.



Addition of chlorine to water gives both hypochlorous acid and hydrochloric acid (HCl):

Cl2 + H2O → HClO + HCl

Chemical reactions

In aqueous solution, hypochlorous acid partially dissociates into the hypochlorite anion ClO- (also known as the chlorate(I) anion) and the proton H+. The salts of hypochlorous acid are also called hypochlorites. One of the best known hypochlorites is household bleach, sodium hypochlorite, NaClO.

In the presence of sunlight, hypochlorous acid decomposes into more hydrochloric acid and oxygen, so this reaction is sometimes seen as:

2Cl2 + 2H2O → 4HCl + O2

HClO is considered to be a stronger oxidant than chlorine.


In organic synthesis, HOCl converts alkenes to chlorohydrins.[1]

In biology, hypochlorous acid is thought to be produced by neutrophils to kill bacteria, and it is the active sanitizer in all chlorine-based swimming pool products.


HOCl is a strong oxidant and thus can form explosive mixtures, and it can give off toxic chlorine gas.

External links


  1. ^ Unangst, P. C. "Hypochlorous Acid" in Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis (Ed: L. Paquette) 2004, J. Wiley & Sons, New York. DOI: 10.1002/047084289.

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