I have gone online to see many times that the electrolysis of $\ce{NaCl}$ dissolved in water produces Lye: $$\ce{2NaCl + 2H2O -> 2NaOH + H2 + Cl2}$$ Other times $\ce{NaClO3}$ or some other compound. I just want to know with one solid answer (anyone), what does this reaction produce?

Thank you.


1 Answer 1


The one solid answer is that everything you've heard is right, given the appropriate conditions.

If the cathode and anode spaces are properly separated with a porous membrane or a salt bridge, then it is just like that: $$\ce{2NaCl + 2H2O -> \underbrace{2NaOH + H2}_{cathode} + \underbrace{Cl2}_{anode}}$$ If they are not, then the products inevitably mix with each other and react further: $$\ce{2NaOH + Cl2 -> NaCl + NaClO + H2O}$$ or, at elevated temperatures, $$\ce{6NaOH + 3Cl2 -> 5NaCl + NaClO3 + 3H2O}$$ See, chemistry is diverse. Oh wait, and there are more options. Think of the mercury cell.


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