Deutsch: Kaliumhydroxid / Español: Hidróxido de Potasio / Português: Hidróxido de Potássio / Français: Hydroxyde de Potassium / Italiano: Idrossido di Potassio

Potassium hydroxide in the industrial context, commonly known as caustic potash, is a strong alkaline compound (chemical formula KOH) used in various manufacturing processes and applications. It is highly valued for its reactivity and solubility in water and alcohol, making it essential in the production of biodiesel, soap, and various chemicals, as well as in the cleaning and food preparation industries.


Potassium hydroxide is produced primarily through the electrolysis of potassium chloride (KCl) solution. It appears as a white solid that readily absorbs moisture from the air and dissolves in water, releasing heat in an exothermic reaction. Its strong alkaline properties make it useful in a wide range of industrial applications, requiring careful handling due to its corrosive nature.

Application Areas

  • Soap and Detergent Manufacturing: Saponification process for making liquid soaps and soft soaps due to its solubility.
  • Biodiesel Production: Used as a catalyst in the transesterification of fats and oils to produce biodiesel.
  • Chemical Industry: As a reactant to produce various potassium compounds, including phosphates and silicates.
  • Food Industry: An additive (E525) for washing or chemical peeling of fruits and vegetables and as a pH regulator.
  • Battery Manufacturing: In alkaline batteries as an electrolyte.

Well-Known Examples

  • The use of potassium hydroxide in the preparation of cocoa products, where it serves to improve color and reduce acidity.
  • Application in the cleaning industry for the production of drain cleaners and industrial cleaning solutions due to its effectiveness in dissolving organic matter.

Treatment and Risks

Handling potassium hydroxide requires strict safety measures to prevent skin and eye contact, ingestion, or inhalation due to its corrosive nature, which can cause severe burns and respiratory issues. Safety protocols include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper ventilation in work areas. The disposal of KOH must be managed to minimize environmental impact, particularly to water sources.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Caustic potash
  • Lye (when in solution)
  • KOH


Potassium hydroxide is a highly versatile and essential compound in the industrial sector, playing a critical role in manufacturing, food processing, and cleaning applications. Its effective use requires careful handling and adherence to safety standards due to its corrosive properties, underscoring the importance of proper workplace practices and environmental considerations.

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