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Sodium Hypochlorite

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Maria Caba

Chemistry 109

Term Paper

        A molecule is the smallest particle in a chemical element or compound that has the chemical properties of that element or compound. Molecules are made up of atoms that are held together by chemical bonds. Those bonds form as a result of the sharing or exchange of electrons among atoms. The chemical molecule that interested me the most was Sodium Hypochlorite better known as bleach. The chemical structure for sodium hypochlorite is an ionic compound that is composed of the sodium metal cation (Na+) bonded to the hypochlorite anion (ClO-).

The constituent atoms of sodium hypochlorite are of one sodium (Na) atom, one chlorine (Cl) and one oxygen (O) atom. Its chemical structure shows that the hypochlorite ion (ClO-) has an Ionic bond with the sodium (Na+) ion.

        Around 1785, the chemical and chlorinated way to bleach was invented long after the concept of bleaching was discovered. Sodium hypochlorite, an active ingredient of bleach was officially discovered by Italian-born French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet. The physical and chemical properties of Sodium Hypochlorite include chlorine, sodium, hydroxide and it has a greenish-yellow liquid appearance. The process of manufacturing this chemical compound is made up of four detailed steps.

Preparing the solution:

  • Caustic soda is usually produced and shipped as a concentrated 50% solution. At its destination, this concentrated solution is diluted with water to form a new 25% solution.
  • Heat is created when the water is diluted the strong caustic soda solution. The diluted caustic soda is cooled before it is reacted.

The Chemical Reaction:

  • Chlorine and the caustic soda solution are reacted to form sodium hypochlorite bleach. This reaction can take place in a batch of thousands of gallons. To make the sodium hypochlorite, a liquid or a gaseous chlorine is circulated through the caustic soda solution. The reaction is instatenous.

Cooling & Purifying:

  • The bleach solution is then cooled to help prevent decomposition.
  • Often this cooled bleach is filtered to remove impurities that can discolor the bleach or catalyze its decomposition. 


  • The finished sodium hypochlorite bleach is shipped to abottling plant. The householf-streng bleach is typically 5.25% sodium hypochloriten aqueous solution.

Today sodium hypochlorite or bleach is found in nearly every household to whiten fabrics and remove stains by a chemical reaction that breaks down the undesired color into smaller particles that can be easily removed by washing. Bleach works by releasing oxygen molecules in a process called oxidation. The oxygen molecules released by bleachbreak up the chemical bonds of chromophores. The changed chromophore molecules either reflect no color or a color outside the visible spectrum. This absence of color is seen by our eyes as white.



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