Why is NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide) Soluble in Water?

Yes, NaOH (Sodium hydroxide) is soluble in water. 1 It is soluble in water because it undergoes complete dissociation into sodium ions (Na⁺) and hydroxide ions (OH⁻), forming a strongly alkaline solution. 2

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Key Takeaways: Is NaOH Soluble in Water?

  • NaOH (sodium hydroxide) is soluble in water due to its ionic nature and the ability of water molecules to surround and stabilize the resulting ions.
  • Factors such as temperature, concentration, agitation, particle size, and the presence of other substances can affect the solubility of NaOH in water.
  • The solubility of NaOH in water is utilized in various applications, including chemical manufacturing, water treatment, soap production, pH adjustment in laboratories, cleaning, and degreasing, among others.

Explanation: Why is NaOH soluble in water?

NaOH, also known as sodium hydroxide, is soluble in water due to its strong ionic nature and the ability of water molecules to surround and stabilize the resulting ions.

When solid NaOH is added to water, the ionic compound dissociates into its constituent ions: sodium ions (Na+) and hydroxide ions (OH-). 3 4 This process is called ionization. 

The water molecules, which are polar in nature, 5 are attracted to the charged ions. The positive hydrogen ends of water molecules are attracted to the negatively charged hydroxide ions (OH-), while the negative oxygen ends of water molecules are attracted to the positively charged sodium ions (Na+).

As the water molecules surround the ions, they form a hydration shell, which stabilizes the ions and prevents them from recombining into solid NaOH. This process of solvation occurs through the electrostatic attraction between the partially charged water molecules and the ions.

The strength of the attraction between the sodium and hydroxide ions and the water molecules is greater than the attraction between the sodium and hydroxide ions themselves. This results in the complete dissolution of NaOH in water, forming a homogeneous solution.

Overall, the solubility of NaOH in water is a result of the strong ionic interactions and the ability of water to act as a solvent for polar substances.

What factors affect the solubility of NaOH in water?

Several factors can affect the solubility of NaOH in water. Here are some key factors:

  1. Temperature: The solubility of NaOH in water generally increases with an increase in temperature. 6 Higher temperatures provide more energy to break the ionic bonds between Na+ and OH- ions, allowing more NaOH to dissolve. Therefore, NaOH is more soluble in hot water than in cold water.
  2. Concentration: The concentration of NaOH already present in the solution can impact its further solubility. 7 As more NaOH dissolves in water, the concentration of the dissolved ions increases, leading to a decrease in the solubility of additional NaOH. This is known as the common-ion effect.
  3. Agitation: Stirring or agitation of the solution enhances the solubility of NaOH. 8 It helps in speeding up the dissolution process by bringing fresh solvent in contact with the solid NaOH and reducing the concentration gradient at the solid-liquid interface.
  4. Particle size: Finely powdered NaOH dissolves more readily in water compared to large chunks or pellets. Smaller particle size increases the surface area available for contact with the solvent, facilitating faster dissolution.
  5. Presence of other substances: The presence of certain substances can affect the solubility of NaOH. 9 For example, acids can react with NaOH to form salts, which may have different solubility properties. Additionally, the presence of other ionic compounds in the solution can influence the solubility through common-ion effect or complex formation.

It’s important to note that while these factors affect the solubility of NaOH in water, the fundamental reason for its solubility lies in the strong ionic interactions and the ability of water to solvate the resulting ions.

How is solubility of NaOH used in various applications?

The solubility of NaOH in water is utilized in various applications across different industries. Here are some common applications:

  1. Chemical Manufacturing: Sodium hydroxide is a key component in the production of various chemicals, such as detergents, soaps, and paper. 10 Its solubility in water allows for easy incorporation into chemical reactions and formulations.
  2. Water Treatment: NaOH is employed in water treatment processes to adjust the pH levels of water. 11 It can neutralize acidic water by raising the pH, making it suitable for drinking, industrial use, or discharge into the environment.
  3. Soap and Detergent Production: Sodium hydroxide is a crucial ingredient in the saponification process, where it reacts with fats or oils to produce soap. 12 Its solubility in water facilitates the dissolution of NaOH during the manufacturing process.
  4. Alumina Extraction: In the production of alumina from bauxite ore, NaOH is utilized to dissolve aluminum oxide (alumina). This process, known as the Bayer process, takes advantage of the solubility of NaOH in water to extract alumina for further refining into aluminum metal.
  5. Cleaning and Degreasing: NaOH’s solubility in water and its alkaline properties make it effective in cleaning and degreasing applications. It can remove oils, greases, and organic residues from surfaces, equipment, and pipelines. 13

These are just a few examples of how the solubility of NaOH in water is harnessed in different industries and applications. Its versatility and wide availability make it a valuable chemical compound in numerous processes.

Further reading

Is CaSO4 Soluble in Water?
Why is HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) Soluble in Water?
Is CCl4 Soluble in Water?
Is ZnS Soluble in Water?
Is ZnCl2 Soluble in Water?

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

Read more about our Editorial process.


  1. Sodium hydroxide. (n.d.). Sodium Hydroxide. https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/wikispeedia/wpcd/wp/s/Sodium_hydroxide.htm
  2. Overview of Acids and Bases. (2017, February 13). Chemistry LibreTexts. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Physical_and_Theoretical_Chemistry_Textbook_Maps/Supplemental_Modules_(Physical_and_Theoretical_Chemistry)/Acids_and_Bases/Acid/Overview_of_Acids_and_Bases
  3. Europa.eu https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/917becd0-b0a4-4b68-8e5e-c2e466d8641a
  4. Foundation, C. (n.d.). CK12-Foundation. CK12-Foundation. https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-middle-school-physical-science-flexbook-2.0/section/7.11/primary/lesson/acid-base-neutralization-ms-ps/
  5. Hawaii.edu https://manoa.hawaii.edu/exploringourfluidearth/chemical/properties-water/types-covalent-bonds-polar-and-nonpolar
  6. Solubility. (n.d.). Solubility. https://www.chem.fsu.edu/chemlab/chm1046course/solubility.html
  7. the common ion effect. (n.d.). The Common Ion Effect. https://www.chemguide.co.uk/physical/ksp/commonion.html
  8. Foundation, C. (n.d.). CK12-Foundation. CK12-Foundation. https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-middle-school-physical-science-flexbook-2.0/section/7.3/primary/lesson/rate-of-dissolving-ms-ps/
  9. Solubility – Wikipedia. (2015, April 22). Solubility – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solubility
  10. Sodium Hydroxide – Chemical Safety Facts. (2022, October 14). Chemical Safety Facts. https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/chemicals/sodium-hydroxide/
  11. Epa.gov https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2023-03/Sodium%20Hydroxide%20Supply%20Chain%20Profile.pdf
  12. P. (n.d.). Sodium Hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide | NaOH | CID 14798 – PubChem. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/14798
  13. Rsc.org https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2019/ra/c9ra06745k

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top