Sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, or lye, is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaOH. It is a white solid and highly caustic metallic base and alkali salt which is available in pellets, flakes, granules, and as prepared solutions at a number of different concentrations. Sodium hydroxide forms an approximately 50% (by weight) saturated solution with water.
Sodium hydroxide is soluble in water, ethanol and methanol. This alkali is deliquescent and readily absorbs moisture and carbon dioxide in air.
Pure sodium hydroxide is a whitish solid, sold in pellets, flakes, and granular form, as well as in solution. It is highly soluble in water, with a lower solubility in ethanol and methanol, but is insoluble in ether and other non-polar solvents.
Similar to the hydration of sulfuric acid, dissolution of solid sodium hydroxide in water is a highly exothermic reaction in which a large amount of heat is liberated, posing a threat to safety through the possibility of splashing. The resulting solution is usually colourless and odorless with slippery feeling upon contact in common with other alkalis.