MSDS - Potassium hydroxide

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Potassium Hydroxide material data safety sheet. Reproduced with kind permission of the Department of Chemistry, Oxford University.

Last updated January 18, 2007

Common synonyms
  • Caustic potash
  • Lye
Formula KOH
  • Form: White semi-transparent flaky solid.
  • Stability: Stable, but hygroscopic. Absorbs carbon dioxide from the air.
  • Melting point: 360°C
  • Water solubility: high (dissolution is very exothermic).
  • Specific gravity: 2.04
Principal hazards
  • Contact with the eyes can cause serious long-term damage.
  • The solid and its solutions are corrosive.
  • A significant amount of heat is released when potassium hydroxide dissolves in water; this may be sufficient to crack thin glassware if the solution is not stirred when dissolving the solid.
Safe handling
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Do not allow solid or solution to come into contact with your skin.
  • When preparing solutions swirl the liquid gently to prevent "hot spots" developing.
  • Eye contact: Immediately flush the eye with plenty of water. Continue for at least ten minutes and call for immediate medical help.
  • Skin contact: Wash off with plenty of water. Remove any contaminated clothing. If the skin reddens or appears damaged, call for medical aid.
  • If swallowed: Drink plenty of water and call for immediate medical help.
  • Small amounts of dilute potassium hydroxide can be flushed down a sink with a large quantity of water, unless local rules prohibit this.
  • Larger amounts should be neutralised before disposal.
Protective equipment
  • ALWAYS wear safety glasses when handling potassium hydroxide or its solutions. For many chemicals safety glasses are needed because when the chemical gets in the eye it causes irritation; by contrast, potassium hydroxide can cause serious damage.
  • If you need gloves, neoprene, nitrile or natural rubber are suitable for handling solutions at concentrations of up to 70%.
Further information More extensive safety data

Bio-rich-time-poor 21:07, 25 June 2011 (BST)