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hypochlorous acid[¦hī·pə′klȯr·əs ′as·əd]
HCIO, a very weak monobasic acid, in which chlorine is in the + 1 oxidation state. Hypochlorous acid is unstable, decomposing gradually even in dilute aqueous solutions. Both the acid and its salts (hypochlorites) are strong oxidizing agents. The crystal hydrate LiClO· H2O withstands prolonged storage. NaClO· H2O decomposes explosively at 70°C, while KClO is known only in the form of aqueous solutions. Ca(ClO)2is completely stable in dry form but decomposes in the presence of water and carbon dioxide. Mg(ClO)2 is more stable. Hypochlorous acid and hypochlorites readily decompose with the liberation of oxygen and thus are commonly used for bleaching pulp and fabrics, as well as for sanitation purposes.
Hypochlorous acid is produced by the hydrolysis of chlorine or by the dissolving of the chlorine oxide Cl2O in water. Calcium hypochlorite, sodium hypochlorite, potassium hypochlorite, and lithium hypochlorite are produced on an industrial scale by the chlorination of milk of lime and the corresponding alkalies.