Javelle water

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Javelle water

Javelle water or Javel water (both: zhəvĕlˈ), Fr. eau de Javelle, aqueous solution of sodium or potassium hypochlorite. It was originally made near the French town of Javelle (now part of Paris) and was the first chemical bleach, a use first demonstrated by C. L. Berthollet in 1785. It was produced by passing chlorine gas through a water solution of potash (potassium carbonate). After the invention of bleaching powder Javelle water was sometimes produced by reacting the bleaching powder with potash or soda ash (sodium carbonate). Now usually sodium hypochlorite solution, it is used in bleaching and as a disinfectant.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Javelle Water


an aqueous solution of sodium hypochlorite, NaCIO, with an admixture of sodium chloride, NaCl. Javelle water has a bleaching effect.

The name “Javelle water” was originally applied in 1789 to the bleaching fluid made in a chemical works in the Paris suburb of Javelle; it was made by passing chlorine into a cold solution of potassium hydroxide or potassium carbonate:

2KOH + CI2 = 2KCIO + H2O


K2CO3 + CI2 = KCIO + KCI + CO2

In 1822 the French pharmacist A. J. Labarraque (1777–1850), by treating a sodium carbonate solution (Na2CO3) with chlorine, prepared a bleaching fluid (Labarraque’s solution) that completely replaced Javelle water and was less costly to prepare. In the course of time, the name “Javelle water” was transferred to Labarraque’s solution, which, along with chlorinated lime, is used extensively for bleaching in the paper and textile industries.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.