Hypochlorous Acid - HOCl

What is Hypochlorous Acid?

HOCl is a weak acid with chemical name Hypochlorous Acid. It is also called Hydrogen hypochlorite or Chlorine hydroxide or hypochloric acid. It was discovered by a French chemist Antoine Jerome Balard in the year 1834. It is an oxyacid of chlorine.

It contains monovalent chlorine that functions as a reducing agent or an oxidizing agent. It is an unstable acid and functions as a human metabolite. It belongs to the family of reactive oxygen species and is a conjugate acid of a hypochlorite.

Properties of Hypochlorous Acid – HOCl


Hypochlorous Acid

Molecular weight of HOCl

52.457 g/mol

No. of hydrogen bond acceptor


Monoisotopic mass of Hypochlorous Acid

51.972 g/mol

No. of hydrogen bond donor


Hypochlorous Acid structure – HOCl

Hypochlorous Acid structure

HOCl Uses (Hypochlorous Acid)

  • Hypochlorous Acid is used to convert alkenes to chlorohydrins.
  • Used in cosmetics such as baby products.
  • Used in swimming pools.
  • Used to generate sufficient quantities of safe disinfectant.
  • Used in marine sanitation devices to convert seawater into HOCl.
  • Used as a wound care agent.
  • Used to treat various infections in pets and humans.


  • Hypochlorous acid partially dissociates into the anion hypochlorite ClO in aqueous solutions. Below is the reaction:
  • HClO ⇌ ClO + H+

    Hypochlorites are the salts of hypochlorous acid. One of the common hypochlorites is sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which is an active ingredient in bleach.

  • At standard conditions Hypochlorous Acid is a stronger oxidant when compared to chlorine.
  • 2 HClO(aq) + 2  H+ + 2  e ⇌ Cl2(g) + 2 H2O

    Where, E = +1.63 V

  • Hypochlorous acid reacts with hydrochloric acid (HCl) to produce chlorine gas:
  • HClO + HCl → H2O + Cl2

  • Hypochlorous acid reacts with amines to produce chloramines along with water.
  • NH3 + HClO → NH2Cl + H2O

Learn more about the Structure, physical and chemical properties of HOCl from the experts at BYJU’S.

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