Lithium Hydroxide

When lithium reacts with water in a test tube it produces hydrogen gas and lithium hydroxide. LiOH is the chemical formula of lithium hydroxide. LiOH is a strong base but a very weak alkali metal at the same time. The ions of lithium pick up hydrogen ions which in turn gets converted to hydrogen atoms. It is known that two hydrogen atoms combine to form a molecule of hydrogen gas. The hydroxide ion which is negative reacts with lithium to give lithium hydroxide. Lithium hydroxide is mainly used for general purposes. It has a high resistance to water and can be used at varying temperature ranges. 

Is Lithium Hydroxide A Base? 

The basic thing that we need to deal with to determine if a compound is a base or an acid is the strength of the compound. The strength is once again determined by the degree of ionisation. Ionisation is the percentage of dissolved molecules that release hydrogen or hydroxide ions. Lithium hydroxide is a very strong base. It is 100% ionised in aqueous solution. Owing to its reactivity LiOH is considered to be the weakest acid when measured in the gaseous state. 

What Are The Chemical Properties Of Lithium Hydroxide?

The chemical formula of Lithium Hydroxide: LiOH

Molar mass: 23.95 g/mol (anhydrous)

41.96 g/mol (monohydrate)

What Are The Physical Properties Of Lithium Hydroxide?

Appearance: Hygroscopic white solid

Odour: none

Density: 1.46 g/cm3 (anhydrous)

1.51 g/cm3 (monohydrate)

Melting point: 462 °C (864 °F; 735 K)

The boiling point of LiOH: 924 °C (1,695 °F)  

Solubility in water: 

12.7 g/100 mL (0 °C)

12.8 g/100 mL (20 °C)

17.5 g/100 mL (100 °C)

What Are The Uses Of Lithium Hydroxide?

  • The most common lithium hydroxide properties is that it is used as an electrolyte in batteries. Nickel hydrogen batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries etc. are produced using lithium hydroxide. These batteries are used in pacemakers, watches, digital cameras, smartphones and much more. 

  • Lithium hydroxide and carbonate are used as a dye. These compounds increase the reaction and enhance the quality of the dye.

  • In spaceships and submarines, lithium hydroxide is used as a carbon dioxide scrubber. The presence of lithium hydroxide prevents people from being suffocated. Industrial plants also use LiOH as a support system. 

  • Lithium salts or rather soaps of stearin acid and fatty acids need lithium hydroxide. The sizes increase heat resistant, water-resistance and other stable mechanical properties. 

  • It is used in the ceramic industry, paint industry and as a coolant in water reactors as well as for corrosion control. 

Solved Examples: 

  1. Lithium Hydroxide reacts with water

2LiOH + CO2 → Li2CO3 + H2O

Lithium hydroxide reacts with carbon dioxide to give lithium carbonate and water as products. The reaction takes place at room temperature and the solution is highly concentrated. 

  1. Lithium Hydroxide reacts with hydrochloric acid 

Lithium Hydroxide reacts with hydrochloric acid is a neutralisation process. The reaction produces lithium chloride and water. The lithium chloride produced is crystalline in nature and white in colour. 

LiOH + HCl  —> LiCl + H2O

  1. Lithium reacts with Sulfuric Acid 

Lithium reacts with sulphuric acid to give the products lithium sultans along with water. This process is a double displacement reaction and commonly applied for the generation of sulphuric acid in various experiments. 

LiOH + H2SO4 —> LiSO4 + H2O

Fun Facts About Lithium And Lithium Hydroxide: 

  1. The term lithium has been derived from the Greek word “lithos”. 

  2. It was discovered in the year 1817 by Johann August. 

  3. Lithium happens to be the only metal which has highly stable isotopes. 

  4. Lithium is a very soft metal. It can even be cut with the help of a knife. 

  5. The lithium metal is so light that it can float easily on the water. 

  6. We all know that fire can be put off using water. But lithium fire is not so easy to put out. Applying water to a lithium fire will only make it worse. Therefore a powder fire extinguisher is required to douse a lithium fire. 

  7. Lithium burns with a bright red flame. 

  8. Lithium hydroxide or LiOH is commonly used to purify the air in spaceships, submarines and more. 

  9. Owing to the lightweight of lithium hydroxide, it can be combined with various metals like aluminium or copper to produce lightweight alloys.

  10.  A very important use of lithium is that it is used as the base material form similar such lithium compounds or chemicals such as lithium chloride, lithium fluoride, lithium bromide and more. Lithium hydroxide also reacts with all of the above-mentioned lithium chemicals. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is Lithium Hydroxide dangerous?

Ans: Lithium hydroxide or LiOH can turn out to be lethal most of the time. Many reactions of lithium can cause a fire or an explosion. Whenever Lithium comes in contact with a combustible substance or water, there is a risk of an explosion. In addition to fire, lithium hydroxide can also bring about a burning sensation, cough, restricted breathing, redness, skin burns, blisters, rashes, redness of the eye and also vomiting. The main harmful effect that lithium and lithium hydroxide has is on the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. The lungs become affected due to the inhalation of lithium hydroxide.

2. Explain the Lithium Hydroxide structure and its occurrence.

Ans: Lithium hydroxide has a tetragonal structure and it is an alkali hydroxide. The lithium hydroxide molecule consists of the lithium cation and the hydroxyl group. The most common method of generation of lithium hydroxide is the reaction between lithium carbonate and calcium hydroxide. In this reaction, the products are lithium hydroxide and calcium carbonate. 

LiCO3 + Ca(OH)2 —> 2LiOH + CaCO3

Lithium hydroxide is not found abundantly and freely in nature. It is a highly reactive compound and can easily react with any other form of the compound. Although, some hydroxides of lithium and even aluminium are found in the mineral ores. Do have a look at the examples to know more.