potassium hydroxide, chemical compound with formula KOH. Pure potassium hydroxide forms white, deliquescent crystals. For commercial and laboratory use it is usually in the form of white pellets. A strong base, it dissolves readily in water, giving off much heat and forming a strongly alkaline, caustic solution (see acids and bases). It is commonly called caustic potash. It closely resembles sodium hydroxide in its chemical properties and has similar uses, e.g., in making soap, in bleaching, and in manufacturing chemicals, but is less widely used because of its higher cost. It is prepared chiefly by electrolysis of potassium chloride; commercial grades of it sometimes contain the chloride as well as other impurities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.