Magnesium hydroxide

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Magnesium hydroxide
Hydroxid horecnaty.PNG
IUPAC name
Magnesium hydroxide
Other names
  • Magnesium dihydroxide
  • Milk of Magnesia
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.013.792 OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
EC Number
  • 215-170-3
E number E528 (acidity regulators, ...)
PubChem CID
RTECS number
  • OM3570000
  • InChI=1S/Mg.2H2O/h;2*1H2/q+2;;/p-2 Yes check.svgY
  • InChI=1/Mg.2H2O/h;2*1H2/q+2;;/p-2
  • [Mg+2].[OH-].[OH-]
Molar mass 58.3197 g/mol
AppearanceWhite solid
Odor Odorless
Density 2.3446 g/cm3
Melting point 350 °C (662 °F; 623 K) decomposes
  • 0.00064 g/100 mL (25 °C)
  • 0.004 g/100 mL (100 °C)
−22.1×10−6 cm3/mol
1.559 [1]
Hexagonal, hP3 [2]
P3m1 No. 164
a = 0.312 nm, c = 0.473 nm
77.03 J/mol·K
Std molar
64 J·mol−1·K−1 [3]
−924.7 kJ·mol−1 [3]
−833.7 kJ/mol
A02AA04 ( WHO ) G04BX01 ( WHO )
GHS labelling:
GHS-pictogram-exclam.svg [4]
Warning [4]
H315, H319, H335 [4]
P261, P280, P304+P340, P305+P351+P338, P405, P501 [4]
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NFPA 704.svgHealth 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g. turpentineFlammability 0: Will not burn. E.g. waterInstability 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no code
Flash point Non-flammable
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
8500 mg/kg (rat, oral)
Safety data sheet (SDS) External MSDS
Related compounds
Other anions
Magnesium oxide
Other cations
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
X mark.svgN  verify  (what is  Yes check.svgYX mark.svgN ?)

Magnesium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Mg(OH)2. It occurs in nature as the mineral brucite. It is a white solid with low solubility in water ( Ksp = 5.61×10−12). [5] Magnesium hydroxide is a common component of antacids, such as milk of magnesia.



Treating the solution of different soluble magnesium salts with alkaline water induces the precipitation of the solid hydroxide Mg(OH)2:

Mg2+ + 2 OH → Mg(OH)2

As Mg2+
is the second most abundant cation present in seawater after Na+
, it can be economically extracted directly from seawater by alkalinisation as described here above. On an industrial scale, Mg(OH)2 is produced by treating seawater with lime (Ca(OH)2). A volume of 600 m3 (160,000 US gal) of seawater gives about one tonne of Mg(OH)2. Ca(OH)2(Ksp = 5.02×10−6) [6] is far more soluble than Mg(OH)2(Ksp = 5.61×10−12) and drastically increases the pH value of seawater from 8.2 to 12.5. The less soluble Mg(OH)
precipitates because of the common ion effect due to the OH
added by the dissolution of Ca(OH)
: [7]

Mg2+ + Ca(OH)2 → Mg(OH)2 + Ca2+


Precursor to MgO

Most Mg(OH)2 that is produced industrially, as well as the small amount that is mined, is converted to fused magnesia (MgO). Magnesia is valuable because it is both a poor electrical conductor and an excellent thermal conductor. [7]


Only a small amount of the magnesium from magnesium hydroxide is usually absorbed by the intestine (unless one is deficient in magnesium). However, magnesium is mainly excreted by the kidneys; so long-term, daily consumption of milk of magnesia by someone suffering from kidney failure could lead in theory to hypermagnesemia. Unabsorbed magnesium is excreted in feces; absorbed magnesium is rapidly excreted in urine. [8]

Bottle used for Phillips' Leche de Magnesia (Milk of Magnesia) in the Amber Museum, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Santo Domingo - Museo de Ambar 0669.JPG
Bottle used for Phillips' Leche de Magnesia (Milk of Magnesia) in the Amber Museum, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic



As an antacid, magnesium hydroxide is dosed at approximately 0.5–1.5 g in adults and works by simple neutralization, in which the hydroxide ions from the Mg(OH)2 combine with acidic H+ ions (or hydronium ions) produced in the form of hydrochloric acid by parietal cells in the stomach, to produce water.


As a laxative, magnesium hydroxide is dosed at 5-10 g, and works in a number of ways. First, Mg2+ is poorly absorbed from the intestinal tract, so it draws water from the surrounding tissue by osmosis. Not only does this increase in water content soften the feces, it also increases the volume of feces in the intestine (intraluminal volume) which naturally stimulates intestinal motility. Furthermore, Mg2+ ions cause the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), which results in intraluminal accumulation of water and electrolytes, and increased intestinal motility. Some sources claim that the hydroxide ions themselves do not play a significant role in the laxative effects of milk of magnesia, as alkaline solutions (i.e., solutions of hydroxide ions) are not strongly laxative, and non-alkaline Mg2+ solutions, like MgSO4, are equally strong laxatives, mole for mole. [9]

History of milk of magnesia

On May 4, 1818, American inventor Koen Burrows received a patent (No. X2952) for magnesium hydroxide. [10] In 1829, Sir James Murray used a "condensed solution of fluid magnesia" preparation of his own design [11] to treat the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Marquess of Anglesey, for stomach pain. This was so successful (advertised in Australia and approved by the Royal College of Surgeons in 1838) [12] that he was appointed resident physician to Anglesey and two subsequent Lords Lieutenant, and knighted. His fluid magnesia product was patented two years after his death, in 1873. [13]

The term milk of magnesia was first used by Charles Henry Phillips in 1872 for a suspension of magnesium hydroxide formulated at about 8% w/v. [14] It was sold under the brand name Phillips' Milk of Magnesia for medicinal usage.

USPTO registrations show that the terms "Milk of Magnesia" [15] and "Phillips' Milk of Magnesia" [16] have both been assigned to Bayer since 1995. In the UK, the non-brand (generic) name of "Milk of Magnesia" and "Phillips' Milk of Magnesia" is "Cream of Magnesia" (Magnesium Hydroxide Mixture, BP).

As food additive

It is added directly to human food, and is affirmed as generally recognized as safe by the FDA. [17] It is known as E number E528.

Magnesium hydroxide is marketed for medical use as chewable tablets, as capsules, powder, and as liquid suspensions, sometimes flavored. These products are sold as antacids to neutralize stomach acid and relieve indigestion and heartburn. It also is a laxative to alleviate constipation. As a laxative, the osmotic force of the magnesia acts to draw fluids from the body. High doses can lead to diarrhea, and can deplete the body's supply of potassium, sometimes leading to muscle cramps. [18]

Some magnesium hydroxide products sold for antacid use (such as Maalox) are formulated to minimize unwanted laxative effects through the inclusion of aluminum hydroxide, which inhibits the contractions of smooth muscle cells in the gastrointestinal tract, [19] thereby counterbalancing the contractions induced by the osmotic effects of the magnesium hydroxide.

Other niche uses

Magnesium hydroxide is also a component of antiperspirant. [20]

Waste water treatment

Magnesium hydroxide powder is used industrially to neutralize acidic wastewaters. [21] It is also a component of the Biorock method of building artificial reefs. The main advantage of Mg(OH)
over Ca(OH)
, is to impose a lower pH better compatible with that of seawater and sea life: pH 10.5 for Mg(OH)
in place of pH 12.5 with Ca(OH)

Fire retardant

Natural magnesium hydroxide (brucite) is used commercially as a fire retardant. Most industrially used magnesium hydroxide is produced synthetically. [22] Like aluminum hydroxide, solid magnesium hydroxide has smoke suppressing and flame retardant properties. This property is attributable to the endothermic decomposition it undergoes at 332 °C (630 °F):

Mg(OH)2 → MgO + H2O

The heat absorbed by the reaction retards the fire by delaying ignition of the associated substance. The water released dilutes combustible gases. Common uses of magnesium hydroxide as a flame retardant include additives to cable insulation, insulation plastics, roofing, and various flame retardant coatings. [23] [24] [25] [26] [27]


Brucite crystals (mineral form of Mg(OH)2) from the Sverdlovsk Region, Urals, Russia (size: 10.5 x 7.8 x 7.4 cm). Brucite-169935.jpg
Brucite crystals (mineral form of Mg(OH)2) from the Sverdlovsk Region, Urals, Russia (size: 10.5 × 7.8 × 7.4 cm).

Brucite, the mineral form of Mg(OH)2 commonly found in nature also occurs in the 1:2:1 clay minerals amongst others, in chlorite, in which it occupies the interlayer position normally filled by monovalent and divalent cations such as Na+, K+, Mg2+ and Ca2+. As a consequence, chlorite interlayers are cemented by brucite and cannot swell nor shrink.

Brucite, in which some of the Mg2+ cations have been substituted by Al3+ cations, becomes positively charged and constitutes the main basis of layered double hydroxide (LDH). LDH minerals as hydrotalcite are powerful anion sorbents but are relatively rare in nature.

Brucite may also crystallize in cement and concrete in contact with seawater. Indeed, the Mg2+ cation is the second most abundant cation in seawater, just behind Na+ and before Ca2+. Because brucite is a swelling mineral, it causes a local volumetric expansion responsible for tensile stress in concrete. This leads to the formation of cracks and fissures in concrete, accelerating its degradation in seawater.

For the same reason, dolomite cannot be used as construction aggregate for making concrete. The reaction of magnesium carbonate with the free alkali hydroxides present in the cement porewater also leads to the formation of expansive brucite.

MgCO3 + 2 NaOH → Mg(OH)2 + Na2CO3

This reaction, one of the two main alkali–aggregate reaction (AAR) is also known as alkali–carbonate reaction.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hydroxide</span> Chemical compound

Hydroxide is a diatomic anion with chemical formula OH. It consists of an oxygen and hydrogen atom held together by a single covalent bond, and carries a negative electric charge. It is an important but usually minor constituent of water. It functions as a base, a ligand, a nucleophile, and a catalyst. The hydroxide ion forms salts, some of which dissociate in aqueous solution, liberating solvated hydroxide ions. Sodium hydroxide is a multi-million-ton per annum commodity chemical. The corresponding electrically neutral compound HO is the hydroxyl radical. The corresponding covalently bound group –OH of atoms is the hydroxy group. Both the hydroxide ion and hydroxy group are nucleophiles and can act as catalysts in organic chemistry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnesium</span> Chemical element, symbol Mg and atomic number 12

Magnesium is a chemical element; it has symbol Mg and atomic number 12. It is a shiny gray metal having a low density, low melting point and high chemical reactivity. Like the other alkaline earth metals it occurs naturally only in combination with other elements and it almost always has an oxidation state of +2. It reacts readily with air to form a thin passivation coating of magnesium oxide that inhibits further corrosion of the metal. The free metal burns with a brilliant-white light. The metal is obtained mainly by electrolysis of magnesium salts obtained from brine. It is less dense than aluminium and is used primarily as a component in strong and lightweight alloys that contain aluminium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Base (chemistry)</span> Type of chemical substance

In chemistry, there are three definitions in common use of the word "base": Arrhenius bases, Brønsted bases, and Lewis bases. All definitions agree that bases are substances that react with acids, as originally proposed by G.-F. Rouelle in the mid-18th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnesium oxide</span> Chemical compound naturally occurring as periclase

Magnesium oxide (MgO), or magnesia, is a white hygroscopic solid mineral that occurs naturally as periclase and is a source of magnesium (see also oxide). It has an empirical formula of MgO and consists of a lattice of Mg2+ ions and O2− ions held together by ionic bonding. Magnesium hydroxide forms in the presence of water (MgO + H2O → Mg(OH)2), but it can be reversed by heating it to remove moisture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aluminium hydroxide</span> Chemical compound

Aluminium hydroxide, Al(OH)3, is found in nature as the mineral gibbsite and its three much rarer polymorphs: bayerite, doyleite, and nordstrandite. Aluminium hydroxide is amphoteric, i.e., it has both basic and acidic properties. Closely related are aluminium oxide hydroxide, AlO(OH), and aluminium oxide or alumina, the latter of which is also amphoteric. These compounds together are the major components of the aluminium ore bauxite. Aluminium hydroxide also forms a gelatinous precipitate in water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnesium sulfate</span> Chemical compound with formula MgSO4

Magnesium sulfate or magnesium sulphate is a chemical compound, a salt with the formula MgSO4, consisting of magnesium cations Mg2+ (20.19% by mass) and sulfate anions SO2−4. It is a white crystalline solid, soluble in water but not in ethanol.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brucite</span> Magnesium hydroxide mineral

Brucite is the mineral form of magnesium hydroxide, with the chemical formula Mg(OH)2. It is a common alteration product of periclase in marble; a low-temperature hydrothermal vein mineral in metamorphosed limestones and chlorite schists; and formed during serpentinization of dunites. Brucite is often found in association with serpentine, calcite, aragonite, dolomite, magnesite, hydromagnesite, artinite, talc and chrysotile.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnesium carbonate</span> Chemical compound

Magnesium carbonate, MgCO3, is an inorganic salt that is a colourless or white solid. Several hydrated and basic forms of magnesium carbonate also exist as minerals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calcium hydroxide</span> Inorganic compound of formula Ca(OH)2

Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca(OH)2. It is a colorless crystal or white powder and is produced when quicklime (calcium oxide) is mixed with water. It has many names including hydrated lime, caustic lime, builders' lime, slaked lime, cal, and pickling lime. Calcium hydroxide is used in many applications, including food preparation, where it has been identified as E number E526. Limewater, also called milk of lime, is the common name for a saturated solution of calcium hydroxide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hard water</span> Water that has a high mineral content

Hard water is water that has high mineral content. Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone, chalk or gypsum, which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates and sulfates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnesium chloride</span> Inorganic salt: MgCl2 and its hydrates

Magnesium chloride is an inorganic compound with the formula MgCl2. It forms hydrates MgCl2·nH2O, where n can range from 1 to 12. These salts are colorless or white solids that are highly soluble in water. These compounds and their solutions, both of which occur in nature, have a variety of practical uses. Anhydrous magnesium chloride is the principal precursor to magnesium metal, which is produced on a large scale. Hydrated magnesium chloride is the form most readily available.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hydromagnesite</span> Hydrated hydroxy-carbonate mineral of magnesium

Hydromagnesite is a hydrated magnesium carbonate mineral with the formula Mg5(CO3)4(OH)2·4H2O.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fire retardant</span> Substance reducing flammability

A fire retardant is a substance that is used to slow down or stop the spread of fire or reduce its intensity. This is commonly accomplished by chemical reactions that reduce the flammability of fuels or delay their combustion. Fire retardants may also cool the fuel through physical action or endothermic chemical reactions. Fire retardants are available as powder, to be mixed with water, as fire-fighting foams and fire-retardant gels. Fire retardants are also available as coatings or sprays to be applied to an object.

In inorganic chemistry, mineral hydration is a reaction which adds water to the crystal structure of a mineral, usually creating a new mineral, commonly called a hydrate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Layered double hydroxides</span> Class of ionic solids characterized by a layered structure

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Anhydrous magnesium acetate has the chemical formula Mg(C2H3O2)2 and in its hydrated form, magnesium acetate tetrahydrate, it has the chemical formula Mg(CH3COO)2 • 4H2O. In this compound magnesium has an oxidation state of 2+. Magnesium acetate is the magnesium salt of acetic acid. It is deliquescent and upon heating, it decomposes to form magnesium oxide. Magnesium acetate is commonly used as a source of magnesium in biological reactions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Huntite</span> Carbonate mineral

Huntite is a carbonate mineral with the chemical formula Mg3Ca(CO3)4. Huntite crystallizes in the trigonal system and typically occurs as platy crystals and powdery masses. For most of recorded history its main use was as a white pigment. Today the most common industrial use of huntite is as a natural mixture with hydromagnesite as a flame retardant or fire retardant additive for polymers.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magnesium bicarbonate</span> Chemical compound

Magnesium bicarbonate or magnesium hydrogencarbonate, Mg(HCO3)2, is the bicarbonate salt of magnesium. It can be formed through the reaction of dilute solutions of carbonic acid (such as seltzer water) and magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia).

Magnesium hydroxychloride is the traditional term for several chemical compounds of magnesium, chlorine, oxygen, and hydrogen whose general formula xMgO·yMgCl2·zH2O, for various values of x, y, and z; or, equivalently, Mgx+y(OH)2xCl2y(H2O)zx. The simple chemical formula that is often used is Mg(OH)Cl, which appears in high school subject, for example.Other names for this class are magnesium chloride hydroxide, magnesium oxychloride, and basic magnesium chloride. Some of these compounds are major components of Sorel cement.


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