Lithium Carbonate vs. Lithium Hydroxide

What's the Difference?

Lithium Carbonate and Lithium Hydroxide are both compounds containing lithium, but they have different chemical compositions and properties. Lithium Carbonate is composed of lithium, carbon, and oxygen atoms, while Lithium Hydroxide consists of lithium, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Lithium Carbonate is commonly used as a medication to treat bipolar disorder and depression, as it helps stabilize mood swings. On the other hand, Lithium Hydroxide is primarily used in industries such as batteries, ceramics, and air purification systems. Additionally, Lithium Hydroxide is highly alkaline and can cause skin and eye irritation, while Lithium Carbonate is generally well-tolerated when used as prescribed.


AttributeLithium CarbonateLithium Hydroxide
SynonymLithium carbonateLithium hydroxide
Chemical FormulaLi2CO3LiOH
Molar Mass73.89 g/mol23.95 g/mol
AppearanceWhite crystalline powderWhite crystalline solid
SolubilitySoluble in waterSoluble in water
UsesTreatment of bipolar disorder, depression, and maniaUsed in the production of lithium greases and lithium-ion batteries

Further Detail


Lithium compounds play a crucial role in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, ceramics, and batteries. Two commonly used lithium compounds are lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide. While both compounds contain lithium, they differ in their chemical composition and properties. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, shedding light on their applications, solubility, reactivity, and more.

Chemical Composition

Lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) is an inorganic compound composed of lithium, carbon, and oxygen. It forms white, crystalline powder or granules. On the other hand, lithium hydroxide (LiOH) is also an inorganic compound but consists of lithium, oxygen, and hydrogen. It appears as a white, hygroscopic solid. Both compounds are highly soluble in water, but their chemical structures differ significantly.


When it comes to solubility, lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide exhibit different behaviors. Lithium carbonate is sparingly soluble in water, with a solubility of approximately 1.3 g/L at room temperature. This limited solubility makes it suitable for certain applications where controlled release of lithium ions is desired. On the other hand, lithium hydroxide is highly soluble in water, with a solubility of around 12.8 g/L at room temperature. This high solubility allows for easy preparation of lithium hydroxide solutions, making it a preferred choice in various chemical processes.


Lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide find applications in different industries due to their unique properties. Lithium carbonate is commonly used in the production of lithium-ion batteries, ceramics, and glass. It acts as a key ingredient in battery cathodes, providing high energy density and long-lasting performance. Additionally, lithium carbonate is utilized in the treatment of bipolar disorder and depression, where it helps stabilize mood and reduce symptoms. On the other hand, lithium hydroxide is primarily used in the production of lithium greases, which are essential lubricants for high-temperature applications. It also serves as a pH regulator in various chemical reactions and is employed in the synthesis of lithium-based compounds.


Both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide exhibit different reactivity patterns. Lithium carbonate is relatively stable and does not react vigorously with most substances. However, it can react with strong acids to form lithium salts and release carbon dioxide gas. Lithium hydroxide, on the other hand, is a strong base and reacts readily with acids to form lithium salts and water. It also reacts with carbon dioxide to produce lithium carbonate. This reactivity makes lithium hydroxide useful in carbon dioxide scrubbers, where it removes carbon dioxide from enclosed environments such as submarines and spacecraft.

Thermal Stability

When it comes to thermal stability, lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide behave differently. Lithium carbonate decomposes at high temperatures, around 1,310°C (2,390°F), into lithium oxide and carbon dioxide. This decomposition process is utilized in the production of lithium oxide, which finds applications in ceramics and glass manufacturing. On the other hand, lithium hydroxide is stable at high temperatures and does not decompose easily. This stability allows it to be used in various high-temperature reactions and applications, such as the production of lithium-based lubricants.

Health and Safety

Both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide should be handled with care due to their potential health and safety risks. Lithium carbonate, when ingested or inhaled in large quantities, can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, tremors, and even central nervous system toxicity. It is essential to follow proper safety precautions when working with lithium carbonate to avoid any adverse effects. Similarly, lithium hydroxide can cause severe skin and eye irritation. It is crucial to wear appropriate protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles, when handling lithium hydroxide to prevent any contact with the skin or eyes.


In conclusion, lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide are two important lithium compounds with distinct attributes. While lithium carbonate is sparingly soluble, stable at high temperatures, and widely used in batteries and pharmaceuticals, lithium hydroxide is highly soluble, reactive with acids and carbon dioxide, and finds applications in lubricants and chemical synthesis. Understanding the differences between these compounds is crucial for selecting the appropriate compound for specific applications, ensuring optimal performance and safety.

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