Chlorites(I) are the salts of hypochlorous acid. Common examples include sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach or bleaching agent) and calcium hypochlorite (bleaching powder). Hypochlorites are frequently quite unstable — for example, sodium hypochlorite(I) is not available as a solid, since removal of the water from NaClO solution converts it to a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium chlorate. Heating of NaClO solution also causes this reaction. Chlorites(I) decompose in sunlight, giving chlorides and oxygen.
Due to their low stability, chlorites(I) are very strong oxidizing agents. They react with many organic and inorganic compounds. Reaction with organic compounds is very exothermic and may cause ignition, so chlorites(I) should be handled with care. They can oxidize manganese compounds, converting them to permanganates.
- Calcium hypochlorite, Ca(ClO)2
- Ethyl hypochlorite, C2H5ClO
- Lithium hypochlorite, LiClO
- Sodium hypochlorite, NaClO (Bleach)
Strength of oxidation
Chlorate(I) is the strongest oxidizer of the generalized chlorates. It is also the least stable.
Many chlorate(I) compounds exist only in solution, and are nonexistent in a pure form, as is chloric(I) acid itself.
Besides oxidizing almost any reducing agent, chlorate(I) is unstable with respect to disproportionation (that is, it will oxidize itself); chlorate(I) will often degrade to some mixture of chloride and chlorate, especially if not kept cool.