Chemistry - Electrolysis

These cards give a brief overview of electrolysis, for GCSE additional chemistry.

Electrolysis - The basics

- Electrolysis involves splitting up a substance using electricity.

- Ionic substances can be electrolysed when they are molten or in solution.

- In electrolysis positive ions (cations) move to the negative electrode (the cathode) and negative ions (anions) move to the positive electrode (the anode).


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Changes at the electrodes

- In electrolysis, the ions move towardes the oppositely charged electrodes.

- At the electrodes, negative ions are oxidised while positve ions are reduced.

- Reactions where reduction and oxidation happen are called REDOX reactions (REDuction and OXidation).

- When electrolysis happens in water, the less reactive element is usually produced at an electrode.

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Electrolysing brine

- When we electrolyse brine we get three products - Chlorine gas, hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide solution.


- Chlorine is used to kill microbes in drinking water and swimming pools, and to make hydrochloric acid, disinfectants, bleach and plastics.

- Hydrogen is used to make margarine and hydrochloric acid.

- Sodium hydroxide is used to make bleach, paper and soap.

*Diagram of electrolysising brine on the first revision card!*

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Purifying copper

- Copper extracted from its ore contains impurities such as gold and silver.

- Copper is purified by electrolysis to remove these impurities.


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Joshua Mouncer


Hey Hannah, Josh here :)

good revision cards, keep up the good work!

Hannah Smith


Thank you! Wondered if you'd found them. :)

Tasnima Khanom


this helped a lot- simple and easy

Oliver Hoffmeister


thanks hannah :D a great help :) keep up the good work :D

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