Pure sodium hydroxide is a colorless, crystalline solid that melts at 318 degrees celcius without distortion. It is better soluble in water than ethanol and methanol.

However, it is insoluble in ether and other non-polar solvents. Similar to the hydration of sulfuric acid, dissolving solid sodium hyroxide into water is an excessively exothermic reaction in which large amounts of heat are released, posing a threat to safety with the possibility of splash. The resulting solution is usually colorless and odorless.

As with other alkaline solutions, it becomes slippery in contact with the skin.

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