All About Electrolysis

In science and industry, elements within a compound often need to be separated. Electrolysis is a way of separating them using electricity and chemistry. Two electrodes are placed in a solution that contains particles called ions. When those electrodes are connected to an electrical current, all of the positive ions go to one electrode and all of the negative ions go to the other electrode. This process of separation is called electrolysis.

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Fun Facts

● Electrolysis is most often used in mining. It is used to extract the metal or other valuable material from the natural material, referred to as ore.
● Electrolysis is used in water to separate oxygen from hydrogen. This releases hydrogen gas which can be used for hydrogen fuel.
● Electrolysis is even used at the beauty parlor. People who don’t want hair to grow on part of their body will have a professional use electric currents to damage the hair follicles in order to prevent hair from growing.
● Electrolysis was first discovered in England by two men named William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle. They used electrolysis to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen in the year 1800.
● The English scientist Michael Faraday is the scientist most known for his discoveries in electrolysis and electrochemistry.
● One of the most common uses of the electrolyte process is separating sodium chloride into sodium and chloride.
● Magnesium is produced by the electrolysis of seawater. Magnesium is the lightest metal and has many uses. It is very abundant on earth but is never found free in nature. It is always combined with other elements.
● Electrolysis is used for rust removal and cleaning of metal objects including old coins.


1. Electrode: A conductor that carries electricity and is used to touch a non-metal part of a circuit.
2. Electrochemistry: The science that studies chemical reactions that can take place with the use of electricity.
3. Ore: Natural material from the earth that valuable minerals can be extracted from.

Questions and Answers

Question: What are the positive and negative electrodes used in electrolysis called?

Answer: The positive electrode is called the anode and the negative electrode is called the cathode.

Watch a video that will help you better understand electrolysis.