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Hofmeister Effects

Physics and Chemistry of Water

  1. M. Boström1,
  2. W. Kunz2,
  3. B. W. Ninham3,4

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.pc269

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Boström, M., Kunz, W. and Ninham, B. W. 2005. Hofmeister Effects. Water Encyclopedia. 4:468–471.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

  2. 2

    University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

  3. 3

    Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

  4. 4

    University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


More than 100 years ago, Franz Hofmeister and some of his coworkers demonstrated that salts with common cation (positive ion) but differing in anion (negative ion) have different effectiveness in stabilizing protein suspensions. They can be arranged in a sequence, which seemed later to be universal. Hofmeister effects, or Hofmeister sequences, refer to the relative effectiveness of anions or cations on a wide range of phenomena in salt solutions. They have remained unexplained by theories of physical chemistry until recently. We review experiments that have demonstrated that understanding Hofmeister effects are vital for chemistry, biology, and medical applications. We finally discuss some recent theoretical attempts to understand this important phenomenon.


  • Hofmeister effect;
  • specific ion effects;
  • salt solutions;
  • ions;
  • polarizability