The chemical formula for chlorous acid is HClO2. One molecule of chlorous acid contains one atom each of hydrogen and chlorine, as well as two atoms of oxygen.
Chlorous acid is unstable; without substantial effort to keep it intact, it often splits into two more stable acids, hypochlorous acid (HClO) and chloric acid (HClO3). Chlorous acid can be used as an oxidizing agent; however, because it is unstable, it is not particularly efficient for this purpose.
Chlorous acid is also used to form the salt sodium chlorite, a compound widely used as a bleaching agent and disinfectant in industrial settings.