Synthesis of magnesium hydroxide was performed by the precipitation method with the use of magnesium sulfate and sodium hydroxide. The infiuence of temperature and ratio of reagents was studied. Magnesium hydroxides, and the magnesium oxides obtained from them by thermal decomposition, were analyzed to determine their bulk density, polydispersity and particle size. The magnesium oxide with the largest surface area was tested as a catalyst in the oxyethylation of lauryl alcohol, and shown to be selective but poorly reactive in comparison with commercially available catalysts. Further studies are needed to improve its reactivity.