Potassium Compounds

Potassium is the first element in the 4th period of the periodic table. It has an atomic mass of 39.098 atomic mass units and the letter ‘K’ represents it. Potassium is derived from a substance known as Potash. For hundreds of years, the element has been in use. Along with lithium, rubidium, sodium, caesium, and francium, it is an alkali metal.

Potassium is categorized into three isotopes: potassium-39, 40, and 41. Potassium-40 is a radioactive isotope that can be found in plants, rocks and animals. It’s being used to figure out how old something is. This potassium isotope degrades into isotopes of argon.

Information about potassium

Some information about potassium is tabulated below.

Symbol K
Discovered by Humphry Davy
Atomic Number and Atomic Mass 19 and 39.0983 amu
Electron configuration 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s1 or [Ar] 4s1
Melting point and boiling point 63.5°C and 759°C
Key isotopes 39K
Relative atomic mass 39.098

Common potassium compounds

Nearly 95% of commercially produced potassium compounds are used as fertilizer in agriculture. In addition, potassium compounds are used in the production of explosives but to a lesser extent. A few essential potassium compounds are discussed below.

Potassium Permanganate (KMnO4)

Potassium permanganate is a chemical compound having oxidizing properties being used in a wide range of industries. This compound is also available for purchase commercially, mainly for medical uses. It comes in the form of powder, crystals and tablets.

Uses of potassium permanganate

The majority of potassium permanganate’s uses revolve around its oxidizing ability. It is also commonly used because no harmful by-products are produced.

  • KMnO4 is a popular antiseptic being used to treat various ulcers, fungal infections, wounds, and other skin problems.
  • It is mainly used in water treatment to extract minerals like iron and hydrogen sulphide and control species like zebra mussels.
  • This chemical compound is also employed in the removal of rust from water pipes and machinery.
  • The synthesis of organic materials is another important application of potassium permanganate.
  • It’s used to keep fruits fresh for a long time.

Potassium iodide (KI)

Potassium iodide has the chemical formula KI and is an inorganic chemical compound. Potassium iodide is a metal-halide salt in which the K+ cation and Ianion form an ionic bond. It exists as powder, cubical crystals or white granules and is colourless to white. Potassium also has a saline, bitter taste.

Uses of KI

A few uses of potassium iodide are listed below.

  • Potassium iodide is used in both human and animal feeds as a dietary supplement.
  • It is the most commonly used additive in table salt.
  • KI used to prevent iodine loss due to oxidation from salts.
  • It’s a drug that’s used to manage hyperthyroidism.
  • KI aids in the maintenance of hormonal balance.
  • The compound aids in the removal of bromides, chlorides, mercury and fluorides from cells and tissues.

Potassium chloride (KCl)

Potassium chloride is an ionic salt in which an alkali metal and a halogen together forms a bond. It has the chemical formula KCl and is made up of potassium cations and chloride anions in a 1:1 ratio. Potassium chloride has a colourless, crystalline form as well as an odourless smell. Potassium chloride can be readily dissolved in water in its solid form, yielding KCl solution.

Applications of KCl

Potassium chloride is used in a variety of medical and industrial applications. It’s also an essential feature of fertilizer manufacturing. The following are some of the most powerful applications for KCl.


  • Potassium chloride is used to make Potash, a common fertilizer that adds potassium to soils to encourage plant growth.
  • The majority of potash fertilizers sold around the world are made from KCl.
  • KCl is used as part of the medical treatment for low blood pressure.
  • When a low sodium content in the salt is needed to minimize high blood pressure, KCl is used as a salt replacement in food.

Potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3)

The chemical compound potassium bicarbonate has the formula KHCO3. A K+ (Potassium) cation and an HCO3(bicarbonate) anion make up this ion. Potassium bicarbonate is a white solid under standard circumstances.

Uses of KHCO3

A few uses of potassium bicarbonate are listed below.

  • Since it can release carbon dioxide, this substance is often used as a leavening agent in baking.
  • KHCO3 is used in some dry chemical fire extinguishers.
  • It’s also used as a winemaking additive because it helps to keep the pH in control.
  • KHCO3 can be introduced to club soda to enhance its flavour.

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