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More About Potassium

Group I : The Alkali Metals
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Potassium

What the name means: The word potassium was probably derived from potash which literally means "ashes in a pot". When plant material was burnt in pots it left ash that was made of a mixture of potassium and sodium carbonates. These ashes could be processed into soap.

The chemically symbol for potassium is K and it represents the word Kalium (used in Northern European countries). This derives from the Arabic word al-quali, meaning the ash (left after roasting).

Potassium

Potassium atom

Potassium atom

 

Potassium ion

Potassium ion

Who identified potassium?: It was Humphry Davy who, in 1807, obtained potassium from the electrolysis of melted (molten) caustic potash or potassium hydroxide (KOH).

 

Properties

KPROPS

STP = standard temperature and pressure.
Usually considered as room temperature and pressure.

 

About potassium: Extracted potassium is soft and looks silvery. It is extremely reactive burning in the air with a lilac flame. The metal is stored under oil to prevent a reaction with the oxygen in the air. Potassium belongs to the first vertical group of the periodic table, the alkali metals.

As it is so reactive, potassium is never found as the free element in nature. Its most common salt, potassium chloride is present in sea water and many minerals. Potassium chloride is also essential for living things and humans need up to 7grms each day in their diets. It is particularly important for nerves to function properly since it is necessary for the impulses (messages) to travel through the nerve cells.

 

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