120 Interesting Facts About Potassium

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Potassium is a chemical element. Its symbol is 'K'. It is the element of the first major group of the periodic table. Its two stable isotopes (mass numbers 39 and 41) are known. An unstable isotope (mass number 40) is found in small amounts in nature. Apart from these, three other isotopes (mass numbers 38, 42 and 43) have been created artificially. Its name is derived from the Latin word kailium.

120 Interesting Facts About Potassium

Interesting Facts About Potassium

  • The symbol for potassium is K.
  • The atomic number for potassium is 19.
  • Potassium at room temperature is a solid.
  • Its salts burn with a light purple color.
  • The atomic weight of potassium is 39.0983.
  • It is the second lightest metal after lithium.
  • All living cells need potassium ions to function.
  • Potassium usually burns in a reaction with water.
  • It was first isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1807.
  • The standard atomic weight of calcium is 39.0983 u.
  • Potassium is a vital electrolyte in the human body.
  • Potassium is a common element in plant fertilizers.
  • The boiling point for potassium is 1,032 °F (759 °C).
  • Potassium is a chemical element on the periodic table.
  • The melting point for potassium is 143.6 °F (63.5 °C).
  • Potassium is a soft solid and can be cut with a knife!
  • It makes up roughly 1.5% by mass of the Earth's crust.
  • Potassium is not available in nature as a pure element.
  • Potassium is the seventh most abundant element on Earth.
  • Potassium is the second least dense metal after lithium.
  • Potassium is a soft metal and can very easily by sliced.
  • Potassium is a soft metal that has a silvery-white color.
  • The largest industrial use of potassium is for fertilizer.

Scientific Facts About Potassium

  • Around 2.4% of the Earth’s crust is made up of this metal.
  • Potassium also reacts with the oxygen in water and in air.
  • Potassium got its name from the Middle Dutch word “potash”.
  • Foods that contain potassium are fish, meats and vegetables.
  • Potassium was the first metal to be discovered by electrolysis.
  • There are quite a few potassium compounds that are used in food.
  • In nature, it is only found in ionic salts and in some minerals.
  • Potassium metal has a density of 0.89 grams per cubic centimeter.
  • Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the human body.
  • Potassium is the second lightest (least dense) metal after lithium.
  • Potassium is a group 1 chemical element, which is the lithium group.
  • Potassium is in the alkaline earth metal group on the periodic table.
  • It is also common in the human body as the eighth most common element.
  • It is created through the electrolysis of its hydroxide or its chloride.
  • Potassium is used in soaps, gunpowder, bleaching agents and glass making.
  • Potassium was the first elemental metal to be found through electrolysis.
  • It’s density is less than the density of water and it is insoluble in water.
  • The compound potassium sodium tartrate is the main component of baking powder.
  • Potassium has three naturally occurring isotopes and they are 39K, 40K and 41K.
  • Its melting point is 63.38°C (336.53ºK) and boiling point is 758.8ºC (1031.95ºK).

Amazing Facts About Potassium

  • Potassium has twenty-four known isotopes, but only three of them occur in nature.
  • Potassium has a low density for a metal. Pure potassium metal will float on water.
  • Because it is vital for plant cells, crops readily deplete potassium from the soil.
  • A depletion of potassium from the body can lead to hypokalemia, which can be fatal.
  • The compound potassium chloride can be used to treat low blood pressure (Hypokalemia).
  • Potassium is a period 4 chemical element, which is the fourth row on the periodic table.
  • It reacts with the hydrogen in the water and generates enough heat to ignite the hydrogen.
  • Foods that contain high levels of potassium are avocados, bananas, bran, milk and soybeans.
  • The K-39 isotope is the most abundant of the three, making up more than 93% of the isotopes.
  • For this reason, one of the major industries to require potassium is the fertilizer industry.
  • Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, accounting for 4.2% by mass.
  • Potassium was first discovered and isolated by Cornish chemist and inventor Humphry Davy in 1807.
  • The compound potassium bisulfite is used as a food preservative in beverages, like wine and beer.
  • Argon or another suitable oil is used to store pure potassium, otherwise it will tarnish quickly.
  • It does not occur in a free state in nature but it is an important part of many chemical compounds.
  • Potassium is one of the alkali metals, which means it is a highly reactive metal with a valence of 1.

Mind-Blowing Facts About Potassium

  • The compound potassium bromate is used to increase the strength of dough and improve its rise height.
  • Potassium burns with a bright red in a flame test. When in water, the flame takes on a lilac colored hue.
  • Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth's crust, accounting for about 2.5% of its mass.
  • The term "potash" refers to potassium extracted from wood ash, and it was used in early times to make soap.
  • Potassium is element number 19. This means the atomic number of potassium is 19 and each potassium atom has 19 protons.
  • Element number 19 is the eighth most abundant element in the human body, accounting for between 0.20% and 0.35% of body mass.
  • Potassium-40 is used much like carbon-14 as a radioactive dating marker. K-40 is used to determine the age of rock formations.
  • All plants need potassium to survive; over 90% of all human use of potassium compounds is in the manufacture of plant fertilizers.
  • Potassium chloride (KCl) is an alternative for people who are advised to decrease the intake of sodium chloride (salts in our diet).
  • Potassium is a shiny, lustrous metal at room temperature. When exposed to air, an oxidizing layer forms quickly, turning its appearance to a dull gray.
  • Potassium vigorously reacts with water to form hydrogen gas. This gas can ignite from the energy released from the reaction, giving the impression the potassium burns in water.
  • Potash, a mineral source of commercial potassium, is mined in many places like Germany, California, Mexico, and Canada, to name a few. It is found in abundance in the Dead Sea.
  • Because of its high reactivity, potassium is not found free in nature. It is formed by supernovas via the R-process and occurs on Earth dissolved in seawater and in ionic salts.
  • Three isotopes of potassium occur naturally on Earth, although at least 29 isotopes have been identified. The most abundant isotope is K-39, which accounts for 93.3% of the element.

Fun Facts About Potassium

  • The melting point of potassium is 63.4 degrees C or 336.5 degrees K and its boiling point is 765.6 degrees C or 1038.7 degrees K. This means potassium is a solid at room temperature.
  • Pure potassium usually is stored under oil or kerosene because it oxidizes so readily in air and reacts in water to evolve hydrogen, which may be ignited from the heat of the reaction.
  • Humans can taste potassium in aqueous solution. Dilute potassium solutions to taste. Increasing the concentration leads to a bitter or alkaline flavor. Concentrated solutions taste salty.
  • Potassium was first purified in 1807 by Cornish chemist Humphry Davy (1778–1829) from caustic potash (KOH) via electrolysis. Potassium was the first metal to be isolated using electrolysis.
  • Pure potassium is a lightweight silvery metal that is soft enough to cut with a knife. Although the metal appears silver when it's fresh, it tarnishes so quickly that it normally appears dull gray.
  • There are many potassium compounds used for industrial purposes, and some that are produced by the megatons annually are potassium carbonate, potassium chloride, potassium hydroxide and potassium sulfate.
  • One lesser-known use of potassium is as a portable oxygen source. Potassium superoxide (KO2), is an orange solid used to release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide in the respiration system for submarines, spacecraft, and mines.
  • The name for potassium comes from the English word for potash. The symbol for potassium is K, which is derived from the Latin kalium and Arabic qali for alkali. Potash and alkali are two of the potassium compounds known to man since ancient times.
  • Potassium is used as a heat transfer medium. Its salts are used as a fertilizer, oxidizer, colorant, to form strong bases, as a salt substitute, and for many other applications. Potassium cobalt nitrite is a yellow pigment known as Cobalt Yellow or Aureolin.
  • All living cells need potassium to maintain fluid balance, therefore we and all other forms of life on Earth need potassium minerals to survive. Potassium is available in all meats, plants and dairy products. Fruit and vegetables are the best sources of potassium.

Strange Facts About Potassium

  • Several neurotoxins work by disrupting our cells’ biological use of potassium. This can result in severe pain, or even death. These neurotoxins include agitoxin, charybdotoxin and margatoxin (scorpion stings), apamin (bee stings), and dendrotoxin (mamba snake bites).
  • Potassium and its close periodic table neighbor sodium are solids at room temperature. Their alloys however are not. NaK alloys containing 40 to 90 percent of potassium by weight are liquids at room temperature. The commercially available 78% K, 22% Na alloy stays liquid at temperatures as low as -12.6 oC (9.3 oF).
  • Potassium compounds emit a lilac or violet flame color when burned. It burns in water, just like sodium. The difference is that sodium burns with a yellow flame and is more likely to shatter and explode! When potassium burns in water, the reaction releases hydrogen gas. The heat of the reaction can ignite the hydrogen.
  • It reacts violently with water to form a colorless compound of potassium hydroxide solution and hydrogen gas. This reaction accompanies a lot of heat and potassium burns with a purple blue flame. Also, the hydrogen released in the process reacts with oxygen and ignition occurs. That’s why, it is stored in hydrocarbons like petrol and kerosene.
  • Most of the universe’s potassium atoms were made in the final moments of giant stars as they exploded in supernovae. Potassium is made in the oxygen burning shell of stars when they explode. This is not normal burning, of course; it is nuclear fusion. Potassium is made, along with several other elements including sulfur, and silicon, during explosive oxygen burning in supernovae.
  • People whose diets are low in potassium can suffer from hypokalemia. Severe hypokalemia can be life threatening. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, fatigue, muscle cramps and constipation. It is unusual for people to be deficient in potassium solely as a result of getting too little in their diets. Usually hypokalemia is caused by other issues such as diarrhea and/or vomiting, use of antibiotics, and kidney disease.
  • Most people are familiar with carbon dating, which uses the decay of the radioactive carbon-14 isotope to find the ages of once-living things such as animal and plant matter. The radioactive isotope potassium-40 gives us a way of dating rocks. Potassium-40 decays to argon-40 and calcium-40 with a half-life of 1.25 billion years. The ratio of potassium-40 to argon-40 trapped in rock is used to determine how long it is since the rock has solidified.
  • The potassium ion is important for all living cells. Animals use sodium ions and potassium ions to generate electric potentials. This is vital for many cellular processes and is the basis for the conduction of nerve impulses and stabilization of blood pressure. When not enough potassium is available in the body, a potentially fatal condition called hypokalemia can occur. Symptoms of hypokalemia include muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat. An overabundance of potassium causes hypercalcemia, which produces similar symptoms. Plants require potassium for many processes, so this element is a nutrient that is readily depleted by crops and must be replenished by fertilizers.

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