Chemical Properties: (Click here
for Demonstrations!! )
Potassium is a very reactive metal. It is very
reactive with both water and oxygen. Because of this, potassium should
be stored in a liquid such as kerosene or mineral oil. Potassium
is not a manmade element, however some isotopes have been artificially
prepared. It occurs naturally combined with other minerals such as
sylite or carnallite. Potassium makes up about 2.5% of the earth's
crust, and plays an important role in our bodies.
Potassium was discovered in 1807 by Sir Humphry Davy.
Davy also discovered sodium, barium, strontium, calcium, and magnesium.
Davy used a process called electrolysis to isolate the potassium.
Electrolysis is a process in which an electric curent is passed through
an electrolyte until the substance splits into the elements or compounds
that make it up.
There are many uses for potassium today. Potassium
bromide is used in medicine as a seditive, and in photography, lithography,
and engraving. Potassium chromate and bichromate are powerful oxidizing
agents and are found in fireworks. Potassium iodide is used in medicine
to treat rheumatism and some thyroid conditions. Potassium nitrate
is used in explosives, fireworks, and matches. Potassium permanganate
is used as a disinfectant and a germacide. Potassium sulfate is used
in fertilizer. Finally, potassium hydrogen tartrate, also known as
cream of tartar is used in baking. Potassium is required in our bodies
for metabolism and the sending of messages in our brain, called neuron