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The Element Potassium

Sir Humphry Davy

"Sir Humphry Davy"

What is Potassium as on the Periodic Table? Definition of the Potassium Element
A soft, silver-white, highly or explosively reactive metallic element that occurs in nature only in compounds. Potassium is silvery when first cut but it oxidizes rapidly in air and tarnishes within minutes, so it is generally stored under oil or grease.

It is light enough to float in water, with which it reacts instantly to release Hydrogen that burns with a lilac flame. It is obtained by electrolysis of its common hydroxide and found in, or converted to, a wide variety of salts used especially in fertilizers and soaps. The Atomic Number of this element is 19 and the Element Symbol is K.

Properties of the Potassium Element
Symbol of Element : K
Atomic Number : 19
Atomic Mass: 39.0983 amu
Melting Point: 63.65 C - 336.8 K
Boiling Point: 774.0 C - 1047.15 K
Number of Protons/Electrons: 19
Number of Neutrons : 20
Crystal Structure: Cubic
Density @ 293 K: 0.862 g/cm3
Color : Silver-white

What is Potassium? Origin / Meaning of the name Potassium
The name was coined by Sir Humphry Davy and originates from the Medieval Latin word kalium (hence the symbol 'K') for potash. This is because the substance was originally obtained by soaking wood ashes in water and evaporating the mixture in an iron pot.

What is Potassium? Periodic Table Group and Classification of the Potassium Element
Elements can be classified based on their physical states (States of Matter) e.g. gas, solid or liquid. This element is a solid. Potassium is classified as an "Alkali Metal" and located in Group 1 elements of the Periodic Table. An Element classified as an Alkali Metal is a very reactive metal that does not occur freely in nature. Alkali metals are soft, malleable, ductile, and are good conductors of heat and electricity. Nearly 75% of all the elements in the Periodic Table are classified as metals which are detailed in the List of Metals. For additional facts and information refer to Potassium Properties.

What is Potassium? Occurrence of the Potassium Element
Potassium is a constituent of many common rocks and minerals, and is therefore a rather abundant element, though not so abundant as Sodium. Feldspar, which occurs both by itself and as a constituent of granite, contains considerable potassium. The element is a constituent of all clay and of mica and also occurs in very large deposits at Stassfurt, Germany, in the form of the chloride and sulphate, associated with compounds of sodium and Magnesium. In small quantities it is found as nitrate and in many other forms. Refer to Potassium Reaction for its reaction to Water, Oxygen & Acids.

Potassium makes up about 2.4% of the weight of the Earth's crust
Seventh most abundant element
Found in ancient lakes and seas
Mined in USA, Germany & New Mexico
Density less than that of water
Rapidly oxidises in air

Abundances of the element in different environments
% in Universe 0.0003%
% in Sun 0.0004%
% in Meteorites 0.07%
% in Earth's Crust 1.5%
% in Oceans 0.042%
% in Humans 0.2%

Medical Uses of Potassium - Health and Treatments
Interesting information is contained in the following list of Medical Uses of Potassium, Health and Treatments. Potassium deficiency can be treated by administration of potassium supplements.

  • Low Potassium (Hypokalemia): Increased rate of excretion by the kidneys: Potassium supplements

A useful reference providing information regarding the medical uses of Potassium, associated health issues and disorders and treatments using Potassium preparations.

Associated Uses of Potassium
Substitute for table salt
Potassium nitrate, chloride & permanganate

Facts about the History of the Discovery of Potassium Element
Potassium was discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1807 by using electrolysis on potash. This alkali metal was the first metal that was isolated by electrolysis.

Sir Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) isolated sodium, Lithium, potassium, barium, strontium, and Calciumby means of electrolysis. Davy also demonstrated the elementary nature of Chlorine, invented the safety lamp and discovered the stupefying effects of nitrous oxide.

Site Index
Alkali Metal
List of Metals
Potassium Properties
Potassium Reaction
Periodic Table

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