Difference between revisions of "Potassium"

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{{isotope-u|<sup>40</sup>K|0.012%|1.248(3)&times;10<sup>9</sup>[[year|y]]|[[beta emission|β<sup>-</sup>]]|1.311|<sup>40</sup>[[Calcium|Ca]]}}
{{isotope-u|<sup>40</sup>K|0.012%|1.248(3)&times;10<sup>9</sup>[[year|y]]|[[beta emission|β<sup>-</sup>]]|1.311|<sup>40</sup>[[Calcium|Ca]]}}
{{isotope-u|<sup>40</sup>K|0.012%|1.248(3)&times;10<sup>9</sup>[[year|y]]|[[electron capture|ε]]|1.505|<sup>40</sup>[[Argon|Ar]]}}
{{isotope-u|<sup>40</sup>K|0.012%|1.248(3)&times;10<sup>9</sup>[[year|y]]|[[electron capture|ε]]|1.505|<sup>40</sup>[[Argon|Ar]]}}
{{isotope-u|<sup>40</sup>K|0.012%|1.248(3)&times;10<sup>9</sup>[[year|y]]|[[beta emission|β<sup>+</sup>]]|1.505|<sup>40</sup>[Argon|Ar]]}}
{{isotope-u|<sup>40</sup>K|0.012%|1.248(3)&times;10<sup>9</sup>[[year|y]]|[[beta emission|β<sup>+</sup>]]|1.505|<sup>40</sup>[[Argon|Ar]]}}

Revision as of 09:28, 22 March 2009

General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::K
Atomic Number Atomic number::19
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::39.098 g/mol
Chemical series Alkali metals
Appearance Sample potassium.jpg
Group, Period, Block 1, 4, s
Electron configuration [Ar] 4s1
Electrons per shell
Electron shell potassium.png
CAS number CAS number::7440-09-7
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density [[Density::0.89 g·cm−3 g/ml]]
Melting point Melting point::336.53 K
Boiling point Boiling point::1032 K
Isotopes of Potassium
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
39K 93.26% 39K is stable with 20 neutrons.
40K 0.012% 1.248(3)×109y β- 1.311 40Ca
40K 0.012% 1.248(3)×109y ε 1.505 40Ar
40K 0.012% 1.248(3)×109y β+ 1.505 40Ar
41K 6.73% 41K is stable with 22 neutrons.
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Potassium is the seventh most reactive metal in the world. It is difficult to find in its metal form because it reacts so violently with water. The potassium salts like carnallite, langbeinite, polyhalite, and sylvite are found in ancient lake and sea beds. The principal source of potassium and potash is mined in Saskatchewan, California, Germany, and New Mexico. Also, 3000 feet below the surface of Saskatchewan are large deposits of potash which are important sources of this element and its salts. Potassium is also the first metal isolated by electrolysis. [1] Potassium, chloride, and sodium make up the electrolyte family of minerals. It is called electrolytes because they conduct electricity when dissolved in water. About 95% of the potassium in the body is stored within cells. Potassium is really important in regulating the activity of muscles and nerves. [2]


Potassium is also known to be one of the most reactive of metals. The only metal that is lighter than potassium is lithium. Potassium is a silvery white metal that is soft and must be stored in a mineral oil such as kerosene. Potassium will oxidize rapidly in the air and catch fire spontaneously when exposed to water. Potassium and its salts create violet flames.[3] Both physically and chemically potassium resembles the other alkali metals. It combines so quickly with oxygen that it is usually stored submerged in kerosene or some other hydro carbon. The reason it is stored that way is so it stays away from the air. When combined with water it reacts so violently that it forms a potassium hydroxide. It also reacts with many other organic compounds.[4]


Potassium was discovered in 1807 by Humphrey Davy, who decomposed potash with an electric current. Potassium was the first metal so discovered; Davy discovered sodium a few days later by a similar experiment.[5] Potassium is the second most abundant element even though it is not found free in nature. Potassium is the seventh most abundant element. Potassium makes up about 2.4% of the weight of the Earth's crust. Like the other alkali metals, it reacts violently with water producing hydrogen.[6] The potassium metal is produced by a thermochemistry process were molten potassium chloride is then reacted with sodium.[7]


Potassium salts have many commercial uses like being used as a high demand fertilizer. Potassium is found in most soils and it is essential for plant growth. An alloy of potassium and sodium is also used as a heat transfer medium.[8]

Potassium in Food

Potassium is found in many foods, and is especially easy to find in fruits and vegetables. Some really good sources of potassium are chard, button mushrooms, and spinach. There are several different foods with potassium in them, such as bananas, cooked Lima beans, baked winter squash, sliced avocado, and papaya. Foods that are high in potassium can help your muscles and nerves function better, help you keep the proper electrolyte and acid-base balance in your body, and Lower your risk of high blood pressure. If you don't have enough potassium in your system you will have symptoms like muscle weakness, confusion, irritability, fatigue, heart problems, and chronic diarrhea. [9]

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See Also