Potassium carbonate (K2CO3) is a white salt, soluble in water (insoluble in ethanol) which forms a strongly alkaline solution. It can be made as the product of potassium hydroxide’s absorbent reaction with carbon dioxide. It is deliquescent, often appearing a damp or wet solid.
As a major component of the mined salt potash, this white powder (sometimes called pearl ash) was derived for centuries by heating potash in a kiln to remove impurities.
Also known as potash or pearl ash, it may be used in pharmaceutical laboratories as a drying agent or as a source of potassium. It also used in fire extinguishers, to make soap, to make glass, and to soften water.
It is also found in effervescent tablets. Effervescent tablets and powders are available to provide potassium when there are low levels of potassium in the blood due to inadequate diet, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or use of certain medications such as corticosteroids or diuretics. They dissolve quickly, are stable, convenient and easy to carry.
All carbonate salts are on the FDA generally regarded as safe list. There is no evidence in the available information on calcium carbonate, potassium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium sesquicarbonate that demonstrates or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect a hazard to the public when used at normal levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in the future.
Potash is easily produced by pouring water over the ashes of burned plants and then evaporating the solution formed in large pots (hence the name: “pot” “ash”). The process has been known since at least the sixth century and the resulting product used in the manufacture of soap. Potash was one of the first chemicals to be exported by American colonists, with shipments having left Jamestown as early as 1608. Potassium carbonate is also called pearl ash and salt of tartar, both of which are impure forms of the compound. The impurities present include sodium chloride and some heavy metals (such as iron and lead). The primary uses of potassium carbonate are in the production of fertilizers, soaps, and heat-resistant glass.
Another method of preparation, called the Engel-Precht process, is a modification of this procedure. A mixture of potassium chloride, magnesium carbonate or magnesium oxide, and carbon dioxide is treated under 30 atmospheres of pressure, with the formation of a double salt, KHCO3·Mg-CO3·4H2O. The double salt is then heated to obtain potassium carbonate. The traditional method of obtaining potash from wood and vegetable ash is now obsolete.
Applications of Potassium Carbonate
Potassium carbonate is used in several industries, which include:
1.In agriculture as fertilizer
2.In the glass industry
3.In textile industries
This product dissolves easily in water and is insoluble in ethanol and ether. It is used in a variety of food applications such as wine, grass jelly, and bakery products.
Potassium carbonate is used for various purposes which include manufacture of heat resistant glass, fertilizers, soaps and manufacture of chemical compounds.
It is also used in the manufacture of printing inks and pigments. One of the major applications of this compound is in the field of glass making. It is used to make cathode rays, television tubes and optical lenses.
Another important application of the compound is in the field of agriculture. Potash is a major agricultural fertilizer. It helps in the enhanced growth of plants. It also helps in the retention of water in the soil. The roots and stems of the plants are strengthened with the use of this chemical compound.
It is also used in textile industries. Potash is used as a bleaching agent in textile industries. It is also used widely to wash and dye wool. It is also used for the purpose of dying and washing leather products.
Potassium carbonate is also included in the manufacture of different types of soaps and detergents. Soaps made of potash are quite different from sodium soaps. These soaps are milder than the sodium soaps.
It is also used in the pottery industry as it is an excellent chemical used for glazing pots. Potash is also widely used as flux in metal industry.
Potash is one of the most widely used chemical compounds with a large number of beneficial features. The chemical compound in both dissolved and dry form can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system. It is important to use this chemical compound with caution. Potassium carbonate can be obtained in different forms in many of the online stores. It is available in crystalline and powdered form at various price rates.