Potassium is one of the indispensable elements of life. 50 million tons of potassium is used annually in the world. It is the seventh most abundant element in the earth’s crust.

Potassium is a transparent element necessary for living things. It is an alkali metal. It is commonly found in nature, usually in salt form. Reacts violently with water. When it is thrown into water as salt, the hydrogen in it catches fire. Its texture is similar to soap. It is the second lightest element . Without potassium, bodily functions cannot function properly. Humans, animals and plants need potassium to survive. Let’s get to know a little about this useful element that we hear a lot about.

(British chemist Sir Humphrey Davy, who first isolated potassium)


Potassium was discovered in 1807 by the English chemist Sir Humphrey Davy at the Royal Institute in London. Davy succeeded in isolating potassium from potassium hydroxide (caustic potash) by electrolysis. Davy electrolyzed dried potassium hydroxide, which he exposed to moist air in the laboratory. Davy isolated sodium using the same method a few months after isolating potassium.

The word “potassium” is a word derived from the word “potash” known as potassium carbonate. The chemical symbol for potassium comes from the Latin word “kalium”. Kalium is derived from the Arabic word “alkali” pronounced as “al galiy”. Its Turkish equivalent is “plant ashes”. The word “potash” means “alkali obtained from the ashes of burnt trees or tree leaves” in English. In English, it is “potassium”.

Physical and Chemical Properties

The chemical symbol for potassium is “K”. Its atomic number is 19, and its atomic weight is 39.09. Its density is 0.89 grcm3. Its electrons per energy level are “2, 8, 8, 1”. Its melting point is 63 degrees and boiling point is 759 degrees.

Potassium is one of the Group 1, Period 4, S-Block elements in the periodic table. Alkali metals are in the element series. It is similar to sodium in its chemical properties. It can form many compounds. Its crystal structure is volume-centered cubic. Its electropositivity is extremely high. Elemental potassium is a very soft, silvery-white solid element that can be cut with a knife.

Potassium is highly active against water . It releases hydrogen in its violent reaction with water, and the heat released in this violent reaction burns the hydrogen gas. It has high solubility in water. It oxidizes immediately in air. In contact with air, alkaline potassium hydroxide is formed. When a piece of potassium is cut, its clean surface immediately becomes dull when it comes into contact with air. It should be stored in an airless environment to prevent metal oxide formation and hydroxide corrosion.

It is usually stored in reducing media such as kerosene (kerosene). Potassium and its compounds give a violet flame when burning. Potassium ions in water are colorless. Salts such as potassium bromide, potassium carbonate, potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate and potassium sulfate are important substances.


Potassium is one of the abundant elements in nature. Due to its high reactivity, it is not found in pure form. It is found in sea water and in many minerals in the earth’s crust, depending on other elements. The earth’s crust has a potassium content of 1.5 to 2.5 percent by weight. It is the seventh most abundant element in the world. Potassium salts are found in ancient lake and sea beds. Minerals such as silvite, langbeinite, carnallite and polyhalite also contain potassium. It is difficult to obtain from other elements. By electrolysis from potassium hydroxide; It can be produced from potassium chloride by heat methods.

Twenty isotopes of potassium with atomic mass numbers ranging from 35 to 54 have been characterized. It is found in nature as a mixture of 3 isotopes. The most abundant isotope in nature is K-39, with a ratio of 93.3 percent. Its other natural isotope, Potassium-40, is radioactive and has a half-life of 1.25 billion years; rate is 0.01 percent. Of its natural isotopes, K-41 is 6.7 percent.

In Which Fields Is It Used?

Potassium is one of the elements widely used in industry and chemical processes. 90 percent of potassium production is used in fertilizers. Potassium carbonate gives durability to glasses. Sodium-potassium alloy is a good conductor of heat. Potassium superoxide can be used as a carbon dioxide scavenger or a portable oxygen source. Potassium bisulfate is a food additive. Potassium hydroxide is used in many products, especially in the cleaning industry, fertilizers and animal medicines. Potassium chloride is used in pharmaceutical products, medicinal drops, and saline injections.

Some products and areas where potassium, its compounds and alloys are used are as follows ; glass, mirrors, gunpowder, fireworks, explosives, matches, magnetometers, photographic films, reliefs, leather, ceramics, insecticides, soaps, detergents, cleaning agents, medicine, baking soda, food additives, oxygen source, rubber, pigments, alkali batteries, accumulators…

Potassium and Health

Potassium is one of the essential elements for living things. It is the eighth most abundant element in the human body. It makes up 0.20 to 0.35 percent of body mass. But too little or too much is harmful. A low level of potassium in the blood is called “hypokalemia” and a high level is called “hyperkalemia”. The potassium level (kaliemia) in the blood should be around 3.5 to 5 per liter. The most practical way to get enough potassium is through a regular diet. Adults should consume an average of 3-4 grams of potassium per day. It is found in intracellular fluids.

Potassium deficiency (hypokalemia) can be fatal. Conditions such as muscle weakness, heart irregularities, circulatory disorders, cramps, constipation, shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness and reflex slowing are symptoms of hypokalemia. Potassium deficiency is seen in those who use cortisone and intestinal drugs.

High potassium (hyperkalemia) can be seen in those who use hypertension, anti-inflammatory drugs, and those with kidney failure. Potassium can be excreted from the body through the kidneys. Potassium, which cannot be excreted due to kidney diseases, accumulates in the blood. In such cases, problems such as heart muscle problems and sudden cardiac arrest may occur. Dialysis can reduce the high potassium rate. These patients should not consume foods containing potassium. It can lead to more dangerous consequences in the elderly.

It is a vital mineral for humans, animals and plants. The amount of potassium in the soil is important for the growth of plants. Potassium salts are one of the indispensable substances for plants. It is the main positive cation in animal cells. It provides fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It also aids in functions such as nerve flow and muscle contraction in animals.


Potassium is one of the essential minerals required for the heart, muscles and nervous system. Some of the dozens of benefits are:

  • Foods high in potassium reduce the risk of hypertension and heart attack.
  • Together with sodium, it establishes the acid-base balance of the body and ensures the fluidity in the cells.
  • It is necessary for the functioning of the kidney and glucose metabolism.
  • It prevents the formation of kidney stones and osteoporosis.
  • It helps cells and organs to perform their functions regularly.
  • It provides the passage of food into the cell, helps to transmit signals in the nervous system.
  • It serves as an electrolyte in the body and helps with electrical charges.

In Which Foods Is It Found?

Potassium is an element found in many nutrients. It is mainly found in the following foods; bananas, dates, broccoli, fish, fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, almonds, nuts, chicken, cabbage, olives, potatoes, orange juice, figs, melons, yogurt, avocados, apricots, dairy products, dried beans, chocolate, lentils, tomato paste, zucchini, kiwi, plum, mushroom, carrot, spinach, oatmeal, wheat flour, soybean, beet, fennel…

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