Potassium carbonate

Potassium carbonate

Overview
Potassium carbonate is a white salt, soluble in water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 (insoluble in alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

), which forms a strongly alkaline solution. It can be made as the product of potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...

's absorbent reaction with carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

. It is deliquescent, often appearing a damp or wet solid
Solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

. Potassium carbonate is used in the production of soap
Soap
In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

 and glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

.

Potassium carbonate was first identified in 1742 by Antonio Campanella and is the primary component of potash
Potash
Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

 and the more refined pearl ash or salts of tartar.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Potassium carbonate'
Start a new discussion about 'Potassium carbonate'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Potassium carbonate is a white salt, soluble in water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 (insoluble in alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

), which forms a strongly alkaline solution. It can be made as the product of potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...

's absorbent reaction with carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

. It is deliquescent, often appearing a damp or wet solid
Solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

. Potassium carbonate is used in the production of soap
Soap
In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

 and glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

.

History


Potassium carbonate was first identified in 1742 by Antonio Campanella and is the primary component of potash
Potash
Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

 and the more refined pearl ash or salts of tartar. Historically pearl ash was created by baking potash
Potash
Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

 in a kiln
Kiln
A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Uses include the hardening, burning or drying of materials...

 to remove impurities. The fine white powder remaining was the pearl ash. The first patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 issued by the U.S. Patent Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

 was awarded to Samuel Hopkins
Samuel Hopkins (inventor)
Samuel Hopkins was an American inventor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pittsford, Vermont. On July 31, 1790, he was granted the first U.S. patent, under the new U.S. patent statute just signed into law by President Washington on April 10, 1790...

  in 1790 for an improved method of making potash and pearl ash.

In late 18th century North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, before the development of baking powder
Baking powder
Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods such as muffins, cakes, scones and American-style biscuits. Baking powder works by releasing carbon dioxide gas into a batter or dough through an acid-base reaction, causing bubbles in...

, pearl ash was used as a leavening agent
Leavening agent
A leavening agent is any one of a number of substances used in doughs and batters that cause a foaming action which lightens and softens the finished product...

 in quick bread
Quick bread
Quick bread is an American term used to denote a type of bread which is leavened with leavening agents other than yeast. Quick breads includes many cakes, brownies and cookies, as well as banana bread, beer bread, cornbread, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, scones, and soda bread.-History::"Quick...

s.

Other terms for potassium carbonate:
  • Carbonate of potash
  • Dipotassium carbonate
  • Dipotassium salt
  • Pearl ash
  • Potash
    Potash
    Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

  • Salt of tartar
  • Salt of wormwood

Production


Today potassium carbonate is prepared commercially by the electrolysis
Electrolysis
In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a method of using a direct electric current to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction...

 of potassium chloride
Potassium chloride
The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

. The resulting potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...

 is then carbonated using carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 to form potassium carbonate, which is often used to produce other .
2KOH + CO2 → K2CO3 + H2O

Applications


Pearl ash has been used for soap
Soap
In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

, glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

, and china production.

Pearl ash added to hard water will soften the water.

In the laboratory, it may be used as a mild drying agent
Desiccant
A desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that induces or sustains a state of dryness in its local vicinity in a moderately well-sealed container....

 where other drying agents such as calcium chloride
Calcium chloride
Calcium chloride, CaCl2, is a salt of calcium and chlorine. It behaves as a typical ionic halide, and is solid at room temperature. Common applications include brine for refrigeration plants, ice and dust control on roads, and desiccation...

 and magnesium sulfate
Magnesium sulfate
Magnesium sulfate is a chemical compound containing magnesium, sulfur and oxygen, with the formula MgSO4. It is often encountered as the heptahydrate epsomite , commonly called Epsom salt, from the town of Epsom in Surrey, England, where the salt was distilled from the springs that arise where the...

 may be incompatible. However, it is not suitable for acidic compounds, but can be useful for drying an organic phase if one has a small amount of acidic impurity.

Mixed with water it causes an exothermic reaction
Exothermic reaction
An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of light or heat. It is the opposite of an endothermic reaction. Expressed in a chemical equation:-Overview:...

.

It is mixed with distilled water to make a safer electrolyte for oxyhydrogen production than potassium hydroxide, the more commonly used electrolyte.

In cuisine, it is used as an ingredient in the production of grass jelly
Grass jelly
Grass jelly, or Leaf jelly, is a jelly-like dessert found in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. It is sold in cans or packets in Asian supermarkets.-Preparation:...

, a food consumed in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines. German gingerbread
Gingerbread
Gingerbread is a term used to describe a variety of sweet food products, which can range from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. What they have in common are the predominant flavors of ginger and a tendency to use honey or molasses rather than just sugar...

 recipes often use potassium carbonate as a baking agent.

Potassium carbonate is being used as the electrolyte
Electrolyte
In chemistry, an electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible....

 in many cold fusion
Cold fusion
Cold fusion, also called low-energy nuclear reaction , refers to the hypothesis that nuclear fusion might explain the results of a group of experiments conducted at ordinary temperatures . Both the experimental results and the hypothesis are disputed...

 experiments.

Potassium carbonate is sometimes used as a buffering agent
Buffering agent
A buffering agent is a weak acid or base used to maintain the acidity of a solution at a chosen value. The function of a buffering agent is to prevent a rapid change in pH when acids or bases are added to the solution. Buffering agents have variable properties—some are more soluble than others;...

 in the production of mead
Mead
Mead , also called honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It may also be produced by fermenting a solution of water and honey with grain mash, which is strained immediately after fermentation...

 or wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

.

Aqueous potassium carbonate is used in the fertilizer industry for removal of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 from the ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 production synthesis gas coming from the steam reformer.

Aqueous potassium carbonate is also used as a fire suppressant in extinguishing deep fat fryers and various other B class related fires, and in condensed aerosol fire suppression
Condensed aerosol fire suppression
Condensed aerosol fire suppression is a particle-based form of fire extinction similar to gaseous fire suppression or dry chemical fire extinction. The aerosol employs a fire extinguishing agent consisting of very fine solid particles and gaseous matter to put out fires...

although as the by-product of potassium nitrate.

Potassium carbonate is used in reactions to maintain anhydrous conditions without reacting with the reactants and product formed. It may also be used to pre-dry some ketones, alcohols, and amines prior to distillation.

An ingredient in welding fluxes, and in the flux coating on arc welding rods.

External links