Q:

What are the chemical properties of potassium?

A:

Potassium readily loses the single electron in its outer valence, causing it to react very energetically to substances that strongly attract electrons. Potassium is a silver colored metal that tarnishes rapidly when exposed to air because of the oxygen and water vapor.

When exposed to air, potassium turns into potassium oxide, and under certain conditions, burns forming potassium superoxide. It has extremely energetic reactions with water, forming potassium hydroxide and hydrogen gas, which burns with a lilac-colored flame.

Potassium reacts very strongly with halogen gases and acids, forming potassium salts and, in the case of acids, helium gas. It reacts readily with a large majority non-metallic elements, including common elements such as sulfur, phosphorus and nitrogen. These reactions are often extremely energetic or even explosive. In order to be safely stored, potassium must be immersed in a highly inert substance like oil and kept in a suitable container.

Potassium is an important element for most organisms and forms a very wide variety of common compounds. It is also one of the more common trace elements in the Earth's crust. It is crucial in intracellular mechanisms, where it works opposite sodium to control the movement of water across membranes. Several edible plants have high levels of potassium compounds, including bananas and spinach.

Learn More

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does the term "cracking" mean in chemistry?

    A:

    Cracking is the chemical process of breaking down large hydrocarbon molecules into useful products. For example, cracking breaks down the hydrocarbon molecules of decane into propene and heptane.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What monosaccharides make up maltose?

    A:

    Glucose is the only monosaccharide present in maltose. Each unit of maltose is composed of two units of glucose. Its isomer, isomaltose, is also composed solely of glucose.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Which element has the largest atomic radius?

    A:

    The element that has the largest atomic radius is cesium. It has an atomic radius of 298 pm, or picometers. An alkali metal, cesium is so active that it instantly explodes if dropped into cold water. It's also one of the few metals that becomes a liquid at close to room temperature. Its melting point is 83.19 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the pH of hydrogen peroxide?

    A:

    Hydrogen peroxide, also known as dihydrogen dioxide, has a pH level anywhere from 1 to 5, depending on the solution's concentration and how it is produced. Many hydrogen peroxide solutions contain stabilizers that affect the product's pH. The solution's pH level can be increased or decreased depending on the exact stabilizer that is used.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore