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What is potassium permanganate used for?

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Potassium permanganate is commonly used as a purification agent in water treatment. The oxidizing properties in potassium permanganate make it an effective antiseptic, with diluted solutions used to treat canker sores and fungal infections on the hands or feet.

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Potassium permanganate controls taste, odor and biological growth in water. It also removes iron and manganese from water, along with unsightly discolorations. Potassium permanganate is added at the beginning of the water treatment process, ideally at the point where the raw water source first enters the facility and prior to its filtration. This provides the greatest contact time for the potassium permanganate and the water to interact, allowing the solution to be exhausted before reaching the residential distribution points. An excess amount of permanganate has a tendency to give water a pink tint, which is an undesirable side effect that can be mitigated by adding iron salts, hydrogen peroxide or powdered activated carbon to the water.

A diluted solution of potassium permanganate is applied to wet dressings to assist in the healing of weeping wounds, such as ulcers, and lesions caused by athlete’s foot, ringworm and other bacterial fungal infections. It can also be used safely in the treatment of poison ivy or eczema on both children and adults. The most common side effects of using a potassium permanganate solution in direct contact with the skin are brown staining and irritation.

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