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Potassium carbonate

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Potassium carbonate
Potassium carbonate structural formulae.pngPotassium carbonate 3D.png
Systematic name Dipotassium carbonate
Molecular formula K2CO3
SMILES C(=O)([O-])[O-].[K+].[K+]
Molar mass Molar mass::138.2055 g/mol
Appearance small glassy
colorless crystal
CAS number CAS number::584-08-7
Density and phase Density::2.42 g/ml
Solubility in water 1120 g/L
Melting point Melting point::891°C
Boiling point Decomposes
MSDS Material safety data sheet
Main hazard hazardous in case
of skin contact
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Flash point 111°C
R/S statement R: 22
S: 26
RTECS number TS7750000
Related compounds
Other anions Potassium bicarbonate
Other cations

Lithium carbonate
Sodium carbonate
Rubidium carbonate
Caesium carbonate

Related compounds Ammonium carbonate
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Potassium Carbonate, commonly called potash or pearlash, is a chemical compound which is also known as K2CO3. It is the substance that forms strong water solution. In 1742, Antonio Campanella discovered potassium carbonate and found it to be the primary component of potash. Pearlash is created when potash is heated in a Kiln to remove impurities. Before baking powder was discovered in the late 18th century, Pearlash is used to bake breads. Potassium Carbonate used in many different functions. They are odorless and also known as potash or pearl ash.[1]


Potassium Carbonate is white and can be powdered or be in a crystalline structure and it is are odorless. Potassium Carbonate absorbs water easily from air and it dissolves in water. They can be formed with other compounds and also can be manufactured in other uses. Potassium Carbonate is soluble in water but insoluble in ethyl alcohol.[2] Potassium carbonate abstracts in water into potassium (K+) and carbonate ions (CO32-). The dissolution/dissociation in water releases heat also when potassium carbonate is added to water, an efficient reaction occur. When the substance decomposes at high temperature, the vapor pressure of the substance is very low and a melting point cannot be found.

Synthesis / Occurrences

Potassium Carbonate in United States is mainly produced from Potassium Chloride. Potassium Chloride is broken down to Potassium Hydroxide by electrolysis. When it converted to Potassium Hydroxide, it forms into potassium carbonate. Potassium bicarbonate can be formed from potassium hydroxide. Methods of manufacturing potash, the common name for manufactured salt which contains potassium in water form includes pouring water over plant ashes in a pot. The Engel-Precht process is another method to form potassium carbonate. It produced by mixing magnesium carbonate or magnesium oxide with carbon dioxide. Having the atmospheric pressure under 30 and with double salt formation it can form potassium carbonate. Potash is formed by evaporation. But these days, it is no longer in use. In the United States was the first chemical that was exported. Potash was found early by one of the colonists in America.[3]


Uses of Potassium Carbonate

Important Uses of Potash


An important use of potash is its ability to produce fertilizers. Plants requires potash for their heath growth in phosphorous and nitrogen. For fertilizing plants, 95% of potash is used. There was abundant change in the growth of crops by using potash based on fertilizers. First, in fruits and vegetables the taste was enhanced. Second, it had better restiveness power against diseases, pests, and weeds. Third, it made better reservation of water. Fourth, it helped to get stronger stems and roots. Fifth, it had better protection from drought and other climatic conditions.

Industrial Chemicals

To manufacture various chemical compounds, potash is also used. Potash is used as great material in making soap. Soap with sodium carbonate is less milder than these soaps.

manufacturing specialty glass

Another major use of potash is during manufacturing specialty glass such as optical lens, television screens and cathode ray tubes. Apart from these, potash is used in making printing inks and pigments, to dye and wash wool, pottery glazing, and food items which include chocolates and in industry of metals.[2]


When Potassium Carbonate is mixed with water, it causes it to heat up. But it only lasts for short time. For example, grass jelly is being used by Potassium Carbonate which is a common Asian cuisine. Also, commonly when we bake thick bread such as gingerbread, Potassium Carbonate is used too.

In the lab

For drying agent in the lab, Potassium Carbonate is the best example for calcium chloride and magnesium but not for acidic. Potassium Carbonate removes small traces of acidic impurities to have better conservation. Potassium Carbonate can also be formed as an electrolyte which helps in cold fusion experiment. To measure heat, electrolyte with heavy water is used. Before they are distilled, Potassium carbonate can also be used to dry ketones, alcohols, and amines. [4]

Safety Assessment

Human Safety Assessment

Potassium carbonate is also known as hygroscopic substance, can absorb water from the air. Exposure to the pure substance can lead to skin and eye irritation therefore contact with skin and eyes is very dangerous. Sodium carbonate will dissociate into its constituent ions and will not be systemically available in the body. Including the reproductive system, Potassium carbonate will not cause systemic toxicity in any organs. Furthermore, potassium carbonate is not carcinogenic or genotoxic.

Environmental Safety Assessment

To environment, Potassium Carbonate has a low hazard. It is usually found in the environment. Therefore, substance itself will not provide a great impact. Carbonate ions does not happen to a large degree but it leads to a rise in pH of water. However, the pH of waste water should be checked to ensure it is not to high. [1]


Potassium Carbonate Synthesis


  1. 1.0 1.1 Potassium Carbonate eurochlor.Web. accessed on March 17, unknown Author.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Anamika, Swam Potassium Carbonate and Its Important Uses ezinearticles. Web. published on April 30, 2012 .
  3. Potassium Carbonate Bookrags. Web. published on February 27, 2013 Unknown Author.
  4. Potassium Carbonate Dihydrate tech-faq. Web. accessed on March 17, 2013 Author unknown.