Potassium is a metal with the chemical symbol K. It is a soft metal that reacts very rapidly with water. But who discovered potassium? This post will answer that question then give a few interesting facts about potassium.
Who Discovered Potassium?
Unlike many other elements, potassium was not known to ancient civilizations. It wasn’t until 1807 that potassium was isolated and discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in England. Potassium was the first metal to be discovered through electrolysis. Davy used electrolysis to obtain potassium from potassium hydroxide (commonly known as caustic potash). The English word potassium comes from the word potash.
Interesting Facts About Potassium
- Today, potassium metal is still obtained from electrolysis of potassium hydroxide. Davy’s methods have not been changed very much over the last 200 years.
- As potassium reacts rapidly with air, it is very dangerous to transport. It must be stored in something (often kerosene) which stops it reacting with air.
- Potassium is created when stars go ‘supernova’.
- There are two stable isotopes of potassium (potassium-39 and potassium-41).
- Potassium is a very soft metal that can be cut with a knife very easily.
- Potassium is an important part of the human diet. It is found in most fruits, vegetables and meats and it is not difficult to consume an adequate amount of potassium in your diet!
Where do bananas come from – bananas contain high amounts of potassium
What is an ionic bond – potassium forms ionic bonds with non-metals