Did You Know?
As the reaction of bleach and potassium chloride can lead to the production of chlorine gas―a strong irritant, one should avoid mixing the chemicals at home. The chemical reaction should be carried out in an outdoor environment.
Potassium chlorate, a crystalline compound of potassium and chlorine, has a sundry of uses. This compound displays antimicrobial properties, and hence, it is commonly used as a disinfectant. A solution containing potassium is helpful in cleaning floors. It is also used in making chlorine dioxide, a powerful disinfectant that helps protect drinking water from pathogens. Although potassium chlorate is easily available in the market, it can be easily made at home. Here's how to do it.
Making Potassium Chlorate
- Take a minimum of half a liter of household bleach in a container and heat it till it begins to boil. Once you notice crystals appearing at the bottom of the container, immediately switch off the gas and allow it to reach its room temperature.
- Potassium chloride (KCl) is a popular salt substitute used in making potassium chlorate. To use it, make a saturated solution of potassium chloride by adding potassium chloride in half a liter of water until the solute is too much to get dissolved.
- The saturated solution, thus prepared, is now mixed with half a liter of boiled household bleach that was left for cooling. Keep on stirring the mixture until you notice potassium chlorate (KClO3) crystals forming at the bottom of the container. The mixing of KCl and bleach also produces sodium chloride. Keep the solution of KClO3 in a freezer so that more crystals of potassium chlorate begin to form.
- Pour the mixture through a coffee filter to separate potassium chloride crystals from the sodium chloride solution. Instead of a coffee filter, you can also use the paper filter to take out the crystals. Prior to usage, ensure that it is completely dry. Always store in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry place.
Why to Boil Bleach?
Bleach is a solution containing sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), and when boiled, it separates into sodium chloride (NaCl) and sodium chlorate (NaClO3). It is this sodium chlorate that combines with potassium chloride (KCl) to give potassium chlorate (KClO3). So, it becomes very necessary to boil the bleach before you combine it with potassium chloride.
Word of Caution
Potassium chlorate, being a powerful oxidizing agent, can act as a catalyst to ignite combustible material. So, make sure such inflammable things are not stored along with potassium chlorate.