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What is Potash?

What is Potash?

Potash is a mined or manufactured salt which contains soluble potassium. It is poisonous for the human heart and nervous system but is useful for plants in the form of fertilizers.
Shashank Nakate
The origin of the term potash can be traced back to the Dutch word potaschen. It has been used in many different applications from historic times. It was mainly used to make glass and in textile industries, besides in the soap making industry from 500 A.D. The method of leaching ashes of sea and land plants was used in preparing potash. Its mining began in Ethiopia in the 14th century. The term is used for chemical compounds (salts) that contain a water-soluble form of potassium. One of the commonly found potassium compounds is potassium chloride.
Facts About Potash
  • It is the 7th most common element found on earth. Its proportion in sea water is 390 mg per liter, and 4 ppm in rainwater.
  • Potash rock is the commonly used source to obtain it.
  • The amount of potassium required to maintain a healthy body in adults is 2 grams/day. A variety of body functions are carried out with it. It can be obtained from milk, root vegetables, bananas, fruit juice, etc.
  • Fighting extreme temperatures for plants is possible with potassium intake. It also helps overcome attacks of insects and weeds, in addition to stressful conditions.
  • It is also useful in the process of strengthening the roots of plants and prevention of wilting.
  • The processes of starch formation and protein synthesis are influenced by it to a great extent.
Potash Fertilizer
Potash rock is used in preparing fertilizers. Potassium chloride is processed into a form of potash fertilizer like potassium sulfate (K2SO4). The organic form of this fertilizer is wood ash which contains 6% of potash. The benefits offered by this fertilizer are:
  • They are responsible for speedy growth of roots.
  • Intensity of the diseases which affect plant growth is reduced by them.
  • They are considered to be useful from the point of photosynthesis.
  • Production of grains that possess a high content of starch can be achieved by the use of potash fertilizers.
  • They are also useful in the buildup of cellulose.
  • Around 50 enzymes get activated due to the action of potash.
Potash Poisoning
It is common knowledge that potash is poisonous for the heart, and is also known to affect the nervous system and brain. The heart can get paralyzed with the introduction of potash into the circulatory system, besides, its injection in the jugular vein has a similar effect. Chloride of potassium is a protoplasmic poison which affects the brain and nervous system.
What is Potash Alum?
The chemical formula of potash alum is KAl(SO4)2 or KAl(SO4)2,12H2O. The specific name of this compound is hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate. The empirical formula for this class of alums is AB(SO4)2,12H2O. It is soluble in water, occurs naturally, and also in the form of encrustations on rocks. Earlier, the mineral called alunite was used in the preparation of potash alum.