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Hands-on Science (H-Sci) Project: Chemical Safety Database

Chemical Safety Data: Potassium

Common synonyms Formula

. K Form: soft silvery metal, which dulls on exposure to air Stability: Stable Melting point: 63 C Boiling point: 756 C Specific gravity: 0.86 Potassium is a reactive metal, reacting particularly readily with water and acids. The reaction with water generates hydrogen, and is very exothermic so if a small piece of potassium is dropped into a beaker of water the hydrogen catches fire and the potassium melts. This reaction often culminates in a small bang, with droplets of hot liquid potassium being thrown in all directions, so any reaction between the two must be carried out behind a safety shield. Potassium reacts with water or moisture to form strongly basic

Physical properties

Principal hazards

Skin contact: Wash off immediately with soap and water. and uses a flammable liquid. since potassium hydroxide is very damaging to the cornea . it is common practice to wash off the oil with a light solvent such as hexane. not by students. KOH is especially harmful in the eyes. only small amounts should be used for experiments. Always wear safety glasses when handling potassium. KOH.if at all . so disposal should only be performed by trained chemists. Be aware that if any potassium metal remains unreacted. The potassium+water reaction should be carried out . Safe handling Potassium is stored under a protective liquid. If swallowed: Call for immediate medical help. Call for medical help. It should not be stored in air. slivers cut from the side of a potassium rod to exposure fresh metal) can be dissolved in isorpropanol in a fume cupboard. leading to a possible explosion risk. Note that small particles of potassium might still be present when visible Emergency Disposal . The reaction is exothermic. so should never be added to an acid. leading to a potentially serious fire. Very small amounts of waste potassium (for example. since reaction with moisture in the air will generate hydrogen. where it can cause permanent and serious damage. generates hydrogen. or other heavy oil. and great care must be taken to reduce any fire risk to the absolute minimum.by an experienced teacher. Hexane is. Potassium reacts violently or explosively with acids. the heat generated by reaction may be sufficient to ignite the hexane. such as dibutyl phthalate. Potassium metal should always be cleaned and cut in a fume cupboard if possible. Eye contact: Immediately flush the eye with water and continue for ten minutes. and if the metal is wet with solvent when it comes into contact with water. the use of water will generate hydorgen.potassium hydroxide. Important note: When potassium is stored under dibutyl phthalate. very flammable. This is very corrosive and will cause harm if it comes into contact with skin.hospital treatment is very likely to be necessary. prior to cutting the metal with a craft knife. of course.

so reaction may restart if the resulting solution is poured down the sink. Potassium Chemicals in the HSci database More extensive safety data Link to the Oxford HSci web site We have tried to make this information as accurate and useful as possible. We have not verified this information. with the potential for a significant fire. Gloves when handling or cutting the metal. misuse. January 6. or accuracy. but can take no responsibility for its use.reaction has ceased. Oxford. Protective equipment Further information Safety glasses. and cannot guarantee that it is up-to-date. . 2011.

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